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We’re compiling a Top 10 List of Owner and Manager Tips, and want to hear from you! If you could give owners and managers one piece of advice about the vacation rental process, what would it be? (OK, it doesn't have to be just one.) Whether it's about payments, check-in and check out times, deposits, or even just amenities, let us know what you want to tell owners and managers by replying below.
Provide easy access to the house. preferably keyless entry pad or lock box! I don't want to wait around for someone to let me in when I'm on vacation. Especially international destinations when your flights have been delayed and you end up arriving in the middle of the night!
Here is my list:
- easy payments online credit card or paypal type - I don't want to go to a post office to pay money order, or send you a check
- be clear and specific how quickly you want me to pay once I accept your terms and conditions - I don't want to hear that someone else already booked your place if I had still time to pay you for it according to your conditions (that one because recent complains on this forum- it never happend to me but obviously it can)
- please don't try to save on cleaning fees before I come to your place - I've read many complains how dirty place was even though most owners seem to be charging us cleaning fees
- I second 'rememberparis' - make access to your place easy and troublefree
- please leave special notes and instructions about things and whatever you wish me to be careful about - I understand and appreciate that you're sharing your own home with me
- please undestand I'm as scary or excited as you're not knowing me and me not knowing your place that I pay for - it's my vacation and I would hate to be dissappointed so lets be honest with each other whatever it is
One thing I really appreciate is when they offer me a list of things to do or places to eat within walking distance or driving. It's like a personalized travel guide. I'm a planner by nature and have my own agenda... but at the same time I always end up taking the house's recommendations and it's always very much appreciated.
My husband and I have traveled for 3 years, using Homeaway and vrbo - about 23 homes so far! We have lots of tips!
Take photos of your house when it is nice and bright and not dull.
Be sure your house is clean and there is no clutter.
Put the toilet seats down when you are taking photos of bathrooms.
Do not use caps anywhere in your listing. It comes off as if you are yelling, which is a bad idea.
Use friendly language, not passive aggressive language. (You do not want to say things like: “Deposit 1000 dollars, we expect YOU to to take care of our house like you would your own!”)
Clear communication regarding prices. Have prices for nightly/weekly/two week and monthly rentals. If you do not want to have monthly renters or nightly renters, say that, but in a nice way. So something like “Sorry, we prefer week or more renters.”
Descriptions: This is your space to sell your home!
Include information about the town.
Highlight any unique features of the home (has a hot-tub, has weekly cleaning, has bikes, has a hdtv, has a dvd) anything that makes your home more special.
Check your grammar!
Read other listings to get an idea of what others are saying about their home.
If the house doesn’t have something like a washer/dryer be sure to include that there is a laundry mat or community laundry somewhere nearby. If not, find someone locally who can do laundry for the people staying in your home, and offer that service for an additional fee.
Use kind communication.
Respond to every inquiry, in a nice and polite way, even if the person clearly did not read your entire listing.
Respond with in a day, the faster you respond the faster someone will book.
Remember most people are asking 10-20 different home owners about their house. So responding in a fast and kind way is very important.
Be sure to include any important things like dates things are due.
At the end ask if the person has any questions at all, and tell them you are happy to answer anything!
And a few more:
1. First, have a good listing. Get professional photos if you can, be sure the house is nice and clean. Be honest about the house, if it is older, say that it is older. Include information about the town and the location as well. And if you get a bad review, don’t argue with the person who leaves it, instead fix the problem, and apologize on the site. Even if the renter was crazy, you do not want to seem like you are combative.
2. Be sure the house is clean! This is so important. Hire a cleaning service, do not attempt to clean the home on your own.
3. Have nice bedding and sheets. It doesn’t have to be expensive, it just has to look nice and clean. Use white sheets to make things look even cleaner (they are also easier to clean).
4. Have enough communication, but not too much. Be sure to keep in touch with your future renters, but at the same time you don’t want to hassle them too much. Make sure things like payments have a time schedule, and make sure the renters are kept in the loop when dates like deposits due are coming up.
5. Have the yard taken care of. We stayed in a house once in which the yard was completely overgrown, and dirty, it made a really bad first impression.
6. Have an easy check-in procedure. Your renters might be coming in at late hours, or might have kids with them, they don’t want to hassle with complicated check-ins. The easiest check-ins we have found are simply houses with a combination lock right on the door, no need for keys!
7. Have enough instructions in the house, but not too many. Have instructions on how to use things like the tv, dvd player, internet. But generally people know how to work a microwave, stove, and shower.
8. Make the rules friendly. We have stayed in houses that we are afraid to touch anything. If you don’t want people staying in your house, you probably don’t want to be renting it. The deposits are for things that might break. But having a huge rule book that seems over-bearing, like your mother wrote it, doesn’t send the best impression. Have a budget for regular wear and tear and the occasional broken dish. Most of the time, your renter will take great care of your home.
9. Have a well stocked house. Be sure to have cleaning supplies, toilet paper, paper towels, napkins on hand. It’s also nice to have some small toiletries for your guests, so when they first arrive they can relax and not run to the store.
