Four reasons not to book your vacation rental through VRBO or AirBnB

Four reasons not to book your vacation rental through VRBO or AirBnB
Once upon a time in Vacationland…

Susie had a killer vacation home in Machiasport, Maine.  Because she wanted to offset some bills,  Susie decided to make it available as a vacation rental.  Since she loved her home and area, she was excited that she could play ‘virtual tour guide and innkeeper’ to the guests who stayed in her home.   She paid upfront for an ad on a major online vacation rental listing site and happily answered questions about her home and many questions about the area from potential guests via phone and email.   When the guest was ready to book, she made payment arrangements, usually through a check or credit card payment.

Once upon a time, Bobby wanted to go on vacation in down east Maine.  He logged into a major online vacation rental site and clicked on the region – DownEast Maine.  He was given a list of about 200 properties in the area.  Bobby was able to narrow down with filters exactly what he was looking for —- and decided to choose Susie’s home in Machiasport.  He had some questions about Puffin Tours and possibly ordering a custom cake for his wife’s birthday.  He was able to contact Susie and she provided him with the information that he was asking for — phone numbers and websites of tour companies and local bakeries.  She also gave Bobby information on how to pay the deposit and he mailed her a check.

Today in Vacationland…

  Susie wants to offset some bills so she decides to make her wonderful vacation home available on an online vacation rental listing site (now known as an OTA for Online Travel Agency).  Instead of buying an ad outright, she must now agree to pay a commission on every reservation (at a much higher rate than she used to pay for her ad).   She must also agree that she will use only the OTA’s payment processing system for all reservations.

Bobby wants to take a vacation to down east Maine.  He logs onto an OTA and starts his search.  There are no regions in Maine and, in his first search attempt, he sees properties from Kennebunk to Houlton to Calais – thousands and thousands of them – vacation homes, rooms in people’s home, motel rooms and more. 

So he decides to input just one town into his search – Machiasport.  The results seem more manageable and he looks at a property and thinks it looks perfect.  As he plans his trip and dates, he notices something odd.  There is mention of a passport needed for Americans.  At closer look, he sees that the property he is interested in is not in Machiasport at all, but in New Brunswick, Canada! 

A closer look at his list of Machiasport rentals shows properties in Cutler, Addison and Blue Hill mixed in with Machiasport homes.  So now Bobby has to start his search again and take a close look at just where exactly the property is located. Now he knows that a search for a property in Machiasport does not necessarily actually show properties just in Machiasport.  But he perseveres. He comes across Susie’s listing which looks perfect.  But he has some questions about puffin tours and bakeries.  He looks for Susie’s contact info but there is no phone number and no email, but he can send a message through the OTA, which he does.

Susie is happy to answer Bobby’s questions.  She knows a fantastic tour company to visit the puffins and knows of an excellent bakery to bake the birthday cake.  But she doesn’t know Bobby’s phone number or email or even his last name.  She can only respond to his questions  through the OTA system.  So she takes the time to write about the fabulous things to do in the area and passes along the info that Bobby has asked for.

Bobby received the reply from Susie.  Unfortunately it looks like this… 

You can get more info about the company that provides puffin tours at their website:  XXXXXXXX.  The phone number to the bakery is XXXXXXX.

   

Unfortunately, the OTA system blocks out any and all identifying information.  So Susie is forced to try again, with a cryptic message –

If you do a google search for Robertson Sea Tours their website should pop up. The phone number to the bakery is 2 zero 7 five 5/5 ninety one o 6.

Susie feels awful because she knows presenting information in this manner is just lousy customer service but it’s the only way that she can get the info to the traveler.  Bobby decides to book her home.  He must pay the rent via credit card through the OTA and is very surprised when there is an additional $250 fee added to the total amount.  That, Susie, explains, is the service fee that the OTA tacks on to the traveler’s total.  Unfortunately, that pushes Bobby’s vacation over budget, so he must keep looking for a less expensive house.  (Overall, Bobby has spent about four hours on this rental search so far and still has no rental). 

So what can Bobby do to make his travel less frustrating?  

Book directly from an owner or small management or listing company!

 

Here are my four reasons to #bookdirect rather than through VRBO or AirBnB:

1) No Service Fees.    Did you know that all of the major online travel agencies add on a service fee to the traveler? 

airbnb service fee for vacation rentals vrbo service fee for vacation rentals tripadvisor service fee for vacation rentals

*fees and terms subject to change – check the individual sites for the most up-to-date information.

That’s a heck of a lot of lobster and ice cream you’re giving up in order to stay at your rental house.  And often, these fees are non-refundable if your plans change — even if the homeowner is willing to refund some of the rent, good luck getting that service fee back.  Instead of searching on the big sites, look to smaller regional sites who usually don’t charge extra traveler fees or try to find the owner directly.

