5 Reasons to Book a Managed Vacation Rental over an Airbnb
Clearly when it comes to choosing between the two, we’re not going to be impartial. Airbnb has done a lot for our industry, bringing home rentals into the mainstream and majorly contributing to a law change in London permitting residents to turn their homes into London vacation apartments part of the year. But when I book to go abroad, 9 times out of 10, I’ll book through an agency who professional manages vacation rental homes in the same way that Ivy Lettings does in London, rather than directly with the owner. (Before I start, I should say that the title of this blog is somewhat simplistic since it might suggest all Airbnbs are “direct-with-owner” bookings, which isn’t always the case - some Airbnbs are professionally managed, for example we list some of our homes on the site.)
- Security & Trust
Airbnb supposedly does a lot to verify its hosts and prevent abuse of its platform, and whilst the large majority of those listing on it are bona fide, the fact remains that scammers abound also. Yes, hosts only get paid once the guests have checked in so crooks can’t list totally non-existent properties, but they are getting smarter at fleecing unwary travellers. The success of airbnb is founded on the ease with which anyone can create a listing (it takes all of about 5 minutes to get a listing live) but this is a double-edged sword. Almost once a week we get last minute enquiries from jet-lagged guests standing on doorsteps of homes fraudulently listed on home-sharing websites. This is absolutely not to say that if you book via a major advertising platform you will be scammed, nor that there is a very high chance that you will either, but when you’re booking your holiday, you don’t even want that to be a remote possibility. Searching for the right home can be tricky enough, and there’s nothing worse than finding the perfect one and then wondering if it’s too good to be true (because you know what they say…)
- Quality Control
As you know, anyone can list their “space" on Airbnb, and in London it seems that pretty much everyone does. When you create a listing, you’re prompted to list what you love about it, what makes it unique and why guests should pick your home for their stay. So when travellers are planning a trip to London, they’re confronted with around 40,000 “absolutely amazing, truly spectacular, unique loft style apartments with uninterrupted cityscape views” (for £63 per night). Much as I want a wide range of choice when planning my vacation, there’re only so many listings I can review and so much hyperbole I can process before my head begins to hurt. When guests book via Ivy Lettings they know they will be renting an apartment which meets our strict listing criteria. For every property that we list, we decline 4 or 5 homes for their standard of furnishings, poor location, level of noise, sketchiness of neighbourhood etc. For our guests, and for myself when I travel, I believe it’s preferable to trust a local expert to pick the best homes to make my selection an easy and pleasurable experience.
- Hands On Deck
So you’ve checked into your London vacation rental or airbnb, all is going well, you’re enjoying the city and then on the third day the boiler suddenly decides to stop working. Who do you call? If it’s an Airbnb you call the host. Problem is, he’s spending your rental fee skiing so he’s not really in a position to take a look at it (and not being a plumber he wouldn’t be able to do much about it anyway). He wants to help because he doesn’t want to get a bad review, but he equally doesn’t want to fork out a few hundred pounds on an emergency plumber, so you have an unproductive and slightly resentful phone call staring at the boiler as he tries to illustrate his recollection of the control panel and what symbols should be appearing and which absolutely should not be flashing intermittently. You press some buttons, perhaps if you’re feeling adventurous or particularly cold, you try to re-pressurise the boiler yourself, and you wait an hour as your host instructs. You head out and return later but there’s no improvement, so you restart the process. You get the picture. Or, if you’ve booked with a professional vacation rental manager like Ivy Lettings, you call in the issue and they have a member of staff dedicated to addressing these kinds of issues, and he heads over right away. The boiler is fixed as quickly as possible without your involvement or losing a day of your vacation.
- It’s Nice to Talk
Most enquiries at Ivy Lettings involve several phone conversations between the guest and our sales team. And when I book a villa for my family or any other type of vacation rental, I insist on telephone communication with the agency I’m renting from. There are two reasons for this. Firstly, I’ll often have a list of questions and getting complete answers to those is much more productively handled over a single 10 minute phone call rather than an exchange of multiple emails spanning several days. Secondly, and more importantly, I want to speak to someone. It gives me assurance, an impression of the people I am dealing with and to whom I’m about to pay quite a lot of money, in a way that emails or messaging cannot. The problem with Airbnb is that in order for them to keep the booking within their system (and for them to earn their fee) they strenuously prevent guests and hosts from trying to communicate outside of their messaging system prior to booking (when it is needed most). And for me at least, that’s a big no.
- Hotel Standards
As standard, Ivy Lettings furnishes each of it’s London vacation homes with 5 star hotel standard luxury bed linen and towels, each of our homes is cleaned by our dedicated team of highly trained housekeepers, and we ensure your London vacation home is presented to our guests to a high standard, maintaining a balance between home character and hotel housekeeping. We’ve spent over 7 years and 10,000 listings achieving and delivering this constant standard, because it’s what our clients expect and come back to us for, and it’s what I want when I go on vacation. If it’s important to you to, then you know where to start planning your vacation.
Guy van der Westhuizen is Managing Director of Ivy Lettings in London. Ivy Lettings have professionally managed London vacation rentals since 2009. To search your London vacation rental, please click the link below, or to enquire about listing your home with us, please visit www.ivylettings.com.