Guides

Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners

Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy.

Where's My Stork?

Two years ago, not a week went by when I didn't read a forum comment like this:  

"Let's all band together and form our own site that's for the owners, and kick these OTAs to the curb!  How dare they not allow me to communicate with MY guests.  Who do they think they are? I pay the mortgage - not them!  Is anyone else interested in building a website?  An advertising site like we had before they ALL got greedy!  Maybe we can set up a non-profit.  What do you think? 

A group of owners never did get together to build that site they always talked and dreamed about.

Something better happened instead, and none of us had to do a thing to receive it–a stork delivered Houfy.

The site everyone was begging for finally arrived. Not only did it arrive through no efforts of our own, but it's far superior than any site we could have built ourselves.

Weekly pleas of "let's all band together" have now lessened, and mostly been replaced with "If only someone would build a site to give the OTAs some real competition..."

But when you mention Houfy is there and it's a free book direct site, you're often met with "Thanks, but no thanks." So why are some still waiting for a different stork?


Because they're waiting for their "magical" stork. The one that lives in their fantasies.

The stork that drops a website from the sky–and overnight, it's been populated with hundreds of thousands of listings from all over the world. It's already a household name, and bookings are rolling in the minute they list their property. And everyone rents happily ever after.


It's time to stop day dreaming and wake up!

Houfy is exactly what everyone was asking for–a site where travelers and owners could communicate directly. A site where big brother wasn't meddling in our business–the yearned for "good old days" site. It's time to fully realize the opportunity that's right in front of us.

Two men already did the hardest part and built us our book direct site. Now we only have one mission to accomplish, and it's the easiest part of all–just tell people about Houfy.



But first, let's adjust our mindset and understand why we're telling people about Houfy.

Often the first question I hear from fellow owners asking about Houfy is "How many bookings have you had"? This of course is a perfectly normal question everyone asks about any site.

Houfy is a movement, and like all movements change doesn't happen overnight. At this stage, immediate bookings should not be your main objective; it's crucial we first focus on education. If you truly want to break the OTAs chains, you must first educate guests/traveling public about book direct and Houfy. Remain committed to educating travelers, and the bookings will eventually follow.

It's no secret the OTAs will continue taking more control and $$$$ away from owners. So you use them for immediate income, while nurturing and watering Houfy in the background.

When you plant a vegetable garden, do you expect to start making salads tomorrow?  Of course not!  Your garden wouldn't flourish at all if you never watered or cared for it. So why should Houfy be any different?  


Now that you're thinking long-term, start spreading the word about Houfy. Tell everyone about it! Don't be shy. Be confident in Houfy and others will be too.

When sending a thank you to departing guests, tell them about Houfy and show them your listing.  Spend 10 minutes a week posting your listing in facebook book direct and yard sale groups.  Tell other owners about Houfy. Share Houfy with your friends and family, and help them save $$$ on their next vacation.

The next time you hear someone wishing for another site to come along, reply with a link to this Story. Add your Houfy listing to your facebook book direct button. Add the link to your Google Business listing. Share Houfy Stories in local groups; it can be any Houfy member's Story.

If travelers are ever to some day start typing "Houfy" into Google, we must start telling them about it!  How else will they learn about it? 


Embrace Houfy.  Don't take it for granted.  Care for it.  And someday we will all be free of the OTAs.



Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing
Once you've completed your rates and syncronized calendars, it's time to get started on promoting Houfy! This is a simple step-by-step guide in basic marketing of your Houfy listing. First Things First : Before marketing, be sure you are actually ready to accept a booking.


Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees
Listing your property for FREE on Houfy! - a new innovative marketplace that allows members to book and connect directly, without paying service fees. Here a few reasons why you should join Houfy: Houfy will never charge owners or guests commissions nor listing fees Guest payments are not withheld.


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing
Far Enuff for R & R

Well written and so true!

Barry Brachfeld

Absolutely love it!!!! If i have to hear one more time.....We don't need to give you a reason according to our TOS. Houfy here we come Medellin Colombia rentals!!!

Reply7 days
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Why Your Guests Should Be Signing a Rental Agreement

While most reservations will go smoothly as planned, there may be times when you'll be asked to produce a signed Rental Agreement.  Even hotels have you sign an agreement at check in, at the same time they ask to see your ID and credit card. Agreements can be signed manually or digitally; both methods are considered to be legal and upheld in the courts.   


Most owners allow the guest to reserve their dates by clicking "I agree" to their online sample contract, along with a partial or full payment amount.  Then the reservation is officially confirmed, as soon as the legally signed agreement is returned. 


  
 


Know Your Local Laws

If you aren't already familiar with your local laws, go ahead and start learning them now.  A short term Rental Agreement is going to differ from a long term tenant lease.  First, find out if a Rental Agreement is required for short term rentals in your area.  Your local laws may require specific information to be included in the agreement. 

For example, North Carolina is governed by the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act.  This Act spells out owner obligations, guest protections, and what clauses must be included within the agreement. Regulations will vary among different states and jurisdictions.



Potential Lawsuits

If you ever need to sue a guest in court, or are named as the defendant in a lawsuit, the first thing the attorneys or judge will want to see is the Rental Agreement.  If your insurance company becomes involved, they too will ask for this information and will review your agreement's clauses and disclaimers. 

This is why it's highly recommended to have an attorney draft your agreement, as they can review your insurance policy and determine the types of language your agreement should contain. 

Assuming you have the proper liability insurance, it's also important to speak with your insurance company to determine what required documents are needed–if you ever need to file a claim.  Will your insurance company pay out a "loss of income" claim based on past reservations printouts? Or will they require an actual signed agreement between you and the guest?  

An attorney is well worth the cost–and a solid Rental Agreement along with the proper insurance, can actually dissuade potential lawsuits.  



Credit Card Dispute

If one of your guests ever files a credit card chargeback, you may be asked to produce a legally signed Rental Agreement.  Often times, credit card companies will not acknowledge a "click to accept" (checkbox) as a legitimate cardholder signature. Additionally, you may be asked to prove the cardholder is the same person who actually signed the agreement. This is why it's a good idea to always ask for the cardholder's ID after booking.

The card companies also have specific policies of how the merchant (you) must present certain information to the cardholder.  For example, they may require that the guest's initials or signature are close to the stated cancellation policy, and may not consider a single signature on the last page to be sufficient.  

Depending on the chargeback person assigned to your case, the checkbox acknowledgement may be acceptable, but why take the chance?


