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11009 Views 42 Replies Latest reply: Mar 26, 2013 8:30 AM by beachbumz RSS
msdebj Senior Contributor 1,358 posts since
May 25, 2011
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 8, 2012 2:20 PM

Dealing with incomplete inquires

I've noticed a big increase in inquiries that don't include phone numbers. I do my own "background" type checks, and this bothers me.  They have my phone number!

 

I've started to reply " The dates you are intereted in, _____, are currently available. However, I have several inquiries for the same dates. If you will provide me with a phone number where  I can contact you, and the best time to do so, I'll be happy to respond to your inquiry. "   I sign the email  with my name, owner.

 

About 50% of the time I never hear back. That's fine with me. I'm not going to waste my time responding to someone unwilling to give me their phone number.

 

How do you deal with such?

DebJ

  • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 863 posts since
    Sep 10, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 8, 2012 2:32 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    I think your emailing back is a great idea.  It is such an easy software fix to make their phone number a required field.  VRBO makes our phone number a required field when paying on the credit card file!

      • mike-dfv Community All-Star 829 posts since
        Mar 5, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 9, 2012 8:57 AM (in response to msdebj)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        I get what you're saying, Deb, but as a traveller (which I was long before I was an owner - and I've read the other threads about this) I HATE, HATE, HATE having to call an ower or have an owner call me. In fact, as a traveller, I will stay away from someone who calls me, which is why I really dislike this new push by HomeAway to encourage the guests to call. Email is much more efficient; phone calls are an interuption. If you call, I have to deal with you on your schedule, which may not match up with mine. If we communicate by email or through Reservation Manager, then we can each do it when we're good and ready. If I'm watching a movie/TV Show (you better NOT call me during The Walking Dead!!!) or eating a meal, a ringing phone irritates me to no end. As a traveller, if an owner calls me, or requires me to call them, they will not get my business. I keep my side of the transaction secure by using a credit card, so keep that in mind, all you check only folks.

         

        As an owner, I still prefer email or Reservation Manager communication, but as I'm trying to earn business, will deal with the customer however they prefer. I will not call someone out of the blue as I don't want to disturb them while they're watching The Walking Dead. If they call me, or ask me to call them, that's fine.

         

        Mike

        • skiandglee Active Contributor 509 posts since
          Apr 27, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 9, 2012 9:18 AM (in response to mike-dfv)
          Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

          I agree with Mike.  I wouldn't want an owner calling me to hard sell me or extoll the benefits of their house and put me in a confrontational situation where I must make a decision.  I know most of my guests just want a quote to see how much it is because they don't want to do the math themselves from the rate tables and or to verify what's included in the rate such as cleanings, hot tub fees etc.

           

          I also know that some guests rapid fire inquiries out to many properties with the same generic info that VRBO prepopulates from their prior inquiry and they don't want to have to keep track of what property you are calling from, they want the inquiry reply to come back to them so they can reference the home with a click of the mouse from right inside the quote reply.

           

          Just an opinion, worth the complimentary price paid

           

          Rick

          www.vacationrentalhelper.com

          • Currently Being Moderated
            Aug 22, 2012 10:31 PM (in response to skiandglee)
            Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

            skiandglee wrote:

             

            I agree with Mike.  I wouldn't want an owner calling me to hard sell me or extoll the benefits of their house and put me in a confrontational situation where I must make a decision.  I know most of my guests just want a quote to see how much it is because they don't want to do the math themselves from the rate tables and or to verify what's included in the rate such as cleanings, hot tub fees etc.

             

            I also know that some guests rapid fire inquiries out to many properties with the same generic info that VRBO prepopulates from their prior inquiry and they don't want to have to keep track of what property you are calling from, they want the inquiry reply to come back to them so they can reference the home with a click of the mouse from right inside the quote reply.

             

            Just an opinion, worth the complimentary price paid

             

            Rick

            www.vacationrentalhelper.com

            I don't know about everyone else, but I find that many of the VRBO/HA inquirers not only don't want to figure out how much it might cost them, nor how much the cleaning is (we state it on the listing), nor how much the taxes are (ditto), but they don't even want to bother checking the calendar to see if the dates are even available!!

