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Screening Tips for Vacation Rental Guests Who Book Through a Third Party Site

Another booking just came in from a channel partner…fantastic!

Does this situation often happen to you? As you take a closer look at the booking, you see that your guest’s party is all adults and at max capacity for your property… Now what?

Maximizing exposure with quality demand channels is a critical piece to a successful vacation rental business strategy. Depending on the market, channel bookings could account for as much as 80% of guest bookings. If you're a vacation rental manager who receives bookings from Airbnb®, HomeAway®,®, or any of the other countless third-party sites then you’ve faced the very real challenge of managing the potentially "less than ideal" guest who has already paid. This is a critical juncture and your next steps could prove to be very costly, perhaps ruining the relationship with property owner. Taking extensive steps to help ensure the right guests make it into your managed properties is worth the effort.

vacation rental guests

The reservation team is your first line of defense

Training your reservation team to professionally and efficiently screen for dubious vacation rental guests takes continuous analysis and practice. Work with your team to identify these early warning signs.

  • Guests who seem to demonstrate a lack of basic respect or correspond in an immature way.
  • Guests who are unwilling to provide proper identification that matches their payment method — such as a passport or government issued ID.
  • Guests who want to split up remaining payments across multiple parties with multiple payment types, or miss payment deadlines.
  • Guests who provide their student identification — such as their .edu email address.
  • Guests with requested stays of 3 days or less spanning over a weekend that requires maximum capacity.
  • Guests who challenge applicable security deposit requirements up front.
  • Guests without a social media presence or digital footprint.

Monitoring these early warning signs can help avoid undesirable guests, parties, and take a big step towards protecting your managed properties. Bad vacation rental guests are unavoidable, but when money is on the line, it is important that your team keeps their eye on the big picture. They must understand the “why” and the negative repercussions of a bad guest. As your first line of defense, remember, there are times when a well-placed pawn is more powerful than a king.

Understand their purpose

A pre-stay questionnaire can also help facilitate this understanding prior to the guest arrival. Your guest communication should include the following information to help you better understand the guest's purpose and how to better serve them:

  • The purpose of their trip — why are they coming?
  • Have they stayed in a vacation rental before?
  • Are they interested in events or activities during their stay?
  • Are they smokers or do they plan on bringing pets?
  • What is the total number of adults or children in their party?

These questions in combination with the previously referenced bad guest warning signs, should help you more confidently decide which position to take.

vacation rental guests

Avoid discrimination, know the limits

Screening laws and limitations can vary by jurisdiction, so you should consult with appropriate legal counsel to understand these requirements. Generally speaking, however, there are some scenarios and questions that can prove problematic and should be avoided with your guests. These include but are not limited to:

  • Sexual orientation
  • Race
  • Religion
  • Color
  • Familial Status
  • Handicap or disability

It is critically important that you  educate yourself regarding applicable laws to ensure that you avoid the pitfalls that result from what is considered a discriminatory, or otherwise prohibited, screening practice.

Screening innovation is on the event horizon

It is important to work proactively to ensure your managed properties' policies and requirements are updated on all third-party sites. It is equally important to understand the terms and conditions of the third-party site.

Matthew Hoffman, Vice President at Kigo®, shares, “The vacation rental industry is a growing and exciting place to be. The opportunity is limitless if done the right way. Kigo recognizes that many of our customers are small business owners looking to provide the best experience possible, which includes safety and security for both owners and guests. Our product road map for the remainder of the year is centered around technology assisting customers of all sizes the ability to do that easily.”

Three things vacation rental managers should always deliver on are promises, trust, and common sense. Leverage technology partners that offer tools to help you in these areas of your business, and educate yourself on local laws. A great experience for your guest, is money in your pocket!

**Please note that this blog article is being provided for informational purposes only.  It does not constitute legal advice and should not be used or relied upon as a substitute for such advice.  You should consult with a qualified professional for any legal questions you have relating to the subject matter.**

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