Vacation Rentals: How to Screen Your Guests

Canmore Airbnb Zoning

How to Screen Your Guests

For many vacation/ income-property homeowners, the most foreign aspect of listing their space for rent is the idea of welcoming strangers into their home; understanding the best way to screen your guests doesn’t have to feel confusing. Ultimately, as the host, you have the power to pick and choose your guests and ensure that the experience is a positive one, for all parties involved.

  1. Set
  2. Confirm
  3. Research
  4. Verify/ Validate
  5. Communicate
  6. Cancel

If you are currently using a pre-built rental platform, then much of the leg work is a bit more built-in, but regardless if you are browsing online profiles and reviews or have begun to feel more like a private investigator – these top 6 best practices for guest selection will ensure your due diligence is as effective as possible when you screen your guests.

How to Screen your Guests: SET the Expectations

First things first, ensure that you (the host) and the guest are on the same page. Find out why the guest will be traveling and what kind of plans they are making. This helps you get a sense of what type of guest they’ll be.

House Rules* are also an important part of this first step. Take the time to clearly communicate the parameters to the guest, and be sure that the guest agrees to them (*this can be a document they will be asked to sign digitally, should you choose to process their booking, and some platforms have built-in house rules that guests must agree and adhere to as part of the booking process).

Pro Tip: Pay attention to the type of unit you’re listing and potential reasons guests may book it. Large units tend to have a higher likelihood of parties than small units, and units in specific parts of the city may entice certain behaviour. Consider whether your unit is next to a club or a museum.

CONFIRM all the Details

Once the expectations are clear, reservations details should be confirmed. Ensure that you have their name, contact details, and the number of guests that will be staying. Watch for any information that doesn’t seem to add up. If inconsistencies arise, consider additional questions and possible cancellation of the reservation.

Pro Tip: Local guests should always be scrutinized. That means guests booking from the same city as the actual unit. Sometimes local guests are looking for places to hold parties. 

Do Your RESEARCH


In today’s digital world, finding someone online can be fairly straightforward. Try googling the guest’s name and location -finding their social media accounts can help you get a sense of who they are.

How to Screen your Guests: VERIFY/VALIDATE

Providing an ID is something that a legitimate guest will be happy to do, all the same, ensure that you verify the details against other elements of their paperwork to ensure everything is on the level. Along with the ID verification, guests will also be required to provide their credit card information. Be sure to validate the credit card, to ensure it’s not fake, flagged, or stolen. Short-term rentals are often more susceptible to these types of bookings, so be on the lookout. Guaranteeing payment by requesting up to 100% of the booking fee, and processing that payment immediately will help with this. 

Pro Tip: Consider a security deposit in your fees. This will also deter guests who are booking properties for different reasons than they claim.

COMMUNICATE Clearly and Often

In order to ensure you are all on the same page, have a plan in place so that all information and pre-arrival information is clearly communicated to the guest. The same goes for arrival, during their stay, and post-check-out. Staying in contact with the guest, or at least letting them know you are ready to chat if the need arises (or maybe they want some suggestions of things to do in the area), is a great way to stay in the loop. As a bonus, by remaining actively in contact before you have accepted their reservation you will weed out any suspicious characters.

CANCEL Suspicious Reservations

On that note, if a guest is non-compliant with any of your rules or guidelines or doesn’t reply to your messages in a timely manner, you should offer them a cancellation free of charge. While it can feel like you wasted your time, it will help unclog your reservation calendar for good, reputable guests – and help you not lose sleep (or money!)

Ultimately, with a good plan in place, you can have confidence in your guest screening processes and trust that you will have wonderful guests for all your available dates.

If you’re looking for a team to help manage all this, and help you make even more money – our experienced staff at S&T Property Management is ready to chat now!

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