Not only should local law and insurance requirements be considered, but the card companies' policies as well.  Below are sample agreements that other Houfy members have given permission for anyone to use.  Feel free to take parts from any or all, and customize your own.  

Do not rely on any of these samples as "legal documents" that will meet all of your needs.  It's also a good idea to take notes of applicable sections you like, and bring them to your attorney for review. 

Tiki House Rental Agreement
To rent Tiki House Pensacola Beach, our vacation home. we require you to sign/accept a rental agreement. This is for your protection as much as ours. The agreement spells out all the details of renting, from checking-in to checking out!


Deer Cabin - Sample Rental Agreement
John Smith, Thank you for choosing our home for your vacation. The property is located at: Visitors: Any visitors must be approved by owner, and maximum number of guest/visitors combined is six (this includes infants and children). Additional overnight guests are $15 each per day.


Willoughby Cottage - Sample Rental agreement
1. AGREEMENT: The Willoughby Cottage, LLC. ("Cottage"), the Owner, and Guest agree as follows: Above Guest is an adult and will be an occupant of the unit during the entire reserved period. Other occupants will be family members, friends and their...

Need an agreement right now? Use this site for an emergency agreement.

Short-Term (Vacation) Rental Lease Agreement
The short-term or vacation rental agreement is a lease that is made between a landlord and tenant that is generally between 1 to 30 days. The agreement is most common for higher-end properties to outline the exact terms and conditions of the rental period.
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Why Should I Promote Houfy When I Have My Own Website?

There's no reason to choose one over the other; promote both!  It's always been touted to never send travelers to a 3rd party site, only to book your competition instead.  But Houfy is different.  It's not just a listing site–it's a movement.  

Unlike the OTAs, Houfy isn't out to exploit owners, but instead has given us back control.  Collective efforts always outperform individual ones.  With all of us working as a team, the sooner we will drive success to Houfy.     


Promoting Houfy shouldn't be seen as a separate effort, rather something that is done in tandem with marketing your own website.


Travelers Increase Houfy's Inventory

Talking about Houfy shouldn't be reserved for your facebook groups.  In order for Houfy to succeed, it needs the inventory...right?  With the recent industry explosion, almost everyone knows of a friend, family member, or co-worker who is also a host.  You never know when a traveler inquiring through your own website, is a host themselves. 

Educating all travelers and departing guests about Houfy's FREE platform, is just another opportunity for inventory growth.  But if I only promote my own site, and my neighbors only promote theirs, the only people hearing about Houfy are those in online forums and friend circles. 

Start to view each website inquiry as a potential opportunity for another property to be listed on Houfy.  And who knows–that next traveler may be a realtor with 50 properties to add. 



Houfy Members Are Not the Competition

Begin to view Houfy members as your allies.  The real competition is the OTAs, not each other. 

A traveler has already found your website and was interested enough to send an inquiry.  What are the chances that your property perfectly meets the needs of their group?  I don't know about you, but I don't always hear back from a traveler after answering their questions.  Maybe my place wasn't in their budget, they needed more bedrooms, or just preferred a different location.  

By not giving travelers options, they will likely find their way to one of the popular listing sites and book a property there.  Wouldn't you rather someone else on Houfy receive the booking?   

And even if your property is the perfect match, most people still shop around to see what else is out there.  So, direct them to shop around on Houfy in case your property doesn't meet their needs.  The traveler has already shopped your website first, and chances are they will return to book your place anyway.  



What Goes Around Comes Around

It's especially important to educate departing guests about using Houfy for their next vacation.  They're already aware of your website, and know how to find your property again.   

But if you're like me and hardly get repeats, you'll likely never see those guests again.  Even if the guests are regulars to your area, your calendar may not have their exact availability next year.    

Remember, Houfy is spending zero $$$ in marketing.  It's so important that members make the effort to spread the word to owners and travelers.  

All of us will eventually have our turn, and benefit from another member who promoted Houfy.  My departing guest may visit your location next year, and end up booking your property.  And vice versa, I will one day receive a Houfy booking because of you. 

But no one benefits when we only promote our own websites, and keep Houfy a secret from travelers.  



Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing

Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing
Once you've completed your rates and syncronized calendars, it's time to get started on promoting Houfy! This is a simple step-by-step guide in basic marketing of your Houfy listing. First Things First : Before marketing, be sure you are actually ready to accept a booking.


Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy. Why You Should Be Asking for Guest ID After Booking
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I Haven't Received Crap from Houfy

Whenever I hear someone say: "I haven't received any inquiries from Houfy and I've had my property listed since xxxx date," right away I know the member likely falls into one of three categories:

  1. Is a relatively new member and hasn't yet had a chance to fully learn about Houfy
  2. Has been listed for quite some time but doesn't actively follow the Say Yes to Houfy facebook group - or is not in the group at all
  3. Hasn't touched their listing since importing, and it's incomplete/out of date  



For those who just joined and haven't yet had a chance to learn about Houfy–it's important to understand–it's not intended to be the instant solution to your OTA woes (although some of us are receiving bookings).

Rather, Houfy is a community of like-minded individuals–educating travelers/owners about book direct and the benefits of using Houfy.  And like most movements, change doesn't happen overnight.  

Meanwhile, all of us can do a few simple things to help bring those inquiries in more quickly. 



Don't Advertise a Crap Listing

Does your listing encourage travelers to make a reservation, or leave them questioning if it's a scam?  Many owners imported their listing, and never looked at it again.  Be sure your listing is fully complete and up to date.   

  1. Are your Airbnb and Vrbo reviews both up to date on Houfy?  If your last review is showing 2018/2017, travelers may think you haven't had a booking since and question why. If you haven't imported any reviews, go ahead and do so now.  Then periodically sync them so they stay current.  
  2. Are your calendars synced and up to date?  If you have a wide open calendar, instructing travelers to visit your website for availability, you'll likely never receive a booking through Houfy.  Not only are you discouraging travelers from using the site, they'll wonder why you're directing them away from Houfy. 
  3. Can travelers pay for their reservation on Houfy, just like they would on any other site?  Or are you asking them to send money through PayPal instead?  Do travelers know if you accept credit cards?  And if so, does your listing reflect which ones?  Houfy is integrated with Stripe and Square.  They're both free to use. Travelers can pay on the site, and the funds get deposited directly to you.
  4. Have you uploaded a rental agreement and set a cancellation policy?
  5. Have you entered seasonal rates and checked your booking cut off date?
  6. Edit your phone number and email privacy settings if you would like them displayed to the public.
  7. Have you cleaned up your listing description since importing? Many listings still display odd references to Vrbo and Airbnb, and they make no sense to the traveler.



