Frequently Asked Questions by Property Owners
Can guests book my property online?
- Yes they can, although virtually all guests begin with an email or phone call we do allow them to view a property online, and to book it and pay for it online.
How do you enable online bookings?
- We use HomeAway – a very secure and reliable online reservation solution. It is backed by a publicly traded company in Austin and works very well for enabling all aspects of bookings and payments.
How do you deal with advanced deposits?
- We accept all major credit cards, and charge a deposit of 50% of the total rental upon booking, with the full payment due 30 days prior to check-in. All reservations which are made more than 60 days in advance of check-in are fully refundable minus a processing fee. After this cancellation period expires, all payments are non-refundable. The guest who books the property must be 25 years or older unless otherwise noted.
When do I get paid for reservations?
- We pay owners once a month. Expect to receive an owner statement and an ACH deposit to your bank account within about seven business days after the end each month. This statement and deposit will cover all guests that check-out during that month. If you have a guest crossing over one month to the next, the payment for that reservation falls in the month they check in.
What if I already had bookings made on my property?
- No problem, Paradise Outlook International will charge a reduced rate of 10% if you would like us to manage those guests (i.e. additional collections, customer service, check-ins, check-outs, scheduling cleaning, etc). We will work with you to get all the details we need and we will fully manage these bookings for you just like any booking we made. We may need to collect the cleaning fee from the owner as well as taxes to remit assuming those amounts have already been paid. If not, we can collect on any amounts outstanding as well. If you wish to manage the guest, or your former property manager will do it on your behalf, we will block those bookings off in our calendar and no charges will apply.
What does Paradise Outlook International do for Vacation Rental Owners?
- We manage every aspect of keeping your vacation rental booked and ready for guests and owners to enjoy. Our goal is to enable you to make the most revenue from your rental without having to do any of the busy work involved with managing it. That means we do everything from taking photos, writing descriptions, and marketing it to potential guests as well as managing logistics like reservations, payments, check-in and check- out, housekeeping, light upkeep, and dispatching emergency maintenance. We can also manage handymen for regular maintenance, improvements, and emergencies.
What do you charge for this service?
- Paradise Outlook International provides full service management without cutting any corners for only 20% commission. Try it for a year, let us prove our value to you and we’re sure you’ll continue but if you decide not to, there are no strings attached.
How easy is it to get started?
- Getting started is easy and risk-free. We can activate homes that are existing vacation rentals as quickly as in a few weeks if everything is ready to go. Normal activation includes shooting new photos, putting together detailed listings, setting pricing, activating advertising on the main internet channels and beginning to take reservations – all in as little as a few weeks! This can take longer given a home owner’s schedule, or if a home is in the process of being converted from a residence or long-term rental.
Can you help me convert to a vacation rental?
- Yes, we will help in any way we can. Whether it is helping you secure a short-term license if necessary, to meeting movers, the cable company, etc.
What kind of contract do I need to sign?
- Our contract is a simple twelve month contract. It includes a 60 day out clause for any reason – if you are not happy with the service you can leave with a two months’ notice. Please contact us and we will be happy to send you our agreement for your review.
Do I have to commit to a certain amount of availability?
- No, however we do require that all homes that wish to use Paradise Outlook International are year-round rentals. There is no problem with an owner, friends or family using a rental for weeks or even months at a time, however if you plan to only make it available occasionally then your home probably is not right for our program. We also reserve the right to cancel a homeowner agreement if the home is predominantly unavailable for bookings.
Does my home need to be of a certain quality or size?
- To some degree yes. A property used for vacation rental needs to be in an area of attraction and be able to sleep a minimum of 4 guests. We want to under promise and over deliver. And to maximize the return on investment of a property it needs to be a fit for the type of vacationer coming into the area.
Is there anything I am required to have at my home?
- Yes there is! Guests expect a fully-functioning home when they arrive complete with furniture, appliances, cookware, glasses, silverware, internet, TV, etc. as well as a standard supply of bed linens, bath and hand towels and typical consumables like light-bulbs and batteries. We will work with you to make sure that you have everything in place. Internet connections are required at every home – TV can be optional in certain rural areas. Nicely decorated homes tend to command higher rentals and we always encourage owners to have a home that shows well. A good test of whether or not you need to have something in your rental is to put yourself in a guest’s shoes… If you were staying somewhere for a week long period of time, what would you expect to have in that rental home… that is what we aim to provide to guests for their stay.
Do I need to have a traditional phone line/land-line installed?
