Monday, March 17, 2008

VRWD and Standards in Vacation Rentals

One of the biggest reasons why holidaymakers don't rent directly from owners is that they don't know exactly what they will be getting. Most "vacation rental by owner" do not do any vetting of vacation rental properties on their books. Because there is no independent way to assess the standards in vacation rental by owner properties, it is very much up to the renter to do the necessary due diligence to ensure that what they are buying will be acceptable to their requirements.

Effectively, there no equivalent to the "star" rating system for hotels or large vacation apartments.

One company, VRWD, is attemping to introduce a Trusted Vacation Rental Seal . Members are allowed to put the trusted logo on their own websites, after completing a review by VRWD. However, it's not clear what is involved in this review process, nor how do VRWD assure and maintain the standards of their members. Presumably, if complaints are received, members can be dropped from the program. However, until the Trusted Vacation Rental Seal is adopted as a standard, it's influence with renters will be limited.

When is comes to standards, vacation rentals have a big disadvantage over hotels or even bed and breakfast properties. Part of the reason for this is that governments and tourist boards are typically a lot more supportive of hotels and B&Bs than they are of vacation rentals by owner properties.

In Ireland, where I live, Board Failte, the Irish tourist board, has an active program for assessing and grading B&B properties and I would not dream of staying in a B&B that was not Bord Failte approved. Until we get to the same stage with vacation rentals, it may continue to be "caveat emptor" for the renter.

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