             

            I am just amazed at how many people send me inquiries asking about dates that are clearly not available! And we keep our calendar up-to-date all the time, so there is really no excuse. So VRBO/HA is often just a waste of time for us. And when I politely send them an email explaining those dates are already taken and the dates that are available, they rarely ever reply. (insert roll eyes icon here)

             

            Amazing!

        • Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 22, 2012 10:32 PM (in response to mike-dfv)
          Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

          disneyfunvilla wrote:

           

          I get what you're saying, Deb, but as a traveller (which I was long before I was an owner - and I've read the other threads about this) I HATE, HATE, HATE having to call an ower or have an owner call me. In fact, as a traveller, I will stay away from someone who calls me, which is why I really dislike this new push by HomeAway to encourage the guests to call. Email is much more efficient; phone calls are an interuption. If you call, I have to deal with you on your schedule, which may not match up with mine. If we communicate by email or through Reservation Manager, then we can each do it when we're good and ready. ..

          I hate phone calls, too. I was a sysadm for a large entity and I got so sick of phone calls, I just grew to hate them. And they are incredibly intrusive. We don't even post our phone on our VRBO/HA ads, just our email. If a guest emails and asks us to call or asks for our phone number, then we will provide it to them, but not otherwise. As you indicate, emails can be dealt with at any convenient time; i.e., not during dinner. Since almost all our guests are at a minimum 3 hours time difference and often 5 or 6, email is really the only way to go.

           

          It's worked great for us for over 13 years and I see no reason to change. We do have a voice fax where people can leave a message that we actually receive as an wav file, but no one ever uses it they always just email.

           

          Oh, I should add that once a guest has made a reservation & paid their deposit, they are automatically provided the address & phone number of the unit, as well as our home phone number & cell phone. We want them to call us whenever they have questions or problems. They also get the phone number for the managing agent of the complex, but we always want them to call us first so we can try to get any problems resolved, as we tend to get better response.

           

          I just don't like being called by all the 85% who never actually makes a reservation through VRBO/HA. Of course, most of our reservations come through repeats, direct contact/referrals or the local travel site all through email. Email just works so much better. And you have a paper trail of all your conversations.

          • Active Contributor 295 posts since
            Jun 9, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Aug 23, 2012 11:32 AM (in response to geckohale)
            Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

            Geckohale wrote ==>... We don't even post our phone on our VRBO/HA ads, just our email...<==

             

            For several minutes, I was tempted, and thought long and hard to consider removing our phone number on our listing. I can still supply it as a contact info on my email signature. Hmmmm I was tempted to do just that, since I just bought a magic jack and plan to discontinue my land line number. That will sure put a stop on solicitation calls asking me to list on some website, considering I get too many of those every week. But every now and then, although very rare, I’ve gotten phone calls as the first method of contact that ended up booking, on the average about 3 a year that booked. Grudgingly, I will maintain listing my number, since 3 additional bookings are precious to me.

            • anja Senior Contributor 1,557 posts since
              Aug 9, 2011
              Currently Being Moderated
              Aug 23, 2012 12:54 PM (in response to tfv)
              Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

              I've always received, as everyone, cold callers, but I have never received so many solicitation calls as these past few months ... from "rental ad services".  The solicitators are brazen...they leave messages such as:  "I'm interested in your cottage, could I ask you to call me, please "   ---- and then when I called they revealed themselves. I know their tactic now....the generic approach...so I don't call back...but honestly they have become so good at this game that sometimes I'm not sure if it's legit.   It's so bad that I've lost my polite edge...I just hang up, now.  [If it's an obvious 800 or 877 number, I don't call back...but I've noticed that there are more cell numbers in use by these people....and people are working from home, as well.  It's a tough job economy and perhaps some of these cold callers find this easy work to get. Once, I heard a TV in the background.]

               

              What is equally annoying are the emails that arrive with false subject lines about my rental....I open the mail and it's a solicitation.  {hit delete}.

               

              I have also received messages stating that they "...saw my ad on VRBO"  (as VRBO instructs propspects to do!!} ...and they included the name  of my cottage...so I thought it was a legit inquiry....it was not.  I told the person that hell would freeze over before I did business with a company continuously spamming me and is deceitful  in their approach.

               

              The phone has become an item I wish I could bury in the sand.

              • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
                Nov 5, 2011
                Currently Being Moderated
                Aug 23, 2012 1:38 PM (in response to anja)
                Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

                Sadly, i'm becoming suspect of any caller with an accent. The last one was really good, had me engaged for more of a minute talking like a legitimate guest coming to look at property when something triggered, he was sounding familiar and I just hung up. Of course he called right back, apologizing for our disconnect. I asked if he was booking for himself and he admitted to being an agency. Told him, Don't call back and hung up again. Always shows as a private type call, not toll free.

                 

                David

  • stjvilla Active Contributor 626 posts since
    May 27, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 23, 2012 9:21 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    We prefer all communication go through email unless there is a real reason to speak over the phone.  When we get an inquiry via phone call first, it is often very awkward: we don't necessarily have all the info about availability or exact rental fee with us if we're not home.  If, after we go back and forth and there is a question or discussion best done in a phone call, then great.  Otherwise, we don't call them and so really don't need their phone number up front.

    • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
      Nov 5, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 23, 2012 1:45 PM (in response to stjvilla)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Only had a couple of phone initiated inquiries and all came at inconvenient moments. After a short exchange, I will ask if at all possible for them to contact me via email with the appropriate details. One guest did ask that I email her, no problem except she didn't reply right away and I wondered if I got the address wrong - interesting couple, they stayed in 6 VRs in 49 days, circling the island.

       

      David

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,557 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 23, 2012 3:51 PM (in response to sodamo)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        I do the same as you, David.....if the first contact comes via their phoning....after the initial exchange, I tell them that I would like to send them an email to help them with essential information they need because I know that it's usually not only about the price when choosing an accommodation. I've not had anyone decline getting my "offer" by email because I stress to them that it will most likely answer all questions that I've ever been asked about my place  (that's true)...and it will include their total cost, rental terms, etc.. so that they may have  it at their fingertips to compare with other offers they may been seeking (shopping around --- we both know that they are "shopping" so my suggestion works for them).  They usually sound "appreciative" of that.....and once I get their email address we embark on the conversation via emails which helps to further their interest and helps me to keep the history "thread". 

         

         

        Phone calls almost *always* come at a time when it is actually not convenient ...I usually can not just stop in my tracks and take a call wherever I am and whatever I'm doing....I don't sit at a desk all day and I have no "desk staff"...  (In my ads, I state that I am "Owner Managed" with no desk staff, please email first").  I often have to let my "voice message" take over...and when that happens, I call them right back usually within a few minutes,  so the inquirer does hear from me  as soon as humanly possible.

    • sage Community All-Star 966 posts since
      Jul 4, 2012
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 23, 2012 3:09 PM (in response to stjvilla)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      I, too, prefer contact by email, and am loathe to have my personal phone number published online. 

       

      For use in my VR listing (and for a couple of online shops my wife operates) I obtained a toll free 877 phone number which forwards calls to the home phone, but only during limited hours of the day which I can control.  I worry about someone on the east coast getting to work, contemplating the dreary day ahead, thinking "I need a vacation," and picking up to phone.  I do not want to take that call at what is 3 am for me.  The service includes voicemail, which emails a .wav file to me, and will receive a fax and email it to me, also.  It costs $7/month (if paid annually, otherwise it's $9/month) and includes 100 minutes per month.  To help protect my privacy and protect against middle of the night calls, I think it's a bargain.

      • anja Senior Contributor 1,557 posts since
        Aug 9, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 23, 2012 3:55 PM (in response to sage)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        I do the same, 'sage'.   I have an 877 # posted on my ads [with voice messaging, too}.   Some people do not realize the time zone with Hawaii....I was getting calls in the middle of the night ...happened many times....and the callers had *no clue* that it was 1:am...or....4:am, for me.

         

        In any case, I will not put my real tel. # in ads for "my privacy".  

      • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
        Nov 5, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 23, 2012 3:55 PM (in response to sage)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        Thanks Sage, I'll have to check that out.

         

        David

         

        Sent from my iPad (3rd Gen) with Aloha

        Please visit vacation.ninolehawaii.com

        • mike-dfv Community All-Star 829 posts since
          Mar 5, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 24, 2012 8:32 AM (in response to sodamo)
          Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

          sodamo wrote:

           

          Thanks Sage, I'll have to check that out.

