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Thoughts about vetting potential guests and available tools for doing so

Hello, and thank you for welcoming me as a new member to this forum.

I am asking for thoughts and comments from those who have made some investment in tools that purport to go beyond FB and Google. Ones that come to mind are Pipl.com, BeenVerified.com, TruthFinder.com, SterlingCheck.com, ClearChecks.com, and a myriad of others. If you have invested in these paid services, how do they work, how do they help your vetting process, is it worth the money, and generally what do you think of them?

I have read several threads regarding: to screen or not to screen potential guests. I realize that there are several active members who have strong beliefs that it isn’t worth trying to screen guests because it simply doesn’t work. Point taken. These threads typically evolve to one camp that says it is a waste of time to screen, and another camp that says it is worth the trouble, with several references to “Faulty Towers.” But for the purposes of this post, let’s assume that I want to screen my potential guests and that I will do so.

My question is about the serious tools that people use to vet their potential guests. Yes, we all know about FaceBook and Google, which can be marginally helpful. We all also know about how you can get a “gut feeling” about your back-and-forth conversations with potential guests. We all also know that these methods can be misleading, and one never knows if the FaceBook profile you think you found is the same person.

From my profile----------------Skip if you don’t want the background----------------
My wife and I recently purchased a family-owned beach home from my parents in their retirement, in Ocean City, NJ. Here, the season runs from about 1 June though 31 August, with only spotty business on the shoulders. The main clientele is suburban Philadelphia, Delaware, New Jersey, and to a lesser extent New York, Virginia, DC, and Western PA. The “culture” here is weekly rentals of the entire house, Saturday to Saturday, where clients bring their own bed and bath linens.

Because the purchase dragged on, we were late to get it ready and listed for this Summer, and so we are still looking for our first guest after being “live” on VRBO for about a month. I built my own website using SquareSpace (very nice product), and we also list on VRBO. We are not yet using AirBnb, but part of my reason for joining this forum is to explore this possibility.
-----------------End of my profile----------------

Thank you,
Tom

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Tom, my whole house rental is in Mystic Island, an hour from Ocean City. We have been very lucky with Airbnb. We rent from May 1 to Oct 31. We get lots of folks from PA, NY and Canada. Mostly 5 to 7 day rentals in the summer and then 3 to 4 night rentals in May, Sept. and Oct. I think you should give Airbnb a try and extend your rental season. Doesn’t hurt to try. Best wishes.

I just wrote this yesterday. You can take the parts that apply to your situation. I also list on VRBO.

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Great idea. I was thinking the same thing. It certainly doesn’t hurt to try. Much appreciated!

A lot of the folks that come in the fall are going to weddings. I have also had parents visiting their child that’s attending Stockton College. You won’t get week long rentals but you will get weekend rentals.

You’ll need a few pieces of information to ensure your background check is matching the correct person.

All this legwork on background checks is only worthwhile if done for everyone staying, so request info for each guest. You either need to ban visitors or require their name/background check, too. Anyone with something to hide will ask their buddy to book on their behalf and arrive as their guest. (Or book with a stolen identity)

Write into your house rules that you require a full name, DOB, and city of residence (or address) for each guest and that you check gov’t ID on arrival.
(Some hosts require a picture of each guests’ photo ID sent at booking, but if that isn’t required in your area Airbnb won’t enforce this rule and may even give you grief over it. As a new host many would be concerned about sending you their ID info and how you store/secure it.)

Gov’t ID at the door is necessary as this is the only way to verify that the person at your door is the individual whose name you ran through the check. Airbnb’s ID validation is weak and guests can change the name on their profile after they’re ID verified. They also don’t require that the ID matches the credit card. In event of an issue, Air won’t share the guests’ ID with you unless compelled to do so by police/courts. Best to see it with your own eyes.

Those measures should scare off anyone with ill intent. It’ll also deter plenty of normal guests who will book a place with fewer hoops. So long as you get the volume you need, this vetting process could work well. If you aren’t getting enough bookings you’ll have to try something different.

I personally gave up on vetting. I know how to search county and city court records, but you need more than a name to get an accurate match and I wasn’t willing to get that into people’s business. FB just made me pre-judge guests for vapid opinions or stupid politics. :blush:

Let us know how it goes!

2 Likes

Thank you, Allison. Good ideas. I am doing some of them already. I am still waiting for my elusive first booking after going live on VRBO about 3 weeks ago. We got a late start listing it for reasons beyond our control. On top of the late start for the summer season, this is the first season with the new “AirBnB tax” by the state of NJ. I am now required to charge a 6.627% sales tax and a 5.0% occupancy fee. This was pushed through by the powerful NJ realtor lobby, and it is having the unintended consequence of hurting mom and pop rentals like mine where my parents used to do all of their own advertising and handle their own rentals.

