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Posts tagged ‘vacation rentals by owner’

Easy Home Automations For Your Vacation Rental

Hoem automation remote control for your house

Wow your visitors – and keep them coming back!

If you haven’t heard, automation is the latest buzz in all the popular housekeeping journals and publications. Whether it’s a digital app, a physical appliance or just a new frame of mind, housekeepers are now looking for ways to automate their routines and – quite simply – make their lives a little easier on themselves.

It’s good news all around for Rentini. If you’re a traveler, what’s better after a long day on the go than walking into a home fully stocked with easy-to-use, hands-free appliances and electronics? And if you’re a homeowner, there’s no better way to attract patrons than by making your home as accessible as possible.

Here’re five quick and easy ways to automate your home and attract future vacationers:

  

Start with the light bulbs.

They’re the easiest appliances to replace, and there’s so much you can do with them. If you’re going for luxury, look into some of the high-end automated bulbs like the Philips Hue. If you’re looking for something cheaper, try something like the Insteon LED Bulb, which still lets you control your light fixture from your smartphone or tablet.

Tech up the kitchen.

It’s the subtle things that make your kitchen look next-gen. Forget about the gimmicky electronic can openers and wine re-corkers. How about leaving an iPad on the kitchen island for guests to use as they please? It can cost you a bit of change, but it’s well worth it for the traveler’s experience. Foreign cooking is so much easier when you’ve got an Internet connection handy. And if you’re worried about the cost, look into some more affordable options like the Amazon Kindle or Google Nexus.

Get a home security system.

These days, most home security systems are synonymous with home automation systems; the two go hand in hand. The name brand security companies almost always provide some form of video monitoring, digital keypads and even thermostat control. Take a look at what the providers are offering in your part of the country.

Go wireless.

Home life is easier when you can do everything remotely. Your vacationers will appreciate any remotes that allow them to change channels, toggle lights or turn on a fireplace. Plus, with fewer wires running around your floors and walls, you’ll only add to the sleek ambiance of your interior.

Do it yourself.

Not every piece of home automation has to be packaged and delivered to your door. Sometimes, the most effective automation comes from a few simple changes on your end. There are dozens of free online apps to help you automate your home right from your computer. And if you’re handy, there’re plenty of options for building a custom entertainment center.

Best of all? By helping you optimize energy usage, home automation can save money in the long run. Once you start saving on your electricity and utility bills, you’ll see the value over time. Get automated today!

Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal: HomeAway’s Trademark Infringement Suit Against AirBnB

Homeaway sues AirBnB for trademark infringement

News of HomeAway’s trademark-infringement lawsuit against AirBnB has left many customers of both companies wondering what to think about the whole thing.

“Good Artists Borrow, Great Artists Steal.” This famous saying, most often attributed to Pablo Picasso, pretty much summarizes how the creative process works in any media. And Silicon Valley is no different.

If you’re good enough at making high-quality copies, people will admire you for your skillset. You will earn some respect and even a decent amount of money. Still in all, it doesn’t matter how good the replica is. It will be overshadowed by the original creation.

A creative genius, Picasso was never interested in copying things. His creative process began with ideas from others, which once absorbed, took on a new life in his own image, and on a different scale.

Oftentimes, these ideas came to him via the great masters, and sometimes from his fellow artists. Throughout his career, he mastered his “art of stealing” like no one else.

While a teenager, Picasso became fascinated by the work of Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres. This resulted in a series of works that made the originals look pretty outdated. One of Picasso’s greatest contributions to the art world, Cubism, was also influenced by Ingres.

Turkish Bath Picasso vs IngresTurkish Bath by Ingres (1862) – left and by Pablo Picasso (1907) – right

This is how things get done in the realm of genius. Ideas inspire great artists to create a new art form that didn’t exist before, and is often regarded as revolutionary.

Whether you borrow or steal in the world of business, the consequences are vastly different.