           

          David

           

          Sent from my iPad (3rd Gen) with Aloha

          Please visit vacation.ninolehawaii.com

           

          Me, too. Based on HomeAway's suggestion that travellers call owners via the phone number in their listing, I posted mine. The only calls I received were bogus. I have now pulled down my phone number as I prefer it to remain private, but will look into one of these.

           

          Mike

        • hotnachocheese Contributor 40 posts since
          Apr 25, 2012
          Currently Being Moderated
          Aug 30, 2012 9:34 AM (in response to sodamo)
          Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

          Get a free Google voice number.  Its perfect.  you can screen calls, receive and make them from your cell, it transcribes teh voice message, etc.  I dont like to receive calls, but I do know I get more bookings with a phone number, so this is a way to seperate my regular business (and cell number) from my VRBO business. 

           

          One other great benefit- you can forward to anyone.  so, i can forward calls to my local property manager, wife or partner.  I give the guests 1 number and I can make sure its received no matter what im doing.

  • susaninrehoboth Active Contributor 878 posts since
    Sep 3, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 23, 2012 10:27 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    As an owner, I prefer the first contact to be by email. I like a record in writing to help avoid misunderstanding. Plus, so many people that give phone numbers list their cell number, so all that helps me do to research the person inquiring, is find out what area the inquirer is from-and that's only if they didn't move and keep their cell phone plan.

    When an agreement to rent is made, then I get the phone number. I see no need for it until then.

     

    As a traveler, I don't give my phone number with the initial inquiry. Sorry to say, but at least half the inquiries I make get no response, response that the dates are not available even though calendar shows availability, or response is an attempt to switch me to a different rental. I don't want that type of owner or manager to have my phone number.

    • sodamo Contributor 260 posts since
      Nov 5, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 23, 2012 1:59 PM (in response to susaninrehoboth)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Hi Susan

      I have to admit to the switching situation. Sometimes it has been availability, but most often it's suitability and not a bait and switch type deal. I suspect some cases it is a simple matter of not reading the listing. My suites sleep 1-2 people, so when I get a request for 3 or 4 and only one suite is available I point them to our cottage and ask them to consider, sometimes they admit to not having seen that listing (search issue?). All can be done in email, phone number not necessary unless they want to discuss something.

       

      David

  • katie.reardon New Member 3 posts since
    Aug 30, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 30, 2012 2:04 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    I agree that I don't like to receieve unexpected calls from potential renters. I prefer the first contact to be via email. That way I can easily give them a quote and answer any questions they may have without doing it while I'm in the car etc.  Although I will not book my home without talking to the renter over the phone. I feel that I'm able to do a good screening of the renter. We use our rental home personally a lot, so we are very picky who we rent to. When I respond to the renter I tell them in order to confirm a booking I need to speak with them over the phone. I ask them when they would like me to call, that way they know when I will call them. I believe if a renter doesn't want to talk to me then they are hiding something (college party group, scammer, more than 12 people) When I call I make the conversation sound like we are chit chatting. But what I really am trying to find out is what their plans are while staying in our home, how many guests, if they have ever rented a home before, etc. I also ask the renters if they have any questions about our home. I can typically tell what type of renter they are by their questions. I believe it also gives it more of a personal feel to them, letting them know how much we enjoy the house and give them a few tips about the area. I have had very good luck with this approch. I believe it also makes renters feel comfortable when sending me a check.

  • hotnachocheese Contributor 40 posts since
    Apr 25, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Aug 30, 2012 2:21 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    Good points- I do like to speak with them, just not the first contact.  Its too time consuming.  Also- there has been discussion about hiding the tenants email address from the landlord.  This would be a real disaster- I have found the email address is a great way to figure out who you are dealing with.  .edu address= college.  I dont mind groups nor young people- but my rate quote is based upon the risk i take with the guest.  I have found it works very well.

    • crescentbeach4u Community All-Star 863 posts since
      Sep 10, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 31, 2012 6:03 AM (in response to hotnachocheese)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Interesting comments about the .edu address.  I had 3 different renters this past year with this extension.  I found out that they were professors and ended up being very good customers and two of them have already rebooked for next summer.  I had probably the same concerns as you did but everything ended well. 

