Having done this three years in a row, and just having secured my '08 mansion, I'd like to impart the following:
- Be financially liquid
You will need to pony up a deposit for the vacation rental NOW. Be ready to be able to put down several hundred if not over a thousand dollars for the rental.
- Be prepared to talk to the homeowner/rental agency
You'll have to vouch for yourself and your guests. Be ready to tell them about yourself and how you're a responsible renter.
- Start looking now
The best places book up quickly. Type "vacation rentals indio [or any other desert city]" into a google search, and you'll find several rental sites. VRBO.com is one of my favorites. Send multiple inquiries. Often if you send out five inquiries, you'll only get three responses.
- Prepare to pay more
What may be advertised at $200 per night can easily be $500 for the Coachella weekend. Also, be sure to factor in the cleaning fee for the total rental price. If they don't advertise it, ask.
- Don't worry about your friends
If you rent it, they will come. If not them, someone else will gladly take their spots. Trust me on this.
- You'll be in a gated community
90% of rentals are in gated communities. This means you'll have to go through a gate guard. Sometimes this is easy for you and your friends, sometimes there can be complications. Try to carpool as much as possible, and don't count on being able to have 50 people over.
- Be considerate and easy on the utilities
Common sense. Don't leave the home trashed. Follow the directions they leave you. Don't run up the utility bill by cooling the home to 70 degrees while running the hot tub at 103 when you're out on the field all day. Don't take 20 showers per day. They'll will notice the spike, and you WILL lose at least some of your deposit. Same goes for additional cleaning fees. Most of the time you're not renting from a soulless corporation, but from someone who owns this as a second home.
Hope this helps...