As the global economy begins to stabilize and consumer confidence grows, more and more vacationers from other countries are resuming vacations to the US. And with this winter’s devastating effects on other popular East Coast destinations, vacation rental owners on the Cape & Islands could see a surge in inquiries and bookings from our friends “across the pond.” Here are a few tips to help make the experience a positive one for all parties involved.
Granted, communicating with vacationers from another country can be more difficult, but we always recommend that property owners and managers have at least one phone conversation with potential renters prior to committing. Not only is screening your tenants a best business practice in all of your rental transactions, speaking directly with one another affords some peace of mind to both parties about the transaction. Be sure that communications are clear, for you will be far less likely to set the wrong expectation or have misunderstandings after the vacationer arrives.
Online Payment Services
More secure now than ever, online payment services like PayPal allow vacationers to make payments through either their bank account or a credit card. With PayPal, your renters don’t even need a PayPal account themselves to send you money. All they need is your email address. If they do have a PayPal account and have it linked to their bank account or can pay using their PayPal balance, there are no domestic transaction fees at all. For them to pay with a credit card (whether the vacationer has a PayPal account or not), however, there is a 3.9% + $.30 per transaction fee, though the percentage fee may be less depending on the total transaction amount. PayPal’s fees stated above are based on US dollars and do not include fees for transactions involving a currency exchange and/or to receive payments from another country. Read more about PayPal.
Another secure payment option is to allow your tenants to set up a bank transfer or a wire transfer through an accredited bank. In both cases, you provide the vacationer with your bank’s routing and account number, or in some cases, a SWIFT or IBAN number, and the vacationer arranges the transfer through their bank. Despite concerns to the contrary, these wire transfers are very secure. Always check with your bank first, though, to be sure they accept bank-to-bank money transfers (some smaller, local banks and credit unions do not), and direct any questions about these types of transactions directly to them.
If the booking is not last-minute, traditional payment via personal or bank check is still an option, especially for vacationers from Canada. The key is to allow enough time between receipt of the check and the day the rental period begins for the funds to clear your bank. Sometimes, homeowners require checks to be sent via a global parcel shipping service instead of the postal service. This can prevent late payment due to issues with snail mail (case in point, 2012’s Canada Post strike).
No matter how you choose to accept payments, it is wise to create your own business policy for international tenants and make it known to them as soon as they inquire. You’ll want them to know, for example, if:
- it is their responsibility to cover currency conversion rates and foreign transaction fees,
- you pay the fees but factor them into the payment schedule, or
- you eat the fees completely.
Be sure to outline any specific, additional fees in the payment schedule of your lease, including any amounts to cover currency conversion, if appropriate. Click here for other payment schedule considerations.
How do you handle international vacationers who inquire about and rent your home?