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Jan 03 2018

The Benefits of Offering Your Guests Online Payment Options

In case you hadn’t noticed, the world has gone digital. And in the vacation rental industry, growing numbers of vacationers prefer to pay for their rental homes online rather than by sending a check. If you are a vacation rental homeowner and want to maintain an edge over your competition, we recommend that you consider offering alternative methods of payment that are 1) secure, 2) simple and easy for both parties, and 3) free or at least very low in cost. 

On our site, the entire payment process is controlled by the homeowner – we do not require that bookings be made through our site, nor do we interfere with the process in any way.  So it’s up to you.

In the past, we have suggested that requesting payment by personal check remains a perfectly acceptable practice – and we still believe that it is.  There are, however, a number of merits to also providing an online alternative.  

What are some advantages of online payments?

Many Millennials don’t even use a checkbook!  And those are the young families who are and will be renting your homes in growing numbers.  Technology and sites like ours enable these vacationers to search for and identify a perfect vacation rental home quickly and efficiently – they are also used to being able to book it and pay for it as quickly, safely, and effortlessly as possible.

A recent WeNeedaVacation.com survey of thousands of vacationers provided us with some pretty clear insights about vacationer payment preferences – and they really prefer to pay online!

Until recently, other online options such as PayPal usually required the payee (you, the homeowner) to pay service fees, which provided plenty of incentive for us to prefer checks.  But times change, and there are now quite a few options enabling anyone to accept funds without incurring fees. The important thing, of course, is to choose a method that is secure and reliable, in addition to being free. In our next blog post, I will explore some of the great options that are currently available for your use.

There are advantages of online payments to you, the homeowner, as well.  Naturally, you don’t need to wait until a check clears and can receive the funds much more quickly, locking in the booking without such a long wait period.  This is particularly important if you are accepting a last-minute booking.

Like providing Internet for your guests, online payment options are likely going to become not just an attractive option to vacationers but something that they will come to expect as routine.

What can you do?

If you don’t already offer online payments, decide on at least one payment option for your guests.  We will be publishing a blog post soon with some good, reliable, safe methods to consider, in addition to PayPal.

Once you’re ready to accept online payments, promote this advantage on your listing. We may be implementing on all our listings an icon indicating that the homeowner accepts online payments. At some point, this may even become a “searchable” amenity for vacationers.  In the meantime, if you do accept online payments, you should say so in the “Other price info” field at the bottom of your Calendar page.  

Given its growing popularity, advertising that you accept online payments may well bring you more inquiries and bookings.

The Benefits of Offering Your Guests Online Payment Options
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About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for WeNeedaVacation.com since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and have managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation.com, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family since the 1920’s. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV.com Homeowner Support Team, I am particularly involved with our new listers, providing assistance with the sign-up process and advice about how to create the most effective listing to ensure their booking success with us. I have recently taken over our press and public relations needs. And, with owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the content on our website, our monthly newsletters, and the blog posts. My husband and I live in Wellesley where we have raised our 2 grown kids and our Black Lab, Maisie. Email Elizabeth

10 comments

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  1. Andrea

    I too was looking into Venmo as my 20 something-year-old daughter uses it with all her friends, however she pointed out to me to read the fine print which states that Venmo should only be used with people you know and whom you trust. Unfortunately because of the world we live in today with all the scams going on I would not feel comfortable using Venmo. Make sure to read the fine print before deciding to use this option.

  2. James & Marriana Ennis

    We cannot afford to offer credit card payments, but there is a system called Venmo. I use it to pay my daughter’s rent to her landlord at college. We also use it to send money back and forth for different reasons and there are no fees. This may be something to offer as an option.

  3. Andrea

    Personally I favor no credit cards. Previously I’ve had people ask if I accept credit card payment and when I respond that I do not they are fine with sending check or money order. I cannot afford to lose the 2.9-3% processing fee as the season is so short to start out with. Most of us are just trying to make ends meet and pay our expenses. I believe that it is against Massachusetts law to ask the customer to pay any kind of processing/convenience fee so the owner would have to eat the fee. I have never lost a rental due to not accepting credit card payment. And if that should ever happen I’m confident that I will find other tenants. Again, I would not like to see the “pay by credit card” option be added as a searchable field because I strongly feel that it would provide less exposure to those not accepting this form of payment. Does anyone else agree with this?

    1. Anne

      I agree with you Andrea. As a business owner, the 3% fees we are hit with become quite substantial at the end of the month when the credit merchant deducts these fees.
      I certainly hope that we can move ahead without options that will cost us more.

  4. Greg Johnson

    The key is a CLEAR TRANSPARENT NO REFUND or Refund policy….

    With checks it was easier.

    Greg J

  5. Cindy MacIsaac

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I think you read my mind because I just had this conversation with my Husband about accepting credit cards! I know you said you were going to put out another email but I am about to send out an email myself to previous guests to hopefully welcome them back, mention any upgrades on our property and tell them what’s new. One of the things I was thinking of saying that is new is “accepting credit cards”! I already have a Square One” account as I had a store for years and now just sell online. Typically I use PayPal for selling but I could also use Square One. My biggest stumbling block are the fees. If we accept $1000 payment online or on the phone and have to type in the info manually, the processing fee is 3.5% plus $.15/transaction or $35.15.on Square One or 2.9% plus $.30 on PayPal. Using PayPal however requires the renter to also have an account which may be difficult for older folks not as computer savvy. My question is would it be off putting to have a service charge for using a credit card to cover our costs? I would be interested in knowing how other homeowners feel.

  6. Bob Kaufman

    Hi again….

    Did you get my first response..

    bob

  7. Bob Kaufman

    Hi Deb…

    I have to totally disagree with you!

    There are numerous problems associated with credit cards and Paypal.

    First, the credit card companies will always favor a charge back to the card holder, even if they cancel a day before and your contract, etc. says no cancellations, prior to even one week!

    Trust me on this. I was a tour operator and was forced to refund thousands of dollars over a 30 year period because of cancellations, even in the favor of an agreement with the tour operator!!

    Secondly, PAY PAL defines the words CROOKS. I put a security deposit of $100 downs for a condo in Italy.

    When it was given back to me by the owner I got $90. I requested a check, two weeks to get and they deducted another $25 for the check.

    Just send me the check!! Better, go to any Bank America and put the funds in my account, I will give you the number!!!

    Bob Kaufman Owner of three rentals …one on Cape Cod

  8. Andrea

    While I do agree that providing an option for online payments would satisfy a need for many vacationers, I feel that providing this option in the search field would put those owners who do not wish to accept online payments at a disadvantage. Your suggestion of putting an icon in the listing and also the homeowner putting this info on the “Other Payment Info” on the Calendar page is a good option. If you were to implement as a searchable option many homeowners may find they are at a disadvantage and be forced into accepting credit card payments in order to have equal access to their listing being viewed. Once communication between homeowner and renter has started payment options can be discussed and implemented depending upon each individual circumstance/preference. WeNeesAVacation does a great job providing a service that is fair and equitable for its customers so would hate to see this being compromised.

  9. Debbie Tudor

    I agree that online payments are a good thing and would like to add that option. How do I set this up on the site?

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