When to Reject a Last-Minute Vacation Rental Booking
By Properly / Dec 12, 2018
You’ve been having a hard time filling out your vacation rental’s calendar for the mid-season, and you’ve just received an inquiry from a guest interested in booking for a full week.
There’s only one problem: they’re hoping to arrive tomorrow.
Should you accept the booking? Last-minute vacation rental bookings are notorious red flags, but there are plenty of good reasons why a great guest might have to book with very little notice. You don’t want to turn down a good booking without reason, but you also don’t want to leave the door open to fraud or troublesome guests.
Here’s what vacation rental managers and owners should consider when last-minute guests come calling.
Do They Have a History?
Airbnb has always had the option for owners to review guests after their stay. HomeAway began to prompt owners to review their guests in 2016, but unfortunately the effort doesn’t seem to have taken hold. You may also have a history for this guest in your own business records.
If the traveler has a history of being a conscientious and courteous guest in the past, it’s a reasonable assumption that they’re unlikely to deviate from their previous habits just to cause trouble in this last-minute booking. Rave reviews from previous stays indicate that the last-minute booking isn’t a red flag.
Without a history, you’ll want to dive a little deeper.
Are They Communicative?
Take a look at the message they sent when they made the booking. If they didn’t send a message or the message is very brief, send a follow-up requesting a quick call due to the last-minute notice.
Reasonable guests will be happy to hop on the phone for a moment or two to chat about their plans for the stay. They know they’re staying in someone else’s property, and they’d probably want the reassurance themselves.
If a guest resists, argues, or becomes belligerent at this small request, it’s a safe assumption that you don’t want to host them. They may not be intent on fraud or property damage, but they’re definitely going to be a guest of the more difficult variety.
Match the Credit Card Info
Make sure the name on the reservation matches the name on the credit card. This is the big one: if you see a different name on the credit card, particularly if the last name is different than the guest’s last name, you might be looking at credit card theft.
There can be an innocent explanation – after all, spouses use each other’s credit cards all the time, and not everyone chooses to change their last name in marriage – but if you see a mismatch on the card, call and request further identification.
If the last name matches but the first name doesn’t, you might be looking at an underage renter who has been given (or borrowed) their parent’s credit card. Young renters, particularly those using their parents’ funds, are not likely to be easy guests.
Check the Personal Information
Look at the name on the reservation, and then take a look at the email address. Is it reasonable that this email address belongs to this name?
For example, it’s very unlikely that Sara Smith’s email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. If you see a mismatch between the name on the reservation and the name on the email, you may be dealing with a fraud situation.
Since you’re calling to get a feel for this guest anyway, you’ll also want to check that the number they put on the reservation is the same number they used to speak with you. If they give you an alternative phone number to call them, or call you from a different number than the one they gave on the reservation, this booking is probably not above board.
Finally, check their home address. If the guest’s home address is in the same town (or very near) to the one they’re renting in, the chances they’re booking the property to host a party or another event is very high. You’ll definitely want to ask why they’re making that booking so close to home.
Is Last Minute Always Bad?
Not at all. Nearly everyone has realized at the eleventh hour that they forgot to make a reservation, and even more have had their travel plans change unexpectedly. You can get wonderful – and very grateful – guests who book the day before or the day of.
Simply put in the due diligence to make sure there aren’t any red flags before you accept that last-minute vacation rental booking.
How will you get your property turned over when the guest gives you less than a day’s notice? Properly makes it easy for you to source professional service providers in your area and send them detailed visual checklists to show exactly how you want the property prepared. Get great turnovers on a moment’s notice using Properly. Learn more or schedule a demo today.