By The Hospitable Team
Listing your vacation home on OTA websites is a great way to start a real estate side hustle to earn additional income or build a successful short-term rental business. But sometimes, inexperienced hosts looking to fill their calendars quickly accept all booking requests without thoroughly vetting potential guests.
Renting out your property to strangers is risky, so many online travel agencies, for example, Airbnb, run basic background checks on potential bookings. But what about Vrbo? Does Vrbo do background checks on guests to protect STR hosts and their property? If it does, how are these checks carried out, and what are their limitations? Let’s find out.
Why Are Background Checks Important?
A goal of doing a background check is to verify that someone is who they say they are and that this person is trustworthy. Conducting background checks can be anything from verifying a guest’s photo ID to checking whether they have a criminal record and their name is on any watch list.
Whether you’re renting out your family home or managing multiple properties, guest screening can help protect your business, property, and community from risks associated with bad guests. Background checks can help prevent criminal activity in your rental space, fraud, and fake ID use and significantly reduce the risk of unwanted parties, noise violations, and property damage.
When done correctly, the guest screening will protect your investments and reputation and give you peace of mind. Then you’ll be able to confidently accept bookings and focus on activities necessary for providing a warm and welcoming guest experience.
Busy STR hosts have a lot on their plate – communicating with guests via messages, updating calendars and prices on all your channels, managing cleaners, and more. But you can automate these routine tasks using vacation rental software like Hospitable and save time.
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Does Vrbo Do Background Checks on Guests?
Vrbo does limited background checks by verifying guest identity, but they’re not enough to offer Vrbo hosts complete protection against bad stays. Vrbo just informs guests that getting the “Verified Identity” badge displayed in their profile helps build trust with hosts so their booking requests are more likely to be accepted. But this process is optional for guests—they aren’t required to confirm their identity to book a property.
Vrbo asks guests to provide information about their physical address, date of birth, and other personal information when they sign up and reminds them about that when they make a booking request. Then Vrbo checks to see if the information is accurate, and when everything is OK, a guest obtains their “Verified Identity” badge.
Once the host accepts a booking request, Vrbo shares a guest’s basic contact information, such as their email address and phone number, so that they can keep in contact. But Vrbo admits that currently, there is no way for the property owner or managers to require guests to confirm their identity before sending a booking request.
Vrbo Background Checks: Why Is It Risky to Rely On Them?
Vrbo doesn’t perform any other background checks outside the personal information provided by the guest. Vrbo verification doesn’t always require a photo ID, such as a passport or driver’s license, and they don’t have any system to detect fake IDs. Vrbo background checks can’t stop problematic guests and scammers from submitting a booking request.
Background checks conducted by Vrbo can be a barrier for the most apparent troublemakers and fraudsters. But they won’t put off professional criminals, for example, involved in drug dealing or sex trafficking, because they use false identities as a part of the job, which makes detecting them more difficult.
Such basic checks are also useless when anticipating which guests might break your house rules to throw a party or trash your place if nobody has ever complained about them. That’s why you should always do your background checks to confidently prevent problematic guests from taking advantage of your property.
What Can You Do to Screen Your Guests and Avoid Problems?
You can start screening your guests by checking their Vrbo profile. If you see that it only contains the bare minimum of information, it could mean they may not be trustworthy.
Look for your potential guests on social media using their name and email address. Check out what they post on Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to understand their interests and the people they surround themselves with. Check their past reviews and see how other hosts rated their experience with these guests.
Reach out to your potential guests via messages to confirm their personal and contact information. Ask them about the purpose of their trip and clarify other travel details. Remind them of your house rules and get them to agree to them before you accept the booking.
Manual screening is a very time-consuming process, especially if you manage several vacation rentals. Still, there are guest screening tools that can automate this process, making it more efficient and safer.
Although larger OTAs like Vrbo offer some form of guest screening, they set high commissions and fees for both hosts and guests and dictate their terms, so they shouldn’t be your only channel. Many vacation rental hosts rely on a direct booking website to take their business to the next level.
With a direct booking website, you can build your brand, develop great relationships with guests, and encourage repeat bookings. But don’t forget about screening your guests. Problematic guests may deliberately look for short-term rental hosts that accept direct bookings because they can sidestep even the limited checks performed by sites like Vrbo.
You won’t have to worry about screening your guests manually if you build your direct booking website using Hospitable.com Direct, which integrates with Autohost, offering automated, comprehensive guest screenings.
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Autohost is a reliable guest screening tool that helps keep your property safe, using AI and machine learning to identify reservation risks that a manual check may not flag. Your guests will be screened in the booking flow, and you can be sure that data will remain encrypted and safe, and there’s no risk of violating data protection laws.
Additionally, Hospitable.com Direct offers extra protection, such as a $5 million insurance damage policy for all reservations, and help with calculating and collecting taxes.
Problematic guests put your vacation rental property and reputation at risk, but it can be hard to identify them in advance. And although Vrbo conducts some background checks on their guests as a part of their ID verification process, they are very basic, so you can’t rely on them.
You should also do your own background checks or invest in a guest screening tool to avoid problems and neighbor complaints and ensure that your guests are trustworthy and well-intentioned. Remember: effectively screening your guests is key to running a successful short-term rental business.
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