10. Have a nice welcome note or basket. We have stayed in places in which this makes such a nice impression. A little note to say welcome, a bottle of wine, a basket of fruit. You want to make a nice first impression!
1. Only use reputable services to search for a home. (like homeaway)
2. Be wary of homes with few or no photos. If there are only a couple of outside photos you want to probably pass on that particular listing.
3. If the owner quotes you a different (higher) price than what is listed, skip them. I find that owners who end up being on the more sketchy side.
4. Get a contract! This is absolutely the most important thing. Do not send any checks or deposit with out a very well written contract. Make sure you know exactly when all payments are due as well, and have that on the contract.
5. Send checks, do not send your credit card number or bank/routing number. You can use a service like paypal, which is just fine, but do not send an e-mail with your banking or credit card information. Likewise, do not call with the information.
6. Be sure to write good memo’s on your checks. Put the dates of your contract in your check memo line.
7. Be sure to have the home owner sign your contract as well.
8. Ask questions! If you have a question, ask. Ask questions like: Is there room for parking (be sure to include how big your car is). Is there reliable internet? What is the neighborhood like? Is there someone to handle anything that should come up with the house, should anything go wrong? Is the house kept clean? Do you have a house cleaning service? Am I required to clean the house and or linens before I leave?
9. Don’t just settle on one home, inquire to lots of different homes in the city you are looking to rent.
10. Ask if there are any specials for longer stays. If you are looking to stay for a longer period of time (more than one week) ask if there are any discounts for longer term rentals.
Sorry this is so long - but we travel all the time and have learned a few things
I do hope prospective renters don't take your second #5 too seriously. With the rules that all credit card companies have nowadays there is very little risk associated with using a credit card. Certainly don't email your card number to someone, but giving it over the phone is pretty safe.
Any unauthorized charges mean a simple call to the credit card company and you receive a charge-back. Credit card companies almost always side with their customer. However, once you've paid cash (or paid by check) for something and the payment leaves your bank, there is very little left that you can do.
Just a thought
Regarding clear communication regarding price:
I'm a VR owner and totally agree with you. However, because of new Freddie Mac & Fanny Mae rules and Freddie & Frannie's incorrect attempt to classify our condo building as a condo hotel, my condo association has a new rule that doesn't allow me to list anything but weekly rates, although off- season I rent for less than a week.
I wish I could list the nightly rates and rental terms so that I could be clear to potential guests. Although the vast majority of privately owned rentals charge more per night for rentals of less than a week, people making inquiries are sometimes upset when I quote the daily rate, which is 1/5 of the weekly rate.
First of all English is not my native language so plse excuse my mistakes ;-)
I have a few suggestions as well
1) Plse make sure that the renters get the home they thought they where renting! (This happened to us..we rented a home and upon arrival got a complete different house than the one we thought we were renting. It was OK at the end but far from what we expected and a bit unfair!)
2) Plse update your availability calendars. It is so disapointing going thru houses and houses and sending inquieries only to learn the house is not available anymore. It would avoid both of us time and work. Even worse plse dont advertise with special deals and last minute prices in such cases. Not updating a calendar for many months is a bit sad. At the same time plse update your complete website on a regular basis!
3) Please reply to your customers in acceptable time. A week later is to late.
4) Lately many renters offer a fixed insurance fee instead of security. I really appreciate this. I am an European customer and most of the times use paypal. Most owners charge a fee for this (wich is fine and understandable) but when I get the refund I loose again because Paypal charges me fees..so I rather pay a fixed insurance fee and I am set)
5) Please make sure the house is clean! It's so frustrating when you arrive at a vacation home and it's filthy and in a terrible condition! And yes that also happened to us before.
6) In your listings plse make it clear if you are a private owner or a company. I personaly prefer to know with whom I am dealing. And I admit that I got a preference for private owners.
7) It happened to me that I have inquired about different rentals and received answers back but that the home that I was asking about was not available anymore but other homes where....from different people but all offering me the same house at quiet different rates. That is really confusing and a No Go for me.
8) If you rent a house for 6-8 people plse make sure you have enough kitchen equipment! A tiny little pot or pan is definitly not enough. I dont need a great kitchen if I am not able to cook in it because I would first need to buy the equipement. Also plse check the stuff..cracked glasses and plates and so are dangerous! Than rather provide a few nice reusable plastic cups..
9) Pictures..plse have updated pictures! And if you offer 4 bedrooms..we would like to see them!
10) Description is important! Make it complete and understandable! Its so much easyer for a renter to make a choice! It only takes you a few minutes more.
And last but not least and even if it is off topic...I wish there would be a rating system for us renters. We are often renting homes and I am sure that all the owners we rented from where happy to have us and it would be great to have a rating that we as renters could point to to to show an owner that we are reliable and trustworthy renters that respect their properties .
Kind Regards Diane
We've rented numerous times through VRBO and the experiences have been quite good.
I very much agree with just about everything natala.constantine says in her post. Here are a few things that I look for.
