Rafleys makes renting out your vacation rental easy – and we fully understand that homeowners have lots of questions. We try to be as informative as possible so we’ve put together a list of questions, which are most frequently asked by you!
What do you charge for this service?
Rafleys gives you a benefit of choice a plan which suits you best. From online property management for only 5% of booking price to full service management without cutting any corners for 25% commission. Give it a try for a year, and let us prove our value to you and we’re sure you’ll continue with us. However, if you decide not to, you are free to terminate our partnership at any point.
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. A contract with us has no minimum term or volume commitments, or start-up fees. Normal activation includes taking new photographs, 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 may 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. If you are unhappy with the service at any point you can terminate without penalty.
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. We can have a Rafleys rep help you quickly and smoothly get through the process.
What kind of contract do I need to sign?
Our agreement is an open-book contract and we believe it should not have any burdensome clauses. A 30 day out clause for any reason is included – if you are not happy with the service you can leave with a month’s notice. Please contact us and we will be happy to send you our contract 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 Rafleys 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 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?
Yes, to some extent. While Rafleys does not work only with luxury properties, we do focus on upper-end rentals in desirable locations. This could be a high-end studio apartment , or it could be a great home like most of us live in located in a vacation destination. We will look at every home and let you know if we feel it will make a good rental. Please contact us to see if your home qualifies.
Is there anything I am required to have at my home?
Yes there is! Your guests will expect a fully-functioning home when they arrive, complete with furniture, appliances, cookware, glasses, cutlery, 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 are committed to work with you to make sure that you have everything in place. Internet connections is essential and is required at every home. Nicely decorated homes tend to command higher rentals and we always encourage owners to have a home that shows well.
Do I need to have a traditional phone line/land-line installed?
No, unless you wish to have one for your own personal stays, a landline is not necessary. While we require wifi to be available, we do not require a landline. The vast majority of all guests come equipped with mobile phones and the expense of maintaining a landline just for guest use is unnecessary.
How do we set right pricing for a new rental?
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. Our high-tech vacation rental software sets these initial prices based on comparable home prices in the area and changes it every day due to the market fluctuations. It also considers several factors like characteristics of the home (size, amenities, location, recent remodels, etc.)
Once we agree on the initial prices with you the owner, we start to monitor your conversion rate. We watch the performance of your unit and make frequent pricing adjustments. No pricing is ever set perfectly the first time – the key is to monitor and adjust pricing up or down based on actual market demand. We monitor conversion rates of your rental at initial pricing and adjust up or down according to how well the rental is booking. It is an ongoing process that is always a top priority. The more money our owners make, the more we make – so we try and do everything we can to maximize the revenue.
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 know that most consumers shop on the big consumer travel sites. Our high-tech software automatically gets your property onto the major HomeAway sites we list your property on roughly 20 the major sites like Homeaway, Tripadvisor, Flipkey, Airbnb.com. We also synchronize your availability calendar so every site shows the right rates and availability all of the time. Each site has a slightly different business model, but in general most have a combination of a small commission to the owner and a fee that gets charged to the guest
What if I already have listed my home on those sites?
Many owners have already created listings. We will work with you to migrate them over to our managed account and we will go through them to professional rewrite the listing if necessary, to add or improve the photos and to configure the listing to synchronize the pricing and calendar across all of the many sites we plan on listing your rental.
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 a couple trained vacation rental photographers on staff with professional grade cameras and professional real-estate grade lenses. Each photographer is required to have similar professional quality real-estate wide-angle lens, professional tripods and flashes to ensure that the photos look great. The fact is that guests want to see great photos and we want to make sure your home looks fantastic online!
How do guests pay you?
We use credit card processing through our software package. Travelers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with credit cards for transactions rather than send cash – it is safer, easier, and more secure. 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.
How do guests interact with Rafleys?
We have several ways for guests to communicate with us. First is our website and email, second we have people ready to answer the phone around the clock.
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 Kigo software for professionals – a very secure and reliable management solution for professional managers. 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 10%-25% of the total rental upon booking, with the full payment due 30 days prior to check-in. If cancelled 40 days prior to check-in all reservations are fully refundable. After 40 days prior to check-in, all payments are non-refundable.
When do I get paid for reservations?
We currently pay owners the next day after check out. Expect to receive an owner statement and funds to your bank account within about seven days after the each booking. This statement and deposit will cover the guests that check-out the day before.
