For those who are planning their first trip where they will be staying in a vacation rental, I nearly always recommend that they go through a reputable villa/apartment rental agency. But with hundreds of them (possibly thousands) out there, especially on the Internet, how do you know how to choose a good one? No one knows more about villa rentals than Pauline Kenny of SlowEurope.com. She was the guest editor of our Special Report: Villa Rentals II and in the following article explains how to choose a good villa (or apartment) rental agency:
Villa rental agencies for Italy are not created equal; they come in all shapes and sizes. The best agencies are run by people who hand pick their properties, inspect them annually, have close relationships with the property owners and have well-trained, knowledgeable staff who will spend the time to help you make your decision.
Large agencies with many employees and hundreds of listings do not always give a traveler the personal assistance they need. I have dealt with agencies where you talk to a different person each time you call or e-mail and the details of your reservation get confused. They do not know their properties or the towns where the places are located. Some large agencies, like Rentvillas, overcome this by assigning each client a personal representative, creating a small agency feel within a large agency. They also have very detailed property listings, with lots of photos, so you can get all the information you need from the Web site.
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(Photo by rdesai on flickr.com)