On December 16, 2013, AirBnB launched a new advertisement campaign, “Home to You.” The Home to You ad campaign centers around a video showing artisans recreating 50 Airbnb vacation rental listings in the form of miniature birdhouses.

Yes, birdhouses. This is what all the fuss is about.

Here’s how AirBnB describes the idea behind the movie on their YouTube channel:

No creatures on earth travel quite like birds do. They soar the skies, then land in new places. They see the world from a different perspective, one to which all real travelers aspire. This film is a celebration of our passion for travel and the kind of hospitality that makes people feel at home anywhere.

How could a story like that not touch the soul of an aspiring traveler?

But, apparently, it can also touch a copyrighted image: the “Birdhouse Mark” which happened to be a protected trademark of AirBnB’s biggest competitor, HomeAway, Inc. HomeAway’s logo prominently features a birdhouse, and the company uses birdhouses as its sort of “mascot.”

According to HomeAway’s argument, Brian Chesky, CEO and co-founder of AirBnB, paid multiple visits to HomeAway’s headquarters in Austin, Texas. This said, it’s probably safe to assume that the giant birdhouse replica in the middle of their headquarters didn’t pass unnoticed.

Birdhouse by HomeAway in their headquarter

We will leave it up to history to determine whether AirBnB’s national campaign is a complete steal or just borrowing. It certainly visualizes an especially poetic perspective on travel.

One thing, though, is crystal clear to Brian Sharples, CEO and Chairman of HomeAway.

“We do believe it is a fairly deliberate attempt to confuse the marketplace,” Sharples has said. Chesky “has been to our downtown offices several times. He has stepped into our giant birdhouse. I don’t think that anyone could argue that this was a mistake on their part.”

So, what now?

Should we consider it as a formal announcement of the war between two competitors? Was HomeAway fed up with AirBnB breaking more and more into the market for traditional vacation rental homes?

Although they are clashing over the same market niche, HomeAway and AirBnB are very different animals when it come to their respective cultures, founders, and backers, and the demographics of their hosts, guests, founders, and even haters.

It’s even safe to say that AirBnB and HomeAway are completely opposites any way you look at them. This is what makes this clash so fascinating.

Let’s look back at the history of two companies and try to understand what may arise from this.

HomeAway, Inc, nowadays a publicly traded company under the AWAY ticker, was founded in 2005 by Brian Sharples and Carl Shepherd. Within six years,  they managed to bring the company to its IPO, generating a sixfold return on investment (based on the post-IPO figures).

Their runaway success was mainly attributable to a clever way of cherrypicking and acquiring market leaders in the vacation rental industry around the globe, and monetizing their existing customer bases.

Some of HomeAway’s most notable acquisitions included VRBO.com and VacationRentals in the US, Arbitel.fr in France, and about twenty additional websites in different time zones, languages and hemispheres, the most recent being the Australia-based Stayz, for $198M. HomeAway often called themselves a startup, but it’s pretty unusual for a startup to begin operations with $49M on hand, with another $500M deposited by VCs within the first couple of years of operation.

AirBnB was founded in 2008, by two designers,Brian Chesky and Joe Gebbia, and an engineer, Nathan Blecharczyk. For a few months they tested out the idea of renting an airbed in their San Francisco loft to conferencegoers. Packaged with a small meal, the accommodation was dubbed  Airbed and Breakfast (later shortened to AirBnB). They made a few attempts to replicate this model in other cities, but that didn’t help with their flat revenue graph.

