VRS273 – 5 Mistakes That VRBO’s Often Make (2019)

A few years ago I wrote a blog post that went on to be one of the most popular on Cottage Blogger. It was called 10 Mistakes VRBO Owners Often Make. It listed a number of things owners frequently did that could be detrimental to their rental business – and downright catastrophic if they did them all. This episode revises that list in light of the many changes in our industry and narrows the list to five errors that could slow down the potential for success.

By no means an exhaustive list, these are just a few of the more important things that can hijack your business by limiting inquiries, exposing you to risk and attracting negative reviews.

1 – Putting all your eggs in one basket

In my earlier blog post, one of the suggested mistakes was listing on too many sites. When I wrote that, there were dozens of wannabee listing sites vying to take business away from the fast-growing HomeAway family. Airbnb hadn’t appeared on the scene for whole-home rentals at that time. Since then, we’ve come full circle with HA and Airbnb dominating the market to the degree that many owners seem satisfied with listing with just one. I suggest you spread the risk by broadening a marketing strategy and of course, building a home site as well.

2 – Underinsuring

18 months on from an incident that occurred at one of our managed properties, we are still dealing with the claim that followed. Fortunately, both the property owner and ourselves are well-insured and the lawyers for our respective insurance companies are handling the ongoing lawsuit. So, I’m always surprised to see questions on forums and Facebook groups from owners wondering if they need specific insurance when they rent out. Yes, is the unequivocal answer, and as much liability coverage as you can get!


3 – Being unprepared for emergencies

A dripping tap might not rank highly as an emergency to you, but to a guest who has prepared for months for a much-longed-for vacation, it can be enough to tip them over the edge. And if it’s A/C or refrigeration that breaks down or a power outage in winter, lack of quick resolution can have severe repercussions. There are so many potential issues that can arise to disrupt a vacation, that not preparing for every eventuality is a huge mistake. Just because it’s never happened before doesn’t mean it won’t next week….

4 – Not being transparent about drawbacks

We all like to think our place is perfect and everyone will love it, but take a moment to think about what you may be immune to. Perhaps it’s the occasional train whistle or traffic noise; maybe the bugs and critters that are part and parcel of experiencing your location, or the potholed approach road that’s not been fixed for years. The temptation is to ignore these things which seem minor to you, but the outcome of doing so will be evident in your reviews.


5 – Not being specific in Terms and Conditions

In the days before instant booking, we had our guests sign rental agreements and agree to our Terms and Conditions. Maybe some of you still do this, but mostly we now rely on guests agreeing to House Rules posted on a listing site. Failing to specify how you manage your rental in the House Rules can result in over-occupancy, cancellation issues, refund and rebate requests, and other issues where guests can claim they didn’t know what was expected of them.

Checking these mistakes off your list can make life a lot easier for both you and your guests. I’d love to hear of any others you’ve made that have impacted your business, and how you managed them.

The original 10 Mistakes post

10 Steps to Emergency Preparedness