It was another big week for questions, and we’re here to bring you answers. Let’s dive right in and clear things up!
Hot topic: cancellations
We all know cancellations aren’t 100% avoidable. But how can you minimize their impact to your search rankings? We had several questions in this area.
For instance, one person has received lots of reservation requests from guests who did not meet the age minimum to rent and thus had to cancel. The good news? Cancellations are only counted after payment has been made. So these types of early cancellations shouldn’t be a problem. Also, If the guest does not meet your House Rules, you can cancel the booking immediately without penalty. For more information about handling cancellations & declines, click here.
One homeowner had a question about cancelling an instant booking. They wondered if a guest falsely agreed to house rules (having a party, over occupying, or bringing a pet), is it OK to cancel? While we always encourage as few cancellations as possible, if a guest does not meet the owner’s House Rules, the owner should have the flexibility to cancel.
Need to update your cancellation policy? Click here.
Communicating with renters
One of our readers wondered what information they’d get about their guests if they were to enable online instant booking. Great question - here’s what you would see once a booking was made:
- Phone number
- Email address
- If the traveler has booked on HomeAway before and the information is available, you will als o see previous trip information and past reviews.
Ready to enable online instant booking? Here’s how to do it.
Another question was around how to communicate with guests during their stay if all communications have to go through the HomeAway platform. The good news is that you’ll have the information listed above once the booking is made, so if you and a guest need to text, call or email during their stay, feel free!
One owner has a separate contract that all prospective renters must sign, and they don't consider their property rented until the signed contract is returned and the first payment made. They wondered how they could accomplish all of this within the 24-hour window required for online booking. In cases like these, we suggest that you:
- Respond to the traveler and ask them to complete your rental agreement,
- Accept the booking, and
- Wo rk with the traveler post-booking to complete the rental agreement you require.
One customer wondered about property bookings that do not go through the online booking process. Would they have to pay us if they accepted a guest who contacts them outside of the HomeAway platform?
Our Marketplace Standards make clear that all bookings from HomeAway travelers must be processed through HomeAway checkout or reported through an integrated software.If HomeAway introduces you to that traveler, we expect you to consummate the booking through the HomeAway checkout.
We heard from one customer who has 10 different listings and wanted to set their house rules, rental agreement and cancellation policy for all their properties from a single place in their dashboard. We recognize that House Rules may be similar across all your properties; however, we enabled House Rules on a per-property basis because each property is unique.
Another person wanted to use their own legal contract for their House Rules instead of our process shown above. We’d actually recommend uploading that contract into the Rental Agreement section.
Rates & fees
One customer noted that our service fee is 5-12%, “sometimes more, sometimes less." Why so much variation in the rate? The service fee is a percentage of the total amount of the reservation, excluding taxes and refundable fees. Generally, the higher the reservation amount, the lower the percentage of service fee.
Another person had a great question about charges, fees & taxes. They wondered if they choose online booking what their guest be charged - booking fee, insurance, anything else? Who would be responsible for paying state sales tax?
The answers are:
- Your guest would be charged your rate plus our service fee.
- Yo u would be responsible for paying any taxes based on your local regulations.*
One savvy person requested the ability to offer “last minute deals” to encourage more bookings during peak holiday season vacancies. Good news - with our upcoming rates editor, the ability to offer early booking and last-minute discounts will be available on a per listing basis. The new rates editor, which is based on nightly rates, is planned for release in the 3rd quarter of 2017.
Another person wondered where to find information on HomeAway payments. The best place to start is right here.
And finally, we had a request for a feature update. As one person put it, “Under pet fees, the guest has no way to specify how many pets they will be bringing. For example, we are pet-friendly, and many guests bring more than one pet. Our pet fee is $100 per pet. There should be a question of "how many pets are you bringing?" and the platform should calculate and include the correct fee.” Great feedback! We’ve taken that to our product team for consideration.
One person wondered when Expedia will be featuring vacation rentals on their website along with hotels. The answer? We’re working on it! There are some vacation rentals that are featured on Expedia right now, and we’re working to expand the selection - stay tuned!
And finally, one person wanted to give their guest information about how to submit a review. The guest should have received an email on the day of checkout with a link to leave a review. If not, don’t worry - follow-up emails are sent after checkout if they still have not written a review.
Thanks to everyone for your questions and comments - they’re helping us get better at helping you. Keep them coming, and we’ll see you next time!
*HomeAway does not render tax advice. For specific questions about taxes, please seek tax advice from your tax advisor.
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