(NAPSI) - Vacation rentals are gaining in popularity among Americans looking to spend quality time with family and friends.

That popularity is due in part to the growing number of properties available online, as well as the many advantages this type of lodging offers.

From abundant space and privacy to convenient home amenities such as a washer/dryer and fully equipped kitchens, vacation rentals appeal to the practical-minded traveler. Vacation rentals also offer a more authentic way to experience a destination, and some include such extras as cleaning services and golf course access. Reaching beyond the traditional home or condo offerings, a number of vacation rental companies even feature castles, houseboats and cottages.

For budget-conscious travelers, vacation rentals also provide excellent value, with pricing often lower than other lodging options. But it is important to ask yourself a few questions before booking a vacation rental online:

1. Who do I book with? Book a vacation rental directly with the owner through a listing service site or by opting for a professionally managed rental service that acts on behalf of a rental’s owner. For added security, use a professionally managed rental service that’s backed by a global hospitality brand like Wyndham Vacation Rentals, which owns trusted brands such as ResortQuest, Hoseasons and The Resort Company. With these businesses, you get globally recognized customer service, clearly outlined quality and safety standards applied to each rental, and a local presence well acquainted with the area.

2. Who do you call if there’s a problem? There should be customer service representatives who speak your native language and can dispatch a local team for on-site repair assistance in a timely manner if needed. Look for the terms “professionally managed” or “full-service” when doing your search.

3. Is what I see what I get? Professionally managed vacation rental companies consistently provide updated and accurate rental pictures and descriptions, which is not always the case with listing services. If you decide to book with an individual property owner through a listing service, be sure to check recent feedback from previous guests.

4. Can you book in real time? Booking with a renowned hospitality brand allows you to enjoy secure booking along with competitive, real-time rates within the destination, which avoids haggling with the owner.

Now that you have a better idea of what to look for—and how to safeguard your peace of mind—enjoy your vacation rental booking experience. For more information, visit www.wyndhamrentals.com.