Well, we’re just about through with the spring break season. One more week to go—so far so good for me, no underage kids snuck through my armored screening process.
This week I got an inquiry from a “Doctor in the UK.” Before I totally dismissed it, there were a few points that made me think that it could be legit. (Read why this could be a red flag here.)
Basic information in the inquiry was benign, raising no red flags (except for the fact he was a doctor from the UK). He stated they had visited the area before and wanted to return, their dates were somewhat flexible, etc.
The guest's email was not from a free email service such as Gmail or Hotmail, but rather from a company. I looked up his company’s website and he was, indeed, profiled as one of the employees (actually, he was the owner of the company).
The spelling and grammar were correct.
He referred to my cabin as a cabin (not as an apartment as so many scammers do)
Didn’t ask for any “pricing information”
Wasn’t inquiring for anyone else (i.e. his godson in a different country)
I did some internet sleuthing to ease my mind and here’s how it all went down after that:
Upon receiving the inquiry, I replied as I normally do with my availability and pricing, but added a clause stating, "We take payment via credit card only.” This generally wards off the scammers who want to pay via a counterfeit cashier’s check.
He replied and instead of the usual questions about detailed pricing, or questions about the cabin itself, he asked a few marginally odd questions such as: “Where do we collect the keys?” and “Where do we leave the keys?” While these questions aren’t odd, it’s odd to not ask any of the other questions.
I politely answered his questions and added the statement, “If you would like to book, please call me."
Low and behold, he called and wanted to book with his credit card in hand.
The reservation is for September. He paid the deposit and we’re going to take monthly payments for the remainder of the balance. I really think I am fine. (I’ll let you know in September for sure!)
I wonder how many other owners he emailed and they never replied all because he is a doctor from the UK. Poor guy! That used to be a sure sign of respect, but in today’s environment, it’s a red flag.
Bottom line: A little bit of extra effort and internet sleuthing and I landed a sweet 10-night booking for September, and we all know how September bookings can be.