Don't Do This Crap

  1. Tell travelers to visit your OTA listing to view pics, calendar, and reviews - then tell them to PM you to avoid service fees.  Just show them your Houfy listing!  Travelers can already read your Airbnb and Vrbo reviews on Houfy.  Let them look, pay, and book all in one place.
  2. Link to your OTA listings from your facebook business page and website.  If you're directing travelers to book you on the OTAs, then that's what they're going to do.  Why not replace those OTA links with your Houfy listing link?
  3. Never mention Houfy to departing guests.  If you only message through the OTA platforms and never educate guests about book direct, expect they will continue to use that OTA for their next vacation.


Advertising your OTA listings to travelers, is creating new customers for those sites.  If you truly want bookings on Houfy, then don't send them to book on Airbnb.  

After all–they probably had a great experience so will remember they had a "great stay with Airbnb."  Why wouldn't they use that site again?  Nobody told them they could save hundreds by using Houfy. Can we blame the traveler?

 


Houfy will soon be cleaning up its marketplace and hiding incomplete listings. And the sooner we all clean out our OTA links, the more quickly inquiries will come for everyone. 

Keep in mind, if the majority of members aren't telling departing guests about Houfy, and continue to promote the OTAs, it's just going to take that much longer for travelers to learn about Houfy.

If your website, facebook, and Google business listing all link to Houfy, the higher the chances of receiving a booking. No one is saying that you shouldn't promote your website–of course promote your own website! But if you never mention Houfy and only your website, expect your inquiries to come later rather than sooner.



Why Should I Promote Houfy When I Have My Own Website?
There's no reason to choose one over the other; promote both! It's always been touted to never send travelers to a 3rd party site, only to book your competition instead. But Houfy is different. It's not just a listing site-it's a movement.


Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing
Once you've completed your rates and syncronized calendars, it's time to get started on promoting Houfy! This is a simple step-by-step guide in basic marketing of your Houfy listing. First Things First : Before marketing, be sure you are actually ready to accept a booking.


Where's My Stork?
Two years ago, not a week went by when I didn't read a forum comment like this: "Let's all band together and form our own site that's for the owners, and kick these OTAs to the curb! How dare they not allow me to communicate with MY guests.


Write a comment

Why You Should Be Asking for Guest ID After Booking

Requesting an ID from guests is actually quite easy, and one of the benefits of booking direct.  Remember, this is your business and you have every right to know who is renting your property.  First, let's clear up a common misconception hosts have in regards to verifying IDs.


I Will Scare Away the Traveler

This is a marketing tactic (an ingenious one at that) used by listing sites as a means for you to pay a commission.  Until recent years, travelers and hosts were transacting directly all the time, without needing a 3rd party's protection.  Here are some best practices to keep in mind:

  1. Keep your reviews up to date on Houfy.  If you haven't done so, import your reviews from Airbnb and VRBO/Homeaway, and show them to travelers.  Directing travelers to other sites to read your reviews is making those brands even stronger.  It only perpetuates an endless cycle of trying to gain direct bookings, while simultaneously advertising the very brands that strive to keep you from booking direct.  
  2. Sometimes travelers just need a gentle reminder that their credit card already provides fraud protection.  If they have any questions, point out that you have been verified by Houfy and remind them of their bank's protection policies.  
  3. Finally, some loyal Airbnb followers will only book through Airbnb.  Do not take this personally.  If you've already pointed out the above, just accept the booking and be a great host as usual.  Then thank the guest for staying, and remind them of the Houfy savings for their next vacation. 


Personally, I have never had an issue of a guest not sending me a copy of their ID.  Remember, there is no sensitive information on there anyway, as social security numbers no longer appear on driver's licenses. 



Asking for ID Helps to Prevent Fraud

One of the best ways to prevent scammers and the use of stolen credit cards, is to ask for ID of the credit card holder.  It's especially important for new hosts to do this, as scammers view them as easy prey. 

Hosts with little to no reviews, and properties priced below market, are common targets for scammers.  It's assumed new hosts are inexperienced and more likely to accept a booking without asking questions. Fraudsters realize new hosts are eager to get those initial reviews under their belt.  

Another scenario to be alert of is last minute bookings, and especially those from the same city as your rental.  People using a stolen credit card tend to book very last minute, as the real card holder may not immediately notice the fraudulent activity.  By the time the card is reported stolen, the scammer has already fulfilled their stay and left the property.  

One caveat: do not assume all last minute bookings are a red flag, as I often receive bookings just one day before arrival.  This is why it's important to ask for a signed rental agreement:  you need to match the agreement signature against the one on the ID.   



How Do I Ask for ID?

Ask for the ID of the credit card holder and don't assume it is the person who made the reservation.  In my case, it's usually the same person anyway.  The reason you want to ask for the credit card holder's ID, is in case of a chargeback dispute.  The credit card company is going to ask you to produce a signed rental agreement with the signature of the credit card holder.  

Feel free to use any parts of this:

"Hi Guest,

I've attached the rental agreement, departure checklist, and house notes.  Please read through all docs and print, manually sign, and scan back the rental agreement.  

- Initial anywhere on the 1st page

- On the 2nd page be sure to sign both the cancellation policy, and the bottom right side of the agreement.  Please fill out only the right side of the agreement. 

- Along with the agreement, I will need a scanned govt ID of the credit card holder 

Let me know if you have any questions.  I am sending you all the local information and house details from Houfy here shortly.

Thanks."


But What If I Don't Want to Ask for ID?

You don't have to of course.  Do whatever makes you feel comfortable. Maybe you are an onsite host who accepts mostly one night bookings.  You're more than welcome to never request an ID from anyone.  There's nothing wrong with that.

If you currently rely on Airbnb for verification, they don't share the guest's ID with you anyway.  Even if you need to press police charges, Airbnb will not provide you with their "real" ID information.  So, in essence by not asking for ID–it's the same as accepting an Airbnb reservation and not really knowing who your guest is anyway.  

If a chargeback on a one night stay, or the use of a stolen credit card is not a concern, then by all means don't feel guilty if you don't ask for ID.  Just be sure it's not required in your area.  In some areas, hosts are required to keep guest IDs on file for a certain period of time.