All payments from the websites where we advertise your property go directly to your bank account. Normally the money is released to your account the next day after check out. Though travellers pay the first deposit to secure their dates long before their arrival, you receive , both the first deposit and the rest of the total at once. Expect to receive an owner statement and a payment to your bank account within about three days after checkout of guests. Our commission is calculated on what you received from the websites. Our bill includes our booking commission, for Rates 2-3 prices of consumable items restock (10 €), welcome pack (7 €) and third-parties services.
What if I already had bookings made on my property?
No problem, Rafleys will charge a reduced on-ground rate of 5% 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. 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.
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.
What about cleaning fees?
If you are on a Rate 4, we pay the cleaners. There is nothing you need to do to schedule them or pay for them. Rates 2 and 3 pay for cleanings themselves, or if our cleaners used, we pay the cleaners and then bill the owners. 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?
If you have a cleaner you are used to working with, then we may utilize them for your rental. In general, we have cleaners contracted with whom we setup in our dispatch system who have proven to be fast, flexible, and reliable. So if you do not have a regular cleaner we will have one ready to go, and even if you do we may wind up using someone from our pool of cleaners.
Do I need to do my own laundry?
Once again, Rate 4 covers 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. If you are on Rates 2-3 and wish to use our laundry services, we are happy to provide them, the bills will go directly to the owner.
What is inventory list?
We make an inventory list of your property and make sure there is no damage after the guests departure. 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 if spares are available on site. Rafleys makes sure homes remained stocked with all the amenities like soap, paper towels, toilet paper, dishwasher tablets, laundry detergent, some tissues and cloths. We also restock some ground groceries like coffee, tea, rice, oil etc. We provide your guests with a welcome pack which normally consists of milk, eggs, some yogurts, cheese, a bottle of local wine and a bottle of water. We only ask our vacation rental homeowners to provide their homes with an initial set of amenities so when guests arrive, they don’t need to head straight to a market. That set includes a couple rolls of toilet paper per bathroom, a roll of paper towels, small sizes of soap, shampoo, and conditioner,and dish soap in the kitchen and a welcome pack. Rafleys buys hotel amenities in bulk and restocks these for every stay.
Rather than have an owner manage and maintain, Rafleys bills owners of rates 2 and 3 only 10€ per stay to completely restock with toiletries and other 7 € for a welcome pack if the owner wishes to put one (subject to agreement).
If you are on Rate 4 all expenses above are included.
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 make sure to check that the home is not booked and you can easily access it whenever you want!
What happens if there is an emergency? Who does the guest call?
The guest always calls Rafleys . 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 homeowner 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. Rafleys does not charge any additional fees for these types of emergencies jobs.
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.
What about regular maintenance?
We handle regular housekeeping scheduling and property inspections. We also perform simple maintenance like changing remote control batteries or light bulbs for lamp fixtures or ceilings 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.
How do you handle security deposits and damage?
You determine how much you would like to charge for your broken goods. Guest pays a damage deposit for your property to the website and it is kept until your guests departure. If we register any damage of the property we immediately report damage and replacement funds are sent to the owner’s account. On top of that Rafleys requires each guest to purchase a minimum home insurance. 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. Owners should expect every now and then they might have to replace a fork or knife, do some touch-up painting, replace a sink or shower fixture, etc. All homes experience periodic maintenance. 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 protection. 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 claim 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 deposit claim applies. The damage deposit applies to most furniture as well, however it does not apply to things like fragile antique seating or dining tables, inexpensive plastic seating, furniture that is clearly old, worn, visibly weak or rusted. These are all items we highly recommend removing from a home for safety purposes. And while we love inexpensive furniture from Ikea or other discount stores, it is known not to be very durable. The damage deposit does not apply to furniture that is not designed to hold up to regular guest use, particularly MDF or plastic. A standard in the property management industry is to withhold 4% of gross rents to cover the costs of small items, however Rafleys does not do this. Though we recommend our owners to set a certain amount of funds as an emergency funds. Upon agreement we reserve 100-300 euros from the first booking to be able to use it in case of emergency. For example, in case we need a quick replacement of a chair or some furniture, or a part of wall is to be painted, or electronic appliances are needed to be urgently fixed then we could pay from that security funds and upon circumstances we claim damage deposit or charge owner for replacement.
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 website. 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.