I am new to this forum, but not new to VRBO. I'm an owner of a couple of vacation rentals for six years. My husband and I self manage the business and we really enjoy what we do. We love creating an environment in which our guests can relax and have the vacations they deserve. We have a long history of wonderful guests...many of whom return to us every year. People have a lot of planning, budgeting and a long way to travel to reach our place. We want to meet their expectations...and do our best. Some of them were coming prior to our taking over ownership and we are especially grateful those guests "stuck with us" after the previous owners sold. Thankfully, we have not had many "bad" guests that we would not want back...except for a few that have been immortalized in our "little blacklist" for not treating our place well...for completely wrecking our beach equipment...and / or for leaving the place excessively dirty. They write in our guestbooks how much they've enjoyed our place and can't wait to return. I enjoy telling them that we are full when they've tried. I wish that I would tell them exactly why...but I admit that I'm afraid of potential online wrath of a review from one of them. We have excellent reviews that guests leave in our guestbooks and on our website, too. I believe that our "success" in getting the "good" guests is due to "screening" that we try to do so we get a good match for our accommodations. I search for people online...and it's amazing what folks "share" on the Internet...but most of the time it's good family vacation pics, etc. We usually have no trouble renting to the majority...and mostly turn away those that our capacity can not fit. But, we have to turn some prospects away simply because they do not sound like the kind of people we can give our house keys to, after a couple of contacts. When we first started out, we did have ONE very bad experience with a couple that drank and verbally assaulted me and phoned me several times in the middle of the night to frighten me...[they knew my husband was away]....I got rid of them....long story that I won't go into. I learned a few lessons through that experience. I am always looking for new ways to screen. MY QUESTION: has anyone here experience using GuestChecker.com ? I reviewed their website but I can not find any "customer reviews" online. I wonder if it hurts business when the prospect finds out that the owner will search GuestChecker to see if there are bad reviews about them, before renting to them. Do you tell them, in advance, that your booking procedure includes a GuestChecker screening to see if they turn up as "bad guests" on the database?
When I first started using the service, I too was afraid that guests would be turned off by the idea of having their behavior reported to a third party. However, I decided to try it because I was tired of having my home and my neighbors disturbed by "entitled guests".
So I posted in my rental policies that I use guestchecker. When guests ask about it, I say: “I protect my vacation home against people who would otherwise make it less enjoyable for you. It is simply a way for me to ensure that the property is left in the same condition as they found it so that you, mr renter, can enjoy the property just as I've advertised it.”
While I have declined about 15 potential renters due to a bad guestchecker rating, I've had only 3 people turn ME down because I use the service. All three of which were reported to have problems at other facilities and they knew it. Trust me when I say that all three of these guests were not people that you would want to rent to anyway. You know when you get that feeling. That this renter is going to cause trouble, damage, and make unreasonable demands.
My guests are actually glad I use it! At least the type of renters we all want: respectful, leave the property in excellent condition, check out on time, don't demand to be compensated as soon as a small problem arises, etc. Since I began letting renters know I am a guestchecker member, people are actually on better behavior. In which case, function follows form.
Think about it for a moment. If someone wouldn't finance a car from an auto dealer just because they run a credit check, they probably have bad credit. Who wants to do business with someone who has a history of not respecting a contract? Not me. Like I said, I have turned away about 15 guests because they had problems with other hotels, b&b, or vaction rentals. On several of these occasions, I later found out that they caused trouble somewhere else. If I turn away someone and they go somewhere else to party like a rockstar, that's just fine by me. They are going to cause problems somewhere. I’m just glad it wasn’t at my property.
Again, I was unsure about the service at first. But now, I wouldn’t rent my lovely home without it. Using the service has not hurt my business. Quite the contrary! My damage costs, wear and tear costs, and noise complaints have all but vanished.
I would imagine that guestchecker will start charging a yearly fee someday. And I will gladly pay for it.
I agree with adameaster. It has had only a positive impact on my business. My repair costs and other guests complaints have diminished significantly.
If for no other reason, I feel a moral obligation to let all the other owners know about a problem guest. I can only hope they feel the same conviction and let me know about their bad experiences.
Guests have been posting reviews on us for years. Its time we start reviewing them!
I'm wondering is adameaster is an employee for guestchecker.
I think this a good idea in concept but has many flaws. First off, I would be worried about retaliation by the renter if they knew something bad was written about them. This happened with the big shakeup in Ebay a few years when sellers were no longer allowed to leave feeback for buyers because they wanted transparency. They wanted the buyer to leave feedback without the retalation of the seller so buyers weren't leaving feedback and sellers weren't appropriately graded. The exact thing will happen with this site. An owner will leave a review, and the renter will immediately leave a bad review on vrbo/homeaway and probably on any site they can find.
Also, I notice they require a live link on your page. I'm highly doubtful that vrbo/homeway will allow a live link of this company as their policies are extremely strict about what links they allow.
Haha. Yeah I guess my review was a little lengthy. I can assure you that I don't work for guestchecker. Not sure how they would pay me anyway. I've never understood a freeware business model.
I have never had a bad guest review that was a result of guestchecker but I see your point. Regardless, the positive far outweighs the potential negative. If someone leaves a bad review does it really translate into a lack of rentals? I would say that a bad guest experience certainly results in a lack of repeat business, without question. Anything I can do to ensure the satisfaction of my current and future guests, including joining a blacklisting service, is something I will continue to do.
thanks for the thought provoking response.
Humm, I own 3 vacation rentals and I see 100's of renters every year. I joined guestchecker and I looked up every single renter I've had for the past 2 years and NOT 1 of them showed up as bad tenants. I'm highly suspicious of your (15) bad renters that you declined. If it doesn't make sense, it usually isn't true.
I have a funny (and successful) screening story. First inquiry from bride to be who was to get married in Duck. She wanted the cottage for her fiancee's family, 6 adults, 2 children. I informed her that our cottage was not suitable for event related rentals but also told her that she should have no trouble finding a nice cottage for them, that she had chosen a terrific place for her wedding, and that I hoped her wedding planning was fun and successful. She emailed back to thank me for my kind words. Next day got an inquiry from a male for the same week, 5 adults, 2 children. Took both their names to Google and found out they were each other's "friends" on Facebook. So, though I always make a phone call to inquirers that look good, I just emailed him. Stated that our cottage is not suitable for events such as weddings or reunions or school related get togethers, and if his party did not fall into those categories, to please respond so that I could answer any questions he might have about the cottage. Never heard back from him.
Hello from the offices of GuestChecker!
My name is Shane. I am one of the founding members of GuestChecker. There has been a lot of talk about our service on the HomeAway Forums. I would like to open the field and answer comments, questions, concerns about our service on our new forum here: http://community.homeaway.com/message/10427#10427
I look forward to helping a community that has help us so much over the last 12 months.
Talk with you soon!