How can I be sure that my travelers are serious?

02/02/2022

Summary

Accepting reservations from unverified clients is risky. While most travelers are well-intentioned, there are some bad actors.

Therefore, property managers must ensure that the properties they are responsible for are protected.

Screening guests for a vacation rental should be an integral part of the booking process. However, this is a problem that not all property managers have been able to solve.

Now that most reservations are made online, there is no way to ensure that customers are who they say they are. That's why it's imperative to have customer screening and identity verification protocols in place. 

Why is it important to screen clients?

Traveler screening or verification is a process of checking the background of your potential customers. It is a key factor in identifying unwanted visitors before it's too late! Proper screening will save you time, money and effort.

Failing to conduct background checks on your guests can leave your property vulnerable to risks such as damage, criminal activity, scams or wild parties

Keep in mind, however, that rejecting too many booking requests can cause your position in the OTAs' search results to drop. 

Avoid wild parties

You need to be extra vigilant when the renter is young, lives near your property and is booking for one night only. While this profile is not a definitive representation of a wild party planner, the majority of undesirable travelers fit this profile. It is not a matter of systematically discriminating against these tenants, but rather of insisting on the following recommendations to minimize the risks.

Check out your travelers' reviews on OTAs, their profiles and their backgrounds. You can avoid unpleasant surprises by talking to them on the phone before confirming their booking.

If you are concerned about their responses, consider passing and choosing other travelers to avoid problems.

Avoiding fraud

The vast majority of vacation rental reservations are made online. As a result, fraud is becoming more and more common. It is not uncommon for travelers with malicious intent to steal someone's ID or credit card and attempt to impersonate them when making a reservation. 

Thorough customer screening and identity verification can help weed out fraudsters. This allows you to accept only legitimate reservations. 

Preventing criminal activity

Although the vast majority of clients are well-intentioned, there have been reports of drug abuse, prostitution and other illegal activities in short-term rentals.

By making sure your travelers are who they say they are and reviewing their rental history, you can ensure that you are not accepting reservations for anyone who intends to use your rental for illegal purposes.

What about OTAs?

While OTAs have guest verification processes in place, they are limited. Let's look at how some of the most popular booking sites screen their guests.

Airbnb

Airbnb has approved background check providers for U.S.-based users to help identify past criminal behavior. For French users, Airbnb can sometimes obtain local background information and checks on registered sex offenders. Airbnb always reviews the OFAC list of registered users.

Airbnb may also ask travelers to verify their identity. However, identity verification is not part of the Airbnb registration process. Not all travelers on Airbnb are verified! So you can choose to only accept verified travelers on Airbnb. In this case, Airbnb will ask the traveler to confirm their identity by entering their name and address or uploading a photo of an ID.

Despite the background check, Airbnb's verification process is limited. You must continue to use your best judgment when accepting a reservation.

Keep in mind that during the Airbnb screening and selection process, you must not discriminate against the race, color, ethnic or national origin, religion or sexual orientation of your travelers.

Booking.com

Similar to Airbnb, you can require guests to provide a verified phone number or address in addition to a valid email address and credit card information. We also recommend looking at their stay history.

Abritel, HomeAway & VRBO

These platforms are no exception and do not require customers to confirm their identity to book a rental. Instead, they offer a verified user badge, which allows you to screen your potential travelers.

Once a customer submits a booking request, platforms may ask them to provide information such as first and last name, email address, cell phone number, physical address and date of birth. The platforms then verify that the information is accurate. 

However, at this time, you have no way to require customers to confirm their identity before sending a reservation request. 

How do I screen my travelers?

Since the selection processes used by OTAs are limited, we recommend that you set up your own processes.

Manual filtering

You can ask your potential customers directly for additional information. However, this method is time consuming and not very scalable.

You'll need to call or text all your guests and screen their social media profiles. Depending on your rental volume, this would take way too much time.

