How to vette guests from non-airbnb's platforms

We started out just on AIrBnB and have recently widened out to VRBO, Home Away, etc. Unlike AirBnB’s platform we cannot vette the guest. I like the idea of knowing WHY my guest needs my unit, whether they’re here on business, family, medical, etc. It helps me weed out the ones looking to party, etc. I realize nothing is 100% but I prefer being as pro active as I possibly can. At present we are only provided a telephone number to the bookings from the other platforms and sometimes that doesn’t even work. We request they read the T&C which we send them via text before they get check in info, but It’s not enough and I was wondering how others were handling bookings from these platforms. Thanks for you input.


Other platforms are instant book and you have little to no control as to who will book. When I get a booking on or VRBO I ring them immediately and have a conversation with them about what brings them to my area. I let them know how close I am, that my aunt lives next door, that I do a meet and greet …….
Here, VRBO allows a host cancellation within 24 hours of the booking and allows the guest to cancel.
No parties yet, but I think the instant contact puts a pretty strong framework around my expectations.


Vetting guests is a lovely idea and you’ll probably get answers from people who stalk potential guests on Facebook, or Google them to find out more. Others like to have a dialogue with guests before they arrive. Others go by what they call their ‘gut feelings’.

However, another thing to bear in mind is that I’ve been in the STR business since before the founders of Airbnb were born (and I’m not the only veteran this this forum) and I’ve never vetted guests and never developed that ‘gut feeling’ thing. I’m just useless at it.

Some hosts say it’s their ‘spidey senses’ that tells them whether a guest is a good or bad bet, but I’ve no idea what that means so I’m sure I don’t have any.

Sometimes, when a guest is just a few minutes from arrival, I might look at their previous reviews - if I remember.

So please take onboard the advice you get from other hosts but it’s an idea to keep in the back of your mind that if you develop the technique of not needing to vet your guests, you’ll save a lot of time and probably be a happier host. :slight_smile:


Thanks for your reply and timely advice, all things I can and will do.

I wish I could sit back and do nothing but unfortunately everyone’s unit brings in different types of species. (LOL) I simply want them to know what my expectations are which are done via text but also can be done verbally. If they don’t like my questions that tells me they’re not the ideal guest for my unit. Thanks for your input.

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I signed up for VRBO and didn’t have much action, rental a private part of my house. One booking that I got had zero information about the guest even though I messaged her. Never heard back until she cancelled a couple days later.
The 2nd was a scammer that originally wanted to book for 2 weeks, told them the max was a week. Didn’t hear back then heard they wanted to book off the platform and would have to send a check, could I give them my address.
That was it for me. I took my listing off. I was totally uncomfortable with it all.

And I never know if my “gut” feeling is accurate or simply an expression of unconscious bias. Unless it’s something obvious like a post about how much the person likes to party and trash hotel rooms.


I had this a few years ago with a guest who looked awful in her profile pic. She looked like a zombie or a ghoul or something and definitely seriously on drugs. She had no reviews. I was having a few misgivings before she arrived.

When she arrived I blurted out “but you’re so pretty!” because she was nothing like her profile photograph. She was a lovely. lovely guest who became a regular repeat. :slight_smile:

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80% of my bookings are from vrbo. VRBO does allow the owner ( host ) to be more independent and is (slightly) more aware, and respectful, of the fact that the owner pays the mortgage and not the listing site.
So it is true that an owner may have to be more alert, or “vigilant” on vrbo, because “big daddy” isnt handling everything nor overseeing every inquiry. I have Never been scammed…the scammers target new listings and owners without strong parameters. My listings have set rules, and then everyone is required to sign an agreement which includes fees for non compliance.
AirBnb now also allows those of use who are
API connected and independent to also hold our own security deposit and make our own decisions if damage occurs. I dont want a CS agent in another country making decisions regarding my home(s). That being said, each site has different target areas. Large properties in resort areas and beaches tend to be stronger on VRBO. There are no shared spaces on VRBO. Smaller properties and city properties might get more bookings on AirBnb. I have 2 homes 3 blocks apart. The 5 bedroom with the pool is much faster to get booked on vrbo, whereas the 4 bedroom gets action on AirBnb too. As a final note, I can not imagine any way at all that AirBnb allows an owner ( host ) to vette a guest. Maybe I am missing something? And the comment by AirBnb that a guest has been verified is meaningless. They allow nearly anyone to reserve, and then also force owners to accept emotional support animals…which to me is totally wrong. They also allow cancelations for “extenuating circumstances” and almost any excuse can become an EC and the theft of owner income. They took a lot of heat for all the refunds in the beginning of Covid. VRBO was more owner-focused. So that’s my input.