Forced to think outside of the box as their fledgling company struggled to become profitable, the founders began to offset their losses by selling repackaged cereal as “Obama O’s” and “Captain McCain’s.” The cereal story, a hit during the 2008 election, later became a trigger point for Paul Graham to take these guys seriously. In the winter 2009, the founders were invited to participate in YCombinator, one of Silicon Valley’s first and most respected startup accelerators. From this very moment, AirBnB’s growth was phenomenal. The amount of funding they attracted over the course of couple of years reflects their rapid market expansion. Starting from the $20K coming from the YCombinator fund, they quickly accumulated $326M in funding from their first tier investors and celebrities. Being pioneers of the shared economy, they inspired a lot of controversy, viral press, and tidal waves of support from all around the globe. It’s fair to mention that over time the website became for some a reliable source of income—and for others, some sort of a travel religion. People started referring to AirBnB’s brand as a foundation of a new phenomena: the shared economy. Inspired by their success, dozens of other startups adopted their business model to different markets: AirBnB for CarsAirBnB for Dogs, you name it! Finally, the AirBnB founders came up with their own new version of AirBNB … for birds.

BirdBnB.com became their first national ad campaign calling for bird houses. Notably, the campaign cost AirBnB no less than $2M.

“We promise you’ll never look at birdhouses the same way — and if you stay in one of these remarkable homes around the world, you may never look at travel the same way again too,” the website states. (At the time of this article, BirdBnB.com is redirecting to the main website AirBnB.com)

This is where their march has been stalled by a lawsuit from HomeAway.

Homeaway Birdhouse logo

“Defendant and HomeAway target and provide services to an overlapping class of Travelers for their respective services, through overlapping channels of trade,” the HomeAway suit states. “On information and belief, Defendant, has long targeted the tenants in landlord owned apartments in major cities (such as New York, Paris, San Francisco, Berlin, etc.) as its major supplier of listings.”

“However, Defendant [Airbnb] has recently increased its efforts to attract business in traditional vacation rental markets (such as the Gulf Coast, Rocky Mountains, Provence and Tuscany), in which HomeAway has long been well-established.”

Embedded in the culture of HomeAway, Sharples said, is the birdhouse logo, designed by downtown Austin advertising firm McGarrah Jessee and chosen “because it symbolizes what we do.”

AirBnB’s creative genius has served them pretty well on many occasions. It will be interesting to see how things will unfold this time.

Shall we expect an open-field battle between competitors, a massive settlement or M&A talk?

What are your thoughts on this?

3 Vacation Rental Scam Scenarios: Detect and Prevent!

Vacation Rental Scam: Detect and Prevent

Scammed in Vacation Rental

Recently, we have been hearing more and more about occurrences of vacation rental scam. This news is not only harmful to owners, but also to the industry as a whole. We want to arm you with essential tools to identify common tactics and take preventative measures before it is too late. We wrote about some of this before and then again but still wanted to keep you in a loop on the latest news and measures.

Let’s face it, emails written in broken English, requesting a wire transfer to Africa, are a thing of the past. Today’s fraudulent schemes have become much more sophisticated, but don’t fret. Whether you are a traveler, homeowner or property manager, the following tips are crucial to consider:

INITIAL RED FLAGS (PERHAPS IT’S AN ONLINE SCAM)

  • If a payment is requested through a wire transfer service such as MoneyGram or Western Union or there is a request for a cashiers check, you should investigate further.
  • If the deal seems too good to be true for the type of accommodation and the area, it should raise a red flag.
  • If the only way to contact the owner is via email and no phone number was provided or no one ever answers the number given, you should immediately question the credibility of the source.
  • If the emails you receive have obvious English grammar errors, you should investigate further.

DO YOUR HOMEWORK TO IDENTIFY VACATION RENTAL SCAM

  • Do your due diligence and complete a background check on the owner and rental.
  • Conduct Google and social media searches.
  • Check reviews from past clients.
  • Become familiar with most common vacation rental scam scenarios and make sure you don’t follow the same trap.

We have outlined a few scenarios below.

Scam scenario #1: 

A Great Deal Not to Miss, But The Property Doesn’t Exist

Craigslist Scam Alert about Waikiki Listings

A snapshot of a Scam Alert published on Craigslist

Vacation rental scams may not all display the most beautiful property photos, but they will typically offer a great discount to tempt potential visitors

If a great property is offered at half price with one condition that money must be sent via wire transfer, watch out. Just because they may be only asking for a deposit, it doesn’t mean it is not a scam.

