Vacation Rental Guest Screening in 2020 - Smoky Vistas

people walking in a line at sunset
May 4, 2020

Online booking is now the norm, not the exception.

Successful vacation rental homeowners must be willing to accept bookings shortly after someone submits their credit card information. But trusting people without screening them first can have dire consequences. It could damage your relationships with your neighbors. Your home could get wrecked and become unavailable for months. Or worse…

Financial Fraud Is a Global Threat

Vacation rental companies are often the targets of fraud. If we accept a booking from someone who doesn’t exist, you will miss out on the revenue. Quick, non-invasive background checks help us identify fraud and avoid headaches down the road.

We Cannot Rely On the Booking Platforms

Airbnb says that it “does not routinely perform background checks on its users, although we reserve the right to do so.” And Vrbo encourages owners to read past reviews of their potential guests and communicate with them directly. But neither company offers a comprehensive approach to guest screening.

Smoky Vistas broadcasts listings across dozens of vacation rental marketplaces, including Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO,, FlipKey, TripAdvisor,, and more to maximize your home’s exposure to travelers.

With all of these channels, we need a system that accurately reviews your guest no matter where they book and evaluates the risk of every reservation.

The Bad Guest Database

Smoky Vistas partnered with over 100 property managers to build a nationwide Bad Guest Database based on data from over 330,000 vacation nights.

By screening every guest against our Bad Guest Database, we can identify past problem-guests.

Guest Screening Avoids the Worst Guests

Our guest screening process is compliant with the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) and The Fair Housing Act. It’s a non-invasive check that is built into our reservations process. It does not require a social security number and won’t touch or impact credit reports.

We comb through 200+ global fraud and crime databases to check:

  • Identity fraud
  • Money launderers
  • Interpol wanted persons
  • Sex offenders
  • Felony records
  • Suspicious IP addresses

Monitor, Don’t Reject (Most) Risky Reservations

For the most part, we do not want to reject bookings. The vast majority of reservations that are identified as potentially risky are manageable with the proper precautions in place.

In these cases, our Home Care Specialists keep a close eye on the guests. For example, we may require an in-person check-in. Or, we may show up unannounced with a gift basket as a friendly way to let the guests know that our team is nearby.

It never hurts to do a little extra to keep your home safe.