I do not “vet” guests at all. Air does not even give you enough information to check anything. I do not require previous reviews. I do get a copy of ID at check in. I have had the odd extra snuck in but nothing serious. I am in the business of putting heads in beds, hotels do not do background checks… They do however check ID.

RR

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I have just recently started reading and asking many questions about this topic as well. For me its partly because I am an onsite host renting a room and bathroom in my home. We have alot of one nighters and last minute bookings. I also live just outside an area that has alot of crime and alot of tourists. Telling which is which isn’t always easy. I have always had the “ID upon request” in my rules and require everything airbnb offers to gauge them. What I have decided after all my research is to get the government ID. I’m not comfortable having them email it to me so I will just make it policy at the door for each guest. As per a suggestion, it is required from each person. I’m fortunate because I have an enclosed courtyard before my door so its sort of like an outdoor foyer. Because we are here to greet them, I no longer give a code until they arrive (unless I cant be there). I prefer to be more safe than sorry. My prebook questions ask for EACH guests first and last name and if anyone is under 25. I do not allow 3rd party bookings. Airbnb govt ID check isnt good. I just made my fiance a profile and his first name is different from his legal first name…they never caught it. I wanted to see f they did, and nothing! Id like to know why they don’t use the facial recognition like UBER does for its drivers. Once you submit your ID you should have to send a selfie to link the two.

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I don’t know anything about your listing @tpbeebejr but I would imagine for many having to bring your own bed and towels will put off many guests, even if it is standard practice in your area.

I also don’t think you can list on Airbnb if you don’t provide a bed but I might be wrong.

Personally I think it is better to vet guests by using the tools on Airbnb and asking vetting questions. It’s not just about whether the guests are vetted security wise but whether they are a good fit.

1 Like

Bedding and towels, not bed and towels. The host provides a bed, but not the sheets, blankets, and towels. This saves the host from having to wash and replace linens. Most guests coming to these types of places are driving so they can bring their own linens easily.

Keugenia is correct. Of course we provide beds, but as I said the “culture” in this market has been the same for generations of suburban Philadelphians (i.e., bring your own towels, bed linens, etc.). But I am also trying to break that mold by offering bed linen service for an up charge if they opt for it. I am not doing it to make money on bed linen service, but rather to appeal to a different clientele with a different mind-set. But again, still waiting for my first contract on VRBO.

RRR, thanks for your comments. They are very helpful to me.

But I figured that my original post would veer in this direction, despite what said in my post. Let’s assume that I want to vet/screen (despite all of the strongly held opinions here to the contrary). I’ll just paste in my actual question, which I buried too far down.

My question is about the serious tools that people use to vet their potential guests. Yes, we all know about FaceBook and Google, which can be marginally helpful. We all also know about how you can get a “gut feeling” about your back-and-forth conversations with potential guests. We all also know that these methods can be misleading, and one never knows if the FaceBook profile you think you found is the same person.

I am asking for thoughts and comments from those who have made some investment in tools that purport to go beyond FB and Google. Ones that come to mind are Pipl.com, BeenVerified.com, TruthFinder.com, SterlingCheck.com, ClearChecks.com, and a myriad of others. If you have invested in these paid services, how do they work, how do they help your vetting process, is it worth the money, and generally what do you think of them?

1 Like

@tpbeebejr said bed - rather than bedding - perhaps s/he made a mistake? @Keugenia

Being based in Europe this all sounds a touch paranoid to me. We use Airbnb, BDC and HA, all on instant book. If we started “vetting” guests we’d probably end up spending more time on that then we do running our business.

We are on site. Every guest who walks through our door is met by either me or my OH, shown round their apartment and while doing so, our few “house rules” are explained/reinforced.

STR in many areas is hard; a lot of folks see it as easy money and the number of available units is increasing year on year. Locally we’ve seen about a 25% increase, mainly from businesses offering fairly sterile (IMHO) properties.

When you start researching your potential guests to decide if they meet your criteria then there is a high likelihood you will get false positives, and on the flip side false negatives. This will result in your decision to let to an individual either being the wrong one, or, as @KKC once said, “you’ll be leaving money on the table” due to rejecting someone who’d be a perfectly good guest.

All that said, if someone has poor reviews on Airbnb then it’s just common sense to reject their IB or request to book.

JF

2 Likes

I would be creeped out if I found out a host was going to these lengths to “vet” me.

It does seem paranoid.

RR

2 Likes

Thanks Ritz3. Taking your suggestion, I have now created a listing for my house on AirBnB (property ID 37128245). How do you give someone the link for your property?

Just cut and paste the URL from your listing and send it to them @tpbeebejr

Go to Airbnb without signing in. Find your property, then copy and paste the link.

https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/37128245

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