Accepting payments/bookings outside of Airbnb

Hi there all new to the forums and fairly new to Airbnb (we’ve been hosting since Feb 2020).

Just wondering how you all go about accepting payments and bookings outside Airbnb/Vrbo?

In our first year, a crazy first year with COVID etc… we’ve done better than we had hoped and this coming year is set to be busy too! Fantastic for us.

After speaking to someone who owns a couple of Airbnb properties and has his own ‘platform’ for accepting payments I was wondering how people go about getting bookings away from Aribnb et al? The wife and I were considering doing such a thing but having the ‘backing’ of Airbnb seems a very good thing when it can come to disputes and breakages (luckily we haven’t need to use them yet).

We had one person stay with us (our 4th guest) who wanted the house for a whole month but was very keen to pay outside of Airbnb because of the fees, not feeling comfortable with doing it we just deducted the fee off the total price.

Do you guys have a template contract you just insert the names of the guests too and hope that everything works out?

Thanks in advanced for any tips.

Don’t get sucked into that myth. Over the past few years Airbnb have become far more guest centric, and (anecdotally speaking) seem to take the guests side over hosts whenever there is a dispute. Not all of the time, but posts on here and the CC suggest they’ll take a brand new guests word over a long standing host with excellent stats.

As regards damage, you need STR insurance (including a hefty public liability element) to keep you covered in case of any major damage. You will also need that in place if you book guest directly.

Minor damage, broken plates, glasses etc, damaged bedding or towels, simply the cost of doing business.

Plenty of payment system providers, Strip, PayPal etc, cash is good also :wink:

Why should you “hope everything works out”? If you adopt a professional approach to STR then you cover all the bases, before you need to.



Yes, you are lucky. The “host guarantee” is fraught with procedural and technical nightmares, and for disputes, getting a customer disservice person that knows what they’re doing seems to be hit or miss.

Others may have contracts here, I don’t. I only depend on Air for advertising and booking.

For card transactions that aren’t on Air I use Square, which has both a plug-in card swiper and a bluetooth chip reader, as well as the terminals for iPads which you see in many restaurants.

I first started using it when I was driving a taxi, and with my tour company. You can generate and email an invoice with a link for online payment, and you can invoice for deposits. I once had a portable card terminal with my bank, but Square is simpler and less hassle.

Most phone stores sell the Square dongle for $10, which is refunded for the first transaction.

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Off platform payments: I accept Venmo, Zelle, PayPal, Money order, cashiers check.

Love Venmo. Affiliated with PayPal. No charge. Same day transactions to $5000.
For Venmo & Zelle I ask guest to send test deposit of $5 to confirm correct account then we move forward

Contracts: yes. For direct short term bookings not on Airbnb and ALL bookings over 28 nights. Contracts protect the guest and me.

Long term rental: rarely they book 60 days. The first month on Airbnb, trust established and move to direct private rental for month 2.

If booking from Craigslist ad, guest & I trade government ID info. They can verify who they are renting from & I can verify them.

If going off platform, be sure you factor in having to collect and remit the appropriate taxes. That alone is not worth the hassle for me but when we were accepting STRs pre-covid Air kept us really busy and we net an amount we were happy with.

I agree with the statements about providing your own coverage - too many stories of Airbnb not covering problems.

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You should gain experience first.
I use OwnerRez platform and handle everything now through them. They have choices of processors you can set up. I use Costco… ( Elavon ). Through OR I offer damage protection, travel insurance, Credit Card holds.
Or, you can also set up Square very easily. =
Or, Stripe.
PayPal is risky…they dont support services / rentals if there is a dispute. I would avoid PayPal, but I know other owners use it.
You can process guest contracts through other digital sources. I used to use SignNow because it has everything plus you can get the photo id too.
I have a website. I also am on Houfy.
My properties are properly insured.
I submit required taxes when booked direct. You can use Avalera if you need help there.
I prefer direct bookings, but I won’t steal a traveler from the sites.

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Cash, check, Zelle, Venmo, Paypal.

Please don’t count on this.

I use owner res for my direct book website, stripe for processing credit cards, through OR.
I use Google PPC To drive traffic. In 2020 my direct bookings accounted for 28% of revenue.


I only do short stay off book rentals with about a dozen people who have been staying here for years. These are cash transactions. As noted by another host, putting the first month on Airbnb is good for establishing trust and rules. Any longer stays for me have to be over 31 days so state occupancy tax will not apply. Airbnb collects it for the shorter stays. Good insurance is important but note that some policies have exclusions. Mine doesn’t want me to rent to students either directly or on platforms.


