Best Practices for Dealing With Nightmare Vacation Rental Scenarios

vacation rental nightmares

No one wants to deal with nightmare vacation rental scenarios and one of the best ways to avoid being part of one of these nightmares is to prepare appropriately. In this article we’ll share some best practices to keep these nightmares as far away from you as possible.

Last-minute Cancellation

While this might not be the first “nightmare” scenario you would think of, imagine if it’s the peak of the season for one of your listings and this guest had a large block of nights booked and then canceled at the last minute.

Prepare: while some properties have enough demand that shortly after a cancellation, a new booking fills that hole, other properties don’t have that high level of demand and as such may just experience a big income loss on a last-minute cancellation. Weigh the demand for your listing(s) against a strict cancellation policy that makes it difficult for a guest to get a full refund. As long as you have a policy in place that makes sense for you and your listing(s) this nightmare won’t catch you unprepared.

Mistaken Identity

A guest shows up who is not the person who made the booking and this was not known or approved of before check-in.

Prepare: the review system exists to be a significant safeguard for hosts, serving as an ongoing record for comfort and security. When someone shows up who isn’t in that review system, hosts lose that feeling of comfort and security.

Best practice: if you find out about this before the check-in, and the actual guest isn’t willing to make the booking in his/her name, cancel the booking and notify the platform. If you find out at check-in, refuse check-in. 

Note: if you have an automated contactless check-in process, this is a risk you are exposed to without any additional safeguards.

Major Weather Event

A serious weather event for your area threatens the safety of everyone.

Prepare: have policies in place in your house manual that explain what you will do in case of severe weather.

Best practice: if there is a severe weather event or even a reliable warning of an incoming one, cancel the reservation. Safety comes before the possibility of a bad review. 

If guests are already on their way or caught up in the event, do what you can to help them, either by helping to notify the platform or make calls on their behalf, and let your platform know, as they may have alternatives set up for these types of situations.

Party Time

This is the nightmare most-often seen on television news stories: guests use rentals from everything to parties to pop-up drug dens or brothels.

Prepare: as we mentioned already, you should have a screening process in place in which you look at the most recent reviews of a guest. Additionally, beware of any single-night bookings, particularly on a weekend.

You can also install exterior security camera footage tied into an action plan that involves calling law enforcement, etc.

As already noted, you should have policies on parties, etc. strictly spelled out in your home description and manual, along with consequences for violations of those policies.

Fake Bedbugs

A common scam we hear about is a guest demanding a refund after checking out, citing a pest infestation. They want a full refund or they will report you to the platform (oooohhh, scary!)

Prepare: let guests know that they need to alert you to any problems either on check-in or as they occur during their stay. 

It doesn’t make sense for every listing, but if you are in a geographic region that has a reputation for pests, you might consider a periodic fumigation. A copy of the most recent certification will be handy to have should any claim be made against you.

Best practice: make sure you or your cleaners take photos of anything out of the ordinary at checkout. Our MaidThis cleaners always do!

The bottom line is that you can’t prevent bad things from ever happening to you or your listing(s), but you’ll find that preparation for these scenarios preempt many of them from happening, and the best practices we suggest can tactically minimize their impact if they do.

This content originally appeared in our twice-monthly Guest Book Newsletter.

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