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Travel Lodging Scams (and How to Avoid Them)

travel lodging scams

September 17, 2018 – by Primo Management Group

travel lodging scams

Don’t let these common travel lodging scams ruin your vacation!

Travel opens the door to amazing experiences and perspectives. Unfortunately, it also opens the door to travel lodging scams. These scams take advantage of you when you are vulnerable. They can cost you thousands of dollars and leave you without a place to stay in a foreign country. Instead, protect yourself and learn about some common travel lodging scams and how to avoid them.

High-Pressure Sales

The Scam: Chances are, you’ve searched for accommodations on a third-party site and seen warning messages telling you “Book now!” or “Only 2 left!” or “Sale ends at midnight!” However, these tactics are aimed at getting you to book without doing your research. And, they’re not based on the hotel’s full inventory. Instead, these sites only have access to a certain number of rooms in any given facility. If you give in to the urgency, you may not read the fine print and you can miss out on a better deal.

How To Avoid It: Book directly with the hotel. They understand their availability and can tell you if rooms really are going fast.

Fake Vacation Rentals

The Scam: Nothing’s worse than arriving at your rental after a long day of traveling to find that it isn’t there. With the rise of home sharing practices such as Airbnb, travelers are more inclined to seek off the beaten path lodgings. And this can mean booking lodgings through Craigslist or social media. However, there’s no way for you to be certain of what you’re renting or who you’re renting with. Many travelers have found themselves out of luck and out of money when they thought they were getting a deal.

How To Avoid It: Avoid this travel lodging scam by booking only through reputable sites. Although not foolproof, Airbnb at least withholds payment until after you’ve checked in. Other sites like HomeAway offer similar oversight, which is a layer of protection for you.

Bait and Switch Bookings

The Scam: The bait and switch booking travel lodging scam is not unlike the fake vacation rental scam. However, with bait and switch, you end up with a booking that’s not what you thought it would be. Here’s how it works. You work with the agent to book your lodgings. Everything seems to be going well right up until the end when suddenly that booking is no longer available. The agent then offers you a booking that is “similar” or “just as good.” You were already willing to hand over your money to this person so you go ahead and do it. When you arrive at your “just as good” beachfront hotel, you find it’s well inland, too small, and definitely not similar.

How To Avoid It: The bait and switch is more common with third parties. So, always book with a trusted source. It makes sense to book directly with the hotel or resort. And if they do try to offer a substitute at the last minute, say no and go find your own substitute.

Timeshare Scams

The Scam: Timeshare scams are as old as timeshares themselves. This industry has always been home to high-pressure sales practices. Here’s how it works. A sales rep offers you a “free” gift in exchange for your attendance at a sales presentation for a timeshare. Then, once you’re at the presentation, they make grandiose claims about the value of the timeshare and refuse to take no for an answer. These presentations can last for hours and they don’t always deliver on that “free” gift, either.

How to Avoid It: Just say no to people offering free gifts and timeshares. If you really want a timeshare, research your purchase and buy it when you aren’t on vacation. And if you’re drooling over that gift, realize you may end up buying a $30,000 timeshare and paying a lifetime of maintenance fees just for that “free” dinner or iPad. Read more about these scams here.

Have you fallen prey to a timeshare scam? We can help. Contact us to see what we can do to end your timeshare nightmare!

(Image Source: Samuel Holt on Unsplash)

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