You should be wary of guests that find you on Airbnb but want to pay you outside of Airbnb, especially if you are a new host. Scammers and otherwise bad guests prey on new hosts. Keep it in mind.

Assuming you already had a monthly discount in place, you just dropped the price another 12%. That’s probably not a good strategy for you unless your monthly discount was low (20% or less).


Just got my first repeat that wants to book off-platform. Wants to use PayPal, which doesn’t thrill me, so I may send them a Square invoice.

What do people use for a contract? Any advice or forms would be appreciated. I have a LTR lease for a recent guest who needed an additional 6 weeks and went off-platform to save on fees (save over $1,000) .

Do you have a contract template? I have a LTR lease. What do you and other hosts use?

What do you include in your contract?

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Your contract should have everything relevant to the stay.- names, dates, times, all your terms and clauses applicable to your home. Payment parameters. Every fee for violation of a clause. Your Cancel policy. Venue for legal disputes. Everything relevant to you and protecting your rights, your property, and your parameters and expectations. The contract is for your protection and should be created and slanted entirely to protect yourself.

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I don’t do a contract for repeat guests booking off platform. It just doesn’t come up with anyone that I don’t already trust. But I do get payment in advance. One women mails me a check about 2 weeks prior, everyone else uses Zelle or Venmo.

I have a lease for anything over 28 days. It’s based on my states’s lease more or less but I use a month-to-month version and add details that are relevant to a furnished rental with utilities included as well as some stuff that’s important to us - rules I suppose, but not like house rules for guests, just regular landlord stuff.

I use for payment from tenants. It is easy, reliable, safe and free. And I use Adobe for tenant leases and application, with digital signatures. I pay for it but it’s worth it and allows me to change things easily and create templates (it also roots out liers, lol).


Sorry to bring this older thread to life again, but I didn’t feel it would be a good idea to start a similar thread.

I don’t do direct bookings yet but planning to set it up during slow times.

I’m just starting to research this topic and some questions that came to mind are:

  • How do you screen guests? I know air reviews are not reliable as hosts often don’t write bad reviews but it’s at least something.
  • When a dispute happens (which eventually will) about refunds or compensation due to something going wrong, is there a bullet proof contract similar to what Airbnb has? A guest did a chargeback many months ago. Air dealt with them and I got paid fully.
  • How do you collect good reviews so that the guest who wants to bad mouth you doesn’t have too much leverage on you? If you have a 100 good reviews, that one bad review isn’t going to hurt you much.
  • What is the acquisition strategy for guests? Do you try to send them contact info in riddles in abb? That seems risky.

I only accept guests directly if they’ve booked with me before and we’ve had a happy stay.

Air’s contract isn’t bulletproof. Write your own contract and do it as a short term rental contract. Search this forum, there are lots of ideas.

Direct bookings don’t get to review on Air. You’re doing this outside the AirBnB system and unless you’re on TripAdvisor, it doesn’t matter.

Repeat guests who are a good match. NEVER send a new guest off-platform booking options via the ABB messaging app. You’ll both get kicked off the platform.

If they are a great guest and want to extend off-platform/ABB, then that’s when you have a conversation with them. Many folks accept cash for additional nights at a reduced rate. Again, research this forum. Lots of great information.

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You don’t. When you have great guests through Airbnb or another platform, you tell them you’d be happy to have them back, and give them your direct booking info, telling them they can just contact you directly if they want to book again in the future. And of course you tell them this directly, not in an Airbnb message.

I don’t have a direct booking site, but all guests who I would welcome back are given my email address. I even tell them if they have friends or family who want to book that they can do it directly, because I can tell they aren’t the kind of people who would send low lifes my way, or even hang out with any.


I will have to come up with something else, as I am a remote host and I don’t meet any of my guests in person. I also don’t get many repeat guests as I host on a remote island and for most folks, it’s a once-in-a-lifetime type of trip. The wealthy visit more frequently but they are not my target clientele.

If you want to book people directly without having hosted them before I’d suggest you set up your own website for the rental.

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That is what I plan to do, but I’m researching how to overcome some of the challenges I outlined. I think setting up the website is the easy part but doing all the things abb does is tricky. Dealing with people who will do chargebacks, who want last minute refunds, etc. It seems like I would mostly attract the type of people who have been kicked-off airbnb.

How long have you been hosting? The longer you host, the more confident you’ll become. And even after years direct booking may only be a small part of your business. I have the kind of listing that does get repeat guests and I’ve been hosting since May of 2014. After all this time, direct bookings are still a fraction (20%?) of my business.

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