1. Fast, friendly email correspondence.
2. Cheerful willingness to discuss things by telelphone.
3. Up-to-date availability calendar.
4. Lots of good, well-lit photos with an accurate, honest and complete description of the home/location.
5. Wi-fi Internet is a must-have. We won't rent a home without it.
6. Easy access (with a lockbox is fabulous).
7. Please: Don't assume the worst about all potential renters.
I know that many homeowners have had to deal with nightmare-ish tenants, and I can certainly appreciate your caution and obsession with rules, but don't treat every potential or confirmed guest as a boozy college student or a three-year-old. (Do I need three signs to explain how to unlock a sliding door?)
Eleven different signs posted all over the house leave a terrible impression. If your home has a few tricky things, like a complicated dishwasher, send me clear, polite instructions before I arrive, and have a "manual" that, very nicely, explains what I need to know, or need to avoid. (As Diane/luxi says in her post, I wish we, as good renters, could be rated so we could put homeowners' minds at ease.)
8. A good-quality outdoor barbeque that works. (This is a neglected item for many rentals, for some odd reason. Beautiful house, with a 10-year-old, barely functioning BBQ.)
9. Knives in the kitchen that have been sharpened in recent memory.
10. A phone call after arrival to make sure everything is fine. (Happened during our last rental and that impressed me.)
Misc. added touches that leave a nice impression: a computer printer, an electric kettle (tea-drinking Brits!), lots of toilet paper, fresh (in the wrapper) soaps in the bathrooms. Overall cleanliness, of course.
If someone's looking for beach rental: show the BEACH from your property in your photos; seriously, bathroom fixtures and laundry are way down the list if there's a view. BE HONEST AND SPECIFIC: nothing worse than thinking you'll arrive at beach and you face 3 houses or theirs a road in front of you.
Below are a few suggestions that may help vacation rental owners to receive more leads. I consider these things which owners and managers need to know because they are the factors which directly affect a renter's decision to reserve a property.
This is without a doubt the single most important aspect of your listing. nothing attracts more attention to your listing than a good photo. Conversely, prospective renters will not bother to read any of your listing's text, rates or specials if your photos look like garbage. Under-exposed interiors that make the living room look like a dungeon, overexposed shots of the backyard, blurry images, pictures with dirty dishes in the sink, or simply failing to provide photos of certain areas will cause renters to pass you by. Nothing raises more red flags than when a home has photos of the yard but none of the interior, or vice versa. Hire a professional photographer and write it off as a business expense. There is nothing more important than your property photos.
#2 Update your availability calendar often / respond promptly to inquiries.
It is a waste of everyone's time to be either waiting for e-mail responses or e-mailing back & forth about homes that are booked but don't show as such on the website. If a renter contacts you because your home shows as available, but you respond days later that it is booked, it takes a toll not only on you but on every vacation rental owner out there. This process frustrates renters so badly that many of them wind up getting hotels when they don't want to, just because it takes too much effort for them to book a vacation rental while also avoiding the scams & pitfalls.
#3 Please, please, please let me get what I want. Renters today expect a High-Def flat-screen LED, LCD or plasma television in the living room. There can be an old tube set in the kids' room or whatever, but the main living area should be free of CRT & rear-projection relics. When you try to be slick by taking a picture of your living room where the television is not visible in the angle or it is cropped out, we know instantly that you have a tube television set and you just don't want to tell us. Remember, it's not about the tv itself. Heck, we may not even turn on the television during our entire stay, but just seeing that flat-screen in the room even as a piece of furniture is aesthetically pleasing. Having a junker set in the living room, on the other hand, speaks to the poor quality of upkeep on your property. Your old tube set tells renters that you are cheap and don't care about details, and that there may be other amenities which suffer from neglect; maybe the faucet drips or the toilet has a tendency to overflow and you haven't gotten around to fixing those either. Go down to Wal-Mart and spring for the cheapest Vizio you can find on sale, and take the $300 hit for the greater good. It will pay for itself in the first week, when you suddenly realize THAT's why people have been passing your property by all this time.
#4 Yes, you have to offer broadband Wi-Fi. The working vacation is here to stay and renters need to be able to stay connected to their business or they will be forced to stay elsewhere whether they want to or not. This is really non-negotiable, and there shouldn't be any further argument.
#5 Charge a reasonable, flat-rate cleaning fee. Renters really do not care how much or how little you have to pay to clean a property before we arrive or after we leave. If we had our way, you would eat the cost every time. Just because your overpriced cleaning service is ripping you off, it doesn't mean that renters will suddenly be willing to volunteer that money freely. If you are getting a decent deal for cleaning services, pass that rate along to your renters instead of looking at it as an opportunity for padding in additional profit. How many eBay auctions have you passed on because you knew the seller was overcharging for shipping and making a profit of that while dodging auction fees? No, I'm not going to suggest charging cheap rental rates and high cleaning fees to avoid the tax rate. That would be unethical and probably illegal. Just charge a fair, reasonable rate for cleaning and make sure we get our money's worth when we arrive. If we show up and someone left a dookie in the toilet, be prepared to waive that fee.