Managing vacation rentals can be tough. You’ve got so much to consider as a multi-property vacation rental manager and navigating all the payment types on offer can be just one more headache. There are lots of payment methods available and it’s important to give yourself the full picture so you can weigh up all the different payment options out there.
First of all, what’s an OTA?
Online travel agencies (OTAs) are online marketplaces that help bridge the gap between you and your clients. They allow your guests to compare their options and streamline the booking process, making you look good in the process. OTAs such as Airbnb, Vrbo and Booking.com are now go-to resources for vacation rental property clients, centralizing the whole booking process and taking the lead from hotels.
As secure booking platforms, they’ve got their payment methods down to a tee, with both owners and clients in mind. In order to maximize your profits, they help make the rental process work for you and your guests, whether it’s streamlining your long-term vacation rentals or making the most of the short-term ones.
Why use an OTA?
The global online travel market was valued at over $800 billion in 2021, and it’s projected to almost double in the next five years. Visibility, ease of use and increasing your bookings are just some of the advantages of using OTAs.
Getting paid can be a complicated part of running your business. There can be a lot to keep track of as your business expands. Using a payment method through your chosen OTA avoids the trials and tribulations of chasing payments.
Airbnb payment methods
Airbnb has simplified its payment methods with both hosts and guests in mind. Simply head to your account settings and adjust your Airbnb payout preferences according to your business’s needs.
Airbnb payment options are available in most countries for your guests:
- Major credit cards: Visa, Mastercard, Amex, JCB, and debit cards that can be processed as credit cards
- Google Pay
- Apple Pay
- Airbnb gift card
Some Airbnb payment options are specific to certain countries. Make sure you’re using a system that’s available in your country if you’re not using one of the worldwide solutions.
- Discover (Heads up: this one is unique to the US)
Do not attempt to accept any other type of payment process or payment plan off the platform. If it is discovered you are doing this, according to Airbnb’s terms of service, you will be banned from using Airbnb.
How does Airbnb handle the security deposit?
Airbnb doesn’t charge an additional security deposit. Instead, if guests cause damage, anything goes missing or extra cleaning is required, they can be charged after they check out. You can request these reimbursements through their Resolution Center once you’ve done all the necessary checks.
Types of Airbnb host payouts
Airbnb charges your guests once you’ve accepted the reservation request and then releases payments to you 24 hours after your guest checks in. However, if you’re new to Airbnb you may need to wait 30 days to receive your first payout for your Airbnb bookings. If it’s a long-term stay of more than 28 nights then your guests will pay in monthly installments after the first payment.
- 24 hours after your guest checks in.
- Are your guests staying for over 28 nights? You’ll receive a monthly payout.
- Do you have multiple listings with check-ins on the same day? You’ll get a single payout.
- Have you set up a minimum payout? You’ll receive your payout when the money in the jar hits that figure.
- Choose to split your payment with your co-host on your Airbnb account through payout preferences.
- How much is up to you.
- Only available to a limited number of hosts and only available on short-term rentals.
- 50% of your payout is available three days after your guest makes a reservation.
- 50% of your payout is available after they check-in.
- 1% fee on the booking subtotal.
- If the reservation was made within 14 days of check-in you won’t have to pay the fee to get the early payout.
- Cancellations? Deductions are taken from your next payout so you don’t have to refund Airbnb yourself.
There are lots of different Airbnb payment options available, with some only taking a matter of hours to complete.
Airbnb payout methods:
- Paypal (1 business day)
- International bank transfer (3–7 business days)
- Bank transfer/ACH/direct deposit (up to 7 business days)
- Alipay (instant but available only to mainland China hosts)
- Payoneer Prepaid Debit Card (1–3 hours)
- Western Union (1 business day, depending on the country)
How to set it up:
- Go to Airbnb > Account > Payments & payouts > Payouts
- Add payment method
- Select your billing country/region to see which payout methods are available to you
- Choose your payout method and click “Continue”
- Add your information and click “Next”
What if they cancel?
Aside from missing out on an unforgettable stay at one of your properties? Well, you can choose how much of a refund, if any, your guests will receive. Airbnb offers lots of options for you to choose from so you can be specific here and manage your relationship with your clients.
Varying from flexible to strict, with different long-term policies available as well, Airbnb payment options let you choose the solution that best fits your business model.
That being said, Airbnb isn’t the only platform that offers a smooth payout process. It certainly isn’t the only one potential guests will be using to find their next vacation rental property, either. There are lots of alternatives to consider to give your properties maximum visibility across the market.
Vrbo’s own secure platform supports Visa, Mastercard and AMEX.
Your payouts are handled swiftly and sent out to you approximately one day after your guest checks in. It’s worth taking note that if it’s your first booking on Vrbo, and it’s less than a month away, the payout is only sent to your account 30 days after the guests make their payment. You can check your payout dates anytime in your Vrbo account and get a full overview of the commission they deduct on each booking.
So, about that deposit. During the booking stage, you can request to keep a guest’s card on file, or an up-front, refundable damage deposit. Or you could ask that they purchase property-damage protection for their stay. Like Airbnb, Vrbo offers flexibility to vacation rental property hosts.
That goes for cancellation policies too; Vrbo offers five different versions for you to choose from. They vary in terms of the percentage of refund and how much notice they give you. And you don’t have to worry about your ranking metrics if a guest makes a cancellation—they’re unaffected.
Booking.com is a key player in the global online travel industry. It does the work for you, so you can focus on providing your guests with the best possible experience with the peace of mind that your payments are being managed.
- Virtual credit card
- Bank transfer
- WeChat Pay
How is the security deposit handled?
Guests can pay the deposit on arrival or before they arrive, and it’s refunded if there’s no damage to the property. There’s one important thing to note here: Booking.com doesn’t collect the deposits themselves—you need to arrange it with your guests directly. Simply go to your policies and change the additional fees and charges you’ve set up.
What happens when a guest cancels their reservation?
Occasional cancellations are unavoidable, but on Booking.com you can choose your cancellation policies yourself.
How long does it take to get paid?
If you’re being paid by a bank transfer you can choose how frequently you‘re paid after your guests check out, from weekly to monthly intervals. While if you’re being paid by VCC, you can charge your guests one day after check-in.
Common payment hiccups
Could some payments be falling through the cracks? It’s frustrating but avoidable. You can keep track of each reservation (or cancellation) and spot any gaps in payments.
Don’t be too quick to assume a payment is missing. Double-check when your payout is due before jumping to any conclusions. Even if made in good faith, the suggestion that a client hasn’t paid could jeopardize potential repeat bookings if it turns out they have.
Keeping your own house in order, and your information up to date, is a key part of getting paid. If you change your bank account, or opt for a different payout method, make sure you update this on your chosen platform. Adding the payment method instead of switching is an easy mistake to make, and an easy one to resolve too! You don’t want any outdated payment methods on there to cause confusion, with different and outdated accounts visible.
Calculating the payment
You’ve spent time building a pricing strategy for your vacation rental properties. But there are still other things to consider, and adding on service fees, cleaning fees and allowing for exchange rate variations can get complicated quickly. It’s much easier when you leave it to the platform to calculate them. It limits the margin for human error and you can double-check their calculations when you want to.
The automation, flexibility, security and time savings offered by Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com provide peace of mind and efficiency. Integrated with our Property Management Platform, these are essential tools for scaling and managing your vacation rental property business.