      • hotnachocheese Contributor 40 posts since
        Apr 25, 2012
        Currently Being Moderated
        Aug 31, 2012 7:16 AM (in response to crescentbeach4u)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        All of this just proves that each of us have found a way to manage our properties that works for us, and we dont need VRBO/HA dictating and changing things any more.  What works for one owner wont work for another.  I dont lack for leads- i get more than I can handle generally.  Luckily, I only live 3 hours from my investments, and have a somewhat reliable local who looks after things of an immediate nature.  All I want is a name, email address, and a date.  I can handle it from there.

    • carol Senior Contributor 2,152 posts since
      Dec 10, 2010
      Currently Being Moderated
      Aug 31, 2012 9:56 PM (in response to hotnachocheese)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Ouch, I use an .edu address provided by my alma mater.  Hey, we're not all party animals!!

    • thaxterlane Active Contributor 779 posts since
      Jul 27, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 8, 2012 9:40 AM (in response to hotnachocheese)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      I find an edu address makes researching the inquiry especially simple.  Just a moment to determine if the writer is faculty, administrator, staff, or student using online school directories (some university do not list their student directories, faculty and staff are listed in directories the public may access).

       

      I have an edu address and I have rented to many responsible adults with edu addresses.

       

      I would be more concerned about inquiries from yahoo, hotmail, and gmail with "hames" that consist of initials, numbers, or cute nicknames.  These are much harder to trace, although many people post to online forums using their email and you may be able to determine their "desirablity" by reviewing the type of forum and the content of their posts.

       

      As for incomplete inquiries - I will respond  with an email with general information about availability and pricing and direct the writer to my website for details.   I find these inquiries rarely lead to rentals.

  • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,192 posts since
    Aug 30, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 7, 2012 6:35 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    We prefer inquiries with phone numbers but do not expect them or consider them incomplete without one.  We consider it incomplete if there is no specified dates, occupancy desired, name, etc.  However, whenever we call back an inquiry we are much more likely to get the booking first.

     

    Having said that, we always require one phone call at least per guest, and that is to book the property.  It gives us a chance to screen them, them to be reassured we are for real and friendly and a chance for us to get the booking quickly and collect payment right there over the phone via credit card.  Finally, someone calling the official phone number on the listing is a sure-fire (and easy) way to prevent e-mail intercepting or phishing scams.

  • yosemite New Member 6 posts since
    Sep 8, 2012
    Currently Being Moderated
    Sep 8, 2012 5:41 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    I don't feel I must have a person's phone number to accept their reservation, but if they book I do want the phone number in case I need to try to contact them about any kind of last minute change on our end. We use a booking agreement which has a space for the phone number. When I e-mail that to them, if they have not provided a phone number I write the words "please provide" in the phone number space on my booking form and highlight in yellow. So, then when they send me their signed booking agreement, I look to see that they gave a phone number. We give the directions and entry information after we get BOTH the deposit and the booking document. Everyone has given me the phone number so far, but if someone didn't I would just e-mail them and let them know I need to complete that part of their form before sending them directions and entry codes.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,192 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Sep 9, 2012 11:12 AM (in response to yosemite)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Absolutely yosemite.  In order to book a reservation we always require at least one phone number, usually two (a back-up just in case).  We almost always at least get the phone number they will have with them when visiting.

       

      We don't have the problem you have with people not providing one and us having to remind them, as the actual booking itself always takes place by phone -- no exceptions.

  • marilyn Active Contributor 459 posts since
    Nov 9, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Nov 3, 2012 2:18 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    We require the following:

    Nature of rental

    Number of people

    Cell number

    Alternate phone number

    AND AGE RANGE OF GUESTS.

     

    Although many kids consider themselves adults at 16 or 17 since they may be able to drive, New York State has a "host law". Anyone under the age of 21 caught drinking in a rental property, the owner is liable and is subject to fine or possible jail time. We always ask age range. AND if they say 18 to 25, we ask how many under 21 and how many over. Most instances we have found one is over and the rest under. Typically these kids do not have an edu. Email address. Some have names like sexy cutie and others jamesmorganIII.

