Don’t Get Scammed On Your Next Resort Vacation

big bear cabin

The simple and convenient use of national online vacation rental web sites is on the rise and has become the new norm for many people planning a trip.  But they are not all the same.  Vacation lodging is being reserved through computers and smart phones, on commuter rails and lunch breaks, and while watching the kid’s soccer game. Unfortunately, vacation-rental-scams are also on the rise. Sadly, the scams are proliferating and horror stories are surfacing from consumers who were unaware. The last thing anyone wants to worry about is being scammed on vacation.

As of 2017, the leading travel websites such as Expedia, Homeaway, VRBO, Travelocity, Trip Advisor and any like that, charge an additional service fee to use their site.  This is in addition to any fees they may be charging in the form of “commissions” to the property managers who list their properties.  Yes, VRBO used to mean “Vacation Rental By Owner” but not any more.  They are now large companies, who raise their prices in order to get the free listings offered.   As more and more vacationers are choosing the ease and comfort of staying in a vacation rental home rather than in a hotel when they travel to a resort the way to combat this is to go local.  The local agencies don’t need to charge the extra fees since they are the supplier so you can save on your vacations.

The advantages to vacation home and cabin rentals over individual hotel rooms are many, with the larger space, improved privacy and shared living areas making this choice preferred by numerous travelers. However, booking these homes online through a private party can be risky for the renter. So yes, using a property manager instead of a private party is better, and going local is the way to do it.

According to an August 2010 leading travel industry article by Tnooz, “Industry studies show that the overwhelming majority of travelers (up to 80%) select their accommodation through the Internet, and over 50% end up booking online.”

Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As one California resort reservation booking company pointed out, “working with a local and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid the rip-off and the enticing to-good-to-be-true advertisements that are found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, large national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators lie.”

So how can the public tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. Here are several important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and choosing the right property:

  • Is the vacation rental Web site locally or regionally based? Real businesses have real local or regional addresses. Google their address. The vacation property itself should have an address for Google Maps verification. If it doesn’t ask a telephone agent for it. Then Google it.
  • Does this business have a YELP listing?  Remember, if they sell rentals on a site (like Trip Advisor does) then how creditable can the reviews be?
  • Does the Web site business have a working phone number? Call them and talk to them, or notice how soon they return any messages left. Real businesses have real professional and knowledgeable employees who provide quality information.
  • They also should use a consistent email address in their correspondence. The email address should be the same as the domain name, not a “free” email box from Yahoo, MSN, AOL or Gmail.
  •  Real businesses have their name the same as their Web site address (the URL). When they have good, original content on their site, such as “local activities to do”, this helps to prove their credibility.
  • When was the business started? Do they have a trademark and a business license? If they don’t provide this, do not do business with them. This is public information; you can find it easily with a search.
  • Are the photos of the vacation rentals really theirs? If the photo has a watermark on it that is NOT the same as their URL, these guys might be bogus. Fake sites steal photos from legitimate Web sites.
  • What is their payment system? Credit cards are the absolutely safest way to go.   If they want, cash, wire transfers, money orders or a personal check written to their first name, run the other way.
  • 24-hour service is important. Does this company/person have a local representative that is within an hour of any service call? What happens if the heat goes out in a snow storm? Often when renting direct with an owner there is no 24/7 service which is how they compete to keep the price down. Why ruin your vacation?

Any online business is potentially susceptible to being a fraud when money and “products” are exchanged through a virtual format. Dealing with a fraudulent vacation rental “business” is like going to a car dealer that sells you a lemon – it looks really good at the dealer but turns into a nightmare on the road.  A “buyer” should use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way they will get what they paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.

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The Right Accommodations in Big Bear

Big Bear Cabins

A very luxury rental log cabin in Big Bear

If you live near San Bernardino or in Southern California there is no excuse not to vacation in Big Bear Lake for some rest and relaxation. The mountains are beautiful anytime of the year, and it is the local city goers getaway.  Whether in summer, winter or the quieter spring and fall, Big Bear California is full of things to do.  From skiing to hiking, to fishing to the new crazy sports on the water, the lake and the alpine atmosphere make any vacation, a real vacation.

Hotels are not that prolific in town, so getting a Big Bear vacation cabin rental is the perfect thing to do and has so many more options than regular hotel accommodations. A Big Bear vacation cabin will be unique and may have amenities such as a private hot tub, billiard or game table, and maybe if it is not too remote even internet.  When you rent a Big Bear cabin you can expect that it will come with full linens, towels and are ready to go when you are. You just have to bring the fun!   While it’s always a good idea to inquire what is inside especially if you have your list of things you must have, most are going to be very well equipped.   Big Bear cabin rentals can give you the perfect relaxing break from your busy daily life by giving you so much space to unwind it. They are perfect for couples, families, a weekend getaway or a corporate group bonding trip… anyone looking for something rustic and a place to get away from it all.

Each time you come to visit the Big Bear resort you will find new things to do. Bear Mountain and Snow Summit are the hot places in the winter with endless skiing and snowboarding. During the summer months fishing, hiking and mountain biking are big as are all the outdoor concerts.  Surrounded by unbelievable soaring landscapes, towering trees, the sounds of frogs chirping, the creek side, Big Bear Lake is an unspoiled scenic environment. Your Big Bear vacation rental  could be in the forest, in town, lakefront, or near the quaint village but either way, just be steps from the various outdoor activities. BigBearReservations.net is a good source with  cabin rentals in everybody’s price range

We found that most accommodations in Big Bear are set up to be second homes for the owners and rented when they are not there, so they are comfortable and come with cozy wood burning fireplaces, BBQ grills for patio cooking, or maybe an outdoor Jacuzzi. Many of the Big Bear vacation cabin rentals are both kid friendly and pet friendly. Just look in the amenity list to see if it listed as a pet friendly cabin rental. Unlike hotel lodging, the Big Bear cabins are all unique and so there will be differences in facilities in each rental home or cabin.

If you’re of like mind then staying by the lake is going to be your first priority when you travel in the warmer months and near the ski slopes in the colder months.  The town of Big Bear Lake California is not very big, so unless you’re staying high on a hill, everything is very close.  While the list of activities is endless, we do want to mention that a must do is the drive around the lake.  It takes about an hour to go all the way around and when you get to the other side, do make a stop at the Discovery Center.  I’ll write about that on another post.  Have a fun time and let me know where you stayed and what you did.