Once you’ve decided to list your home for short-term rental, you have a big question to answer: which listing site or sites should you use?
Airbnb will immediately come to mind, of course. Home Away and VRBO. TravelAdvisor’s FlipKey. There are good reasons to list on those popular sites. But for us, and for many others who rent out their primary residences and second homes, those sites have one big drawback: They won’t let you talk with guests before booking.
Sites that block pre-booking communication between hosts and guests takes control of the process away from the host, as well as from the guests themselves. E-mail exchanges through the listing site can’t substitute for the back-and-forth of person-to-person communication with guests via phone or Skype. Conversations with potential guests before booking is how we establish the personal connection that’s vital to a successful short-term rental, make sure our home is a good fit, and spot possible problems well ahead of time.
Fortunately, there are still a few alternatives for those of us who care more about accepting the right guests than turning our home into a business. One is the venerable Sabbatical Homes, which we’ve used with some success, and another is FlipKey’s little-known subscription option, both of which I discussed in an earlier post.
UPDATE: As of February 2018, Trip Advisor’s Flip Key no longer offers a subscription option.
I’m heartened to see other listing options appearing on the scene for hosts like us who want to control the rental process themselves. Here are four new short-term rental sites that let you talk with guests before booking. They’re relatively new, but they each have the potential of providing a viable alternative, so we’re following them closely. [Read more…] about 4 Short-Term Rental Sites that Let You Talk with Guests Before Booking