 

renting a vacation rental

2) Communication between the guest and the owner.  Traditionally, sites like HomeAway and VRBO and others were a way to connect owners with travelers who wanted to rent.  It was an advertising platform — nothing more.  Today, on virtually all of the OTA’s, all phone numbers, emails, websites and all identifying information is masked and direct communication between owners and guests is impossible.

 

 

 

 

 

Where in Maine

3) Avoid Geographical nightmares.   At one time, vacation areas were broken up into popular regions.  Now, the geographic region has more to do with the secret algorithm of the OTA (reading between the lines — which homes and regions will bring them more money).  The actual home location may be in very small print on the listing and a potential traveler may be looking at a home miles from where he may actually want to be.  Again — look to regional sites to simplify your search.

 

 

 

 

 

 

seedy motel maine vacation rentals

4) Know that it’s really a home.    The newest change to the listing sites are the addition of hotels, motels and B&Bs and inns to all of the listing sites (in addition to advertising spare rooms in occupied homes on AirBnB).     Just to confuse your search more, there may be dozens of listings for motels and hotels on a site that claims to be “Vacation Homes By Owner”.  You may see a photo of a beautiful pool and think you’re going to stay in a luxury home.  Surprise!  You just booked a room at a chain motel. 

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Finding Unusual Antiques in DownEast Maine

Finding Unusual Antiques in DownEast Maine

My very FAVORITE  antique store isn’t in downeast Maine at all.  It’s in Searsport, which is the mid-coast (Searsport, by the way, has several flea/antique outdoor markets during the warmer months.

Anyway.  It’s called Treasures and Trash Barn.  I actually never knew it even HAD  name until I started writing this — I always knew it as the barn with all of the sinks and beds out front across the street from the gas station.

Whatever kind of vintage part or accessory you are looking for, you’ll find it here.

Bathtubs, Sinks, old windows, ploughs, hinges, doorknobs, keys, telephones with varying degrees of rust can be found all over the property in varying degree of rust.  Try to make some time to look around because the yard and barn are filled to the rafters and you never know what treasure might be hiding behind, under or above something.

Treasures and Trash Barn is located at:

156 E. Maine Street (Rt 1)

Searsport, Maine 04974

207-548-2787 (calling before going is recommended in the off season)

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A Great Walk With A Dog in DownEast Maine

A Great Walk With A Dog in DownEast Maine

Downeast Sunrise Trail.

Access to the Downeast Sunrise Trail is just minutes away from most of our properties.  It is a multi-use corridor connecting eastern Maine and the head of the East Coast Greenway
from Calais, Maine to Key West, Florida.  It is part of the ‘ice age’ trail.

That’s right.  You could feasibly take the pup for a walk down the entire eastern seaboard.

The trail has a website and facebook page where they update trail conditions — very important with winter snows and spring muds.

One of their newest features is an app where one can enhance the appreciation of the ice age.  This is what is written on the app’s website:

The Ice Age had a profound effect on the Maine landscape. This effect is very pronounced in the Down East region, where a vast sheet of glacial ice sculpted Cadillac and surrounding mountains, carved out the Sommes Sound fjord, and left spectacular sand barrens.

The Ice Age Trail is comprised of the finest and most accessible of these features. It follows the margins of the last great North American continental ice sheet and coincides with many Down East tourist attractions.

We invite you to use this interactive trail map and guide to enhance your appreciation of the Maine landscape during your next visit or to take a virtual tour. In either case, we hope the time you spend here will be both informative and enjoyable for you.

REMEMBER TO CLEAN UP AFTER YOUR PET.

 

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Midmainebass.com

Midmainebass.com

Want to know anything at all about fishing in Maine?  This is the website to go to:

midmainebass.com

Unfortunately I’m not a fisher-person and I receive lots of emails asking about fishing in Maine.  I finally stumbled across this website.  Take a look (they have a great underwater fish video on their home page, too).

#maineinvitesyou #planforvacation #takeadayforME #downeastMaine  #downeast #mainevacationrental #thingstodo #wickedawesomemaine #mainething #mainethewaylifeshouldbe #activities #vacation #vacationrental  #vacationrentalmaine #downeastvacation #vrbo #homeaway #airbnb #vacationrentalbyowner #featherbedislandhouse #friskyfish #narrowswatch #sprucecottage #cottageonjasperbeach #machias #machiasport  #addison #thewaylifeshouldbe #mainelife #maine #mainecoast #maineliving #coastalmaine#maineisgorgeous #lovemaineadventures #vacationland #youshouldlivehere#thepinetreestate #winterport #mainesummer #bestofmaine #lovemaine #igersofmaine#visitmaine #travel #newengland #thisismaine #igmaine #mainealltheway#scenesofme#207gram #maineigers #newenglandsummer #mainethewaylifeshouldbe

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Maine Beer Trail

Maine Beer Trail

Taken from the VisitMaine website. Please check the website for more information.
https://visitmaine.com/things-to-do/dining-and-nightlife/the-maine-beer-trail/

In the mid-1980s, when Dave Geary sold his first pints of Geary’s Pale Ale, there were only 13 craft breweries in the entire United States. Today, Maine has around 50 breweries crafting hundreds of unique beers. Yes, it’s a competitive field, but it’s also a close-knit and friendly one. Maybe it’s our coastal location, but they’ve all got a “rising tide raises all boats” philosophy. It’s in that spirit that the Maine Brewers Guild was founded.