Scammers accepting reservations many months in advance could collect 10%-50% of the total, multiple times, before anyone raises an alert. And, at the time when would-be travelers discover that the place simply doesn’t exist, it will be too late.

Back in June I received a call from a guy, urgently looked for same day accommodation. Distressed, he claimed he had just arrived to New York from San Diego, and learned he was the victim of a fraudster. He found a craigslist ad showing an amazing loft for rent in the heart of New York’s SoHo district and connected via phone with an advertiser who requested to wire him a one-night deposit of $140. The remainder of the balance was due at check-in. Unfortunately there was neither a check-in point nor anyone who knew the advertiser at the address provided. The traveler had to learn the hard way that even at a rate of $140 a customer, fraudsters exist.

Scam scenario #2:

The Property Is Real But The Rental Is Not

Scammed in Fort Myers Beach Vacation Rental plot

It goes like this:

Traveller: “Hello, we are here! We booked your house!”

Homeowner: “Really?”

Check out this Easter weekend case from Fort Myers Beach

Classified sites like Craigslist provide a plenty of room for misrepresentation. An advertiser could pretend they are someone else by supplying real names and addresses with legit profiles, hoping nobody will double check.

Here’s another incident when scammers poached information from a legitimate real estate website. A property manager had listed the property, but scammers fashioned a phony advertisement with an irresistible price tag:

Scam scenario #3:

Beware of Vacation Rental Phishing

 Vacation Rental - No phishing

Image a courtesy of Ann F Brundige

Those of us who follow the vacation-rental phishing saga are probably aware of this scenario:

  1. Emails exchange via email or a platform similar to VRBO
  2. Money wired via bank transfer
  3. No answer.

Phishing schemes fraudulently extract personal information by e-mail (the e-mail log-in credentials of a property owner). The fraudster then impersonates the owner, requiring customers to wire money.

Ann Schutte, who found a rental villa with a “million-dollar” view in Sedona, Arizona, through the rental web site VRBO.com, became a victim of such phishing plot.

HomeAway, which owns VRBO and other vacation rental web sites, reported 3,000 phishing cases as of last fall.

Still unsure if any of those scenarios applies to you?

Take a rental scam quiz to evaluate your chances of being scammed. This quiz urges you to evaluate possible scenarios and run a reality check.

Rental Scam Detection Quiz

In summary, don’t forget the three simple steps below, great preventative measures against scammers:

  1. If the deal seems too good to be true, it probably is.  Run away.
  2. If wire transfer payment is the only option, insist on a credit card payment.
  3. Use vacation rental websites that hold guests’ payments in escrow until the check-in date (rentini.com is one of them).

Just put yourself in scammer’s shoes and try to deal with a customer who follows those 3 simple steps. Would you succeed? At Rentini, we promote these simple measures and see scammers run away!

How to Report Scammers

If you believe you are the victim of an Internet crime, or if you are aware of an attempted crime, you can file a complain at the Internet Crime Complaint Center (IC3).

IC3 is a partnership between the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National White Collar Crime Center (NW3C):

http://www.ic3.gov/default.aspx

In addition, if you’ve been ripped off or scammed, complain to the Federal Trade Commission. It can help put the bad guys out of business. Watch this video to learn how to proceed:

To file a complaint, just go to http://www.ftc.gov/complaint or call 1-877-FTC-HELP.

Have you heard of any other stories or want to share your own tricks how to detect scam?

Feel free to share in the comment section below.

How Burning Man Can Bring You the Best Customer

Aerial video by Eddie.com

A year ago I had a guest at my lake Tahoe Knotty Pine Cabin who asked me if there was enough room in the house’s driveway to park his RV. The guy was planning to “decompress for a couple of days” after  Burning Man 2012 on his way back from Black Rock Desert. Whatever that means…

A few days later when the guy had left I learned something that made me think he was the best guest ever.

