How does Houfy protect me compared to Airbnb?
New hosts often join the Say Yes to Houfy facebook group and the first question they ask is: "Will Houfy protect me like Airbnb?"
This is a compilation of Houfy members' comments when comparing the two platforms.
Read all of Airbnb's fine print. They don't share guest ID with the host. They can refund guests on day of arrival for having Covid. And they can override your cancellation policy anytime they want. If you were around in 2020 you saw this happen. And they did it without hosts' consent.
You are only safe (regardless of any platform you may book on) if you have the right insurance policy (liability, damage, etc.) for your property, and charge a security deposit (damages). Yes ABB has their Air Cover which will (maybe) pay you for damages, but it's a hassle, not a guarantee, and not insurance.
On Houfy you verify guest ID by asking for a copy of their ID, something ABB doesn't require. You can follow up with further ID verification if you feel uncomfortable. I understand the benefit of other host reviews but, 1. hosts don't always leave accurate reviews, 2. many guests don't have any reviews, and 3.even highly rated guests can still be terrible.
I find I can have better conversations on Houfy and am not under a deadline to book travelers in, or for them to respond to me. I also have immediate access to their full name, email, phone, etc. BEFORE approving their booking.
With Houfy, you can write your own rental contract with your terms and can have the guest sign or acknowledge. You then have the ability to enforce your rental agreement, and are not relying on a third party to do so. You set your terms. For example, I state on my rules that if check out procedures are not followed, I will charge $XX from their security deposit. Then I do it.
With direct bookings, if there is an issue with a guest, it's up to you to decide how you want to proceed and not up to anyone else. ABB has approved a lot of last minute cancellations for guests with Covid, and they don't always stick to your cancellation policy or their own. With direct, you can stick to your policy, or amend it, it's up to you. We strongly recommend travel insurance in the event they need to cancel.
For whatever reason I find my Houfy guests don't leave reviews like they do on ABB, not sure why, even when I send them the link. I also list on ABB and for now, am happy to do so but I worry about the future changes they will make and how that will impact me, so I'd prefer to have a direct option where I can be fully in control. I get about 1/4 to 1/2 of my bookings on Houfy and this hasn't impacted my superhost status at all on ABB. So my advice is try it!
You are protected differently. You don’t have Airbnb overriding your policies because their concern is keeping the guest not you happy. You have complete control over security deposits so there’s no need for the host guarantee. If they break something you keep the money to replace it. You don’t need to get Airbnb’s permission to get reimbursed.
Unlike ABB, Houfy doesn't have a customer support dept. to pass bad guests off to, and hope they deal with them the way you want them dealt with. All rules are your own. That means you can steal any of the ones that Airbnb uses that you think benefit your business, discard the ones that are only for their protection and not yours, and create your own that they don’t have in place that you think should be.
Airbnb might do a verification but with both Houfy and Airbnb you should be collecting the guests ID for your own records and doing your own verification. Just cause they say they are good enough for their platform doesn’t mean they are good enough for your property. At this time there’s no guest reviews but I wouldn’t trust Airbnb’s guest reviews cause of how many people give good reviews out of fear of retaliation. Google their name, find their social media accounts and see if there are any red flags that make you go these people are the entitled jerks that end in the horror stories I’ve read about.
You should have a contract or lease that guests sign. Airbnb doesn’t have a contract that guests sign. They enforce their terms and conditions as they see fit. If they think enforcing it isn’t in their best interest, then they don’t. Houfy let’s you enforce all your house rules, terms and conditions and anything else you need to feel comfortable renting to guests. Houfy doesn't have customer support to help you deal with entitled jerks. But again, there’s no customer support to override you in favor of entitled jerks, just cause it’s easier for them to give them what they want then enforce their rules.
You can pull all of your Airbnb reviews over to Houfy so you won’t be starting over or spreading them out over multiple platforms. Airbnb doesn’t allow you to pull Houfy reviews over to their platform. But it is good to have another platform with a history of your success. It will be easier to continue business as usual just in case Airbnb goes out of business or shuts down your listing. Don’t have your business reliant on the success of another’s.
Airbnb is not host-centric. There is no host protection -that is all a sham they want you to believe and guests too.
Just like the way you set up Airbnb or Vrbo, you can set up houfy. See Airbnb only allows you to send a vacation agreement off site, like through email. You can’t upload it and make it part of their process. So just like Airbnb send an email from your preferred email (probably the one you use for people to book) with your agreement. They must sign it before their booking is approved.
