Savvy travelers expect more from accommodations websites nowadays, and vacation rental sites are no exception. There are a few newcomers on the scene that offer great customer service and interactive benefits. While I'm still a fan of the old standbys (VRBO, for example), these new resources are definitely worth adding to your travel-sites-to-visit list.
In the past, there was no TripAdvisor (a sister site of SmarterTravel.com) for the vacation rental industry—no one-stop shop to find customer reviews of rental properties. And with thousands of independent properties around the world, putting together a user-review site for vacation rentals seemed a daunting task for any company. But FlipKey (also a sister site) has proved itself equal to the challenge. Here, you'll find property listings, user reviews, extensive search capabilities, and detailed maps. There's also functionality for submitting rate and rental inquiry requests. Destinations currently include the Caribbean, Europe, Mexico, and the U.S., with Canadian properties to be added soon.
VacationRoost offers professionally managed properties with a focus on ski and beach destinations. Unlike other vacation rental sites I've seen, here you can purchase packages like you would with a hotel or major travel supplier, with car rentals, lift tickets, and other add-ons bundled into your vacation rental price. Also useful is the site's deals section, which highlights the latest discounts and special offers from member properties.
Lastly, Zonder also offers professional management and assistance, with 24-hour booking and customer service, destination guides, and in-depth property descriptions. Here, what you see is what you get—all property calendars and bookings are updated in real-time, so you won't have to worry about waiting for a response from a property owner.
Do you have a favorite vacation rental site to recommend? Share your tips by submitting a comment below!