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Archive for the ‘Managing Inventory’ Category

Fraud and Your Vacation Rental Property

Thursday, May 15th, 2014

In addition to attracting the attention of millions of travelers, the $23 billion vacation rental industry is unfortunately attracting a variety of scams. One need only perform a Google search to find story after story of how both travelers and vacation homeowners are becoming victims of fraud and phishing schemes. This is a trend that will no doubt continue to plague the industry. But what steps can you take to protect yourself and your guests from the impact of these scams?

  • We will take a look at the two most common scams:
  • •   Creation of Fake Rental Listings
    •   Phishing Schemes

  • Creation of Fake Rental Listing
  • In this scam fake rental listings are created to attract legitimate travelers. These listings are often created using pictures and information taken from legitimate listings. The unsuspecting traveler typically learns that they have been the victims of fraud only after they have paid out thousands of dollars for the rental.

    You can expect that as these stories are picked-up by national news sources, travelers will become increasing concerned and will no doubt make inquiries designed to assess the authenticity of your listing. Recent articles by ABC News and Forbes, among many others, suggest that travelers take a series of precautions to avoid fraud. The below chart reflects some recurring recommendations and steps you can take to ensure you are prepared to address traveler questions.

    vrs_phishing_recommendations_table

    Google offer a search service called Google Images that allows users to search the Web for image content. VRS recommends that you periodically search Google Images to determine if your property photos are being used for unauthorized purpose. To perform a search, simply copy the image address into Google Images and perform a search.

  • Phishing Scam
  • In a Phishing scam, someone masquerading as a legitimate guest contacts you, with the sole objective of obtaining sensitive information about your VRBO listing and/or the email address you use to manage your vacation rentals. Typically they want to obtain access to your email, which will allow them to hijack your rental inquiries and redirect rental deposits to themselves.

    Here are some steps that you can take to avoid being the victim of Phishing scams.
    •   Be suspicious of unusual rental inquiries. Vague travel dates, grammar or spelling errors, or requests that are inconsistent with your property can all be signs of a phishing scams
    •   Use a dedicated email address to manage your rentals. As much as we try, it is difficult to create a firewall around our personal email account.
    •   Subscribe to VRBO text notifications service. By receiving a text notification of all rental inquiries you can be sure that you are aware of all such inquiries.
    •   Use best practices to manage your email and VRBO passwords. This consists of longer passwords (minimum of 8 characters), do not use words, use a combination of numbers, upper and lower case letters, and use special characters. Periodically change your password.

    VRS is dedicated to providing safe and secure rental management services that highlights your property’s unique rental characteristics. Our ala carte menu of services are provided at a low fixed monthly fee.

    One Frugal Girl’s Secret Is Out: Take The Fork In The Road To VRS

    Wednesday, March 26th, 2014

    As Featured In: OneFrugalGirl.com   

    Vacation rental ownership, for most of us, was never really the original intention when deciding to make that family retreat purchase – at some point it settles into a seasonal rental with unintended consequences. We backed our way into short-term rentals as a way to offset the monthly burden when we’re not using ours. If you find yourself in this same position, you already know, or soon will be coming to the realization that your mission is to maximize revenue on every rental.

    The key to maximizing revenue is an equation that could make your head spin at first, but the kernel is simple mathematics: rent as many weeks as possible charging the highest seasonal rates while simultaneously decreasing commissions, fees and other related expenses. Traditionally, there have been two ways to handle the rental activity and management. So here’s the insider’s perspective.

    The first and most beaten path is to hire a “full-service” management company that charges commissions between 20-40% per booking. If your property rents for $2000 per week, you’ll pay the manager $400 to $800 in commissions! This increases the burden to generate more rentals. Spoiler alert below: that simple math I mentioned above doesn’t pencil out for me.

    My summer home rents roughly 16 weeks per year between May and September. A 20% commission rate would cost me $6,400 and at 40%, the commissions would tally up to $12,800! Additional fees may be charged for advertising, online listings, emergency services, inspections and maintenance. Suddenly your rental manager becomes a less than ever-faithful partner in your rental business while you’re carrying all of the risk. Needless to say, I exited that relationship.

    The alternative path is doing-it-yourself. Skipping the manager and commissions makes sense for some, just realize going in that it’s nearly a full-time job. Getting your property listed on VRBO is the easy part. The day-to-day of managing your property and keeping it rental-ready for the next guest and quickly responding to inquires is stressful enough, let alone managing the rental agreements (if you don’t have one, you need one). Did I mention collecting rental taxes and filing reports? Check with your local municipality because they see home rentals as a growing revenue source.

    Are you interested in finding a lower cost solution that provides the same benefits at a fraction of the cost? If so, Vacation Rental Services (VRS) is a new fork in the road worth exploring. VRS provides many of the benefits of a full service rental management company without charging any rental commissions. That’s reason enough to waive goodbye to your rental manager quickly. In lieu of rental commissions you simply pay a fixed monthly fee for the services you need.

    VRS rental management includes a full-on website to attract new guests and handle rental inquiries at a fraction of the cost of traditional sources. They can handle other rental related tasks too, such as collecting rental payments, taxes and security deposits, managing your rental calendar and handling and processing rental documents – all online (someone that gets technology).

    You can use their online rental calculator to compare the services your management company provides and charges with what you will pay VRS. After visiting their website at http://www.vacation-rental-services.com, you may just find yourself asking one of two questions – “Why am I paying so much?” or “Why am I dealing with the hassles?”

    Click Here to Read The Article on One Frugal Girl

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    If you could keep as much as 65% more rental income without sacrificing on service - why wouldn’t you?

    If you could hire a professional vacation rental management company to end the inconveniences and hassles - and pay an affordable fixed monthly fee for services - why wouldn’t you?

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