Angela and I have turned away five potential bookings for upcoming open nights in just the past 30 days! Prom season is upon us and there is a growing trend among frothy high school seniors to convince their parents that a post-prom party at a “rented home” is a great idea.
We’d rather be vacant.
We’ve been blessed with more than 500 bookings, this blog is about the dozen or so we would rather have said “Thanks But No Thanks” to. For us, local social gatherings are one of several types of bookings which we have learned can easily lead to lost revenue due to:
- Unnecessary damage to our home
- Interruptions for the subsequent guests
- Disputes with the offending group
- Upset neighbors
- Negative reviews
To protect ourselves against money flying out the (broken) window we have established a profile, for our business, of groups that we usually would rather not do business with.
Our profile includes:
- Bachelor/bachelorette parties, post wedding parties (police helicopter!)
- Young adults without proper supervision
- Bookings with pets (READ VR Dilemma: Pet Friendly or Pet Free?)
- Groups staying less than 3 nights
- Groups not inclusive of the person who has signed our rental agreement
Ultimately the list above equates to LOST revenue. Broken windows, broken glass in the pool, stolen items, damaged furniture, scratched floors and police helicopters…oh my! With only four hours between bookings, we don’t have the time to scramble while trying to resolve an unforeseen issue; vacation home owners get enough of those anyway.
There are three primary methods we use for screening our potential guests:
- Ask Them. Seems obvious enough, right? I’m amazed at how many owners I talk with who say they employ little to no screening for their inquiries. We try to speak live with each person who books with us so we can ask them about their trip. In addition to finding out why they are renting we often can provide great insight into how they can make the most of their stay. Recall Delightful Memories?
- Google Them. I spoke with an owner at this years’ HomeAway Summit who runs a criminal background on every guest. While that may be extreme, the idea of doing a little diligence on the person/group booking your home is a good one. Google makes it easy, and sometimes you uncover that your guests may have something very interesting in common with you.
- Get a Reference. When considering large groups, like a traveling youth sports team, we will politely ask whether or not they have stayed in vacation homes before and if they would be able to provide a reference. If they hesitate, that is a red flag to us.
CASE STUDY -The Hawaiian High School Basketball Team: Three years ago we received a call from a high school basketball coach looking to rent our home for his group of teenage boys. Stopping just short of “Thanks but no thanks” we asked for a reference, to which he provided three. After speaking with two of them, we said we’d only be comfortable with a larger security deposit. He obliged.
We set clear expectations of how our home should be treated while asking if there was anything special they would need for their group. He asked for a large rice cooker. We obliged.
THE RESULT: Their stay was fantastic, no trouble whatsoever. He has rented from us three more times for a total of six weeks and they are model guests. We no longer require any cash deposit (just the cc# in our agreement) and it’s a giant “Love fest” between us with gifts and thanks flowing freely both ways.
So there can be exceptions, but you need a baseline by which to make those exceptions. The beauty of creating a profile of groups you don’t want is that it gives you a means by which you can also make exceptions.
The Bottom Line: Not every booking is good for our business. And what’s good for our business may not be good for yours, each home is unique. Develop criteria to identify which bookings are not right for your business and say “Thanks But No Thanks!” to those inquiries unless you can somehow reduce your exposure to the risk those bookings present.
Resisting the temptation to book a reservation that doesn’t fit your guest profile will result in a lower average cost for turns, fewer headaches and a higher quality experience for the guests you do want.
Here’s to great guests, risky guests and the discernment to recognize the difference.
Michael and his wife Angela happened into vacation home ownership in April 2007 when a relocation nudged them toward the idea of short-term renting. Within months of establishing Ultimate SoCal Vacation Homes, they began making plans to expand their business. Having combined backgrounds in sales, marketing, business development and hospitality helps them to create guest experiences that exceed expectations. Today, more than 3,500 guests later, Michael and Angela are operating three profitable vacation homes in Anaheim.