- No, a landline is not necessary unless you wish to have one for your own personal stays. While we require wifi to be available, we do not require a landline. Virtually all guests come equipped with mobile phones and the expense of maintaining a landline just for guest use is not needed.
How do you set pricing for my rental?
- Owners often ask how pricing is set for each rental, and why the “Total Rent” amount on booking notification emails sometimes looks a little strange. First, we set an initial price for each unit for each day of week, and time of the year. Midweek days might get set at one price, weekends at another, holidays and peak periods may be set higher, and off-season prices could be set lower. We set these initial prices based on several factors like input from each owner, characteristics of the home (size, amenities, location, recent remodels, etc.), comparable home prices in the area
- Here are just a few examples of the many ways we adjust your pricing to make you more rental income:
- – If your home is booking more quickly for comparable times of year than other homes in your area – this may be an indicator we set your price too low, and we may adjust the price up.
- – If your unit has last minute availability, and has openings within the next two weeks, we may apply different levels of discounts to try and get that last-minute traveler who is used to getting a last minute discount deal.
- – If we notice large periods of time that are farther in advance that have lower than expected occupancy, we may adjust the price down. As occupancy fills in, we may adjust the price back up.
How do you advertise my rental and do I need to pay for this?
- We list your home everywhere we think guests are looking for rentals! We start by putting you on the Paradise Outlook International website, but we know that most consumers shop on the big consumer travel sites. In addition to our own site, we automatically get your property onto the major HomeAway sites, Airbnb, TripAdvisor etc (Homeaway.com, VRBO, and Vacationrentals.com to name a few). We also use social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Youtube. We build paid ads on these sites to drive traffic and awareness. We also synchronize your availability calendar so every site shows the right rates and availability all of the time.
Do I need to provide you with photographs?
- If you have them, great! If you don’t, we’ll handle it. Even if you do, we will likely come and shoot some more. We have professional photographers to make sure every room in your home is shown in its best light from the best angle. Pictures draw the renter to find out more about your property and are extremely important to online marketing.
How do guests pay you?
- We use credit card processing through our HomeAway software package. Travelers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with credit cards for transactions rather than send cash – it is safer, easier, and more secure. We can also take cash or check payments as well as eCheck/ACH but prefer to use credit cards. Credit card companies do charge for their service, we deduct a typical fee of 2.5% for Visa/Mastercard from the gross rent to cover their fees.
Why do you do commission-based pricing?
- Commission-based pricing is the industry-standard for vacation rental property management firms. That does not necessarily mean it is the only answer – but we believe that it perfectly aligns our incentives with our homeowners. We only make money when our owners make money, and the only way to increase our revenue is to help owners increase theirs. We believe this is why the commission model has worked and is so well established in the industry.
Do I have to handle paying any lodging taxes?
- No, Paradise Outlook International handles that for you. We collect the taxes, put them into our owner escrow-style account, and remit on your behalf. Each reservation has taxes added to the amount of the rental – so when you see a rental dollar amount, you can rest assured that we have collected and will remit tax on top of that – you do not need to send us extra money to pay taxes nor do you need to file with your lodging authority.
What about cleaning fees?
- Guests pay us directly for cleaning fees, and we pay the cleaners. There is nothing you need to do to schedule them or pay for them. If you wish to have your home cleaned while you, a family member, or friend are using it, just let us know and we will clean it and bill you for it as part of your monthly statement.
Do I need to provide you with a cleaner?
- We have screened them for you! We have cleaning staff that are back ground checked, as well as come with high references. We train them to our high standard and hold them accountable to maintain excellent service. We do annual reviews of all our staff to insure we are providing the best service possible.
Do I need to do my own laundry?
- No, our cleaning fees cover laundry service for linens with every clean. Our cleaners will either do it on-site if time permits or bring it to a laundry facility as a back-up.
Do I need to provide all the amenities every time a guest stays like soap, paper towels, toilet paper?
- No, you don’t need to worry about it, Paradise Outlook International makes sure homes remained stocked. We stock our vacation rental homes come with an initial set of amenities so when guests arrive, they don’t need to head straight to a market. The cost for these items is included in the cleaning fee so the owner will never receive a bill for these consumable items.
What if I want to do some decorating on my own?
- We love it when owners stay involved with decorating and improving their home. Just let us know when you will be in your home so we block off that time, and if it is major decorating we will re take pictures to keep the marketing current.
What happens if there is an emergency? Who does the guest call?