GRAB YOUR PASSPORT
That spirit, and Maine’s very distinctive hospitality, combined in 2009 with the creation of the Maine Beer Trail. It connects nearly 50 craft breweries, both inland and on the coast. Visit Rocky Coast Brewing in Ogunquit or Kennebec River Pub & Brewery in The Forks, Black Bear Microbrew in Orono or The Bag and Kettle Brewpub at the top of Sugarloaf. Be sure to grab a Maine Beer Trail Passport when you hit the road. Visit 10 breweries, and you’ll be rewarded with a Brewers’ Guild hat; 20 breweries gets you a t-shirt.

You can enjoy the Maine Beer Trail even if no one in your party is willing to make the noble sacrifice of being the designated driver. Take a guided tour with The Maine Brew Bus, complete with beer, snacks, tours and, yes, beer trivia. Or just stick to Portland. There are nearly a dozen breweries just a short walk or cab ride apart, including Shipyard Brewing Co, Sebago and—note the name—Rising Tide Brewing Company.

WHATEVER YOUR THIRST
Maine’s breweries are located all over the map, not just literally, but figuratively as well. At Friars’ Brewhouse in Bucksport, Brother Donald Paul of the Franciscan Brothers of St. Elizabeth of Hungary brews his trademark Whoopie Pie Porter. Penobscot Bay Brewery in Winterport uses the beer they brew to make their signature beer-flavored ice cream. And in a rustic space on Portland’s waterfront, In’finiti Fermentation & Distillation not only brews beer, but distills their own vodka, whiskey and rum.

Maine may have a crazily diverse selection of breweries, but they all share one common theme: They’re serious about making an absolutely great product.

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DownEast Scenic Railroad

DownEast Scenic Railroad

Departures Saturday and Sunday through mid-October.

The Downeast Scenic Railroad was named Best Day Trip in this year’s poll of Down East Magazine readers’ favorites. Thousands of Down East readers voted February through April for their statewide selections and the Downeast Scenic Railroad made the list. The full list of the Best Of honored businesses, places and more, appears in the July issue of Down East.

The “Best of Maine” awards occur annually and provide Down East readers the opportunity to nominate the Maine people, places and things that mean the most to them. Based solely on popular vote, the winners represent the best of Maine as identified by the people who know Maine the best: residents and repeat visitors.

This year thousands of readers nominated their favorites across Maine,” said Down East Editor in Chief Kathleen Fleury. “To be included in this list selected by the readers of Down East or the editorial team here means that you truly are part of what makes Maine so great. Our readers and team take the task of selecting the Best Of very seriously. It really is an honor.”

“We are certainly honored to be chosen as this years Best Day Trip by Down East Magazines readers.”, said Downeast Scenic Railroad/Downeast Rail Heritage Preservation Trust, Inc. President, Tom Testa. He added, “This is a huge acknowledgement to our board, generous supporters and especially our volunteers, all who have given in so many ways to help make the Downeast Scenic Railroad project the preservation and educational success it is today.”

http://www.downeastscenicrail.org/ride/ for more information.

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Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory

Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory

Taller Than the Statue of Liberty!
The Penobscot Narrows Bridge and Observatory is the crown jewel of coastal Maine, offering spectacular 360-degree views of the Penobscot River and Bay, the Maine countryside and the distant western mountains. Tourists and travel writers alike have been attracted to the unique character of this structure, its historical significance and the stunning vistas. Engineering and transportation geeks are fascinated by the award-winning and innovative design. Visitors of all ages and interests will enjoy this unique campus that includes
the tallest public bridge observatory in the world;
historic Fort Knox;
picnic tables and grills;
a diversity of interpretive panels explaining the history of the region, natural wildlife of the area and more;
a covered pavilion for hosting family reunions, small weddings and other special events; as well as
the perfect backdrops for your vacation or family photos.

Open 9 AM to 6 PM Daily
http://www.maine.gov/mdot/pnbo/ for more information

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Moonbat City Baking Co.

Moonbat City Baking Co.

Moonbat City Baking Co.
137 Main St
Belfast, Maine
Call (207) 218-1039

A small batch, from scratch, community baking company.
Breakfast pastries including croissants (chocolate,
almond and savory) are baked daily.
7:00AM – 1:00PM

BUSINESS INFO

Business Details
Parking
Street parking

Specialties
Serves breakfast, lunch and coffee
Services
Walk-Ins Welcome
Good For Groups
Good For Kids
Take Out

Since 2013

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