Managing Your Vacation Rental

Vacation Home Double Booking – A Rental Nightmare

5/5 - (5 votes)

Double Booking - A Rental NightmareWe’ve all imagined it –  the horror felt by a frantic homeowner who has two families sitting on the doorstep of their rental home.  Double booking is not only a nightmare for homeowners, it’s a major fear for vacationers as well.

How can this happen?

Most double bookings are a result of poor bookkeeping.  You’re out to dinner, on the phone with a prospective tenant, and scribble the booking on a napkin which you leave at the restaurant.  Or you record the wrong dates on your calendar trying to get back to an impatient friend waiting on the other line. Or the only calendar you have available is the family dog-walking schedule.

How can you avoid it?

Record bookings in one place

You can avoid having a double booking panic attack by putting everything in writing and employing a good record management system.  Record every bit of information: the lease (when you sent it and when it’s due back), the security deposit, the payments, details about the tenants, etc. Use an efficient and dependable online Booking Management System to keep track of not just the actual booking but of all the other valuable tenant information as well. When a booking is recorded, the listing’s calendar is automatically updated to reflect the change in availability and will not allow an overlap.

Communicate and confirm on a regular basis

Be sure to confirm all tentative bookings with your property manager, booking partner, or realtor. When you send your tenant the lease, ask them to confirm the dates of arrival and departure on the lease and also capture this information by email.  Then, several weeks before their tenancy begins, contact them again by email to confirm their arrival and departure dates and times.

What to do if it happens

Do not rest until you find alternate accommodations for your guests. We invite all vacation rental homeowners on the Cape and Islands to call us right away. We’ll be happy to help get you in touch with available listings in and around your Cape Cod, Martha’s Vineyard or Nantucket rental. And, naturally, refund every penny they had sent you as soon as possible.

What would you do if you were caught in a double booking nightmare?

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan


  • With the many clients that I have worked with, there were some instances where a double booking happened. These tips are excellent and a better reminder to avoid this from happening once again. Reading this article, I find that the best way to protect yourself is to establish a double booking policy.

    Answer Right
    Virtual Reception Services Australia Wide

  • I like the simplicity of your booking manager. Most systems are quite complex, but your Booking Management System seems to be a nice place to simply log bookings. Does this have a web calendar component?

    • Hi Jason. Thank you! And yes, our Booking Management System is linked with the availability calendar on each individual listing so that when a homeowner enters a new booking, the system automatically and immediately sets the reserved week as “Unavailable”. We have recently enhanced the data entry process of our Booking Management System and have added the ability for homeowners to preset default item values plus receive alerts and notifications of monies and items due and past due. Thanks again for your comment.