Filtering in your PMS

Some property management systems (PMS) have integrated customer verification solutions.

For example, Guesty allows you to automatically send guests a check-in form and ask them to upload an ID. You can also send rental agreements to your guests and collect their electronic signatures. This reduces the risk of fraud, damage and unwanted behavior.

However, since PMSs are not specialized in screening travelers, their solutions are not always up to par. 

The Swikly guarantee

Requesting a deposit has a strong psychological impact. By requesting a deposit on Swikly, you ensure that in case of damage or nuisance caused by your travelers, the cardholder who deposited the deposit will be cashed.

In addition, when your traveler deposits their deposit, we systematically ask for their mailing address. To secure their deposit, your customer will also be asked for a 3DS code that confirms their identity. This also protects you against fraud.

Octave PAVIET-SALOMON

Octave PAVIET-SALOMON

Marketing & Communication Manager for Swikly. I regularly write educational and informative articles and documents for rental professionals.
The digitization of banking services has inevitably led to increased online security to protect consumers.

Did you like this article?

Don't miss our next publications! Subscribe to our newsletter!

You can unsubscribe at any time. Check out our privacy policy.

Legal information

Editorial references

The swikly.com website is published by SWIKLY, a simplified joint stock company with a capital of 10,000 euros.
SWIKLY is registered in the Lyon Trade and Companies Register under number RCS 819 514 076
The head office is located in Lyon (France), 12 rue de la Barre, 69002 - Phone : +33 4 20 88 00 48 - email : contact@swikly.com
Director of publication: Mr. Shaun WOURM, President of SWIKLY - shaun.wourm@swikly.com.
The hosting of the Site has been entrusted to Microsoft Ireland Operations Limited (Microsoft AZURE offer), whose registered office is located at DUBLIN 18 99000 BLACKTHORN ROAD, Ireland, registered in the Trade and Companies Register of "Foreign company n/immat.RCS" under the number 419 423 728, reachable by phone at +353 1850 940 940.
SWIKLY - April 2016 - All rights reserved

Personal data

The creation of a personal account and the use of the site imply the collection of personal data and the processing of data.
The purpose of this processing is the management of the Swikly smarphone Application, of the Website Services and the activity of the SWIKLY company. This processing of personal data is the subject of a declaration to the CNIL by the Company under the number 1948037.
The following personal data of the user is accessible to any other registered user:
-first name and first letter of a user's name.
The following personal data of the user is accessible to any user who has accepted a Swik of the said user concerned:
-first name, last name and reputation of the user.
Personal data is transferred by the Company to its service providers and subcontractors, in accordance with the aforementioned declaration made to the CNIL. All access to the user's personal data by these subcontractors and service providers is subject to the use of a login and password, with the data also being transmitted via an encrypted link.
No personal data is collected for purposes other than those mentioned above, nor is it passed on to third parties without your consent or used without your knowledge.
In accordance with the law n°78-17 of January 6, 1978 modified, relating to Data processing, the Files and Freedoms, you have a right of access, of modification and suppression of the personal data concerning you (art.34 of the law).
These rights can be exercised with the Data Controller:
Service CNIL, Société SWIKLY - 12 rue de la Barre 69002 LYON, France - contact@swikly.com.
You will find all the information concerning your rights, duties and the protection of personal data on the website of the Commission Nationale de l'Informatique et des Libertés: http://www.cnil.fr
When you visit the Site, a cookie is placed on your computer. The Company uses cookies to enable and facilitate electronic communication, to provide features tailored to the needs of Users. The cookie is used to identify the user at each of his connections, and thus facilitates his access to the Service. The user can refuse cookies when accessing the smarphone Application or by changing the configuration of his browser. This may however alter the functionality of the smarphone Application, which the User accepts.

Contacts

To report any errors or anomalies on the site:
Webmaster: contact@swikly.com

Free white paper:

How to protect my accommodations?

Free guide:

The 2022 vacation rental PMS