Gulivers is an advertising service for property owners to list their vacation rentals. It boasts over 11,000 properties at any given time across North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Australia, and Africa.
Unlike other vacation rental listing services, renters don’t go book rentals directly through them. Instead, Gulivers connects renters with the rental owners so they can negotiate rates and fees without a middleman to drive prices up. This allows renters to work directly with rental owners so they know exactly who they’re renting from and can contact should anything unexpected come up. It operates in similar fashion to Craigslist, except it focuses exclusively on rental properties.
- Free listings
- No extra costs and fees
- Direct contact with owner
Most other vacation rental listing services charge either a percentage or flat fee per transaction, which makes the whole booking experience more expensive at the end of the day. This is usually in the two to three percent range of the total cost of the rental agreement, similar to transaction fees charged by merchant accounts.
Gulivers does not. It works similar to Craigslist in that all listings are free. There are paid services rental owners can take advantage of, though, to gain greater exposure and (hopefully) more renters:
- Top listing placement (so more people will see their property first)
- Adding more photos to listings (to give people a more detailed look at their properties)
- Linking back to a website you might own (which can be useful for search engine ranking purposes)
Overall, Gulivers is a win for rental owners because of it provides another spot online to list properties without costing anything upfront. It helps maximize the chances of somebody finding your vacation rental property by getting it on another website searchers use to find vacation homes.
For renters, Gulivers is a good deal because it cuts out those extra costs and add-on fees most rental agencies will charge. These are usually called guest service fees and can run anywhere from six to twelve percent of the total cost of the rental. Depending on the location and duration of your stay, this could easily run from fifty to several hundred dollars.
With Gulivers, you're dealing directly with the rental owner, which helps keep your costs down as much as possible. Most rental owners are open to negotiating rates, depending on how long the vacation is. For people who enjoy haggling, this can be a fun part of the process. For people who like firm prices, this could get stressful.
- No insurance
- Limited chat options
- Poor reviews
Operating like Craigslist has its downsides. Most everybody has heard of horror stories from a friend or relative trying to buy or sell something there, only to deal with the worst buyer or seller in the world.
For rental owners, there is no insurance or reimbursement offered should renters damage your property. Any financial losses that you suffer from a renter will need to go through your own homeowner's insurance. Other vacation rental listing services offer insurance for any damages or personal injuries that might happen while renters are using your property.
Also, the only way to contact Gulivers is through email or their contact form on their website. Responses are promised within a twelve hour window. No phone numbers or live chat options are available on the site itself. Most other listing services have more direct methods of contacting customer support should an issue arise with a renter or your listing on their website. As a renter, you're basically on your own. If there's an issue with the following, it can be difficult to sort it out with the rental owner since Fulivers provides no arbitration or mediation of any kind:
- fraudulent listings
- overlapping bookings
- unreturned security deposits
On the Frequently Asked Questions page of their site, it says "You will need to address any issues that may come up with the owner directly. We suggest you contact the owner as soon as a problem arises during your stay. Don't wait till afterwards. Be sure to have a phone number to contact the owner in case you have a household emergency."
Because Gulivers does not handle any transactions or rental agreement, it cannot act as a mediator should a dispute arise between you and the rental owner. They recommend that you "ask the owner/manager about their cancellation policies before you send any money (even the deposit). It is best to have these policies in writing. Payments made using a wire transfer, money order or personal check typically cannot be recovered in the event that your accommodation is not supplied as promised so extra caution is recommended."
Reviews of individual properties are available on their website, but not every property has even one. Those that do might have reviews that are years old and not necessarily reflective of the rental owner's current practices (or even the current owner, for that matter). All listings are self-maintained, so it's possible some of them are no longer even available for rent or owned by the same people. This could lead to bad contact information that makes it impossible to contact the current owner, or even rent the property you're interested in.
The Bottom Line
As mentioned earlier, Gulivers is like the Craigslist of vacation rental listings. Every transaction that happens through them is a private one. Any issues that come up must be resolved between the renter and rental owner.
For vacation rental owners, it's a good service to use because there are no listing fees required to use their website. Paid services are available for greater exposure for property listings, but those are all optional and not mandatory. As a way to maximize the exposure of a property listing online without requiring much set up time or maintenance, this is a good option.
For renters, though, it's very much a buyer beware service. Anybody using Gulivers should take care to thoroughly research the property and owner they're looking to rent before putting a security deposit down. Contact the owner by phone and work out every possible detail beforehand so there are no surprises should something unexpected happen. Pay with a credit card or PayPal so that if a dispute does come up with the rental owner, you have a third party that can work in your favor. Those that use Gulivers can expect the following:
- Private Transactions
- No listing fees
- Diret contact with owner