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IN THE PRESS: CBS Market Watch
Thursday, May 02, 2002

Web Helps Vacationers Research, Price Rental Properties

Cecily Fraser, CBS Market Watch, May 02,2002

"For many travelers, renting a house or a condominium for a summer getaway is more affordable - and less harrowing - than a two-week hotel stay. In addition to basics such as kitchens and added living space, rental housing often comes with barbeques, swimming pools and other amenities to accommodate the family reunion-type gathering many vacation-bound Americans crave post Sept. 11, experts said.

"'It's a good option and it's not too late' to make reservations, said Tim Cafferty, president of the Vacation Rental Managers Association (VRMA.)

"Still, finding a good rental requires research to avoid disappointment that could arise from booking a property sight unseen. As summer approaches, Web-based resources are especially important for consumers seeking to sort out prices and accommodations.

"Online travel services providers such as Expedia.com, 1stchoice.com and VacationRentalsOnline.com list rates and offer multiple pictures of properties in destinations like Maui, Orlando and Lake Tahoe, Calif. - areas still taking summer reservations.

"'The Internet gives you the ability to see a lot of inventory in different locations and be able to make a reasonable, accurate judgment about what you're trying to buy,' said Tracy Lotz, founder of 1st Choice Vacation Properties.

"Many sites also will suggest vacation activities and carry customer testimonials and property owners' contact information, offering perhaps a more complete and honest picture of a rental.

"Everything sounds great in the description of a paragraph, but when you see four, five pictures, it's hard to hide some of the shortcomings of a rental unit," said Ken Brunt, which will offer vacation-home listings on its Web site starting May 15.


"Demand for summer rentals has been rising steadily in the past few months and is expected to continue for the remainder of the year. VRMA projects vacation rental revenue will jump nearly 10 percent this year.

"When searching online, price-conscious consumers generally will find vacation rentals offer more bang for their buck than motels, especially when traveling with family or large groups of friends.

"'A lot of these places, like in Cabo (San Lucas, Mexico) are $1,000 a night, but they sleep 10 people, so you get four or five couples to go together,' Lotz said.

"To be sure, rental rates vary dramatically based on factors such as demand, location and time of year, experts said.

"For example, hot spots along the northern Florida shore tend to fill up quickly and open homes may be more expensive, while other "fly-to" destinations such as Maui are clamoring for business. And don't forget about off-season spots like Lake Tahoe, which will likely have plenty of homes and cabins at vacationers' disposal.

"'There's some good deals out there to be had and some great places to stay within a three to four hour drive from where you live,' Lotz said.
copywrite CBS Market Watch

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