What You Need to Know about Vacation Rentals before You Go

That time of the year is finally here. You know what I'm talking about, the one or two weeks you get every year to escape from "real life" and just be you. Relax, eat and drink well, enjoy your family, catch up on some much needed sleep. But, before you pack up and head out, rethink the all-too-normal hotel stay. Believe it or not, you have options, one of which is the vacation rental.

Would not it be nice to leave your own home, arrive in your destination city and settle into a "home away from home" for your next vacation? That's what vacation rentals are all about. These are homes waiting to be rented out by people on vacation. Each vacation rental owner will have different criteria in what type of renter they are looking for, each vacation rental house will vary in amenities, and each price will be dependent on the time of year and the length of stay. So, it sounds like a great idea, but how do you figure out how to make it all happen? Not a problem. Below you will find answers to frequently asked questions regarding vacation rentals. Read on, my friend, your next "home away from home" vacation rental is right around the corner.

Frequently Asked Questions on Vacation Rentals

What are the advantages of a vacation rental?

Do you ever wish your hotel room had just a little more personality? Yeah, I thought so. Well, renting someone else's home for your vacation might just be the thing you're looking for. Usually offering larger living spaces than hotel rooms, these vacation rentals are all about living like you were in your own home. They offer greater privacy than hotel rooms and most rentals have a kitchen area for cooking, which in the end will save you money if you prepare some of your own meals.

You'll enjoy several rooms, and maybe even different levels, instead of one big room where the whole family sleeps. Many owners will leave information on things to do and see in the local area. Vacation rental homes are clean, friendly, comfortable and inviting. This is because many of them are not just rental homes, but also function as the owner's own residence for part of the year.

A majority of vacation rentals tend to be cheaper on a per night basis than their hotel. By renting directly from the owner you will avoid taxes, tips and other external charges. However, there is a wide variation among others based on a number of factors (see How Much Should I Expect to Pay below)

What are the drawbacks of a vacation rental?

Of course, there's always the other side of the coin. As vacation rentals are not usually monitored by a central managing company, you'll only know what you're getting yourself into when you actually arrive to your rental. Many owners require pre-payment, or at least a large deposit fee, before arriving. Therefore, if things are not the way you anticipated after arriving, or if you find your dwelling unacceptable and decide to head to a local hotel, you may lose any money you prepaid. This is also true for last minute cancellations. There is not usually a refund. You always run the risk of getting less than you expected, but, it's rare.

Most times, vacation rentals tend to be cheaper than an average hotel room per night. But, not always, so make sure you are comfortable with the price you will be asked to pay.

Another disadvantage to vacation rentals is the lack of a managing member on site to deal with any problems that you may encounter with the home or during your stay in general. Most owners get around this by having a list of emergency numbers, utility companies and other such items available to the renter should they need anything.

What amenities are included in a vacation rental?

Since every rental is owned by a different owner, each will include different amenities. Some come with swimming pools, hot tubs, others with golf packages, and horse stable privileges. In cities with tourist attractions, some owners include tickets to local attractions.

Most vacation rentals come with the essentials: TV, equipped kitchen, towels, linen, and everyday appliances, but it never hurts to ask these questions when searching for the perfect place. Be sure to understand exactly what you are paying for before sending in the payment.

What types of rentals are available?

Pretty much any type of dwelling that you would want to live in during your vacation is available somewhere. From studios in downtown Manhattan to a villa in the south of Spain, you'll be able to find what you're looking for. The range of available options is mind boggling. Additionally, each week, month and year there are new possibilities as owners put their homes up for only certain weeks or months of the year, the choices are constantly changing.

Are vacation rentals only available in the US?

Vacation rentals are available worldwide. They can be found in every state of the US and almost every country in the world. Do not be fooled by their different names, though. Vacation rentals are also known as holiday cottages, tourist rentals and holiday rentals. If you are looking for one in Europe, the Italians call them agriturismi, while the French say gites. If you are in Germany you will be looking for ferienwohnungen (yep, try to say that three times fast with a bratwurst in your mouth!)

Regardless of what you call it, though, a vacation rental is a great option for those getting ready to take a few weeks off from reality and enjoy the good life a bit.

How do I find a property?

There are several ways to go about finding the perfect vacation rental for your next trip. Check with your local travel agent to find someone in your area that specializes in finding owners and renters and getting them together. Another option is the yellow pages. Finally, there is a wealth of information on the Internet. Type in a search for "vacation rentals" and over 13,300,000 websites can be found just on http://www.google.com alone. Some websites only list vacation rentals in the United States while others specialize in vacation rentals worldwide. There are some sites that will allow the potential renter to look for a residence by specific search criteria such as a particular destination, certain number of bedrooms and types of amenities that are included in the property.

