VRBO/HomeAway is one of those listing sites to very recently (Feb 2016) roll out these new fees charged to renters. These large listing sites are also removing email and contact information from any renter/host communications to force the exchange to happen on their site with their fees.
Needless to say, this is disconcerting for property owners around the globe because it adds to the cost for potential guests to rent their property and removes direct communication; that extra touch and piece of mind that makes renting someone's home as opposed to a bland hotel room so unique and special.
There are, however a couple of ways to avoid this extra fee when looking for a vacation home to rent.
If you have booked the rental home previously, you can contact the owner directly to book again. Many owners, like us, love to hear from previous renters again and often offer discounts for repeat rentals.
If the cottage has a name, you can google the name to see if the owners also have a private website for their rental with their direct contact information on it. We have found that naming our cottage Summer Pines Cottage allows more people to find and return to our personal website year after year and it also makes our cottage easily searchable by and referable to friends and family. Another place to search for the name of a particular cottage is Facebook as many rental property owners have a dedicated Facebook page for their rental property these days.
Going direct saves both the host and the guest money, increases community and connection and makes the whole rental experience more personal and satisfying. Feel free to contact us anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org.