  • ttaylor0 Active Contributor 426 posts since
    Apr 1, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 24, 2013 8:00 AM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    I have to say that I am more like msdebj and I will not rent to a guest without first being able to talk to them over the phone. I also only have one property and do my best to take care of it and that includes letting it sit empty if I am not completely happy with the conversation that I have with renters. Also, I do not do a hard sell. I simply call the renter and say that they inquired about my property and is there any additional questions that they may have that was not answered on the web site. By the way. I convert almost 50% of the ones that I talk to into renters.

    • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,192 posts since
      Aug 30, 2011
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 25, 2013 3:32 PM (in response to ttaylor0)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      I agree.  So many people say they never once speak with their guests live by phone but we have never rented to anyone that we did not.  And yes, the personal touch makes a huge difference in converting them into rentals.  You automatically stand out that way in their mind because there are a lot fewer that they talk to by phone than that they send out e-mail inquiries to.

  • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
    May 21, 2011
    Currently Being Moderated
    Mar 25, 2013 1:42 PM (in response to msdebj)
    Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

    Boy...I find this a very interesting discussion only to point out the differences between homeowners.  We WILL NOT book to someone unless we talk to them via the phone.  And we have almost reached our booking goal for the year, so obviously the requirement to speak to a potential renter has not hurt our business.  We are way ahead of our competition.  Frankly we would not want someone staying with us that will not talk to us on the phone.  Talking on the phone is part of our screening process as talking with someone can make or break a deal - how young, how old, foreign or not, nice or demanding or confrontational, if "the fit" right, etc., etc., etc.  But we also prefer having a phone number just so we can determine what state or country they are coming from.  This is important to us as we charge an out-of-country transaction fee since we find that accepting credit cards for out-of-country transactions is the only way to go. FYI, for in-country transactions, we require payment via personal check.

     

    As for inquiries through VRBO that do not include a phone number, we do respond to them with availability and total costs, followed by a note that says that if they want to book some time at the ranch, they need to call as phone call requests have first priority since availability is constantly changing.   I actually prefer the first inquiry via email and then a phone call once they have made a decision to book. - it gives me time to Google someone, which I do about half the time.  But many times people will just call.  If a call comes in at an inconvenient time, we just let the voicemail pick it up.  That way we can hear the voice and how they sound - a good way to screen someone is via a voicemail message.  I can then call them back and either tell them that the cabin is currently available for their desired timeframe or tell them we have a tentative booking and ask if they want to be put on the waiting list.  We use the "tentative booking" response when we question whether or not we want to book to someone.  But we really do keep a waiting list.  And if someone does not ask to be put on the waiting list, should we have a cancellation, then we figure they simply are not that interested.  

    • beachbumz Active Contributor 542 posts since
      Jan 21, 2013
      Currently Being Moderated
      Mar 25, 2013 5:39 PM (in response to bobbie32)
      Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

      Like alot of homeowners my first response is via email. If they want to talk via telephone, I welcome speaking to them. However, I've had many, many "conversations" over email and rented to a number of very good guests just via email. They've turned out to be wonderful renters. Some have proven to be people who work at night or want to quickly send a message over their lunch break, dinner break, etc. I do insist on a telephone number for screening purposes though. The crux behind this reply is to consider keeping your options open, but only if it's something you want to try. It's worked very well for me, to the extent that I'm booked solid until Oct. 1st. It's a least something to consider.

      • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
        May 21, 2011
        Currently Being Moderated
        Mar 25, 2013 6:47 PM (in response to beachbumz)
        Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

        I think it has to do with what type of home you are offering. If it is a rather normal rental in a normal setting with absent owners then maybe booking via email with no telephone contact might work.  In my situation we simply have to be assured that any potential renter knows what they are getting into by booking our place.  For the most part, people simply do not read what you advertise or post, and the last thing I want is a renter that is disappointed. I talk more people out of renting with us than talk them into renting with us. And I have gotten pretty good at discouraging someone from booking with us.  But I have had people say to me that no matter what I do to discourage them, they want our place - no and's, if's, or but's.  Most guests fall in love with the place, but in 15+ years there has been a handful of guests for which "the fit" was not right. One time I did rent to some folks that I thought would enjoy our place and when they arrived atop the mountain, the parents (that spoke no English), got out of the car crying and then crossed themselves - they left the next day even though they had booked several days. Little did I know that the parents had a fear of heights, so what did not they not understand about the term "mountaintop"??? 

