How to Avoid Hidden Booking Fees that Big Box Sites Charge

How to Avoid Hidden Booking Fees that Big Box Sites Charge

For the past seven years I have used VRBO/Homeaway as my advertising venue for the rental of Dans Florida Condos. I have two immaculate 2br and 1br units located on Anna Maria Island (Central Gulf Coast, in Bradenton Beach, FL). Last year VRBO/Homeaway was purchased by Expedia and immediately began changing their business profile. The first thing was to add a “Service Fee” of 7-13% to our rates all of which was passed on to you the renter. At the same time, we could see no benefit to you for that fee.

How to Avoid Hidden Booking Fees that Big Box Sites Charge

VRBO/Homeaway began acting like any other rental Property Management Company and has continually harassed us to accept their “BIN” (Book It Now) feature, whereby they control the entire transaction, communication, etc. removing the “personal touch” of booking directly through an owner.

Additionally, they removed the option to contact us directly (phone/personal email) in order to address any questions about the unit or the Island and accommodation. Thus VRBO/Homeaway is no longer an advertising or networking venue, rather a booking site which only priority is to drive the profits for shareholders.

To combat this, by the end of this year I am discontinuing my listings from “big box” listing sites, and returning to a business model which allows open communication between guests and owners, and more importantly allows guests to avoid booking fees!

I am excited to announce, my new “booking fee free” website which just went live. Check out Dans Florida Condos (like at bottom of this email) to take advantage of a Booking fee free experience. You’ll also find additional information on Anna Maria Island, FL along with pictures, guest testimonials, and an updated Blog of events happening on Anna Maria Island and Dans Florida Condos.

How to Avoid Hidden Booking Fees that Big Box Sites Charge

Three ways to Save $ By Booking Direct:

  1. Try and book direct with the owner or property manager. If you want to book one of our properties, please visit our website, call/text 773-598-9717, or email me at
  2. Search on Facebook for the name and location to see if some of your favorite properties have a website or a Facebook page. From there you can contact the owner/manager directly. You can like my page by doing a quick Facebook Search “Dans Florida Condos” or visiting
  3. Search for your perfect vacation rental on any of the big box listing sites. Identify your top choices, noting the property’s name and location. Use your search engine (i.e. Google) to search for the property name and city and possibly the owner’s name to find their booking free website.

These steps can save you hundreds of dollars in booking fees from the listing websites (and you won’t be bombarded by their continual spam after you inquire on a property).

If you have any questions about the changing Rental By Owner market, you are welcome to reach out to me. Please also take the time to “Like” our facebook page at I will be soon setting up a regional Facebook Site and website, so you will have an even greater pool of “Booking Fee Free” owners/units to choose from on Anna Maria Island and Bradenton Beach, FL.

Here’s to starting a new adventure together, declaring independence from greedy profit hungry Big Box listing sites, and returning to a more personal Vacation Rental By Owner experience for us all.

Your Host,