Keep in mind "friendly fraud" has been on the rise.  This is where someone in the group makes the reservation but uses another group member's credit card.  After the stay, the card holder claims to not "recognize" or have "authorized" the transaction.  Technically, this group just received a free stay at your property. As long as you understand the pros and cons of asking for ID, then you are good to go.


Overall, most scammers don't have the time nor interest to produce fake IDs.  It's easier to target those who do not require this information.  I'm not saying that scammer "over achievers" do not exist, as some may go through the trouble of producing these documents–it's just that the chances are small.  Just decide what is best for your business, and do what feels right.     


Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy. Why You Should Be Asking for Guest ID After Booking


Book Our Accommodations on Houfy. FREE for Travelers and FREE for Owners.

A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...


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Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing

Once you've completed your rates and syncronized calendars, it's time to get started on promoting Houfy!  This is a simple step-by-step guide in basic marketing of your Houfy listing.


First Things First: Before marketing, be sure you are actually ready to accept a booking.  

  1. Create a Rental Agreement and upload it to your Houfy listing.
  2. If you accept credit cards on other listing sites, then you should on Houfy as well.  Square and Stripe are already integrated with Houfy.  Go ahead and sign up for both at the same time, then connect one of them to your listing, and update your payment methods.

    You can take your time learning more about each, and easily connect/disconnect from Houfy as often as you'd like.  I have both, and no longer use PayPal for invoicing. Guests book me directly on Houfy. 



Market on Facebook: Promote your Houfy listing instead of OTA (online travel agency) listings.

  1. Connect your Houfy site to the Book Now or Learn More button on your facebook's business page, and replace all OTA references with your Houfy link
  2. Upload your facebook business page to the verifications section of your Houfy listing.  
  3. Promote your Houfy listing in various yard sale, travel groups, and book direct groups.  Be sure not to spam and always abide by the group rules.



Use Google's Free Tools

  1. If you have a Google business listing, add your Houfy listing as your website.  
  2. Set up your Houfy connected Google Analytics and begin to track your site visitors.


*** Later, you can learn how to maximize Google My Business posts. ***



Add your Houfy listing to other sites

  • Find local attraction and tourism sites that list accommodations for free.  Some will require a reciprocal link agreement; you need to link back to them.  To fulfill this requirement, write a Story about the attraction, and attach it to a guide.
  • You can write more local guides later.  For now, try to find at least 3 sites that will allow you to link.  This will benefit both you and Houfy in terms of SEO (Search Engine Optimization) inbound links. 


Introduce Your Guests to Houfy

  1. Create an arrival guide for your guests.  You're going to send this to ALL of your new guests, no matter the platform they used to book your property.  
  2. The arrival guide is going to introduce new members to the Houfy platform.  Plus a digital format just looks more visually appealing.  
  3. Later when you have more local guides, you will invite your guests to join Houfy to read them. 



Don't forget to thank your guests for staying at your property.  And remind them the next time they travel, to use Houfy and book direct


Book Our Accommodations on Houfy. FREE for Owners and FREE for Travelers.

A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...


Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy. Easy Tips for Marketing Your Houfy Listing
Write a comment

Where Do I Add My Permit or Tax Identification Number?

In some locales owners are required to display an identification number when advertising their property.  Similar terms are tourist identification code, registration number, city permit, and transient accommodation tax number, etc.  You can add this info within the tax section of your listing, and travelers will be able to verify if you have a legal accommodation.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.



Click Pricing.



Enter ID number. Then click Preview listing to see the traveler view.



The information is now displayed next to City ID.



Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How to Use All of Story's Formatting Options

Engage more readers by publishing aesthetically pleasing and easy-to-follow content.  Not only should your Stories be well-written, they should be visually appealing as well. Utilizing all of Story's formatting options increases the chances of gaining more followers on Houfy; and in turn, your Stories being shared on social media.


There are two places to begin writing a Story. Log into your dashboard.

1. The quickest way is to Click the Write a story tab at the top of your houfeed.

2. You can also Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Stories.


If you clicked on Stories from your profile pic, you will see this screen. Click Write a Story (unless you want to Import a story) to be taken to the Story screen to begin composing.


Title

Put some thought into your Story's title.  Choose an interesting, concise title that communicates to readers what your Story is about.  

Tip:  If you place the cursor before the first character of the title, the font size shrinks and you won't be able to increase it back to the large font.  I suggest making a title up in the beginning, even if you will be changing it later. Take extra care with the cursor.


Add Text, Images, Embed Links, and Separator

In order to begin typing text, you need the plus sign to appear. Hit the enter key or place your cursor on a new line to make it appear on the left. Now start typing. Click the plus sign in order to expand the toolbar.

  • Add an image like the one in the beginning of this Story.  Drag and drop, or upload from your computer. Your Story's cover photo pulls from the first image in your Story. You can add text to the bottom of your image like this:
  • Add an embed link: a youtube video, URL link found at the bottom of this Story, etc.
  • Add a separator:  the short 3 dotted lines you see throughout the center of this Story.
  • Close out of the toolbar to type text again:  Click the X on the left.


Formatting Text and Inserting Hyperlinks

Select the text you would like to format; the editor toolbar appears above the text.

  1. H3 = eliminates a line space (heading)
  2. Quote symbol " = adds a blue line and indents to the left of quoted text
  3. UL = bullets text
  4. OL = numbers text
  5. Check mark symbol = adds check boxes next to text
  6. B, I, U = bold, italicize, underline
  7. Hi = Highlight
  8. Link icon = add a hyperlink


Now you are ready to publish. Click Post to bring up the Prepare your story for readers Pop-up window.


You can add up to 5 tags and change them later. Decide who should see this in their houfeed; select Only me, Friends, or Public. Click Publish now.


You should now see your Story in your houfeed.


Helpful Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid.

Helpful Things to Know Before Writing Your First Story
Writing Stories is easy once you get the hang of it. And it's even easier to get started on the wrong track. I've learned a ton through trial and error; and have received plenty of advice from other members. There's no need to go down the same...


Book Our Accommodation on Houfy. FREE for Owners and FREE for Travelers.

A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...
Colin Davies

A great article. Thanks for taking the time to write and share it. Do you know whether the "headline" in the Story automatically feeds back to become the headline in the thumbnail for that story? It's just that I've put up two Stories - the thumbnail for one has a header and two lines of text but the other has nothing. Hence, I don't know whether this was a glitch in the system or my mistake somewhere. Thanks.