In the beginning I was a bit concerned about this decompression party in my house. One could only guess what this guy had in mind.

About ten years ago I had been to Burning Man a few times and went to decompression parties. It was great experience but it was outdoor and didn’t involve my newly remodeled house. We’ve all heard these AirBnB horror stories about guests who turned very ugly, right?!

After a quick phone conversation with the guy I decided to let him stay at my house as he sounded easy going and very mellow.

Typically I don’t get to meet my guests in person as the front door is equipped with a keyless lock system.  I just generate a code online and send it to my guests.

I hadn’t heard from the guy during the check-in time, so I assumed everything was going smooth upon his arrival. A day later I called my neighbor and asked if she noticed any nuances with the house or its occupants. She said the RV is parked on the driveway but she didn’t see anyone at all. It was very quiet. I was relieved.

A few days later the guy checked out and my housekeeper confirmed everything was in a perfect shape. The damage deposit was refunded automatically 48 hours after check-out and I received a positive review from this guest.  He called me though in order to share one thing privately. Apparently there was no hot water in the house for a few days. He said it was completely fine for him as he took showers in his RV.

What? It would have taken me 5 minutes to solve the problem but my guest never bothered telling me while he was in the house. He just took a shower in his RV… I felt so bad and was about to refund the money he had paid me. He insisted it wasn’t an issue at all and that I shouldn’t  worry about any of that. Whatever happened obviously he and his party had a great time at my cabin!

Every year about fifty thousand participants gather in Nevada’s Black Rock Desert to create Black Rock City.

Who are these people? What is Burning Man all about?

Depending on who you ask one can get a different answer. BM (Burning Man) could mean a community, art, self-expression, and self-reliance, or just getaway from their real life. It lasts one week, then everyone goes home having left no trace whatsoever.

I thought that the best way to show BM is through the Drone’s eye view or instagram images from real people.

Below we selected a dozen of instagram photos from Burning Man 2013!

What do you think about Burning Man after watching a video at the top and looking at these photos?

Burning Man BELIEVE instagram photoinstagram image by Alr75

Burning Man 2013 BM UFO by caseyklein11instagram image by caseykllein11

Burning Man 2013 image of woman by Whimsili instagram image by whimsili

Burning Man sunrise on the playainstagram image by nikolaicornell

nateholme Burning Man Evil Machine from the Spaceinstagram image by nateholme

Burninig Man 2013 The House on Wheelsinstagram image by jackwasarobot

Burning Man 2013 UFO Bad Lnadinginstagram image by ajcurtis78

Burning Man 2013 Battleship in a desert oasisinstagram image by welaughindoors

Burning Man 2013 Mirror faceinstagram image by ondeathbeds

Burning Man 2013 Silly cupcakesinstagram image by whcheath

Burning Man 2013 The door in the desertinstagram image by caitran

Burning MAn 2013 The Crowdinstagram image by sardarovtimur

Burning Man 2013 The Burninstagram image by dubmachine

instagram image by

Home Security 101: Should You Go DIY or Professional Installation?

Do it yourself or don't do it yourself?With simple tools found in most homeowners’ toolboxes, installing a do-it-yourself (DIY) security system is a fairly easy weekend project. Learn about the features and the pros and cons of a DIY system versus a professionally installed and monitored system before you make a decision. Home safety is your priority, so you want the best system for your home.

The Price Incentive

You can spend more than $2,000 for a professionally installed home security system. A service such as SecurityCompanies can help you find and compare a number of expert security companies to work with. DIY systems can reduce that cost to almost half, and a quick Google search will reveal plenty of deals on these types of systems.

A DIY wireless system doesn’t require any special tools. Most of the components will need access to a power outlet, your home network and perhaps a computer to control the system. You can create a DIY security system by purchasing individual components or a package. You can start with a few basic security elements, such as sensors on windows and doors, and add features as your budget allows.

