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VRBO Stand alone house rentals

We’ve been very successful Airbnb hosts for a year with our stand alone house. At the urging of family and friends, I signed up with VRBO after struggling a bit with their wonky website.
Within a week i got a nice one week booking. After accepting the reservation, I waited, and waited… they simply vanished before payment, no explanation, nothing from either guest or VRBO.
I soon got another request, and this new one was an obvious scam. They wanted to do shady certified checks outside of VRBO. I now have two strikes against VRBO. I’m not impressed.

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I’m on Homeaway (which is VRBO, which is Expedia . . .) and I definitely get more cancellations on that platform, also the wacky “My accountant will pay you by electronic deposit,” which are obvious scams. They’re always busy visiting their mother in law in Turkey or somesuch.
The actual bookings on Homeaway have all worked out well, however. I would stick with it so as not to have all your eggs in the Airbnb basket.

It’s your business why listen to family and friends telling you how to run it @Vermontbuilder

If you get all the bookings you need through Airbnb and directly you don’t necessarily need to use another platform .

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We’ve all seen how arbitrary Airbnb have become with regards to suspensions and delisting’s, so personally I’d never want to be solely reliant on one provider. Ever.

JF

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I use both Airbnb and VRBO. The “third party payment scam” messages that I have gotten are from Air, so I guess the scammers are on all platforms.

I do find that VRBO CS is much more helpful, and VRBO does not tell me how to run my STR and they certainly didn’t automatically cancel my bookings with full refund when Covid hit!

Unfortunately the bulk of my reservations are from Air, so I will continue to use them both!

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We’ve been listed on VRBO for years. In that time, we’ve had a grand total of 3 bookings from them. It’s nearly a carbon copy of our Airbnb listing. We had to hike the price a bit on VRBO to account for their hidden charges, but I doubt that matters much.

Airbnb just runs circles around VRBO. They book it up before VRBO has any chance. But Airbnb is a far riskier platform in terms of host liability. Guests know they can get away with just about anything on Airbnb.

But I ask too many questions. They don’t expect that. Scares them off. I’m happy with that, because Airbnb’s greatest strength is that there’s another booking just behind the one you just rejected.

Happy hosting :grinning:

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We are simultaneously on Airbnb and VRBO. And even Trip Advisor but that’s hilarious! I don’t even think we get views on Trip Advisor.

We have had more shadier guests on Airbnb vs VRBO . But we don’t entertain any conversations about alternate payment methods etc. You either pay through VRBO or it’s not booked.

Of the 3 bookings we’ve had from VRBO, none would qualify as “ideal” guests. 2 of them were pretty bad, actually, left some big messes.

We’ve had our share of bad guests on Airbnb too. In any case, there’s precious little you can do about it other than write it in their review. But you can be diligent about screening them before they book. And that makes a big difference.

I’m unclear about the “alternate payment” you mention. Yes, there are some who try to give you their telephone number or email address to attempt to get a discount by not booking on platform (and this happens on any platform, not just Airbnb), but Airbnb blocks that anyway.

For me, that’s a definite red flag that I’d never ever pursue. Not because I have some religious loyalty to the platform, but because it’s a clear sign of the character of guest I don’t want.

Ahhh - you mentioned someone booking but vanishing before payment . I thought they had to pay in order to book. And checks - well we all know that’s a no go hahaha!

My 2 bad Airbnb guests were one who tried to use fake closeup pics to get a $600 credit after they checked out. The other snuck a dog in and we counted 15 people. Then tried to harass us demanding compensation by making false claims and not providing any proof.

Not that this makes me think VRBO guests are any better !

One thing that I think is a significant game changer for us is that our property is in a security access controlled community. So they have to provide their drivers license to enter and it’s copied and kept for records. I’ve noticed many dubious sounding inquiries tend to vanish when I remind them we need names of every guest and they will have to provide ID. It’s chased away a lot of shady folk. And our price point is also a bit higher - so at 2 nights - it ends up costing at least $900+ , so that’s a lot to spend if you’re just trying to play games

Yes, well, here, it’s a legal requirement to collect copies of passports or national ID and upload to to a police database. That, however doesn’t prevent bad guests. Screening them does.

And we’re the same pricing as you, perhaps a bit higher (we’re € not $), except we’re in the country (but gated).

Yet I would never, ever accept a 2 night booking. All of our preparation costs are expended on the first night. It’s only subsequent nights that are truly profitable, and frankly, you’ll generally get a better quality of guests with a 5 night minimum stay - and that’s our off-season minimum. Our high season minimum is 7 nights. Our occupancy rate hovers in the high 80’s year round.

…almost entirely booked on Airbnb. I have to block Airbnb dates to give other platforms a chance. And I need that credibility on other platforms just in case Airbnb shuts us down for unwittingly hosting a bad/scam guest :flushed:

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That makes sense for sure ! We’d love to be 5 day only but lots of people in our area come up for weekend events - so we’d be at a loss if we excluded. We do get bookings ranging from 2 nights to 10 or so. We rolled our prep costs into our cleaning fee - so we are profit from day 1. But in our area - that’s also pretty expected. And we are also out in the country .

Here there aren’t those requirements for IDs - in fact I’ve booked airbnbs for vacations in plenty of cities and never once had to provide ID to a host :grimacing:

And I also am afraid to be solely dependent on Airbnb. We are moving towards targeting direct bookings also - so we can exist independent of these platforms. I’ve built the entire booking system - so we are getting close

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Hello there, I am about to research to put my place up- been burning the candle and am far behind- so thought if you wouldn’t mind telling me- I asked a host on a FB airbnb ad- how do I screen my guests. She said you can’t!? I thought I could screen my guests before approving a booking? Is this not correct? thank you… I was under the impression I could read reviews of who wanted to book- before booking them?