         

        I should also mention, that for 10 years we had the guest from H_ _ _ _ try to book over and over again.  She would use alias names or have friends try to book for her.  This went on for about 10 years and then she finally gave it up. People told me that I should get a restraining order, since it was a form of harassment. I recognized her voice and had a list of telephone numbers to watch out for as well as a list of her friends.  Sometimes it took a bit of detective work, but somehow we did avoid renting to this person. After 10 years, she sent a photo of her new family dressed in their Sunday best and pleaded and asked if we would reconsider renting to her. But she did say that she would leave us alone if we did not reply or said NO.  I have not heard from her since.    


        • swlinphx Senior Contributor 2,192 posts since
          Aug 30, 2011
          Currently Being Moderated
          Mar 25, 2013 7:01 PM (in response to bobbie32)
          Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

          How odd.  Why on Earth would someone want to rent from owners or managers that do not want them there??  Many travelers won't rent if they detect even a hint of rudeness or unprofessional attitude, but once you turn them down why keep asking?

           

          Also, what are the legal rules in discriminating against certain renters?  I guess as long as it is not based on race or something similar then I guess it is okay, but not sure if a hunch could be interpreted as unfair discrimination or not.

          • bobbie32 Senior Contributor 1,084 posts since
            May 21, 2011
            Currently Being Moderated
            Mar 25, 2013 7:38 PM (in response to swlinphx)
            Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

            It is odd indeed.  Believe it or not, people will beg to stay here.  And we love most of our guests and many have become life-long friends.

             

            The guest from H_ _ _ was a previous renter before we purchased the place.  She totally trashed the place and almost burnt it to the ground - caretaker found 100+ cigarette butts in the dry grass around the hot tub, pool was filled with potato chips - you could not see the bottom of the pool. I have several letters from previous caretakers about this guest - thus the decision not to rent to her ever again. 

             

            We have been told by legal counsel, that since this is a private home and not a public facility we can choose to whom we rent. We are never rude...just tell the truth about the nature of the place and its location.  It is NOT for everyone.  We state on our website that we reserve the right not to book to someone if we feel we cannot meet their expectations.  I would love to book to each and every guest that shows interest in our place, but we just have to make sure the fit is right. FYI, if someone wants to be where the action is, ours is not the place.  If someone has a fear of heights, ours is not the place.  If someone wants to go out to dinner rather than prepare their own meals, ours is not the place.  If someone wants 100+ acres all to themselves, ours is not the place. If someone wants to have friends and/or family join them for a BBQ dinner on the deck, ours is not the place. If someone wants to smoke outside, ours is not the place.  I could go on and on, about questions that have been asked throughout the years, even though it is all on our website.  Go figure...       

            • beachbumz Active Contributor 542 posts since
              Jan 21, 2013
              Currently Being Moderated
              Mar 26, 2013 8:30 AM (in response to bobbie32)
              Re: Dealing with incomplete inquires

              Hmmmm, sounds like your place "is not the place" for alot of people. With your approach it certainly wouldn't be "the place" for me. This system has worked for me simply because I don't spend all of my time trying to turn away renters. My leading title is very clear, as is my web text, and emails. Whatever they don't get from there is exceedingly clear in the contract. It's then their perogative to sign or not. My point is that some guests just don't have alot of time to talk about what the place isn't. Mine have specific questions and I answer those questions honestly and directly. The ones who my place isn't a fit for, or who I don't feel are a good fit, drop off the radar. Alot of the rest will either book, or book quickly thereafter, once their questions are satisfied. Do I get some interesting people this way - yes - THEN (point for emphasis only) I insist on handling over the phone. Have I ever had guests who turned out not to be a good fit - certainly have - but from what I'm reading, I'd match my success rate against anyone who only does renting via telephone. The point is, owners (as a whole) shouldn't specifically shut this off as a means of rental. If it's not in your business agenda then great, that's what meets your criteria. However, owner's (as a whole) do not need to take blanket statements, from a majority of people who've never tried it, and say it won't work.

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