I have my contract posted online as a .pdf document and send the link to the prospective guest. The contract may be accepted electronically, or the guest may print, sign manually, and fax or mail it back to me if they do not want to use the electronic signature option. Almost everyone chooses to sign electronically. The signature portion is shown below. When they click the button to complete acceptance, an email is generated and sent to me containing what they entered in the 4 fields plus the IP address from which it was sent.
There are services one may use to handle the contracts, such as Doug's endorsement of rightsignature.com, but all of which I know charge for the service, while this is something I could make myself. I doubt whether Reservation Manager's system for electronic signing produces an enforceable contract, mainly because I do not believe anyone is going to read the contract in RM.
It isn't necessary to have a physical signature for a contract to be enforceble. I have done many real estate (purchasing) transactions with docusign, and that was acceptable to my agent, title company and mortgage processing. I have used Reservation Manager exclusively with my HA listing. Sage's comment is interesting, as I would have expected that HA would have vetted their process through their legal group. It is a concern to me that guests can accept the contract without even opening it, but I purposely only include the address in the Rental Agreement PDF that guests accept through HA. When guests call the day before their arrival asking for the address, I know they haven't read the Rental Agreement. I have also asked HA to include code that won't let a guest accept a Rental Agreement, without first opening it. HA does log the IP address, and my contact sheet requires that the person accepting the rental agreement, must be the same person making the payment (legal advice I got when we started with HA).
I expect HA did have their legal staff review the process used for accepting the contract in RM. Historically the rule has been that a person who chooses not to read a contract, but signs it anyway, is bound by the terms of the contract. Courts may say that is still the law.
However, in the internet age people are confronted with countless agreements which must be accepted by a click. I have seen it estimated that an average internet user would need to spend hundreds of hours each year to read all the agreements that must be accepted. It is commonly known that people have given up reading all those routine items that must be clicked. And there are cases that have found that when one person knows that the other person does not know the details of a contract, the person with knowledge may not take advantage of the other person's ignorance. So you may have conflicting legal principles to contend with.
Perhaps HA has web tracking data that shows the overwhelming majority of travelers actually do click to open the contract before clicking to accept. If so, I'd like to know that, and my opinion may change. Until then, I personally will not rely on RM to handle acceptance of my contract. And if, in a moment of weakness or delusion, I decided to use RM to handle the acceptance, I would email a copy of my contract to the traveler before I sent the payment request. I do recognize that this is a question on which the law may be argued either way, but I see no reason to take a chance on a system that definitely could be improved when there are better alternatives.
If you use ReservationManger, your uploaded .pdf rental agreement (contract) is included each time a guest makes an initial payment. No need to worry about emailing it or having it saved on your website as an external link. The guest must "agree" to the terms by checking the box and then making payment. This feature has saved me a ton of time tracking down rental agreements. If I need to update the agreement, I just upload a new version with the next payment that I setup.
Hilltop Hideaway Cabin
Pigeon Forge, TN
I email the Application/Agreement, they complete it and either email it or, if time allows mail it to me along with the Damage Deposit if they choose to pay that by check. ( I do require some form of ID from them also)
I then bill their CC (using our processing firm we've used for many years) the amount due. I send out a reminder a week before the final balance and DD is due and then bill the final payment 30 days before date of arrival. Once final payment's cleared they get Directions, Check In procedures, etc.
Simple for me and them, and I have the required documentation for my files.
We onlly have one VR home so there's no need for me to use RM. I prefer to do all the booking and accounting myself and it's worked well for our situation.
I was finding that many of my guest did not have access to a scanner or fax and I was tired of 'it's in the mail'. I use RM and also an online doc signing (Echo Sign by Adobe). I include the rental contract in my RM process as well as online. I explain it's the same contract but just offers them another chance to review and ask any questions. I found that many never opened it before I switched to the online doc. I too received questions that were answered in the contract 'they signed'.
I include a required signature line for the cancellation policy along with a signature/address/phone number I can reach you during your stay at the end of the contract. I love that the online service will not let them return w/o all blanks complete. I recieve notices when they have viewed it as well as a stamped url/date and copy when completed. So far this has worked extrememly well for me.