In earlier posts about screening vacationers for your rental home, I wrote about “How to screen for a better fit” and about how “It’s okay to say no!” But what I neglected to discuss are some of the ways you can do a little online research on anyone who inquires about your home.
Vacationers are required to provide some basic information before submitting an inquiry. Although not required, they are also encouraged to describe the make- up of their party and to ask questions – all of which is helpful to homeowners when trying to learn more about whoever is inquiring.
- Start with the phone number: Take a look at the area code to see which state it’s from. If it’s not local, look it up online using AllAreaCodes.com or just Google the area code. Many have cell phones from all over the country now because they’ve moved since their cell numbers were assigned. But some are still in the same area, and others still use a land line, which is tied to a certain location.
- Do a Google search for the vacationer’s name including their city or town if the area code or anything in their inquiry has produced it.
- Sometimes an email address can divulge a vacationer’s place of employment or a different or fuller name.
- Take advantage of social media such as Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn to look them up. Depending on their privacy settings, you may be able to learn a lot about them.
- Search on WhitePages.com.
The value of knowing your guests
The fact is, researching your prospective tenants before you commit to renting to them is not only for your home’s protection. It’s also valuable in creating that personal connection with your guests, which has become such a key factor in successfully managing your home. As my colleague Becky Fischer wrote in her Those Special Touches post, “The new trend in hospitality is personalization, making an emotional connection, helping the guest feel comfortable, welcome and special. Why? Because treating someone this way leads to return visits, excellent reviews, friends telling friends.”
Obviously, you don’t want to let on to your vacationers that you’ve been spying on them, so you should be circumspect about mentioning what you’ve learned. But you can use it to ask them good questions or mention certain things you think might be of interest to them. This, in turn, can lead to them revealing more on their own.
So, do your research – not just to make sure the person inquiring about your home is trustworthy, but to start building a closer, more respectful relationship with them.
And for a more comprehensive look at some of the risks to avoid, see our post, “Avoiding pitfalls in managing a vacation rental home.”