Colin Davies

Think I've managed to fix it! Removed all the spacing and put them back in and that seems to have done the trick.

Reply5 months
Colin Davies

Thank you Thijs! Much appreciated!

Reply5 months
Thijs Aaftink

Hi Collin - It should. Not sure why it doesn't show for yours. We will check in he morning.

Reply5 months
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How Do I Update My Imported Reviews?

Reviews are important to travelers when choosing a place to stay, so it's important to keep them up to date.  Periodically syncing, will update your Houfy listing with the latest reviews from Airbnb and VRBO/Homeaway.  If you are listed on both sites, and only imported reviews from one, here's how to easily import reviews from the other.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Reviews.


Click the sync icon or Sync Reviews link to import your new reviews. Once complete, the Your reviews are imported message appears.



Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners

Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Helpful information for owners listing their properties on Houfy. Where Do I Upload My Rental Agreement?


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees



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How Do I Import My Reviews from Airbnb or Homeaway/Vrbo?

Depending how your property was listed on Houfy, you may still need to import reviews from one of the other sites.  If you imported your entire listing, your reviews should already appear on Houfy; you'll just need to sync them every once in a while

For those who manually added their property, or are listed on both sites, you can easily import reviews from the other two sites.  It does not matter in which order you do this, as Houfy automatically sorts all reviews by date. 


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Reviews.


Click Import Reviews.


  1. Select from the drop down menu.
  2. Copy/paste your listing URL.
  3. Wait for the Fetching Preview message to disappear.
  4. Check box to agree.
  5. Click Import.

***Don't forget to keep these reviews current by periodically syncing them on Houfy.*** 



Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners

Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy. Where Do I Upload My Rental Agreement?


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How to Email a Special Rate Offer

Sometimes you'd like to offer a last minute discount on specific dates, or a special rate for a repeat guest.  You can easily do this by sending the person a special offer.  If you prefer to offer a discount percentage instead, you are able to do that too. 


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Calendar.


Click on the first date of your date range.  This will open the Edit Rates window.  

  1. Select dates:  Hold down cursor and drag to highlight date range OR complete the Selected dates field in left window.
  2. Select Available.
  3. Click Price tab.
  4. Enter Price per night.
  5. Enter Minimum night stay.
  6. Click Save.


To send the Special Offer Discount as an email, first click Preview listing.


Enter dates and number of guests. Either copy/paste the URL at the top of the screen, OR use the email icon to send a message directly from Houfy.


Clicking the email icon opens the Share Listing window. (Note: you cannot send a test email to the same email as your Houfy login.) Enter the email address and type a message. Click Send Email. You will see a message that says Listing share email has been sent.


The recipient will receive this email and click the View Listing button.



The dates are pre-selected and the guest can complete the booking.


Note: The Facebook and Houfy share buttons will later include the pre-selected dates. At this time if you would like your quote to include the dates, then use the email feature or copy/paste the URL.

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How to Apply a Nightly Percentage Discount

If you have a last minute opening or cancellation, share a special offer such as a discount of 10% off the nightly rate.  The Discount Percentage feature can also be used to send returning guests a discount such as 5% off of your next stay.  If you don't use percentage discounts, you are able to send a special rate offer quote instead.  


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Calendar.



Click on the first date of your date range.  This will open the Edit Rates window.  

  1. Select dates:  Hold down cursor and drag to highlight date range OR complete the Selected dates field in left window.
  2. Select Available.
  3. Click Discount tab.
  4. Enter Last minute discount.
  5. Click Save.


Once you click Save, the Share special rates Pop-up window appears, allowing you to share the discount on Facebook or Houfy Social.  This email icon will be enabled at a later timeContinue reading to learn how to email the special from your listing view.   


View of Special Discount on Facebook. Traveler can click to view quote.


The traveler will see Special Discount and can complete the booking.


To send the Special Discount as an email, click Preview listing.



Enter dates and number of guests. Either copy/paste the URL at the top of the screen, OR use the email icon to send a message directly from Houfy.



Clicking the email icon opens the Share Listing window. (Note: you cannot send a test email to the same email as your Houfy login.) Enter the email address and type a message. Click Send Email, and you will see the green message that says Listing share email has been sent.


The recipient will receive this email and click the View Listing button.


This is the quote the traveler will see.

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How Do I Invite Others to Join Houfy?


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Invite.


There are several ways to share your invite link

1.  Enter the recipient's email address and click Send Invite.  

2.  Copy and paste your link and send it from your personal email.  

3.  Share the invite on facebook.   

4. Import contacts and FB messenger features are not enabled at this time.


If you enter an email address, the recipient receives this sign up email.  

What Can Someone Do with the Points?  

Nothing at the moment.  Keep in mind that Houfy is currently running many tests to see what works and what doesn't.  In the future there may be options to use points for things such as having your property featured for a short period of time.  I do not bring up the topic of points when inviting others to Houfy.


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Email Template to Invite Guests to Join Houfy

In my experience, it's easier to convince guests to join Houfy, rather than fellow owners. Guests are excited about planning their trip and happily join Houfy to read my helpful guides. Three out of every four of my guests joins Houfy before they have even stayed at my property. I get very few repeats; however, these guests may use Houfy the next time they are looking for accommodations, and end up booking your property for their next vacation.


This is the procedure I follow every time a guest makes a reservation.

1. I email my rental agreement, house notes document, and departure checklist.

2. I log into my Houfy dashboard and send my arrival guide directly from Houfy.

3. I send the guest my invite link to join Houfy; this is done directly from Houfy. You have the option to copy and paste your invite link into an email, if you prefer to do it that way.

4. I go back to my gmail and send the email below. Feel free to use any parts of this template:

"Dear Guest,

I just sent the arrival information from Houfy.  It includes:

  • Check-in instructions
  • Cabin Supplies
  • Directions

Please confirm you received it; if not, I will resend.

You should have also received my invite link to join Houfy, and read my local guides about things to do, restaurants, etc. about the area.  You can sign up directly at the site if you'd prefer.   Houfy is a free new social site for travelers.  It takes just a few seconds to verify your phone and email. 

After you join, just "follow" me on there.  You will then receive any new posts I make on Houfy in your houfeed.  Past guests have signed up and found my guides to be very helpful with planning their trip.  You can comment on my guides to share your experiences with other travelers, and share these guides with friends and family.  You can even write your own guides if you want...  really cool site!  You can also book our property and others for free on Houfy - no need to pay VRBO's service fees when your credit card protects you anyway!

