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FlipKey on the top 10 trending vacation rental destinations for 2014 [Interview]

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As people are becoming more savvy travelers on a lookout for custom experiences to match their travel styles and personal needs, vacation rentals are at an all-time high. Whether it’s finding the perfect family rental for the holidays, or simply a quick city getaway, FlipKey helps you find the perfect vacation rental.

Monica Suma: What is FlipKey?

Tess Morton: FlipKey is a leading vacation rental marketplace that makes it easy, safe, and fun to find and book the perfect place to stay. Our verified guest reviews help our travelers search more than 240,000 listings in 12,000 locations around the world. Travelers can even stay in their very own castle for that next vacation or rent out an entire island.

With more than 4 million monthly unique visits, FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company and helps power the vacation rental experience on TripAdvisor.com—the world’s largest travel website.

How does it work?

Travelers can go onto our site and search for vacation rentals in destinations that suit their vacation needs. Once they find something they like, the traveler can either book the property online (FlipKey has more than 100,000 online bookable properties) or they can contact the owner directly.

**Tip: Check out our “Trip Ideas” page if you’re completely stumped on where your next adventure should be.

If you’re an owner looking to list your property with FlipKey, you can list your property for free right here and it will be advertised on both FlipKey and TripAdvisor. Upload as many photos as you like, tell us how much you want to charge for your property and when you want to rent it out. Then just sit back and wait for the inquiries to start rolling in.

How does it distinguish itself from other vacation rentals companies?

The vacation rental companies that you’ve probably heard of the most are HomeAway and Airbnb. We’re different than Airbnb because many of their properties are owners’ primary homes in urban destinations and in many cases, travelers are sharing a room in the owner’s home while they’re staying there. FlipKey does not offer shared space. Our properties are generally owners’ second homes that are located in vacation destinations such as an island in the Caribbean or a ski resort in the Alps.

We are more similar to HomeAway, but the largest difference is that HomeAway allows owners to pay extra in order to have their listing bubble towards the top of a search. FlipKey does not offer this as our search is based on a combination of guest reviews, traveler popularity and how engaged the owner is in terms of responding quickly to travelers and keeping their availability calendar up-to-date.

What are the most popular type of rentals?

Family travel is a big category for us because groups can save so much more money by staying in a vacation rental over a hotel. They also have the space, privacy and amenities of a home. A family of four will save tons of cash by cooking at home a few nights during their vacation instead of spending money at a restaurant every night.

Vacation rentals on FlipKey are also immensely popular for destination weddings and honeymoons (*think* your own private villa looking over the ocean in Hawaii with just you, your hubby and a glass of champagne).

You can check out our destination wedding gallery here for some examples: http://www.flipkey.com/galleries/destination-wedding-rentals/

Which destinations were most popular for 2013 and what do you predict for 2014?

Florida is always a hot spot for us including areas such as Orlando and the Florida Keys. Hawaii tops the list as well with so many honeymooners choosing this destination. More than 50% of our travelers who visit Hawaii go in groups of two, so even if it’s not a honeymoon, it’s definitely our most popular place for couples.

Our list of 2014 trending destinations is exciting this year as Rio de Janeiro takes the top slot because of the World Cup in Brazil. Another hot up-and-comer is Seminyak in Bali as South East Asia continues to grow in popularity for travelers.

Any tips & tricks for travelers to find the perfect vacation rental?

- Make a list of your baseline needs: How many bedrooms will you need? What amenities (like a pool or a game room for the kids) would make your stay better? Do you want to be near the local town or prefer the seclusion of the woods? Once you’ve got a list of your major “wants,” you can use our filter tools to narrow down your search.

- Travel during the shoulder seasons: If your travel plans are more flexible, try traveling during the shoulder seasons. For example, there are really great deals to be had during the months of September and October in destinations such as the Outer Banks, the Florida Panhandle and the Jersey Shore. Savings are as high as 50% during those months.

- Book ahead of time: In order to get your pick of the properties, book early, as far out as six months in advance. Believe it or not, for summer rentals, FlipKey’s properties start booking up as early as December of the year prior.

- After you book, speak to the owner. Take advantage of getting a local’s take on the destination. Ask for tips on the local restaurants and must-see spots to visit.

- Check out the guest reviews: Read FlipKey’s verified guest reviews to get other travelers’ first-hand experiences on the rental.

- Pay securely: Make payments safely and use a credit card or by PayPal – never use wire transfers or other untraceable forms of payment.

All Photos: Courtesy of FlipKey

For more information on booking a vacation rental, head on over to www.flipkey.com.

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Follow Monica Suma in her whimsical travel adventures as she relishes in arts & culture around the world, boutique hotels and NYC gems. You can also find her on Twitter @MonicaSuma.

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