How to Spot a Cherry Picker and Other Rental Tips

emu2.jpgIt can be very frustrating to spend hours on the phone and in emails with a prospective renter, only to find they never contact you again. The cost of that time can be hefty, particularly if you're so convinced they are going to book that you hold the week for them, thereby losing other potential rental clients.

Lesser Spotted Cherry Pickers are easy to identify. They send generic emails starting or ending with an expression like, ‘Your cottage is so beautiful', or ‘We really love the look of your cottage'. The email is often accompanied by a bunch of questions that could easily be answered by looking on your web listing, but since they are batch enquiries you will get them all. Asking for a deal is also a sign you've been targeted by this flightiest of species. And, they are less likely to create a relationship with you, as they're more concerned with comparisons of facilities and rates.

Cherry pickers are an annoyance but with the amount of choice they have at this time of year, it's hardly surprising they are shopping around. They will often make a booking with you, sounding for all the world as if your vacation home is the greatest place in the world, only to go deep and silent the moment you send out your rental agreement. When you call and ask them where their deposit is, you'll often get a scant apology and the throwaway line, “Oh, we've booked another cottage”.

All joking aside, here's a few things you can do to encourage them to make a quick decision and commit one way or another.

  • Offer to hold a booking period for no more than 24 hours.
  • Tell them you already have several others interested in the same week and a quick decision is important.
  • Use Paypal to collect a deposit immediately – the fee may be worthwhile to capture the booking. Final payment can be collected by cheque if necessary.
  • Be crystal clear on your cancellation policy so that renters understand they will forfeit their deposit unless you can rebook the week – remind renters they can take out travel insurance to cover change of mind.
  • Make sure your rental agreement and Terms and Conditions are emailed immediately – any delay can result in a lost booking.
  • If not using Paypal for a deposit, ask for at least 35% of the rental to be sent by Express Post and allow only 3 business days for it to arrive. Be hard nosed about this and if the payment does not arrive, open the time up again for rebooking.

This is a busy time of year for rental bookings, so it's no huge loss if someone who is interested decides to rent elsewhere. There will always be another to take their place. Personally, I prefer the rental group that see my cottage listing and decide that is the one for them and no other will do – these are the ones who will trust their choice and be great renters.


You are so right about the generic e mail request. I spent 30 minutes last week answering 15 questions about my cottage, the answers to all of which were on the web site.
On the other hand, as I just have two cottages I am happy to provide as much information as is required if my prompt response leans a prospective renter to make a booking with us.
The one thing that I have found is that the request for more photos is quite common and although I have a number of good ones on my web site I am planning another page of pictures to try and reduce the need from potential renters. It does highlight the necessity to provide as much information as is possible.


Part of my business is real time online booking, really interesting post, backed up by what we have been hearing from our online booking clients.

We have just put live a booking service called Bookster for holiday properties which tries an alleviate this problem providing quick access to a real time booking system that takes payments online.

It is still in Beta (so one property only at present) but hopefully it will be of help to combat the “cherry pickers”!

Robin’s last blog post..Changeover Days


This was heartening to read – I have just had three Cherry Pickers in a row!

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I like your tips about closing the sale, it’s good to look at how other industries go about selling their products. The time limited offers seem to work well.

Rob’s last blog post..Essential Items For Your Holiday Home Rental

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