Americans Are Dissatisfied With Short-Term Vacation Rental Services, Survey Shows

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A lot of us have been there. You spend hours combing websites looking for the perfect vacation rental that’s also within your budget. You comb through pictures, look up addresses and research neighborhoods and amenities. You finally find the perfect unit, the host says pets are allowed and parking is provided – and then you click “reserve.”

Suddenly the price seems a lot higher. Then you look more closely. Cleaning fees, hospitality fees, pet fees, parking fees and taxes aren’t always disclosed in the “per night” rate. And suddenly that affordable rental has soared out of your budget.

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And then there are the checkout chores and host requirements: One vacationer tells a story of his stay in Panama, where the host had posted a rule stating "no AC in the room when you're not there." When the guest left the room to use the bathroom, the host removed the breaker for the AC and refused to return it because the guest hadn't turned it off for the two minutes he was gone.

Americans Are Dissatisfied With Short-Term Vacation Rental Services

Over three-quarters of Americans have now used at least one short-term vacation rental service like Airbnb, VRBO or Vacasa. And just under half said they’d experienced some sort of problem during their stay.

Jan. 31 is National Plan for Vacation Day. And what better time to plan? As winter lingers, many fantasize about spring and summer getaways. But are vacation rentals as popular as they used to be? To learn, surveyed more than 1,500 Americans about their vacation rental experiences. Here’s what we found.

Key Takeaways

  • A host of problems: Almost 18% said they felt unsafe or frightened during their stay. About 12% found hidden cameras. Another 31% said that when they arrived, the unit was not as described. Issues checking in due to pet policies (20%), inability to check in (20%) and inability to reach the host (18%) were also major complaints.
  • Checking out can be a chore: 66% of residents were asked to complete chores before check-out. Of those asked to complete various tasks, 53% said they were asked to perform light housekeeping like stripping the beds or running the dishwasher. 21% were asked to do between 15-30 minutes worth of work, 18% were asked to do between 30-60 minutes worth of chores and 7% said they were asked to spend more than an hour on tasks.
  • Price uncertainty: 54% said they selected a property and started the booking process, then found that the price was significantly higher than the cited per-night rate. Of that group, 41% said the final total was more than 26% higher than anticipated based on the per-night rate. More than 54% ended up not booking.

Read the full report here.

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