Eliminate incidents: The security measures you need to protect your vacation rental business

Autohost

Part one: How to prevent incidents and cut costs with guest screening

Why you need a security process

Let’s face it, every reservation in the short-term rental business comes with risk, whether that’s the possibility of a party, fraudulent activity or worse. To protect your business, neighbors, and community, you need to think about security. 

Figuring out what type of security process is best for you takes careful thought and planning. Start by stepping back and assessing your business. Where are you most vulnerable to risk?

Every company is different, depending on its property portfolio, so it’s important to take that into consideration. If you manage larger properties and gatherings are a problem, you might have your team request guest lists or flag one-night weekend bookings. 

The risks you face might also depend on the booking channel, the types of guests you cater to and even your local regulations and Homeowner Association (HOA) rules. Keep all of these in mind when developing a security process. 

To properly protect your business, introduce security at every stage of the reservation, from booking to checkout. That includes short term-rental insurance, guest screening and property monitoring. The more comprehensive your process, the less likely you are to be targeted by bad actors. 

In part two of this blog series, we’ll talk about insurance and how you can eliminate parties with proper monitoring. But first, let’s talk about guest screening.

Guest screening as your first line of defense

Guest screening is the process by which you assess a reservation to determine its risk level. Once you’ve done that, you can decide whether moving forward with the reservation is safe for your business. The process requires collecting and verifying information from the guest to learn more about their intentions at your property. 

There are hundreds of data points associated with any given reservation. That’s a lot to analyze. To make it easier, look out for patterns and discrepancies in the guest’s personal and booking details. One red flag could be harmless and easily explained over a quick phone call with the guest, but multiple red flags could indicate something more serious. 

To start your own guest screening process, here are a few things you need to do:

  • Collect and verify the guest’s ID to confirm they are who they say they are
  • Analyze the booking details to see if there’s potential for a party or foul play
  • Validate the payment method to ensure the credit card belongs to the guest
  • Examine the guest’s online presence to flag suspicious activity 
  • Have the guest sign an agreement that governs the terms of their stay

Keep in mind, when done manually guest screening can be time and resource-intensive, and it opens the door for bias and bad judgment calls.

If your focus is growth and scale, you need to think about automation. Services like Autohost handle the reservation from booking to check-in, verifying guests, eliminating discrimination and reducing risk so that your team doesn’t have to. The more systematic you can make your process, the better. 

The benefits of screening your guests

A systematic process for guest screening will save you time and resources. Instead of going back and forth with the guest to collect and verify information, your team can focus on other tasks, greatly increasing productivity. Plus, you can cut unnecessary expenses by reducing incidents at your property.

On top of flagging troublesome reservations, guest screening also increases guest accountability, deterring bad behavior. And by collecting information and building a trusted relationship with the guest, you have the opportunity to improve the guest experience.

So the guest checked in—now what?

After screening your guest, you send over the check-in instructions and a few days later, they’ve entered your property. The guest assured you they were on a solo trip to “get away for the weekend”—but how can you be sure?

The right guest screening process will help you catch fraudulent reservations, suspicious activity, and crime, but intent is harder to predict with 100% certainty. 

Like any preventative measure, guest screening is most effective when acting as a component of a greater security process. Follow through with the reservation by monitoring the stay, and have insurance in place to cover any unexpected damages. 

Learn more about these safeguards in part two of our blog series.

Written by Autohost

Autohost is now part of Party Squasher’s SafePro initiative. Access 20% off any new Party Squasher and up to $150 in autohost credits if you use both technologies. Please contact sales@partysquasher.com for more information.

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