If you have any trouble finding me, just click on the "H" in the top left corner and type in "1781" (that's our listing number) or start typing "Bridget" into the search bar - then click on my profile and the FOLLOW button.  Email me or text me if you need any help! 

Feel free to forward my invite to the other members of your group.   

Bridget"


After the guest has departed, I also send a thank you departure email. I thank the guest for staying and educate them how to google properties to find them outside of OTA's, and I remind of them of Houfy again.

Michelle Bloomfield

This is excellent Bridget! I am going to steal parts of this from you. Well done.

Carl and Bridget

Exactly!

Reply5 months
Michelle Bloomfield

All good to know, thank you! I am now putting together a Welcome Guide (better late than never) that I can email out to future guests. I very rarely get repeat guests - we are one night stop tourist town with mostly overseas visitors. But, maybe they will sign up and book someone else's place via Houfy.

Reply6 months
Carl and Bridget

Michelle,

Until notifications are implemented later on, the only way to tell someone has joined is by typing their name in the search bar. That's how I can tell. If the name is unique enough. So I may check a few days later or sometime before the guest stay and see that they have joined. And hopefully later we will have a link that will invite someone to directly follow us.

Reply6 months
Carl and Bridget

Hope it works for you! I had a better conversion rate once I stopped thinking I needed to "explain" Houfy because it was a new site in development, etc. Once I began to talk about it like it always existed, I realized nobody ever asked me anything about it anyway.

Reply6 months
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Should I Be Following People on Houfy?

Absolutely! Start following other Houfy Members as soon as possible; the sooner you do this, the more quickly you'll be exposed to the various writing and organizational styles of other members. The more people you follow, the more ideas you'll have when creating your own stories and guides. 

No one is going to think you're a stalker!  Just search for the member's profile in the Houfy search bar.  Not only should you be following others, I also recommend inviting your guests to begin following you on Houfy too. First, let's get familiar with some glossary terms you'll encounter while using Houfy Social.


Houfeed = the page you see as soon as you log into your dashboard. Your houfeed is a continuous stream of posts/stories published by you, and your followers/friends

All Posts = this feed shows you all posts/stories currently being posted by all members

Post = content that is more conversation-like (Ex: asking for recommendations/advice)

Story = content that is houledge (Ex: sharing local knowledge or insider tips, that will help travelers with planning a visit to your area)

Follower = a member who sees your posts/stories in their houfeed. Any member can follow any other member

Following = members you follow to see their posts/stories in your houfeed

Friend = a member who is following you, and you are following the member back


But Who Should I Start Following?

If you don't already know members who you'd specifically like to follow, I suggest reading the All Posts feed; this way you'll see all the posts/stories currently being published by all Houfy members. When you see a story that interests you, just start following the author. It's also a good idea to follow members who have properties near your area, as you may want to add some of their stories to your own guides.

Invite Your Guests to Begin Following You.

The more followers you have, the more people who will read your posts/stories and share them with their friends and family. I always invite all of my guests to follow me on Houfy to read my guides. I do this immediately after they book my property, no matter which platform they used to make the reservation. And long after their stay has ended, they will continue to receive my stories in their houfeed. This is a great way to keep them thinking about a return visit to my area.

Start Having Conversations.

Begin to comment and ask questions on other peoples' stories; share their stories.  In turn, this will encourage other members and travelers to do the same. Whenever I notice I have a new follower, I always follow the person back (including my own guests) to see what kinds of topics they may be writing about. 


If you'd like to start inviting guests to follow you but don't know what to write, feel free to use the template I send right after someone books my property.

Book your accommodations on Houfy. FREE for owners and FREE for travelers.

A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...




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Helpful Story Tips and Common Mistakes to Avoid

Writing Stories is easy once you get the hang of it–it's even easier to get started on the wrong track.  I've learned a ton through trial and error, and from the advice of others.  There's no need to go down the same bumpy road some of us already walked! 

To speed up your learning curve, I've compiled this list so you're not wasting time figuring things out alone, and can avoid doing a "Story clean-up" later down the road. I highly suggest spending the 3 minutes to read Introduction to Post, Story, and Guidebook before continuing.   


1. Always Remember: a Story is Not a Guidebook; A Guidebook is Not a Story. These Terms Are Not interchangeable.

I've specifically chosen this as the number one important thing to know before writing Stories, as it's the most common thing that confuses people.  A Story, Post, and Guidebook are all, three completely separate things.  Stories and Posts can be bookmarked (added) to Guidebooks.  Don't use the Guidebook's "description box" to write about your favorite hiking trail; this box is used to briefly describe the kinds of Stories/Posts that are within that Guidebook.  

Publish a Story about the hiking trail, and then bookmark the Story to your Guidebook.  Even if you only have one hiking trail to put in your Hiking Guidebook, it should be added as a Story.  Unlike Stories, "Guidebook descriptions" do not show up in anyone's Houfeed, not even your own. 

Note:  If you've never seen one of your Stories in your Houfeed, it's most likely because you've been writing Guidebook descriptions. Just cut/paste the text from your Guidebook descriptions and create Stories out of them. Add some pics, etc.


2. Start Following Other Houfy Members as Soon as Possible, and Begin Interacting on Houfy Social. 

The quicker you do this, the sooner you'll be exposed to the various writing and organizational styles of other members.  No one is going to think you're a stalker!  Just search for the member's profile in the Houfy search bar, or check out the list of people I am following. 

I also suggest reading the All Posts feed instead of just your own Houfeed; many of you are only seeing what Thijs posts from Houfy, Inc. because you're not following anyone.  The All Posts feed will show the Stories currently being published by all Houfy members.  The more people you follow, the more ideas you'll have when creating your own Guidebooks. 

Begin to comment and ask questions on other peoples' stories; share their stories.  In turn, this will encourage other members and travelers to do the same. Whenever I notice I have a new follower, I always follow the person back (including my own guests) to see what kinds of content they may be writing.  More followers = more people who read and share your Stories.  



3. Ctrl + Z Might Be Your New Best Friend.

I hope to save at least one person from making this mistake that I made.  

For the minority who may not know this, Ctrl + Z is your computer keyboard's Undo function. Story is easy for me now, but back in the day I was convinced the Story plus sign was programmed to play Hide-and-seek.; I also struggled a lot with my spacing, which made my photos vanish often. Ctrl + Z does work, and it has absolutely changed my life. 