Time Is on Your Side

You can put together a home system in a few days. A basic home security system can be installed and up and running in an afternoon. Make sure you weigh that against the amount of time you will spend maintaining it. A professionally installed system might take an afternoon to do, and from then on, the security company does the monitoring.

Your DIY system may not have all of the self-test and diagnostic capabilities of the professional systems. That means you will have to spend time checking the components regularly and fixing or replacing them as needed. Many homeowners who are DIY-ers like to tinker with their handiwork. Just remember it will have an impact on your time.

No Commitment

Most home security services require you to sign a year or more contract to monitor and maintain your system. There are often high fees for terminating these contracts early. Since you are in charge of a DIY system, you won’t have this expense.

Monitoring or Not

What you won’t have with your DIY system is a company that monitors it for you, calls emergency resources should an alarm get triggered and maintains the system integrity. You can find services that may do some of the monitoring, but few will do that unless you purchase and install their equipment.

One DIY option is to build a motion-sensing device that will send you a text message whenever movement is detected. But, until you have your system fine-tuned, you may be responding to false alarms for a few weeks.

If you install security cameras, you’ll have to decide how to monitor them. You may have to set up your own motion sensor triggers to start recording if activity is detected around the cameras.

DIY or Not?

For those who can’t afford a professional system and like to be engaged with their home and home projects, a DIY system may be ideal. There is some prove out there a DIY project could be effective. For others, a call to a professional security system company may be in order.

Which do you prefer:

  • a DIY or
  • professionally installed security system?

Tell us in the comments.

6 Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Essential Home Security Tips When Going On Vacation

Going away on vacation may be the time we all look forward to each year but for the security-conscious individual it can also be a time of concern. Leaving your home unattended for long periods of time can significantly increase the risk of a chance break-in that goes unnoticed or a more organized attempt based on lack of activity around your property.

Fortunately there are a range of common-sense steps that can be taken that will significantly reduce the chances of your home suffering criminal attacks in your absence.

Check Your Insurance

Before you leave for your vacation, ensure that your household insurance policy is in good standing. This should ideally protect not just your property itself but also contents insurance so that any items that might get stolen or damaged can be easily replaced on your return.

For extended vacations, it may be a requirement for you to inform your insurer of your absence so they are aware of the increased risks involved.

Tell Your Trusted Neighbors

Do you live in a neighborhood with a “community” feel where you know and trust many of your neighbors? If so, having a frank discussion with them about your absence can be a wise move.

By alerting your neighbors, should any activity be observed in or near your property in your absence, neighbors will be more likely to raise the alarm and help to keep your home safe and secure from criminals rather than just assuming it is you or your family moving about the property.

Third Party Security Checks

Another beneficial tip is to leave a key and contact telephone numbers with a friend or family member that you trust. Ask them to be the first point of contact for any emergencies and provide their details to your immediate neighbors.

Furthermore, asking that individual to visit your property for a quick inspection twice a day (morning and evening) – or even house-sit while you’re away – helps to not only encourage activity around your home but also to spot any issues that may arise quickly.

Timer Switches

A range of different timer devices are currently available and can help give the impression that your home is inhabited even while you’re away enjoying the sunshine.

For example it is possible these days to not only have lights that turn on and off randomly during the hours of darkness but to even make noises such as dog barks from time to time. All can serve to dissuade crime when a potential criminal is led to believe that your house in inhabited.

Mail Deliveries

One tell-tale sign that can out you at a disadvantage when away is a potential build-up of mail. Depending on the design of your home, this pile of letters may be visible from outside, suggesting that the occupants are away and so break-ins may be easier.

There are a number of options available to avoid this issue. Firstly consider asking your trusted friend to move your mail to a hidden part of your home on their regular checks.

Secondly, the postal services in some countries will actually “hold” your mail at the post office which you can then collect on your return.

Lastly, a simple tool that can work well is to create a simple “screen” that camouflages post as it is dropped through your door. In one example we saw recently, the occupant had red curtains fitted over the inside of their door.

