Sep 26, 2011

In the article on Donating Stays at your Vacation Home to Charity I mentioned the important of screening prospective guests. We have only once rented to someone that we had not spoken with on the phone. They were missionaries in New Zealand at the time. Even then we attempted to speak with them via Skype. Due to some technical difficulties we were able to hear them, but they couldn't hear us. However, they could read our texts, so enough communication was established for us to feel comfortable.

In insisting on speaking with prospective guests on the phone we're trying to answer two questions

  1. Will they treat our vacation home well
  2. Will they be happy staying in our vacation home

Will they treat our Vacation Home as we would like?

We have a clause in our contracts that we will not rent to vacationing students or singles under 25 years of age. It usually becomes obvious quickly in a conversation if someone is too young. We'll politely ask them their age and mention that we have a policy that prevents us from renting to people under 25 years of age. After this we won't hear from them again. 

We'll always be up front that we require a $250 refundable damage deposit. That isn't something we ever negotiate on for new guests. As I mentioned in the article about renting to previous guests, we do choose to waive this for returning guests. In our experience, the people - like students - to whom we don't wish to rent, don't want to pay our rates either.

Will they be Happy in our Vacation Home?

Unless the person inquiring is clearly in a hurry, we'll usually try and engage them in a conversation. We'll ask them whether they have children, and mention that we have a high chair and a pack n' play should they need it. We have found that if they understand that we're just trying to be helpful, they will respond better. We love to rent to people with children. We have a 7yr old daughter ourselves, and know lots of things around both of our vacation homes that children enjoy. We always mention that we have a blog that provides lots of ideas for things to do in the area.
We really do want to rent to people that are going to be happy. If guests sound like a perfect fit for our vacation property, we'll often discount to attract them. But if the inquirer is gruff, we're not going to discount. If people are difficult to deal with during the booking, they are probably going to be difficult to deal with when they are in our property. We're not going to try and sell to those people. We might lose some business, but it's business we don't need.

Another topic that often comes up when responding to inquiries, is Pets. Does our Vacation Rental accept pets. I cover our Vacation Rental Pet Policy in another post.

In the 8 years across the two properties we've been very fortunate, with only minor damage. We believe that the approach we take to screening guests is an important part of this.

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