4. If You're Still Publishing "Story-like" Content as Posts....Stop. Post Should Be Toast.

Okay, if you're a die hard Post fan and really can't live without it, then carry on.  But I strongly suggest abandoning Post altogether (unless using Post as intended) and only using Story.  (Update: Post is temporarily disabled until Houfy community forums arrive). Please learn how to to write a Story for the meantime.

Let me explain for some new members.  Back in 2017, Post was the only option for publishing content; and Story was born in 2018.  Some people never stopped using Post out of habit; others just somehow missed the memo.  Several of us have even been converting our old Posts into Stories. 

Story is just far superior to Post in so many ways, and also much more aesthetically pleasing.  What you are reading now, is in the form of a Story.  Notice how I am able to use photos throughout this entire Story, am able to add a title to my Story, and can hyperlink to my other Stories.  These are just a few of the things that you can do with Story, but cannot do with Post. 

Once Houfy Social becomes active with more users, Post will have its comeback and be popular once again; people will use it for conversations.  In the meantime, I'd focus your energy on learning all of the features in Story instead. 


If you're someone like me who hardly has any pics of the places you are writing about, Pixabay is a great resource.  I wish I had known about Pixabay when I first started writing Stories. 

Years prior I had played around with Shutterstock and other sites, but they ultimately seemed like more trouble than they were worth with trying to comply with their rules.  And the lesser known FREE photo sites, hardly seemed to have any photos at all. All of the pics in this story are from Pixabay.  It's very easy to navigate; I highly recommend it.



6. Don't Forget to Embed Your Houfy Listing at the Bottom of Each Story.

You're missing out on opportunities if you're not!  Every time your Story is shared by guests, travelers, and other Houfy members, they'll know that you also offer lodging.  Remember, many people who entered Houfy Social via a Story have no idea they are actually on a site that also offers accommodations (unless they happen to notice the lodging tab at the very top).

For people with multiple properties, there's a Houfy link that lets the traveler see all of your Houfy properties in one glance, including those you have For Sale.  

Embedding our Houfy listings also brings some sort of uniformity to our Stories, and helps to develop brand recognition for Houfy.  Think of it like putting a Houfy stamp at the bottom, right before you hit Publish now

Eventually, people will begin to recognize these Stories and associate them with Houfy. Take a look at mine at the very bottom of this story along with the tagline.


Learn How to Create Beautiful Stories.

How to Use All of Story's Toolbar Features
There are two places to begin writing a Story. Log into your dashboard.


Book Our Accommodations on Houfy. FREE for Owners and FREE for Travelers.

A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...
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How to Edit a Listing Property's Google Map Location and Address

Location is just one factor travelers use when choosing a place to stay.  Be sure to meet your guests' expectations by accurately displaying your property's location.  Scroll to the bottom of your listing's homepage to view your Google Maps data as a traveler; then determine if you need to make changes to any of the map information. 


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Location.

  1. Show exact location:  This allows travelers to use Google Maps for directions to your property.  Select No tab to hide this info.
  2. Show Street view: (street view is only shown if it's available on Google Maps.)  Select No tab to hide this info.
  3. Click Preview listing to see traveler view of updated map location.


Scroll to the bottom of your listing.  The circle indicates your property's general location, and notice the map directions option is no longer available.

What Should I Do If Google Maps Displays Inaccurate Data?

If you are unable to resolve the issue with Google Maps, request that Houfy override the data to show correct location/address. 


Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners

Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners
Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy. How Do I Import My Reviews from Airbnb or Homeaway/Vrbo?


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How to Add Additional Guest Fees

If you charge extra above a certain number of guests staying at your property, you can easily add a per night, per guest fee to your listing.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.

Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Pricing Tab.


Check Yes.


Select the number of guests, and enter in the nightly rate fee per guest, per night.  If you want to begin charging for a 5th and 6th guest, then select 4 guests.  Then click Preview listing to see the traveler view.  


Traveler view of additional guest fees on the Rate calculator. 

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How Do I Change My Login/Profile Email?


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Profile.


Enter the new email address you wish to use. Tap the cursor key anywhere outside of the email address box to get the Change Email Address Popup window to appear.


Enter your Houfy password into the Change Email Address Popup window.  Click Yes.


You will be automatically logged out of Houfy, and prompted to sign in using the new email address.


This change of login email notification will be sent to your previous login email address.


Once logged back in, your profile will now show a red X next to email address.  Click View your Profile.


Click Please verify your e-mail.


You will now be taken to the Verification section of your account.  Click the blue Verify button.


Expect this email from Houfy asking you to verify your new login email address.  If you do not see it, check your spam folder.  If you still do not see it, be sure you are checking the inbox of your new login email instead of the previous email address.  Click the blue Verify Email button.


After clicking the Verify Email button you will see this picture.  Click the Take me to Home button at the bottom of the Thank You message to return to Houfy.


You will now see a green check mark next to your email address.

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How to Edit the Contact Email on a Listing

If your property contact email differs from the one associated with your profile, you can easily update this information on each of your listings.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Profile.


Click on Verifications.


Click the Add button and enter the secondary email you would like to use.  Click Verify & Save Email.   Note:  You may add as many secondary emails as you wish.

Expect this email from Houfy asking you to verify your new contact email address.  If you do not see it, check your spam folder.  If you still do not see it, be sure you are checking the inbox of your secondary email instead of your profile email address.  Click the blue Verify Email button.


If you cannot locate the verification email, click the Send verification email again link.


After clicking the Verify Email button on the Verification email, this picture will appear.  Click the Take me to Home button at the bottom of the Thank You message to return to Houfy.


The secondary email will now show as verified under your profile Verifications.  


To update the listing's contact information with your new secondary email, click My Listings.

Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Settings.


Select an email from the drop-down list. Click Preview listing if you'd like to see where the email is displayed on your listing.

Scroll down to the Owner information area. The Click to show link indicates your contact info is public.  If set to private, this area will say Hidden next to Phone and Email.


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees



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How to Edit Email/Phone Number Privacy Settings

When first creating an account on Houfy, your email and phone number are set to private by default.  You can unhide this information by updating your Account Settings. Once this info is made public, it will be visible on both your profile, and your listings.  You can also edit any listing to show a different contact email than the one displayed on your profile.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Settings.


Click on Account Settings.


Click Yes to unhide phone number and email address.  Then click View Profile if you'd like to see where they appear on your profile.


