|My kids with me, Mammoth Mountain, Vintage Photo|
|Me sledding in Big Bear in Southern California|
|My daughters at the top of Mammoth Mountain, Vintage Photo|
|MBE's 4 Kids in the Loft of our Mammoth Condo, Vintage Photo|
Most vacation rental Web sites are trustworthy. As City Concierge, a local California resort reservation company points out, working with a local, legitimate and professional vacation rental Web-based business helps avoid “rip-offs” and the enticing “too good to be true” advertisements found on Craigslist, Backpages.com, larger national sites, or other Web sites where fraudulent perpetrators operate.
So how can the moms and dads planning a family vacation tell the good guys from the bad guys? Not all rental scams are that obvious. There are a number of important characteristics to look for when deciding on which online vacation rental business to use and for choosing the right property.
|My Hubbie, Son & Dog at a Lake Tahoe Resort, Vintage Photo|
|My youngest son at Big Bear with many mini snowmen, Vintage Photo|
- 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 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 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.
- Do they have a high quality and current Web site? 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, offering protection through disputed charges if something goes astray. 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?
A “buyer” should always use the same smart due diligence with an online vacation rental Web site. This way you will get what you paid for and be spared a vacation disaster. Remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.
|Mammoth Mountain Pines & Fresh Fallen Snow|
Jefferson Lanz is CEO of City Concierge, an internet-based fully independent central reservation agency that delivers a range of tourism-based vacation planning services, lodging reservations, and activity information for individuals, groups and corporate travel. The company specializes in the California mountains resort areas of Mammoth Lakes, Lake Tahoe and Big Bear California.
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