Most of the vacation rental services on the internet are only the "go-between" or the "classified" section of the newspaper. They take no responsibility for the truth or correctness of the ads that are listed on their sites. So, do your homework by making phone calls, speaking with the owner and asking specific questions. Make sure you feel comfortable with the answers, if not, move on to the next rental, there are plenty.

If you're not comfortable with the whole renter / owner thing, there is another way to rent a vacation home. Some companies exist that strictly buy and rent out homes to vacationers. They offer a bit more security so that you feel you are really getting what you bargained for (although nothing is ever 100% fool proof). Additionally, sometimes these agencies will give you cancellation insurance. In other words, if you cancel before arriving, they may be able to refund a portion of your deposit or payment instead of keeping it as most owners do if a cancellation occurs. With some agencies you'll find that you pay a higher price than going directly to an owner. This is how the agencies make their profits. There are always pros and cons to each scenario. Ensure you know which one works best for you.

How much should I expect to pay?

This is a tough question to answer. The amount you pay will depend on what country or state you are visiting, number of days you are staying, and type of house you are renting. Some owners offer package deals including tickets or sightseeing events along with the rental, others include bonus days if you stay for a certain length of time. There are other owners who may offer free or add-on house cleaning service with your stay while some go to great efforts to ensure you have everything you need, even additional items such as a crib, highchair or wheelchair. Each vacation rental will be entirely different from the next. Your best bet after deciding on your destination is to review multiple rentals to determine which is better suited to your needs and overall budget.

Are there any hidden fees?

Hidden fees usually only emerge after you have arrived. These may include extra for phone calls, house cleaning service, extra person fees, excess heat and air-conditioning bills, pet deposit, computer access … etc. Again, be extremely thorough when interviewing the owner of your prospect vacation rental. Ask about any "extra" fees, or if the house is "all-inclusive". Do you have free access to all the pantry and food items? How about the laundry supplies? All utilities? It never hurts to ask!

Vacation Rentals

In summary, cover all bases by asking lots of questions. Getting your agreement in writing is also a very smart idea. After these basics are out of the way you will be ready to take off for your home-away-from-home vacation rental. Try one this year and see for yourself that vacation rentals can be a fantastic means to really getting the full enjoyment out of your next vacation.

Software Development Life Cycle – Introduction Model Stages and Advantages

What is the Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)?

SDLC or Software Development Life Cycle is essentially the process or phases of a model or methodology, which software engineers and developers follow in developing an application or software. In simpler words, it is a process consisting of a series of planned activities for planning, creating, testing, deploying and maintenance of software.

SDLC is often referred as software development process, as it consists of all tasks, which needs to be followed while developing an application or software. SDLC is followed within IT development companies to develop, alter, replace or enhance the performance of the software. ISO/IEC 12207 is an international standard for SDLC, which ensures high quality of the newly developed software. It also helps IT development companies in improving the overall quality of their software development services.

What are the major SDLC Models, followed in the IT Industry?

There are various SDLS models, which are currently followed in the IT Industry. Often referred as ‘Software Development Process Models’, all the process models follow unique software development steps, ensuring 100% success of the development projects.

The major software development life cycle models are-

  • Waterfall Model
  • Iterative Model
  • Spiral Model
  • V-Model
  • Big Bang Model

Other related models are Rapid Application Development (RAD), Prototype and Agile Models.

The advantages of choosing an appropriate Software Development Life Cycle (SDLC)-

  • Increased Product Quality
  • Increased Development Speed
  • Improved Client Relations
  • Improved Tracking & Control
  • Decreased Project Risks
  • Decreased Project Management Overhead

What are the different stages of SDLC?

Stage 1:

Planning and Requirement Analysis

This is the most important stage in the SDLC. This stage needs input from the customers, sales team, industry experts, a marketing team and their survey reports. After which, senior business managers and developers of a software development company plan the project approach and the development model.

Stage 2:

Designing

After the analysis of requirements and finalizing the Design Document Specification (DDS), the product architecture is designed by an expert team. This architecture has to stand upon various parameters such as budget, time, product robustness, risk assessment and design modularity, after which it is considered for the development.

Stage 3:

Development

The actual development of the software or application starts at this stage. The team of engineers and developers follow the coding guidelines set by the organization and use different tools for code generation. The programming code is generated as per the details documented in the DDS. The developers use different high level programming languages as per the requirement.

Stage 4:

Testing

In this stage, the final product goes through a pre-defined road of testing, where defects or bugs in the product are reported and then fixed by the developers. This stage ensures that the final product meets the highest quality standards, which are accepted worldwide.

Stage 5:

Deployment

At this stage, the final product is deployed at the client base. At times, the software is integrated with the client’s current application and database. All the deployment and integration works are done under the guidance of expert software engineers and developers.