By placing a piece of red cardboard up against the window inside the property, mail that was delivered fell behind this cardboard but in front of the curtain. From the outside of the property – looking through the frosted glass of the door – mail was completely hidden from view as the cardboard “screen” perfectly camouflaged in front of the curtain.

Home Alarm Systems

Finally, for greatest peace of mind, you may want to consider installing one of the many effective yet low-cost home security systems. These systems can not only arm your home with a powerful alarm system should anyone try to gain entry but more so many of them also come with a number of CCTV cameras.

In the case of a successful break-in, these cameras can be tremendously helpful to the police both for identifying the criminals and for proving the legitimacy of any insurance claim you may make.

The best systems will even let you access them remotely from your laptop or smart phone, so you can rest easy while away being able to keep a close eye on your home even when you’re hundreds of miles away.

Ben Smith is an expert in home security and recently started a new blog at Home Security Geeks.

The Features That Kept Us Busy for a Year

One year and counting - Rentini anniversary Time flies. It’s has been an incredible year-long ride since we officially launched our new website last year.  Not only have we  learned a lot, we’ve also realized that customer feedback is a huge source of inspiration. Thank you for contributing your time and efforts to becoming a valuable part of the Rentini community.

Do you remember some of these milestones and new features we’ve developed along the way?

We Are In 70+ Countries and Counting

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that a single platform could be a common marketplace for people from such diverse cultural backgrounds. We are all in the same business and our love for the vacation rental experience is without boundaries. Who wants to stay in a cookie cutter hotel with their entire family? No wonder vacation rentals are becoming more and more popular for travelers across the globe.

You Told Us, We Listened

The most exciting part of building a vacation rental platform is that all of you, our great customers, are also seasoned entrepreneurs. You are smart, experienced and full of fresh ideas about improving the business. We took many of your ideas and developed them into useful tools that will help you run your business even better. Below we listed a few features that came out of your valuable feedback. Keep pouring it on us, we do listen!

The Lowest 2.4% Credit Card Processing

The lowest 2.4% credit card fee for vacation rentalsI hope you don’t miss out on this one! After negotiating with our merchant bank, we secured a 2.4% credit processing rate, which is a better deal than PayPal or VRBO. Paypal charges approximately $30/month plus 2.9% – 3% per credit card transaction. VRBO charges somewhere in a range of $400-$1,000+/year and 2.5% per transaction. We are so happy to save our clients on credit card fees with a low 2.4% flat fee on Visa, Master Card and Discover credit card payments.

Calendar Synchronization Tool

calendar synchronization tool

This is an awesome tool we launched last year. Recently redesigned, today it is even more user-friendly. No one wants to update their calendars on the zillions of vacation rental sites manually. This tool takes the headache away from busy owners/property managers. Synchronize Calendar with Homeaway or VRBOJust copy/paste a link from HomeAway / VRBO and never worry about double booking again.

Reservation Confirmation: Accept, Reject, Discuss More

Accept, Reject, Discuss function within the homeowners inboxEveryone has his or her own style of running a vacation rental, but after regular feedback, we realized one thing is for sure: Homeowners and Property Managers want full control over the situation.  In response, we developed a better way to handle reservation requests. When accepting or rejecting vacation requests, no word is final until homeowners or property managers say so and there is a 24-hour time frame to do so.

Automatic Damage Deposit Processing

Automated Damage Deposit ProcessingNo longer do you have to refund damage deposits manually.  Now it’s as easy as 1-2-3. Just check it out:

  1. Two days prior to check-in, the guests’ card is automatically authorized for the amount of the damage deposit.
  2. The owner will then get an email confirmation and issue check-in instructions for guests.
  3. 48 hours after check-out, the damage deposit will be refunded to the guest’s card if no damages have been incurred.

