The Vacation Rental Process: From Inquiry to Checkout

    vacation rental processMost transactions between travelers and vacation homeowners consist of many or most of these 15 steps. Use them as a guide to create your own process and procedures.
    Remember, if you use our ReservationManager Product, inquiries, quotes, agreements and payements are all automated.

    1. A traveler searches on the Internet for a home to rent. Most travelers have four factors in mind when they conduct a search for vacation accommodations: location, property size, travel dates, and estimated budget. Don’t miss out on potential bookings by omitting these details in your vacation rental listings.

    2. A traveler sends you an inquiry with requested dates. If your home meets three or more of the above factors, a traveler will likely call or send you an inquiry through the e-mail form on your vacation rental listing sites.

    3. Respond promptly to the inquiry by phone or email. When a traveler inquiries, he or she expects a quick response. If the inquirer lists a phone number on the inquiry form, a call is welcomed or expected. Studies show that the first homeowner to call is most likely to secure the booking.

    4. Traveler decides to book your property. Congratulations, you’ve made a sale! Now what? If you haven’t spoken to the traveler yet, now is the time to pick up the phone. A short conversation allows you to screen guests by getting to know a little more about them and their vacation plans. A phone conversation is also the best way to determine if your home suits a traveler’s needs.

    5. Send a rental agreement and payment schedule to the guest. After you’ve spoken with the guest on the phone and decided to take the booking, email him or her a copy of your rental agreement. Also send a payment schedule that details payment amounts and due dates.

    Sample Payment Schedule
    Upon booking: A reservation deposit of $200 or %10 of rental amount
    30-60 days prior to rental date: 50% of rental amount
    14-30 days prior to rental date: Remaining 50% of rental amount
    6. Take a reservation deposit via credit card or ask for a check via mail. To secure the booking, the guest pays a reservation deposit by either credit card or personal check (typically $200 or 10% of the rental amount).

    a. If your guest is paying by credit card, take down your guest’s credit card information and store it in a safe place, but don’t charge the card until after you receive his or her signed rental agreement.

    b. If your guest is paying by check, request that the guest mail you a check, but let him/her know that the booking won’t be confirmed until the check clears the bank.
    7. Your guest signs and faxes or mails back your rental agreement with payment.

    a. If your guest is paying by credit card: After you receive the signed rental agreement, charge the guest’s credit card.

    b. If your guest is paying by check: Your guest can either fax the rental agreement right away or include it in the mail with the check. Be sure to let the guest know that their booking isn’t secured until you have both a signed rental agreement and the check in hand.
    8. E-mail the guest a confirmation that you received the fax or mail. After you’ve received a signed copy of the rental agreement and his or her reservation deposit, send the guest a quick e-mail to confirm the booking and reiterate the payment schedule.

    9. Mark your calendar as “booked” for dates specified. Once you’ve received both a signed rental agreement and the reservation deposit, update your availability calendar.

    10. At least 30 days prior to rental date, request the balance due. By requesting the full balance well in advance of the rental date, you give yourself plenty of time to cash personal checks. Requiring the full balance in advance also helps stave off last-minute cancellations.

    11. E-mail the guest a confirmation that you received the final payment. After the guest’s final payment clears the bank, send them a confirmation e-mail with a detailed receipt of all monies paid.

    12. Send guest directions and keys or key codes. E-mail directions and key codes only after your guest has paid in full.

    13. Guests enjoys a stay in your home. Request that your guests walk through your home upon arrival to ensure that the property meets their expectations. Instruct the guests to call you immediately if a problem needs to be addressed. Your guests will appreciate your quick response and will likely be good-natured if another problem should arise.

    14. Guest departs; instruct housekeeper to clean and check your home. After your guests check out, your housekeeper should inspect the property for damage and theft before cleaning the home.

    You return security deposit and ask guest to leave a review on your listing. Once you receive confirmation from your housekeeper that the guests left your home in good shape, return the security deposit.

    a. If your guest paid the deposit by credit card and you charge the card, refund the deposit by processing a credit. If you pre-authorized the deposit amount but didn't charge the card, remove the pre-authorization.

    b. If your guest paid the deposit by check, write a check and mail it to the renter. Consider including a handwritten thank you note. In the note, remind the guest of your property ID number and ask him or her to write a review on your vacation rental listing.

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