- The guest always calls us. The guest actually never knows the name of the owner for privacy reasons (unless you really want us to tell them). We take the call and dispatch the appropriate handyman. We pay the handyman and then put the bill onto your home owner statement taking out of the revenue owed to you during the month – that way you don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for anything unless it happens to be a major repair. We never charge any additional fees for handling and dispatching repairman as needed.
Do owners have to allow pets?
- No, that is up to each individual owner. In general we encourage it as homes simply get more demand if they allow pets, but we understand many owners do not want to allow them and that is fine. We do charge guests an additional refundable $300 rent per stay for pets. If there is any additional cleaning that needs to be done because of pet damage it is taken out of this deposit.
What about regular maintenance?
- Paradise Outlook International provides guest servicing and management, and property management to owners, but Paradise Outlook International is not a maintenance company. Our employees are not trained contractors or repair people. We handle a 24/7 call center, reservations management, guest support, regular housekeeping scheduling and inspections, dispatch of qualified maintenance personnel, monitor internet up-time, indoor temperature when equipped, pool temps when equipped, maintain electronic locks, etc. During inspections we will restock consumable items like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, and even perform simple maintenance like changing remote control batteries or light bulbs for lamp fixtures or ceilings 8’ or lower in height if spares are available on site.
Who takes care of my lawn, or my pool?
- We are happy to schedule a regular lawn or pool service, but most owners already have this in place and continue to use who they trust. We recommend that all owners have repeat services in place. Owners typically pay these fees direct to their contractors along with utilities, internet and TV. If you would like us to set up recurring services for you, no problem, but we do only set them up to happen on a regular basis. The bills for the service are sent directly to you.
Are there any other regular services I should have scheduled?
- In addition to repeat lawn and pool service, we recommend having a local, licensed HVAC service plan in place that regularly services your air conditioning and heating appliances as well as changes your air filters. We also require a regular pest-control service in southern markets, gutter cleaning in heavy leaf areas, and twice-yearly window washing. If you would like us to set these up for you, no problem. The bills for the service are set up in your name and are sent directly to you.
What about garbage collection? Who handles this?
- Stick with your regular provider – if guests are in the home on pick-up days we ask them to take out the trash. If no one is there, we visit and put out the trash with no charge to you. If you are there on regular days, then please put it out yourself.
How do guests get keys to my property?
- Paradise Outlook International uses a very specific type of digitally-coded lock specifically designed for lodging that is known to be the gold standard in the vacation rental industry. They are expensive – but we cover the cost and they are worth it. They are proven to be reliable, secure and stand-up to harsh outdoor environments. They are very secure with all codes expiring upon check-out. Even cleaners and handymen can be issued one-time or date and time-specific codes. What this means is that your home is secure, and easy for the right people to access at the right time. Unlike many other managers, we do not cut corners by using cheaper, less reliable and less secure locks and we never hand out keys to anyone.
How do I get into my home?
- Each lock comes with the ability to have several master codes set for it at any given time. As an owner you have a master code and can access the property whenever you want. If for some reason you wish to access while a renter is in the property, please check with us first. Generally we like to avoid disturbing the tenants but understand there may be times when this needs to be done.
How do you handle security deposits and damage?
- Research at HomeAway shows guests are far less likely to book a rental if a security deposit is required. HomeAway itself has taken steps to eliminate them and this has become a trend in the industry. Paradise Outlook requires each guest to purchase a minimum $1500.00 damage waiver. This enables owners to rest assured damage is covered, however owners should expect that from time-to-time normal wear-and-tear will happen outside the policy.
Often we are asked what types of things are replaced under this policy. Generally a good rule of thumb is that well-maintained, durable items in good working condition, that are damaged as a result of a guest’s actions are covered. The damage waiver is not a guarantee that nothing will ever be broken or stop working in your home. It is intended to be replace broken or damaged items that resulted from a guest making a mistake.
Everything from small appliances, to plumbing fixtures, furniture and electronics eventually wear-out. If a guest drops a blender and it smashes on the floor, the damage protection kicks in! But if a guests is using a blender that is several years old and it just stops working, it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. If a rug is dirty from regular foot traffic, it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. If a guest spills an entire bottle of red wine on a rug, the damage waiver kicks in. If a guests sits down on an inexpensive couch and a leg breaks off, it is generally not their fault. If a guest spills pasta sauce all over it, then the damage waiver applies.
What if I want to stay there, how do I book for myself, friends or family?
- You can just call us and we will book the unit for you, or you can view your availability and book online through our Owner Net portal. There is obviously no charge for this and we even schedule cleaning when you leave so it is ready for the next guest. We bill you on your owner statement for the cleaning.