Getting the wrong guests to your vacation home can be costly and time-consuming. When running a rental property business in a busy rental market such as Orlando, you will be getting hundreds of phone calls and emails from prospective renters asking for short stay bookings. It can be overwhelming to chose whom to entrust your property to. But if you know what questions to ask your potential renters before they book in, you can save yourself a lot of time and resources down the line.
While nearly all guests who want to stay at your Orlando vacation home will be legit vacationers looking for a quiet getaway, there may be occasional exceptions. Pre-screening questions will help minimize the chances of getting the wrong guests. And really, judging your prospects from their first impression is not just enough. A prospective renter can be in their best behaviors during the initial walk-through, until you start getting calls from angry neighbors, or worse, have your investment messed up.
A thorough screening process, therefore, ensures that you sleep easy knowing that your vacation home will be in good condition even after your guests check out. You can either do the prescreening or hire a vacation rental management company to do the legwork for you.
While a prescreening is meant to help you spot red flags, it also gives you a chance to learn your guests and what they want from their holiday experience. That way, you can be able to look after them once they arrive and give them the ultimate vacationing experience. This is a dealmaker for rave reviews on your online listings.
Here are some of the questions that you should ask before giving your guests access to your vacation rental property:
(1)What brings you to Orlando? What is the purpose of your travel?
This is a great opening question to ask your prospective renters. This question will help you identify the kind of guest you’ll be expecting. It will tell you a lot about your guests and will give you an opportunity to understand your guest's mindset as to why they are looking to stay at your vacation home. You’ll want to look for legit reasons such as vacations, business or family weekend getaway.
Once you’ve identified the purpose of their stay, it is then easy to determine whether you’re dealing with a solo retiree traveler, millennial love birds or a family. This will enable you to give them an excellent vacationing experience.
(2)What attracted you to book my Orlando vacation home?
This question will allow you to know the expectations of your prospective guest. You don’t want to rent out your property to someone with expectations that surpasses what you can offer. A good guest will point out some of the highlights in your listing such as the kitchen, the ultra-modern bathroom, proximity to specific attraction sites or even your pet-friendly policy.
This question should, therefore, help you clarify if your guest just wanted a conveniently located or cheap place to stay, or they liked something in particular. That way, you can be able to tailor your services to woo them for a possible rebooking or a referral.
(3)How do you plan to spend your time during your visit?
This question will help you or your vacation rental management company identify how well planned your prospective guests are. In a business vacation spot such as Orlando, you’ll expect your guests to have a pre-planned itinerary.
You may want to have a guest who will not be at your house 24/7 throughout their stay. Besides, this question can also help you tailor additional activities to make their stay worthwhile.
(4)What are your waking hours?
This question is especially important when you vacation rental management company has a pre-scheduled room maintenance service. Your guest’s waking hours will help you schedule the room maintenance and hence avoid complaints and negative after-stay reviews. It will also shed light on their living habits and lifestyles.
(5)Have you read my house rules? Do you have any questions about them?
Remember that one of the key drivers of vacation rental management is good ratings and reviews. Having a client who has read your house rules and understood your requirements means that you’ll have your vacation home in nearly the same shape as when they checked in. This also means that there will be fewer chances of misunderstandings down the line. This question provides an excellent opportunity to clarify any issues that the guest may raise.
(6)Have you used HomeAway, Airbnb, TurnKey, or any other vacation rental listing site before?
Asking your prospective guests if they have previously used other vacation rental listing sites services will help you know if they understand the intricacies of online listings, including reviews and ratings.
If they say yes, you can ask them how that went.
This should help you identify if you’re dealing with an ever dissatisfied and disgruntled guest who might end up leaving negative reviews. Follow your gut feeling. This question will also help you know if you’re dealing with a first-timer vacation home renter, hence will give you a chance to explain to them the need to leave a positive review on your listing.
This will also help make the point that they are in fact staying at someone's home, not at a hotel, a misunderstanding that some guests often have.
(7)Who are you traveling with?
Asking your prospective guests whom they’ll be traveling with will help you ensure that you do not overstretch your rental property’s capacity. If your renters have children and toddlers, it will be important for you to child-proof your rental home. It is also important to let your guests know if your place is not “kid-friendly,” and let them decide on whether to rent or not.
This would also be a perfect situation to determine liability and put in writing who will be liable for any damages or losses in the vacation home.
(8)Will you be traveling with your pets?
Instead of asking your prospective guests whether they have pets, ask them whether they will be traveling with their pets. This way, you’re more likely get a genuine answer on whether they have pets or not and whether they’re planning to travel with them.
As a vacation home owner, choosing to accept pets or not is well within your rights. It is therefore essential to ask this question, regardless of your decision to allow pets or not. If you have pets allowed’ policy in your vacation home, you’ll want to know the kind of pet they have, and whether the pets are housebroken.
(9)Where do you live?
If your prospective renters live close by, this could be a red flag that they want to rent your place to throw a party.
Other Brilliant Ways to Screen Your Guests
When renting out your vacation rental property home, your primary goal should be to safeguard your property while ensuring that your guests enjoy their vacation. You don’t want to have guests who break things, throw crazy parties, or get loud and noisy in the neighborhood. Asking the above question will help you identify some red flags, and still give you further insights about your guests.
If you’re self-managing or have hired an Orlando vacation rental management company to handle all aspects of your rental property, it is imperative to perform due diligence on every prospective guest. These additional measures will help you lessen the chances of renting your vacation property to problematic guests:
•Be alert of weird, unprofessional email addresses.
•Call your guests before they check in. Listen to their tone and avoid clients with an entitlement attitude.
•Ask for a hefty refundable damage deposit
•Check in during their stay
•Look up how they’ve been reviewed on various listing sites.
•Google them and use their social media such as Facebook, LinkedIn or Instagram to get their general information.
•Avoid potential guests who keep arguing about your rules
Things to AVOID When Screening Your Guests
To ensure that you comply with fair housing policies and guidelines, you need to be consistent when asking your prescreening questions. Changing up your processes and questions for particular people may open you up to liability for fair housing violations.
The FHA prohibits discrimination by religion, race, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, family status, and physical and mental disability. You should therefore not formulate your prescreening questions around these topics.
Prescreening your prospective guests is an important step when trying to eliminate lousy renter leads, attract quality guests, and save yourself valuable time down the road. By asking these questions and listening to their responses, your vacation rental management efforts will be seamless and hassle-free. These questions will help you prequalify your prospective guests and set their requirements and expectations.