The writing has been on the wall for quite some time, but an email announcing the end of the road a couple of months ago was still a sad email to receive. The brand Owners Direct has been written off at last.
It’s not been a way of contacting owners directly for quite some time; the parent company Homeaway, owned themselves by Expedia, have long allowed large agencies to list. Since they introduced a service fee, online payments and bookings, direct contact has also been more difficult to make with the company hiding guests email addresses from the owner. Forcing contact through their site until after the booking is made. Not a great way to build the sort of trust there needs to be between an owner who is handing over the keys to a property that may well be worth hundreds of thousands of pounds and the guest handing over their money to a stranger in exchange for a lovely holiday.
Fast forward to now. One of the properties I had listed on the site has been archived for the last few months and the other, Bramble Cottage, is due for renewal in the next two weeks. All has changed. Now I must register for online booking and online payments with Homeaway payments. It’s what you want all the listing sites tell us! Even if I ask you to pay a deposit now and the balance two months before, these sites now keep ALL your money until after you check in. Yes you heard right, the owner doesn’t get the funds for months, or even a year, if you like to book your summer holiday a year ahead. Never let it be said that owners are greedy, it’s the listing sites who are calling all the shots now.
Do you want to pay more money for your holiday? Their credit card fees will cost me twice the cost of the credit card service I currently offer. I am always prompt to answer your enquiries and keep my calendars up to date. Online travel insurance is generally affordable nowadays and is an awful lot cheaper than paying their service fee for their ‘assurances’.
So with Owners Direct gone that was such a popular site with UK visitors, where are you looking for your holidays now? Homeaway, Trip Advisor, Holiday Lettings or perhaps Airbnb? All of these platforms generally prevent direct contact between owner and guest until after booking. I’m a great fan of the small independent sites or social media and I hope that’s where you now track down your holidays. Facebook groups, twitter and instagram amongst them. Let me know which sites you use to find your perfect holiday and let’s see if us owners can find each other at the lowest cost. Cut the middleman and book direct.