Finding the perfect vacation spot has never been easier. Sites like Expedia and TripAdvisor have rankings and reviews that let you find whatever you are looking for on the hotel front, but if you are looking for something homier, sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway let you find a vacation property and rent it directly from the owner.
HomeAway is one of the largest listers of properties that are available to rent directly from an owner. Unlike Airbnb, HomeAway insists on owners making entire homes available, not allowing the listing of spare rooms. Available internationally as well as locally, HomeAway has become a favorite for people looking for a getaway spot.
In this article, we’ll walk through the HomeAway booking process, provide an explanation of HomeAway’s fees, discuss HomeAway’s cancellation policy, and more.
Brief Intro to HomeAway
HomeAway was founded in 2004, though the website didn’t officially launch until 2006. It began as a way for people to list second homes for rental online. After merging with VRBO (Vacation Rentals By Owner) and acquiring several other listing companies, HomeAway aggressively grew its listing base, and now boasts over 2 million rentals available across 190 countries.
HomeAway works directly with property owners and property managers who can list a vacation home for rent for the entire year, part of the year, or just for a spare weekend.
HomeAway charges homeowners to list their properties on the site, which usually results in lower fees for people booking on the website, though there are service fees associated with booking on the site. (More on that below.) The company is headquartered in Austin, Texas and was acquired by Expedia in 2015.
How to Find the Right Property
Booking with HomeAway is a simple and painless process. You can book through the VRBO or HomeAway mobile app, but for the purposes of this article we’re going to look at online booking with HomeAway.com.
To start the booking process, first head to the website where you’ll find a place to enter in location, travel dates you want to book, and the number of guests staying with you. HomeAway will automatically filter the results to find homes that are near your desired location, available when you want to be there, and big enough to accommodate the size of your party.
Once you’ve entered your information and hit enter, you’ll be taken to a page where you can start browsing properties. It’s tempting to start just glancing around at photos to see what catches your eye, but it’s also important to realize there are powerful tools on the page that can help you find exactly what you’re looking for and save time in the process.
If you look at the top of the search results page, there is a bar that allows you to filter results on several different criteria. You can set price limits, number of bedrooms, whether or not a property allows instant confirmation booking, and other popular filters, including whether or not the property allows pets, has a pool, is near the beach, and more.
You may also see that next to the filters you have an option to see “All Filters.” This gives you total control over finding exactly what you want, with filters for WiFi access, property type, air conditioning, laundry machines, and more.
Taking a few moments to select some filters can save you a lot of time in sorting through properties that might look nice at first but don’t actually have all the amenities and features you are looking for. (A general warning, though: Selecting too many filters can sometimes severely limit your selection choices.)
Aside from the filters, there is also a map on the right side of the page that allows you to see where the properties are, and lets you find that exact beach spot you’ve been looking for, just where you want it to be.
Once you’ve set your filters and found a property you like, it’s time to review it. Once again, HomeAway gives you a lot of options when looking at the home you’ve found. On the left side of the screen, they have a menu which allows you to look at a host of things, including photos, amenities, reviews, map, rates, and availability.
Photos are viewed by clicking through the carousel to see different features of the house. (Owners and managers are allowed to upload 50 photos of the property.) The other tabs let you:
- See the home’s amenities
- Read reviews from past guests to see how easy it was to work with the property manager or owner
- View availability and rates for different dates if your travel is flexible
An important thing to remember is that you’re not only booking the property, you’re booking a relationship with the owner or manager who you’ll be coordinating your stay with. Look for reviews where people mention that the owner was prompt with the key, answered all questions, etc. Those tend to provide the best experiences.
Booking With HomeAway
You’ve found the property you love and have decided to pull the trigger. For some properties, it’s as easy as that. HomeAway gives owners the option to accept instant booking for available dates, and if your property allows instant booking, it’s as simple as hitting a button and reserving your dates.
Some properties will ask that you request to book. To do that, you’ll see that the button which said “Book Now” will say “Request to Book.” Once your booking request is in, owners have 24 hours to check that the dates are OK, and review your profile to make sure that you haven’t received bad reviews from other owners.
Once you’ve hit book, you’ll be taken to HomeAway checkout where you can review the final price, accept the terms that come with the use of this website, then select payment method and pay for your stay. HomeAway accepts credit card payments but they have other payment options as well, including eCheck.
Every booking comes with HomeAway’s Book with Confidence Guarantee, which guarantees that you’ll be reimbursed if the home listed is fraudulent, a phishing attempt, or severely misrepresented from the photos. You’ll also get free rebooking assistance in the event of owner cancellation. (More on that momentarily.)
Once you finish the HomeAway checkout process, you may notice that there are certain fees included. Depending on the listing and location, homes may add a cleaning fee and a lodging tax to your total, and every booking on HomeAway comes with a service fee.
These fees can range based on location and are different in the United States, Canada, and other countries. To review the fees for each of your bookings, click on “View Details” under the order total before checking out. Any more questions or concerns about the property? You can call the HomeAway customer service 888-640-7927 and reference the property listing number, which is included at the bottom of the page.
HomeAway‘s Cancellation Policy
Cancelling a stay with Homeaway is easy provided you do so early enough, and is dependent on what your host lists as their individual cancellation policy in the rental agreement.
Here are the different cancellation policies and what they mean:
- Relaxed Cancellation Policy: Trips booked more than 14 business days in advance of check-in give the booker a full refund, including booking fees. Trips booked between 7 and 14 days out will result in a 50 percent refund to the booker.
- Moderate Cancellation Policy: Trips booked more than 30 business days in advance of check-in give the booker a full refund, including booking fees. Trips booked 14 days out will result in a 50 percent refund to the booker.
- Firm Cancellation Policy: Trips booked more than 60 business days in advance of check-in give the booker a full refund, including booking fees. Trips booked 30 days out will result in a 50 percent refund to the booker.
- Strict Cancellation Policy: Only gives a refund when canceled 60 days out and no half refunds.
- No refunds: The homeowner has the choice to offer no refunds.
Refunds will be issued to the bank account that paid for the initial listing.
Find That Perfect Vacation Rental
HomeAway allows you to browse homes, filter them to get exactly what you’re looking for, read reviews, look over amenities, and then book securely knowing you’ve found exactly what you’re looking for. With their guarantee, you’ll know you won’t be made to pay for a fraudulent listing, and in the unlikely event of an owner cancellation, you will be refunded and assisted in finding a place to rebook.
Take a look around the website and see if you can find that perfect place to stay.