If you’re ready to plan your next getaway, likely the first thing you’ll tackle, once you’ve picked the dates and location, is booking the vacation rental. And if you’re like most people, you’ll head to Booking.com, TripAdvisor.com, or Airbnb.com — the top three vacation rental sites according to a study by Semrush.com, an online marketing service. These online businesses are what’s known as third-party booking sites. And they may not necessarily be the best approach, especially when you consider the benefits of direct booking.

What Is a Third-Party Booking Site?

In short, a third-party booking site, also known as an online travel agency (OTA), is a website where you can book vacation rentals. Some also have the option to book flights, cars, and vacation packages as well. The idea behind these “marketplaces” is to bring buyers (those looking to book) together with sellers (of vacation properties, hotel rooms, flights, and car rentals) to make it easier for consumers to find options and compare prices, as well as to increase exposure and bookings for those listing on the site.

Here’s how it works: A listing fee or a fee on each booking is required to appear on the third-party booking site, and then the person booking would have to pay a service fee on top of the cost of what they book.

Direct versus Third-Party Booking Sites

The convenience of third-party booking is appealing, but it may not be all it’s cracked up to be once you compare it to the benefits of direct booking like:

Cost savings –As you may already have experienced, those service fees for booking third-party can be substantial. Who wants to waste their hard-earned vacation money on fees? What’s more, the properties you find often have to raise their nightly rates to cover the listing fees on their end. On the other hand, booking direct at Music City Loft, for example, can save you up to 20 percent. Just imagine how you could put those savings to good use on your trip!

Better customer service – Third-party booking sites are notorious for limiting access to owners; they want you to stay on their platform, so you book through the site, make any trip changes, and ask any questions through the site. That degree of separation means more hassle, things take longer, and you’re dealing with people who don’t know the property (or the location). In booking direct, you can go straight to the owner or property manager, cutting out the middle man for more customized service and typically a more authentic experience in terms of recommendations for enjoying the area.

More perks – Sure, some third-party sites have loyalty programs and the occasional special deal, but with the volume of bookings, they simply don’t need to cut you a break. When booking direct, not only will you have access to room upgrades and other perks only accessible this way, they are also likely to have more deals and/or even off-peak specials. For example, Music City Loft offers the fourth night free when you book three nights directly.

Learn more about booking direct with Music City Loft for your vacation rentals today!

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