“Thanks to hotelization we had our Sex and the City moment and rented a brownstone apartment in the West Village for our trip to New York.”
Travelers in search of value and a neighborhood experience now have a wealth of choices among city apartments being offered as short-term vacation rentals, thanks to websites such as AirBnB, HomeAway, and TripAdvisor. Critics of hotelization claim the practice drives up rental costs for locals and makes affordable housing more scarce. Municipal governments in popular destinations such as New York City and San Francisco have taken note and are trying to rein the practice in. Nevertheless, expect the trend to continue: small-time landlords will likely fly under the radar of municipal enforcement intended to stop multiunit operations. Meanwhile, a stagnating real estate market means owners who would otherwise sell may prefer to bide their time playing hotelier.
T+L Tip: Worried that a listing looks too good to be true? HomeAway offers up to $10,000 payment protection in case a listing is misrepresented, gets double booked, or goes into foreclosure. AirBnB accepts payment on behalf of the landlord, so your host will never see your credit card.
“Thanks to my location-based loyalty program, I just earned one night free at the Viceroy Santa Monica.”
Restaurants, hotels, spas, museums, and tourist attractions are increasingly collaborating with location-based check-in services such as FourSquare, Gowalla, and Facebook Places to offer incentives for the most loyal customers. Check in to certain Saks Fifth Avenue departments and you’ll receive free Bobbi Brown lip gloss and mascara. The concept is heading mainstream with online services such as Topguest, which gives you loyalty program points for checking in to a slew of hotel and travel-related companies. Current partners include the Standard, Wyndham, and Viceroy hotels, Virgin American, and even Blue Ribbon restaurants.
T+L Tip: If you’re not staying at a hotel, you can still use Topguest to rack up rewards at the property. Many hotels award points for eating at their restaurants or visiting their bars.