FlipKey is a TripAdvisor company and powers the vacation rental experience on TripAdvisor. FlipKey features 300,000 vacation homes in over 11,000 cities throughout the world. All of their property owners are verified by FlipKey so travelers know they are dealing with trustworthy people. FlipKey features the largest collection of authentic guest reviews (over 150 million) and photos in the vacation rental industry.
FlipKey offers rental properties throughout the United States and in 11,000 cities around the world. There are no additional fees for travelers besides the price of booking a property. Some property managers will require a small deposit to confirm their reservation. FlipKey offers travel insurance for those interested, which is an additional cost.
Travelers can send a message to the property owner through the FlipKey site using the form in the right sidebar of the property page. Guests are also given the property owner's phone number. If the number provided is an 800 number, it's probably a number for a rental company, not a private homeowner. Other benefits of using FlipKey include:
- Search Feature - FlipKey has a search feature on the homepage so users can search for rental properties before creating an account.
- Search Filters - Users are able to filter their search results by specifying their minimum and maximum price, number of bedrooms, number of guests, amenities, rental type, accessibility, and more.
- Property Owners - Private homeowners and rental companies are both able to list their accommodations on FlipKey, giving travelers a large variety of property types.
- Email Recommendations - When searching through listings, FlipKey prompts travelers through a popup to have additional properties in their selected area sent to their email. This is especially helpful for users who don't have time to look through all the listings and would prefer to have a list sent to them with their specified dates and locations.
- Mobile Friendly - FlipKey has both a mobile friendly site and mobile app, making it simple for mobile users to search and browse through property listings no matter where they are.
- Deals - There are over 5,000 special deals featured on FlipKey's site every day.
- Property Owners - FlipKey verifies each of their property owners, so travelers know they are dealing with nice and trusted people.
Guest reviews are available for each property. The reviews are complete with the date the review was posted and the date the guest stayed at the property. There is also a rating key of 1 to 5 circles that clearly shows how guests enjoyed their stay without requiring users to read through an entire review.
FlipKey also has a mobile friendly site. Their search feature is visible above the fold on the homepage and allows mobile users to easily search and browse property listings. They also have a mobile app that is accessible to users with FlipKey accounts.
- Complicated reservation
- Varied cancellation policies
Reservations are not completed through the FlipKey site. Once travelers have spoken with the property manager and decided to rent their property, they are sent a rental agreement to help everyone understand the pricing, policies, and check-in/check-out procedures for their stay. Then renters send their deposits either directly to the property manager or through the FlipKey website. (Most rentals require a small deposit to confirm the reservation.) FlipKey recommends that travelers either pay with their credit card or a PayPal account to make sure their money is secure. Other downsides to using FlipKey include:
- Instant Booking - FlipKey does not have any "Book Now" buttons on their site. Travelers must send messages via the website or call the property manager directly to inquire about their rental property. From there, they complete the booking and payment process with the property manager directly.
- Payments - Property managers have the option of requiring their guests either pay their deposits and rental amounts through the FlipKey website or directly to the property owner. If payments do not go through the FlipKey website, travelers can't rely on FlipKey if billing issues arise. This can be very frustrating if travelers booked a property in a foreign country.
- Popups - FlipKey has popups on their site prompting users to enter their email address so FlipKey can send them property recommendations. This is an easy way for FlipKey to obtain email addresses from users who have not yet created an account. Those email addresses probably go into their email database and are then sent additional promotional emails.
Each property owner has a unique method for handling refunds and cancellations; there is not a universal cancellation policy through FlipKey for their customers. When travelers book a property, they are asked to sign a rental agreement, which should clearly communicate policies for cancellations and refunds.
If travelers paid through FlipKey, they should double check the payment confirmation page for the detailed cancellation policy. Property owners who provide refunds for cancelled trips have to know about the cancellation weeks, sometimes months, in advance. A traveler who cancels a reservation at the last minute will probably not receive a refund.
The Bottom Line
For travelers who want their vacation rental company to backup each aspect of their reservation, FlipKey probably isn't the best option. Since there isn't a universal cancellation or refund policy used for all the property owners, there is a greater chance travelers will have issues with cancellations. Property owners also have the option of requiring their guests to pay them directly, taking FlipKey out of the payment process. This has the potential to cause problems for travelers that need refunds from foreign property owners.