Building Trust With Holiday Rental Guests

If you think about it trust is the basis for everything in life.

Every relationship, every interaction, virtually everything you do has some element of trust associated with it.

If you do not trust someone then any interaction with them is going to be difficult. On the flip side, once trust is established, things generally become a lot easier for everyone.

For holiday home owners, like for any other business, you have to build that trust to be successful.

Guests need to trust what you say, and trust that you will deliver on your promises.

Establishing trust will not guarantee you bookings, but without it attracting new guests will be a ongoing struggle.

Running our listing websites over the past 15 years, and in particular the last year or so that we’ve been dealing directly with owners, it has become very noticeable that trust is a big problem.

The Trust Problem

Websites like Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking .com have collectively increased the awareness of and market share of private holiday homes in holidaymakers eyes.

Staying in short term rental accommodation is more popular than ever which is great news for owners like you.

The downside is that it has led to more scams, which in turn leads to negative news stories about them, which makes securing bookings more difficult.

A seemingly popular scam involves fraudsters putting fake property listings online.

They create fake adverts on listing websites, trick people into paying for them, and then the guest turns up to find the property does not exist and their booking money has gone.

We have had a number of guests contact us after they have spoken with home owners on our listing sites asking if the property is genuine, how do we know it’s not a fake listing.

Honestly, it’s been difficult to provide a definitive answer on that.

We do check all new listings internally but trying to explain our process is convoluted.

We needed a better way, so we started looking into it a bit (lot) more.

How The Large OTA’s Deal With It

Generally, the larger listing websites deal with this kind of issue in the same way.

When bookings are placed they hold all paid funds for the stay until after it has been completed.

If a guest contacts them and claims the property listing was fake and the property doesn’t exist, they do some checks and then usually refund the guest in full.

From a guest’s point of view, getting their money back is great, but it doesn’t help them too much when they turn up on their holiday and their accommodation is non-existent.

The best-case scenario is they can find an alternative place to stay, but they’ll likely need to cover the upfront costs themselves and have the stress and hassle of it all.

This money back guarantee offered by the big players is now kind of expected by a lot of guests, but even that doesn’t cover all the associated problems with this kind of scam.

What if you are trying to attract guests directly though without using the bigger platforms?

Independent Verification Services

Some smaller booking websites offer their own independent verification services, or a payment protection guarantee, but they usually only apply to bookings made through their specific listing websites.

There are also companies that offer 3rd party verification directly to home owners, some of these do include payment protection, but you will need to pay an annual fee ranging from a £200 up to £450 a year.

That might be worth it though, if this verification helps you convert a couple of extra bookings a year then it may well pay for itself, it depends how much a booking is worth to you and how effectively the verification process creates that trust for you and your guests.

Introducing Verified Owner

After a lot of thought, research, and discussions with some of our customers, our first step in trying to solve this problem is our new Verified Owner service.

The idea is that for customers who want to become verified, we will take them through a process which involves us checking and verifying documents such as their passport, land registry certificates, utility bills, and their local rental license certificate.

We can also verify email addresses, mobile phone numbers, and websites if they have them.

Once verified we will publish an online certificate detailing the property, the owner, and the contact details. A potential guest can then verify that the property they are looking at is real and the person they are dealing with is the property owner.

This Verified Owner certificate will be published on a new website built for the sole purpose of displaying these certificates.

Details of how we verify and why the information should be trusted will also be available for guests to check over.

How Does That Help?

We think that being able to point potential guests at your certificate will help build trust because it will reinforce that you are who you say you are and that what you are offering is what you say it is.

It will show you have satisfied an independent 3rd party check over all aspects of your property ownership and contact details, giving them greater confidence in you and your property.

We realise that this certificate does not cover everything that might stop a guest from booking, but we think it’s a good first step in the right direction.

If it can turn just one or two enquiries into bookings then it’s potentially going to be valuable part of your marketing.

How Do You Utilise It?

Once you are verified your certificate will be published online, but that’s no use if potential guests can’t see it.

To solve this we have a number of solutions.

Firstly, all of our listing website customers who become a Verified Owner will instantly get an upgraded property page. This updated page will clearly highlight that you have passed verification and will include a link to your verification certificate.

In addition, all email enquiries from our listing sites will include verification details and a link to your certificate so that guests can see it when you reply to them.

We don’t want to limit the scope or the benefit of the service to you so we will also allow you to highlight your certificate in all of your marketing and communications, no matter what the source.

If you list on multiple listing websites you can include a link to your certificate in your enquiry replies. This ensures you benefit from it no matter where your guests come from.

For customers with their own website you can also link to your certificate directly from that, we can give you a button that you can publish on your website which links to your Verified Owner certificate, or you can simply mention it on your website with a link if you prefer.

Further Developments Planned

Moving forward our verification service can be the basis of further checks and services which we are planning that may include payment options verification, and then potentially offering full payment protection plans.

That is the goal however we need to work in steps ensuring that we get things right for both our customers (you the homeowners) and for your customers (the paying guests).

What’s This All Going To Cost?

Here is the good news, we have a price that we think our customers can manage.

The price you pay for our Verified Owner scheme including full ownership and contact details verification is…


Becoming a Verified Owner is going to be free for all of our listing website customers.

We ‘may’ decide to offer out a Verified Owner service to owners who do not currently list with us, and if we do then that will be a paid service, but for all current and future listing website customers becoming a Verified Owner will be included in your annual subscription.

Getting Started

Ready to get verified?

Current customers will receive an email invite soon (if you have not already received one), and the verification service will be handled through your current property administration area.

If you’re not yet a customer but want to sign up, then jump over to our listing website page to get started.