Hosts Be Aware – You can easily lose hundreds or even thousands with Flipkey / Tripadvisor
Want to list your home for short term rental on tripadvisor / flipkey? You'd better read this, based on our personal experiences. It happens time and again.
No matter what cancellation policy you have, or how confirmed a booking is, any picky or even shady guest can come in, spend nights, use all your facilities and leave without paying. The only dirty trick needed to pull, is to send an unfounded complaint saying “property is not as expected”, and tripadvisor / flipkey would hold back all rents a host entitled to, disregarding any cancellation policy, rental rules & facts.
Below are real events in detail.
We have been a host for years. What we offer is a private suite with its own separate entrance at our backyard garden side. It has its own kitchenette, bath, bedrooms & laundry. Our family lives upstairs.
We listed my suite on multiple websites, and get 5 star reviews from many guests. The first sentence of the property description says “...private suite, in a 3-storey house...”
Also we always send a greeting email to confirmed guests, saying “...pathway will lead you to the walkout level entrance door, just ring the door bell & I will greet you there. In case I'm away from home (or too late), I'll give you the code for a key lockbox...”
It should be crystal clear to any sane person that - what we offer is a private suite on walkout level & we live upstairs.
In the afternoon of June 30, 2017, a group who booked from tripadvisor arrived. We greeted them, chatted, led them into the suite & gave them the key. Later on, they asked if they can use the laundry detergent etc. in their in-suite laundry. While we're telling them “of course”, we could see them cooking in the kitchen. Later, they asked us to show how to set up the sofa bed in the living room. We happily showed them & called it a day.
The next morning, we received an email from tripadvisor saying “...the guest informing us that the property is not as their expectation, the guest has informed us that the property rented is the basement and they were not informed that the property would be shared...”
Right away we tried to contact the guests, by texting to their mobile # and through tripadvisor's own message system. We told them they should know that's what we offered from the beginning, based on clear descriptions & emails. And there is nothing shared, for they have totally separated entrance & every room to their own. We don't even live on same levels, and don't have to see each other at all if that's what they want. We also asked if they wanted to continue their stay or not. If not, please inform & release the dates ASAP, for it's peak tourism season (Canada Day) & new guests may book any time. And we told them if someone else took any of those days once they release, we'll be glad to refund corresponding days' rent to them even though they long passed cancellation/refund deadline.
No reply was ever received from the guests.
So all the days were still shown as booked by those guests, and couldn't be released to any potential new guest.
At the end of rent, we went down to do cleaning. Almost everything was used – kitchen, living room, bedrooms, bathrooms, towels, soap, toilet paper, washer & dryer... A side note, even though we clearly state and put sign on entrance saying “no outdoor shoes please”, multiple dirty shoeprints were on living room & bathroom floors.
But guess what, tripadvisor / flipkey not only refused to release the fund that we totally entitled to, but also tried very hard to trick / coerce us to refund those picky or even shady guests, simply due to their unfounded complaint of “property is not as expected”.
Our loss can be more than $1,000, for all those peak season days hold, booked, lived & not paid. Plus, it makes us feel really bad, for the tripadvisor / flipkey didn't help us at according to the policies, rules and facts. Instead, they're obviously more interested in helping those picky or even shady deadbeats to bilk from us honest hosts.
And this is not a single isolated case.
So hosts be aware – list with tripadvisor / flipkey and this can happen to you any time for any trip. We'll have to raise rates on tripadvisor / flipkey, to cover this kind of situations. We don't have any similar things with guests booked from VRBO, HomeAway and Airbnb, through which we have more bookings.