The world of holiday making has changed dramatically over the past 5-10 years. With the rise of the internet and budget airlines, putting together a perfect custom holiday package has never been easier. Across the world there are websites that let you book your own accommodation whether it be a beach hut in Bali or a luxury villa in Ibiza.
As a result, many sites offering a catalogue of independently owned houses, apartments and villas have arisen. These websites have rapidly become a vital resource for the self booker, but as with many things in life, that popularity has lead to many problems. Not surprisingly, unscrupulous individuals have capitalised on this emerging market, with over 30% of holiday fraud victims in 2013 falling for the fraudulent advertisement of holiday villas and apartments.
Fortunately, it’s fairly easy to protect yourself and verify you’re getting the real deal before you transfer your hard earned cash for that dream holiday property. Follow these steps to make your booking that little bit more secure.
One of the easiest ways to make sure a property is where the advertiser says it is, is to use Google Maps. Find the address of the villa or apartment and track it down using the Google Maps search bar, once your happy you're in the right place, zoom into Street View level, and have a look around for the property you’re interested in. Not only is this a great first step in verifying you're onto a winner, but it gives you an opportunity to make sure the area is described and what you are looking for.
Check the review sites for verification that the property is legit and give yourself peace of mind that the owners are reasonable and helpful, and that the accommodation is as described, it goes without saying that any holiday let with bad reviews should be avoided, but be weary if all those 5 star reviews seem a little too glowing; it’s not too tricky to fake them
Most of the mainstream property sites display the age of the advertisement. Naturally all owners have to start somewhere, but if you have your doubts and can see a property has recently been added to a listing site, be weary. As a rule, the longer a property has been online, the more likely it is to be a trustworthy booking.
Back Up Research
Many property owners are savvy business people, and as a result, its unlikely the property will be on one site. Do a search to cross reference the accommodation on another site. Stick the property name into Google and make sure there are consistencies in the results across the sites. If you're tech-wise, do a reverse image search of any pictures and see if they pop up elsewhere. If your luxury villa in Spain looks identical to one on a golf resort in Florida, alarm bells should ring!
If your familiar with the area, ask the owner a few simple questions like the distance from the accommodation to a town or place. Don't be afraid to ask for a phone number and make a call, a legitimate owner should have a reasonable amount of knowledge of the local area, if they sound unsure or cagey, be aware.
Before you send any money, make sure you have all the paperwork in hand. Verify the company or person asking for payment is legitimate and authorised to rent out the house or villa you're interested in. Avoid money transfer services such as Western Union as these offer you no protection if a booking goes wrong. Aim to pay over the phone or online with a Credit Card or PayPal as these will protect you in the instance of fraud, and most importantly, never send cash by post. If somebody is asking for the full amount of the fee up-front, or a very large deposit, then avoid. Generally a booking deposit will be around 10% of the total. If someone is asking for the money to be sent to an unusual country, and a different name, it may be a clear indicator that the listing is not genuine.
By combining some of these top tips for booking holiday accommodation you can avoid the fraudsters and enjoy booking a holiday that suits you. Always remember, if it seems too good to be true, it probably is!
By the team of: www.micasatucasaibiza.com