A few weeks ago my wife and I were talking about taking a trip to South Carolina, renting a beach house and going off the grid for a bit. Then I actually tried to plan the trip. If you’ve ever tried to navigate the sucking cesspool that is vacation rental websites then you know my pain. If you’ve not, well, the aforementioned cesspool is a pretty good way to describe it. Fortunately things are now looking up because of Rentul.

Rentul is a different approach to vacation, activity and leisure services. While Airbnb is all the rage for booking lodging in the tech world right now, Rentul is a marketplace of listings. The site takes a flat-rate fee for being listed on its service, meaning that the accounting side of things is easier for the provider while options for them to use Airbnb or similar services are still open.

For providers, there are three different categories under which they can list:

  • Spaces – For vacation rentals
  • Activities – For the things you’ll do when on vacation
  • Services – Restaurants or other businesses that don’t count as activities

For each listing type, the fee is the same – $55 for life. Each listing type offers unlimited photo and video hosting, social links, no commission and even links back to the site for the listing itself. On the Rentul page, there’s a wealth of information including location, rates, calendar, amenities and of course the photo and video galleries.

Screen Shot 2012 04 16 at 11.22.52 AM 520x373 Rentul: Finally, vacation planning that doesnt suck

Rentul is taking an approach that’s similar to how Hipmunk operates. Sure, there are flight and hotel search sites out there that offer loads of more options, but there’s nothing that makes it as simple as Hipmunk. The same is true for Rentul. Instead of having to wade through hundreds of abysmally-poor pages, Rentul could serve as the vacation-planning hub that you’ve always wanted.

Of course that promise depends on adoption, but so far things are looking good. The Montana-based startup is seeing a great influx of new listings and that action will beget the action which should eventually cause the service to snowball. At the very least, it helps me narrow down locations where I’ll be vacationing because I’d rather choose a new location, using a great site, than go somewhere else using a site that looks like something from Geocities.

Rentul