Pro Plan: Links And Direct Contact Info

Rentini started off as a transaction-based platform on which we charged 1% commission plus a $5 reservation fee. Quickly, however, we learned that some of our users were not happy to pay a commission for each payment processed via Rentini.  In order to accommodate our homeowners and property managers, we began charging a small monthly fee of $9/month and, in return, we list all their contact details in the ad. This way, homeowner & property managers are able to use their normal reservation flow. This change has been awesome for Rentini and it has also been great for the homeowner & property managers who are pleased not to have to introduce a new element to their existing business procedure.

Pro Plus Plan: No Commission And Unlimited Listings For A Single Monthly Payment.

It couldn’t get any better for property managers and homeowners who have multiple listings. List all 20 properties and pay no commission to Rentini for payment processing. Every Pro Plus subscriber gets all of this for a flat $20/month fee along with access to many exciting features on the Rentini platform not accessible under a free plan:

Testimonials

New feature Testimonials Based on the research done by TripAdvisor, guests’ reviews are the second most important thing after photos that travelers rely on while making their selection. At Rentini, all reviews are verified. We also added a Testimonials feature that is an easy way for new listing owners to improve their credibility.Request testimonials from friends and vacation rental guests This feature also allows homeowners and property managers to contact their previous guests or personal friends to solicit testimonials.

Last Minute Deals

Last minute deal promotional banner for rental property This could be the most celebrated new feature of the year! Last minute gaps are not easy to fill, especially because travelers are accustomed to getting a deal on last minute bookings. At the end of the last year, we introduced a feature to promote properties with last minute availabilities on our homepage.  As a result, we received a great return on new bookings and lots of happy customers.

Hints And Videos Are Added

Read hints to avoid confusionThe first few months after our official launch were tough. Many features that looked obvious to our engineers were not as user-friendly as we thought. As a result, we included a short explanation next to each entry field. If you are ever in doubt regarding what a field or sentence means, just roll your mouse over the question mark icon and the hint will pop-up. The same goes for video tutorials.  After adding a video tutorial on every page, we managed to improve our conversion rate by 45%.

Custom Cancellation Policy

Homeowner have templates they can choose from or create their own - customized - cancellation policy

This was one of the most requested features in the early days. Originally, we had 4 pre-designed cancellation policies, but we learned that homeowners and property managers didn’t want to fit into cookie cutter solutions.   After realizing we needed to be more flexible on this topic, we allowed homeowner & property managers to upload his or her custom policy.

Reply To Inquiry From The Email Inbox

Another thing we learned about homeowners and property managers’ business challenges is they all want to simplify the inquiry reply process.

At Rentini, we developed two ways to reply to messages from a potential guest:

Whether you reply via email or the Rentini messaging page, all communication is stored in your Rentini account. The only trick to remember is that when you reply via email, the recipients address is encrypted for privacy purposes. But, don’t fret.  We know how to deliver your message to your guest.  Just hit the Send button!

Craigslist Ad Generator

Your Craigslist Vacation Rental Ad Generator Many homeowners and property managers have a love /hate relationship with Craigslist. Many say that there are a lot of scams and others don’t want to deal with low-ball inquiries. Despite its issues, Craigslist can still be a very effective advertising platform for your vacation home. With 60+ mln unique visitors per month Craigslist is one of the most visited classified sites on internet. At Rentini, we developed a simple tool to generate a professional Craigslist ad in a few clicks. It’s a great way to promote your last minute availability or just improve your ad’s SEO in the long run. More visits to your ad page means more love from search engines.

We Love Our Unique Properties From All Around The World

The beauty of our vacation rental business is that all the properties are very unique.  Whether it is a stunning villa in Paraty, Brazil, a private boat in Barcelona, or an agritourism villa in Tuscany, Italy, they are all inspiring…and your personal touch is what makes your guests enjoy it so much!

There are many more features being developed,which are great additions to our core functionality. Thanks again for your patronage during the last year!

Do you have a feature in mind you know could be useful for your vacation rental business? Share it with us by leaving a comment below or by sending us an email at feedback@rentini.com.

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