Regarding verifying identity’s: Airbnb nor vrbo can be 100% sure who’s renting your home. I for instance require the ID to match the credit card on file and the one signing the agreement. Period.
I feel a much greater sense of community with houfy than with airbnb. Never have I asked a question on facebook and had the programmer of airbnb message that he fixed it, and to check and make sure it works for me now! I don't depend on airbnb protection from damages because I've heard the same horror stories you have. Instead, I collect a damage deposit and hold the money myself until my cleaner verifies everything at checkout. So far I've refunded 100%.
I have no idea who any of my airbnb guests are. Houfy guests have real names and phone numbers, and I've been able to talk to them and even called their landlords for references when booking a longer stay.
I wrote my own rental agreement and uploaded it on houfy, just like I did on vrbo/airbnb. The difference is, with houfy I also have the guest's email address to send it and get a signed copy back.
I feel that anywhere I can list just increases my exposure, and when I can find a guest without paying a platform it increases my bottom line. The more hosts who list on houfy, the larger the inventory, and the more guest searches it will attract, making it a future marketing tool. For now, it's an awesome direct booking tool for repeat guests and friends, and that saves me money.
Can Houfy hosts screen and vet travelers?
Absolutely! Book direct is all about open communication. Phone numbers and inquiry emails are never blocked nor hidden. This means you and the traveler get to freely communicate before accepting a reservation.
Unlike other platforms, Houfy encourages its hosts to know who is staying in their property. You are free to require a copy of ID and signed rental agreement from guests if you wish. It's entirely up to you!
A common misconception new hosts have, is the major platforms "screen" their guests for them. You'll often read forum comments like this:
"Airbnb will remove guests if they refuse to leave at check out."
"Airbnb will break up a party for me."
"Airbnb's attorneys will defend me in court if I have to sue a guest."
Unfortunately, none of this is true. Hosts often feel duped once they realize they have no ID information to provide the police, and Airbnb won't share the info with the host.
The name on the confirmation might say Paul Jones or Kermit.
Or it could just be the letter "Z."
But were Paul, Kermit, or Z–ever even at the property? Who knows..
Maybe their friend Beatrice stayed instead.
Surely Airbnb will help! After all, they "verify" IDs...right?
If you've ever called Airbnb to ask for your guest's ID information, you were likely declined the information due to "privacy" reasons.
Do your own due diligence and follow these best practices when accepting reservations.
1. Have a clear visitor policy
Travelers will often book, assuming they can invite over as many friends as they want. Include a visitor policy like this one in your rental agreement. Have the guest sign and acknowledge the visitor policy, in addition to signing the rental agreement.
2. Communicate and ask questions
Ask questions if you need more details before accepting a reservation. Just message or call the traveler! Click on your Houfy messaging inbox to pull up the booking inquiry/request. Or make a quick phone call–especially if the booking is time sensitive and another traveler can book the dates.
3. Make clear house rules
Travelers must agree to your house rules when sending an inquiry. Discourage partiers and event holders by placing rules like "no gatherings" etc. near the top of the list. Travelers who plan to party will likely skip over your listing.
3. Get a signed rental agreement
Hosts aren't required to upload an agreement, but if you have one, travelers must agree to it when sending an inquiry. I recommend putting the agreement in the credit card holder's name. Feel free to use any wording from these sample rental agreements. Here is a quick 2 minute read of why you should have guests sign a rental agreement.
4. Ask for ID
It's a good idea to collect ID and note it in your house rules if it's required. It's up to you how you want to go about collecting ID. I recommending requesting ID of the credit card holder. Some hosts only ask for ID of the guest who books, while others require ID of all group members. Here is an excellent blog post about why you should be asking for guest Id after booking.
But what about guest reviews?
While guest reviews can be very helpful, it's best not to blindly rely on them. A guest traveling with grandparents may be a 5 star angel, but with his college buddies, turns into a 1 star devil. The majority of platforms don't let hosts write guest reviews. Even Vrbo only allows a star rating with no written text. There's no shortage of Airbnb hosts who relied on previous 5 star reviews, only to discover the guest trashed their home.
Reporting Posts/Listings on Houfy
You can flag inappropriate posts/listings on Houfy (i.e. posts that contain inappropriate content or listings you might question their validity)
To report a post:
- Click on the Menu icon to the right of the post.
- Click on Report this post.
- Tell us why you are reporting the post in the pop-up window. Click Yes to proceed or Cancel.
To report a Listing:
- Click on the Flag icon below the price/availability block of the listing
- Click on Report this listing.
- Tell us why you are reporting the listing in the pop-up window. Click Report to proceed or Cancel.