In todays Orlando Sentinel there is a feature concerning 25 families who booked with Families First Vacation Homes for last weekend. To cut a long story short, the guests arrived and there was no home for them. Obviously the guests were annoyed and called the Sheriff as they could get no joy out of FF whose office was reportedly closed. This is a timely reminder to folks that things can go wrong......so how to protect yourselves? As a member of Central Florida Property Managers Association (CFPMA) I am always concerned to read of problems such as these. Member companies of CFPMA strive to abide by a code of ethics and to ensure that an arriving guest has a home that is to the highest standard possible. Unfortunately some companies don't have the same professional goals and profit is their sole motivation. This is often seen when rates for homes are discounted to appear more appealing to the potential guest. Whilst not wanting to comment specifically on FF methods of business, there are some companies who don't even manage the homes they profess to manage and try to undercut the companies doing the professional job by offering ridiculously discounted rates. Sometimes, as a result of this, we see guests with no place to stay as these unscrupulous companies overbook the somewhat limited homes they have. Further, some companies don't even take a deposit from the guest. Not surprisingly the guest arrives only to find there is no home ! The vacation home industry is unique. Nowhere else in Florida has homes in such a location. Nowhere else do you find the type of accommodation offered here at such a price. Homes with their own private pools can go from just $99 per night, just try finding a hotel offering the same accommodations for the price. For guests, there are golden rules to follow when booking a home. 1. Check the credentials of the company you want to book with with Better Business Bureau, Chamber of Commerce and CFPMA. 2. Ensure that you are given a home address so you know the actual home you are staying in rather than a home upon arrival. 3. If possible look at photos of the home on the company's web site. Better still, see if they have video footage...some companies do. 4. Check how long has the company been in business. 5. Check whether the company actually manages the homes or is just a booking agent. 6. If booking directly with the homeowner, check there is a local agent or Management company who looks after the home. Essential if youencounter a problem during your stay. 7. Check the terms of business, what happens with security deposit, when is balance due etc. 8. Check the location of home...is it where you want to be? 9.Check that the home is equipped with everything you require. Follow the rules and you'll have a great home and a great time....ignore them, at your peril !