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You have to make sure Instant Book is turned off if you want to pre-screen guests. (It’s turned on by default on new listings and you will get all kinds of dire warnings about how bad it will be for your business not to use IB, which you should just ignore).

I have never used Instant Book- I require that guests send Booking Requests. When they do, I first go to their profile page to see if they have any reviews and read them, and see if they have a profile bio write-up. Then I exchange as many messages with them as necessary within the 24 hour window to accept or decline, to make sure they’ll be a good fit before accepting. (But it’s normally only a message or two and all is taken care of within a short period of time)

You can always activate IB in the future if you want to use it once you get more experienced.

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Oh thank you very much for letting me know. Not sure why the host from airbnb ad just said “NO” you can’t screen people- left me worried if I should try this… thank you for your reassurance- I thought she couldn’t be right…

Booking.com is all instant book, and you’re obliged to accept any booking, so in that case you can’t screen guests. But booking.com doesn’t really care much if you cancel, or if the guest trashes your place, or anything else. They just book it and take their commission. Everything else is your problem.

Like most other platforms, booking.com’s “hands off” character could ironically be considered a “plus” when compared to the risk of Airbnb’s rather random “interventions”, which can be quite damaging to hosts, especially when guests trash your place and write a scathing review complete with fabricated accusations of atrocities you’ve committed, miraculously only after you confront them about their damages. And as a result, Airbnb randomly decides that you’ve violated one of the many host rules and regulations they impose, and decides to suspend or remove your listing, despite the damage the guest has caused you.

Unsurprisingly, Airbnb frowns on screening, but if you’re careful and diplomatic about it, it won’t wake up the Airbnb gestapo. The upside is that you’re more likely to avert confrontation in the first place, because you’re less likely to take bookings from unscrupulous guests. It’s no guarantee, but it tends to weed out the worst of them. Well, nearly eliminates them, really.

So, screening is the most effective way to minimise or prevent “bad” guests, even though Airbnb doesn’t like it. Because when you do get a bad guest, there’s precious little you can do about it anyway, other than write it in your review of them.

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Perhaps she has only ever used Instant Book. Even with IB, though, hosts will still get some requests, as not all guests are eligible to IB (and hosts can set requirements for IB like previous good reviews).

I’ve noticed that some hosts who are accustomed to using IB are a bit clueless about requests and aren’t really aware of how to vet guests by communicating and checking out their profile. Some seem to think if a guest doesn’t meet the IB criteria they have set that they should automatically decline them. But Airbnb frowns on declines and will send threatening messages about too many declines and suspend listings if the host just keeps declining.

I have found that the key to filtering guests is decent communication. Did they send a nice initial message? Do they answer any questions you put to them in a timely and complete manner? Do they seem to understand that hosts like to get a feel for guests, that it’s not like booking an anonymous hotel room? Do they seem to be giving “too much information”? (For instance, someone who is misrepresenting their intentions, like planning to throw a party, may tell you things like, “We’re just having a little gathering to celebrate grandma’s birthday. She’s so excited about it and this is the first trip she has been on in 5 years. I’m super clean and tidy and we’ll make sure to leave the place in great shape.” Sounds innocent enough, and may be, but if a guest seems overly intent on convincing you of what a great guest they will be, it should prompt questions and coms from the host asking if the guest count is correct, reiterating that no extra guests or visitors are allowed on the property, etc.)

There are red flags to watch out for. Guests who ask questions about what is clearly mentioned in the listing info (they haven’t bothered to read anything), guests who start out asking for discounts, or for you to bend your rules for them, guests who ask if anyone else lives on the property (a question usually meaning they plan to throw a party or sneak in extra people or pets and don’t want to be found out).

There are plenty of “newbie” guests with no reviews. That’s no reason to decline them, it might just take more communication, more prompting for info, from the host to feel comfortable with the booking and make sure the guest is clear about everything.

Most guests are fine, and there’s no need to grill them all. Most of the guests I get send an informative, friendly initial message with their request and have previous good reviews. So I really have no questions to ask them, just sending a friendly message back and accepting their booking.

But I am a home-share host with a private room listing, so I don’t have to be as vigilant as off-site hosts with entire house listings- it’s not like anyone can throw a party here, or sneak in extra people or pets or trash the place.

Make sure you understand the difference between Requests and Inquiries, as they are dealt with differently.

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excellent. thank you… I appreciate your details…

Are there other platforms that you can recommend that doesn’t have Instant Booking? Thanks

Airbnb :rofl::rofl::rofl::rofl:

2020202020

JF

Well, the 2nd largest is VRBO. They’re less interventionist than Airbnb, but their support is virtually nonexistent (in my experience). But that can actually be better, because Airbnb support can actually be damaging to hosts.

The drawback to VRBO is that they haven’t the market reach of Airbnb, and therefore, they won’t produce the same volume of bookings.

Nonetheless it’s probably a good idea to establish a good reputation on VRBO in case Airbnb suspends or delists you for hosting a guest who trashes your house and then accuses you of some atrocity to receive a full refund.

One way to do this is to block a range of dates on Airbnb to give VRBO or other platforms a chance to book them, so that you can start to get good reviews on those platforms.

Once you have a decent rating on VRBO it’s easier to get bookings. But it will never be as productive as Airbnb, unfortunately. But you shouldn’t allow yourself to become dependent on Airbnb. You could be left with nothing.

Good luck :crossed_fingers:

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