Stage 6:

Maintenance & Support

Most of the reputed IT development companies also provide complete maintenance and technical support, post deployment of the final product at client base.

A Short History of Sports Photography

The history of sports photography is tightly related to the trends of sport gaining popularity throughout human history. The technology of photography from the early 1800s onward leaped forward in bounds and aided an emerging media, sporting journalism.

The inspiration of athletics and sport in art can certainly be seen in the work of the ancient Greek masters of sculpture, however this type of expression was not as prevalent in modern sporting venues until the invention of wet-collodion and dry-plate photographic processes. These processes allowed for posed studio images on glass plates and tin-types, but were just not ‘fast’ enough for the ‘stop-action’ images we are used to seeing today.

As the 19th Century was coming to a close, in the 1880s scientific motion studies of athletes in action were produced in the United States and Germany, the technology was still not considered on the sporting field. This all changed with the advancement of photography and sports journals in the last part of the century. As the first sports journals began to appear around 1900, the public became more and more interested in the sports image, which often would include images of players on the tennis green, golfling or on the hunt for wild game.

In the history of sports photography the earliest of contributors were more concerned with the activities of the country elite, but by the end of World War I, readers of sporting journals were becoming interested in the professional athletes of American baseball and tennis. The majority of these early images were of prominent players in posed situations, giving te sense of action. Baseball players were posed with bat in hand at the plate, teams were lined up for group shots and so forth, however the ‘action’ shot was still not widely seen.

With the 1930s more and more images of athletes in action were appearing in magazines, assisted in their growth through camera systems allowing photographers shutter speeds up to 1/1000th of a second. This gave way to styles highlighting blurred subjects suggesting movement and ‘stop-action’ images of the athlete in activity. Photographers began adopting signature styles and the popularity of the genre began to grow rapidly as the public began to expect the excitement of seeing their favored athletes in ‘action.’

In 1954, Sports Illustrated – the vaunted digest of sports and athletics – premiered and suddenly the position of being a sports photographer became even more engrained in the public eye. The magazine highlighted the exploits and professional and amateur athletes the world over, increasing the need for the art form and those who practiced it. By this point, technology had more or less caught up with demand, with the advent of small, compact single lens reflex (SLR) cameras and the fast shutter speeds offered in the models. The history of sports photography is strongly tied to lens technology, as well, had advanced to offer the photographer a wide choice of methods to compress perspective and using depth of field for dramatic effect.

Will Online Apps Prevent Consumer Waste Or Embolden Customers To Buy More Stuff?

If Apps using artificial intelligence help us all use less, share more, recycle things to others – then, will this hurt retailers and retailing due to reduced consumption? Will it prevent all the discarded waste, underutilized stuff we buy and own? Many believe it will. Take the sharing economy companies with popular apps; Lift, AirBnB, NetJet, Uber and other such concepts. Many corporations that build or manufacture vacation homes, hotels, automobiles and corporate jets are worried about their future, they see opportunities but also decreased volume, loss of economies of scale, overall "pie" reduction even if they garner a larger piece of that pie (Market Share) in such a future.

If everyone shares cars, aircraft, extra rooms, then of course; fewer rooms will be rented, and aircraft and cars purchased. This has economic implications of course, manufacturing and hospitality jobs for instance. Still, it provides efficiency to consumers, so, less waste, lower costs (due to sharing) and that is a plus positive for quality of life and higher standard of living – no need to buy an expensive car, share a car with others, or buy a corporate jet, share instead. Makes sense (cents) right, no actually it makes dollars.

Indeed the very same new communication technology to bring buyers and sellers together; Artificially Apps also make it easier for consumers to buy, and since consumers enjoy buying, this creates more purchases, more spending, and more consumerism. More consumerism means more redundancy, more waste, right? Sure, when capitalism speeds up its efficiency of exchange through digital money transfer, instance purchases, immediate delivery – we find more abundance due to increase in the ease of trade.

So, on one hand we have a threat to jobs and big changes to industries and certain sectors of our economy due to our new apps and smartphone mobile technology – and, then on the other hand we have a tool to help sell more stuff, faster and make more revenue and less cost, allowing corporations to enjoy increase shareholder's equity and quarterly profits while passing on some of that savings in lower prices to consumers.

When consumers buy more stuff, their homes fill up with more junk and each year a portion of the cluster gets donated to the local Thrift Stores. So, we should see more items that are bought by way of customer rewards programs, and apps from a certain sellers that have perfected that game. Okay so, we should be watching for lots of cheap Chinese made consumer goods showing up in mass at the second hand stores. While larger items like cars, planes, and time shares will decrease in the next couple of decades "IF" these current trends continue. Please consider all this.