Local News

Wave of discounts puts beach trips within reach

Posted July 2, 2009 2:50 p.m. EDT
Updated July 2, 2009 6:57 p.m. EDT

— It's not too late to plan a trip to North Carolina's beaches: Internet-savvy travelers have discovered that last-minute bookings can save hundreds of dollars on a beach house.

Economic worries made Chris Mosley, of Raleigh, delay planning a summer vacation. But he hit the Internet a week ago, hoping to get a deal for himself and his son, Blake.

"With the economy slow, we figured we might get a good deal, so we started looking into it. Sure enough, there were lots of rooms available," Mosley said.

He and Blake now look forward to a week in a three-bedroom, beachfront cottage, with a beautiful ocean view.

Rental agencies said getting takers for their vacation homes is taking more effort this year. Some customers are even negotiating rates, they said.

"We have to work diligently for it," said Paige Brown, with Oak Island Accommodations. "People are calling and offering homeowners X amount off a week. They're asking for $500 off, $200 off, $1,000 off."

Realtors said they're willing to make deals, because time is of the essence with their product.

"We sell a perishable item. It might not be fruits or vegetables, but it has a sell-by date, or we have to throw it away," said Beth Midgette, with Midgette Realty in Buxton.

Two years ago, Oak Island Accommodations enjoyed a three-week-long peak season, with every home in its inventory rented, Brown said. Then, gas prices soared, the economy sank, and the family-owned business was suddenly slashing prices to fill vacation rentals.

"We can't give the farm away, but we want to work with the guest," Melanie Robbins, with Oak Island Accommodations, said. "People are dictating what their budget is. They're telling you how much they want to spend."

Up and down the coast, rental agencies said last-minute bookings due to deep discounts are filling up homes and helping to pick up business.

"We have lots of last-minute bookings. The difference between this year and last year is when they book the house," Midgette said.

Mosley said he got $250 off the normal rate – making a summer trip to the coast look good.

"For the nightly rate here, you just couldn't pass it up," he said. "We felt it was a good time to break loose, enjoy a week's vacation, spend some money at the coast, do our part to help the state."