I’m also on VrBO as well as AirBnb (rent a 4/2 whole house). I do allow IB on VRBO & not on Air, but for both I immediately respond asking details of trip purpose & names/ages of who is coming. I don’t send the access code w/o this info. I’ve never had anyone on either platform not respond & I’d be willing to cancel due to non-response.

I hope the platforms would support me as it’s in my House Rules/Policies on both platforms that the guest must provide this information.

I don’t usually do too much with the info unless the guest has no reviews and/or is a new account. But I find it has uncovered intent to exceed my capacity or bring kids ages I don’t advise due to safety. It seems it makes it harder for those with a conscience to lie :slight_smile:

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I send a standard, very polite note, on all platforms, to all inquirers whether they have already clicked “reservation request” or not. Unless they have explained in their message the purpose of their visit and described their group, or have a bit of a profile, I ask the purpose of their visit. I also ask their age range, if they understand that we are not located right on VA Beach, and that we are owner occupied. These are the 3 things that consistently cause confusion. If the property is clearly not a good fit (for example, an underage person looking to book a party on the beach) we don’t hear back. This is a huge timesaver and clearly why we have had only very grateful, family oriented guests that give us rave reviews.

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The first time I rented on VRBO was in 2014 and I literally had to call the host to complete the booking. I left a message, she called be back. She e-mailed me a bunch of forms I had to fill out and send back. It was the most tedious booking I’ve ever done, but there was lots of opportunity for vetting by the host. Is that gone now?

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This is the best advice

OP you’d be amazed at how you cut the riff-raff by stating that your family live across the street.

Also make sure that you have cameras and make sure this is clearly disclosed in your listing/ description.

Good guys don’t bat an eyelid at the security cameras and see this as protecting them.

Bad guys see camera as a nuisance.

Also if you do use BDC be aware that hosts cannot leave guests a review. So if you get a bad guest and kick them out. They can leave you a negative review and you can do nothing except

I). Whine to BDC (who will do nothing)
II). Deduct fees from the guests deposit (assuming you took one)

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Do not count on either platform to support you in any way. That has been proven that they don’t. You should be sending out a contract before allowing them to enter your home. House Rules/Policies are not enough should you need to “protect” yourself in a variety of ways.

They have made extensive changes to the EC policy. It’s irrelevant to me so I’m not a good reference on this topic but konacoconutz tells me it’s much improved. You should check on it for application to your home that gets Airbnb bookings.

When it has come to booking rules, I’ve had good results. Once the stay has begun or ended, totally different story & definitely as you say…supporting me, the host, hit or miss and more miss with Air than VrBO for me personally.

I follow many other conversation boards and not only this one. They are ignoring their set policies and even smart and capable people who quote the policies back have trouble with AirBnb. I am fully aware of every nuance and policy. But their incapable CS both in and out of country, are not well trained and getting through their walls can be impossible. I stand by my position and they are still a gorilla and they get their way. They make it up as they go. They will not change.


my contract voids the EC policy and I would go to small claims if it were a substantial sum. I have never had to enforce my agreement. I also strongly suggest insurance and have strong disclaimers. I have had a cancellation this fall, …and they did not request a refund ; they will rely upon insurance or they will lose their money. I am not absorbing any more losses due to covid. And I was lucky that I was one of the few who received maximum assistance from the AirBnb funds when they were granted. I still would not rely upon them to protect my income.


No sassiness, … I always wish all owners and hosts the very best anytime anyone needs them to support booking rules, or for any reason at all. My goal is to never need them for anything ( aside from the actual booking and the payment deposit into my bank account ) and by goal is to be self sufficient to enforce all my own rules and to have the ability to ensure payment without relying on a platform should they ever pull the rug out from under me. I read tons of “horror” stories on facebook groups. Every time it happens, that host is shocked! The platforms are simply not reliable to support us in a totally consistent manner. Everyone thinks it won’t happen to them, and they are stunned when it does. I have most of my disdain for certain items: 1) the forced decision to make us all take emotional support animals since so many are fakes. I personally accept service animals and not support animals for free. 2) the way they handle overcrowding or when a guest informs of overcrowding. They are fine when guest “corrects” the situation and force the continuing the booking 3) their policy to refund guest if it becomes necessary to terminate a booking due to rule infractions 4) the knee jerk decision to deactivate a listing if there is a guest accusation - such as for cameras that are disclosed or for discrimination that didnt happen. 5) their decision to not support damage from pets 6) the forced decision to not count infants in the total count 6) their EC policy…and the overriding of their own EC policy from time to time. 7) their damage reimbursements and the minimal amount they reimburse 8) the refunding for an amenity failure because some failures do happen and dont deserve a refund to guest. ETC ETC ETC


I get a lot of these scammers via vrbo. I just shut them down, no you will need to book and pay online and I never hear back

I like to stay diversified