Welcome to a new series where we’re going to highlight some of the most annoying problems with the various vacation rental sites from an owner’s perspective. We’ll also (hopefully) give workarounds to these problems as well.
We start the series by looking at FlipKey. Of the three major vacation rental sites that we use, they unfortunately have the most annoying issues. So, without further ado, we present “The Top 5 Most Annoying Things About FlipKey.”
5. No same-day bookings
FlipKey does not allow same-day bookings. From their help pages:
For security reasons, our system does not support same-day bookings. Your traveler’s check-in date and payment must be at least one day from the date you’re requesting payment.
I’m not sure why FlipKey deems this to be an issue when AirBNB and other vacation rental sites have absolutely no problem with it.
Workaround: Arrange dates with the guest for one day further out and allow them to come earlier.
4. Must login to read traveler messages
FlipKey will email you a notification when you receive a message from a potential renter, but that email does not include the actual text of that message. To see that, you have to login to their site or mobile app. This is annoying because you never know if it is something you should respond to immediately or something that can wait a bit. As far as I know, they are the only site that does not include the full message in their email notifications.
3. No “my calendar is up to date” button
FlipKey, like most of the vacation rental sites, gives priority in their listings to sites that keep their calendars up to date. Unfortunately, they do not give owners an easy way to do that when there are no changes to be made. Most other sites have a “my calendar is up to date” button that allows you to simply click that when you do not have any other changes.
Workaround: Go to the FlipKey calendar, click the current date to change its status (available/unavailable) and click “Save Changes.” That will update your calendar. If you like to keep your calendar accurate, click the current date again, change it’s status back and click “Save Changes” one more time. The “Last Calendar Update” status in your dashboard will not change immediately, but don’t worry, your changes have been noted.
2. Quote system is messy
FlipKey encourages owners to send a quote to potential renters from the beginning of your conversation with them. I never do this. I like to have a conversation with a potential renter first and see how interested they are in my property and if they have any questions. By sending them a quote right away, even with a message attached it seems too pushy to me. What’s even more annoying is that FlipKey automatically sends a follow-up email with the quote – even when the renter may no longer be interested.
The quote system is also annoying in that if you use multiple payments for guests, your first payment request must be high enough to cover the cost of the security deposit. This is a problem for us as we often have lower off-season rates but we keep our security deposit the same for our protection. For example, a renter may book our home for $350 and have a $750 security deposit. With FlipKey’s system, their first payment must be for at least $750. This puts off a lot of renters and also leads us to our #1 problem with FlipKey (below).
Workaround: Just use the “reply with message” only option rather than the “reply with quote” option for initial messages with potential guests. Unfortunately, there is no workaround for the multiple payments issue with security deposits.
1. Security deposit system charges the renter’s credit card
This one is the most annoying issue for our potential guests – FlipKey charges the customer credit card for the security deposit. That’s right, they charge the full amount of the security deposit with the rental payment. This means that the renter is on the hook with their credit card company for the full amount, even though they will be getting it back. We have lost several renters because they did not want to have to pay their credit card bill for this.
AirBNB handles this much better by only authorizing the credit card for the security deposit before arrival. The traveler then never sees this as an actual charge unless something goes wrong and you need to hold part of it. When we do independent bookings, we only charge it 5 days before arrival and refund it when the traveler departs.
Workaround: You can choose to split the payments and make the security deposit part of the payment due several days before the traveler arrives. This would help to make sure that they do not get a bill that they have to pay.
Those are our biggest problems with FlipKey. Do you have any others that you’d like to share? Let us know.