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, including their phone numbers, 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.
Do a Google search for the vacationer’s name including their town if the area code 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 fact is, it’s not only important to research your prospective tenants before you commit to renting to them – but it’s also valuable in creating that personal connection with your committed tenants, which has become such a key factor in successfully managing your home. As Becky Fischer wrote in her “Those Special Touches” blog 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, which will lead to them revealing more on their own.
So, do your research – not just to make sure the person inquiring about your home is who they say they are, but to start building a trusting, respectful relationship with them.
Do you have any other suggestions for investigating prospective tenants?