Hotel Alternatives Provide Greater Value to Vacationing Guests

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Traveling families throughout the U.S. made many concessions over the summer to accommodate rising airline fees, record gas prices and a declining dollar overseas. Many elected to forgo extravagant foreign holidays, as well as cross-county journeys to favorite family destinations. Some favored 'one-tank trips', electing to drive to the nearest reasonable location and enjoy some local color. Still others chose 'stay-cations' -a vacation spent exploring places and activities nearer to home, while some had to pass on vacation altogether because of budget concerns.

In the search for greater value, many families discovered vacation rental properties during this past summer. These properties are often two and three bedroom homes or condominiums that allow a larger family or more than one family to rent one unit instead of several hotel rooms, saving hundreds of dollars in the process. The Vacation Rental Management Association indicates that the vacation rental industry grew by 17% during the last year while the hotel industry posted an increase in profits of 7% for 2007 and is only expected to find a 3% rise in profits for 2008, according to PFK Hospitality Research.

Travelers are beginning to warm to the idea of vacation rentals because of the advent of websites like FlipKey.com, TripAdvisor.com and WeJustGotBack.com where user-generated content and property reviews make consumers more comfortable and confident with the process.

Jeanne Dailey, owner and president of Newman-Dailey Resort Properties in Destin, Florida has over 200 rentals listed on FlipKey.com, where their past guests have reviewed the various properties and cumulatively, Newman-Dailey has achieved a four-and-a-half star rating out of a possible five. "It gives us an extraordinary amount of credibility. Our guests have always expressed how thrilled they have been but up until now, they haven't had a forum where they could let others know. It helps people make informed decisions with their travel and to understand how important it is to rent a professionally-managed property. It gives them a safety net they might not get otherwise."

Dailey's properties are also featured on the popular site, http://www.GetMoreVacations.com, where vacation rental value goes a step further and provides guests with complimentary activities like golf, deep sea fishing, amusement park tickets, wildlife tours, unlimited DVD rentals and much more every day of their stay.

"Our program is called the FUNtastic Recreation Program," says Dailey. "Our guests can play golf at three different courses, take a cruise on the Gulf to see dolphins, race go-karts, get in a round of miniature golf, or take the kids on a fishing adventure in the harbor every day if they like and it is included in their stay. There are no coupons and it's not a discount. These are things we've made available to our guests as amenities. We've had people who've booked here year after year because the money they save lets them come back for a three or four day break in the off-season."

A recent survey by the Luxury Institute indicates that the top three most popular destinations in the U.S. are: Florida and New York (tied in first place) and North Carolina (third). Some of the highest concentrations of vacation rental properties available in the U.S. are in these areas and http://www.GetMoreVacations.com features properties in both Florida and North Carolina, as well as Alabama and Texas.

"It's a sea change," says GetMoreVacations.com Director of Operations Don Abreu. "The turn the economy has taken over the last month will alter the criteria by which people determine where they go on vacation, how long they stay and what they do when they get there. We fully expect to expand into the northeast and South Florida by the summer of 2009. Vacation rentals save people money and provide them with a more comfortable setting for a real family experience instead of the compartmentalized atmosphere of a hotel. This economy will have people looking long and hard at price versus value and our program provides both."

GetMoreVacations.com and Amenity Services Inc. are based in Destin, Florida. ASI provides guests at vacation rental properties in Florida, Alabama, North Carolina and Texas with complimentary golf, deep sea fishing, wildlife tours, amusement parks, water parks, unlimited DVD rentals and much more every day of their stay.

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