Clicking the Email address and Phone number links will display your contact info.  If you have chosen not to show this info, clicking the links will display Hidden.  To see where travelers view this info on your listing, click Listing(s).  


Select a listing.


Scroll down to the Owner information area. The Click to show link indicates your contact info is public.  If set to private, this area will say Hidden next to Phone and Email.


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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How to Create and Attach Guides to a Listing

A guide is just an organized collection of stories/posts: such as a guide about hiking, museums, or restaurants, etc. This local information is helpful to travelers when choosing where they'd like to stay! Your guides can be set to private or public.  Stories/posts get "bookmarked" into a guide, and public guides are visible on your profile. Then you can attach any of these guides to your property listing.  You have the option of selecting the listings where you would like each guide to ultimately appear.

As new stories are published, you will continue to bookmark (add) them to your guides.  If you haven't yet, be sure to read Introduction to Post, Story, and Guide for a general overview of the differences of each.   


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Guides. Or you can create a guide by clicking on the bookmark icon from a story.


Click the "Create a guide" link.


The Create a guide Pop-up window will appear.


Name your guide and fill out the description.  Select your wording based on whether your guide will be private or public.  Only you (or people you give the link to) can view your private guides.


Select "Lodging" or "Real Estate."  (Real estate is for properties listed for sale on Houfy).  Now start typing in a location and a drop down menu will appear.  Select the location that you would like this guide to be listed under.


Click the drop down arrow next to "What kind of guide is this?" Choose the category that best describes your guide, or select "Other" if none are close.  You don't have to choose a category. Houfy will add more category options later. Then click "Add a photo" if you would like to add a photo to the face of your guide. This is optional.


Upload a photo from your computer.   A blue bar will appear to indicate your photo is uploading.


Once uploading is complete, you will now see your photo.  If you don't like the photo, click the X to the right and upload a new one.  There is also a "Rotate" photo button in bottom left corner. Now click "Save Changes" button. You can always change your photo later too.


The "Create a guide" Pop-up window will now show with your new photo. You may need to scroll down to view and select the "Privacy" settings options. Select whether this guide will be "Private" or "Public" and Save.


After saving, your guides will appear along with your new guide at the bottom. You can see there is a lock icon on my private guides.


Now that you have created your guide, you have the option to attach it to your property listings.  Or you may decide to wait until you have bookmarked more stories into your guide.  Keep in mind, all public guides will still show under your profile, in a search on Houfy, or anywhere on the internet - even if they are not attached to your listing yet. Click your Profile Pic in top right corner.  Select My Listings.


Select your listing, and Click Guides


To add a guide to multiple listings, you can select each one from your drop down menu.


Click Yes next to each guide you wish to attach to your listing.


To see the traveler view, scroll up and click Preview listing.


My Top Breakfast Places guide is now visible on my listing.


If a traveler clicks on my guide, they will now see the Guide Description I wrote earlier, along with the stories I have bookmarked to it.  If you decide to change the guide from public to private, or edit the Guide Name, Description, Photo, etc., just click the edit button to make updates.  You can also rearrange the order of your bookmarked stories at any time. 


For information about posts, stories, and guides visit the Houfy Social Help Guide.

Houfy Help Social
Houfy social is a social network where members can post/share/follow and become friends with other members. Guides can be created and shared...
Elisabeth Powers

Great post, Bridget. Super clear and easy to follow. Thanks for posting.

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How to use the Favorites List on Houfy

One of the best parts of planning a vacation, is choosing where to stay!  The Favorites feature let's you organize lists for all of your upcoming trips.  Then easily add properties whenever it suits you. In addition to trip planning, you can use Favorites when researching For Sale properties, and when sharing other Houfy members' listings. Create your lists during your property search, or create them ahead of time.  Let's begin with a property search.


When you come across a listing that interests you, just click the heart icon in the top right corner.


OR if you're already viewing the listing, click the heart icon to the left. 

The Save to Favorites Pop-up window will appear. Click Create New Favorite List.


Now give your Favorites list a name and click SaveNote: Keep in mind if you share your saved list with others, they will be able to view what you named it.


My new list now appears, and I can continue creating more lists from here. 


The same property can be saved to multiple lists.


When it's time to share your Favorites, just copy/paste the URL to share the list. Or click on the individual listing to share one listing.


Now I can reply to an ISO (in search of) request with one of my Favorites list, and this is what it looks like on Facebook.


I have some Favorites lists with just one listing, like this.  Notice what I named this list. It helps me to associate which Houfy member, has which property.


Or maybe I just want to share a single property in the list, in one of my Book Direct groups.  I can do this by clicking the Share tab to the left, or by using the icons to the right. Of course I can always type the person's property number after houfy.com/ too.

And this is what it looks like when I share a single listing in a Facebook group. 


When it's time to remove a property from your list, first click the heart icon


Then click the heart next to each list where you want it removed.


When it's time to delete an entire Favorite list, first click the X in the corner.


Then the Remove favorite Pop-up window appears.  Click Yes.


Initially our Favorites list was created via a property search.  But you can create multiple lists ahead of time.  Click on your profile pic in upper right corner.  Then click Favorites.


Click Create a favorite list.


In the Create a favorite list window, name your list.  Click Save.  And then repeat the same steps as above.  

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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Best way to post my Houfy listing URLs

Depending on the number/type of Houfy properties you have, you may use several different listing URLs.  Don't waste time copying/pasting the long version of your URL for a single property!  Just memorize your listing number, and type it in after houfy.com/.  Here's how to quickly find your listing number:


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


In the pic below, you'll see your listing number to the left.  Mine is 1781.  Or if you really want to copy/paste the long version URL, you can click on your listing image to the right.

This is your long version listing URL.


Facebook displays this when I type in houfy.com/1781


For multiple rentals, you will use a different URL. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Profile.


Click View Profile.


Now click on any one of your rental listings. It doesn't matter which one.


After clicking on one of your listings, scroll all the way to the bottom and you will see your Other Listings.  Click View all


Copy the URL.  This view shows travelers the listing map locations, and brief info about your rentals.


This is how the URL appears on Facebook.  


For those of you with both rental and For Sale listings, a different URL will display all of them together.  Go back to View Profile and Click Listings .  Copy the URL.


This is how the URL appears on Facebook.


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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Where do I enter a booking cut-off date?

The booking cut-off date prevents travelers from booking your property after a specific date.  This is helpful for those who may not want bookings far in advance, or for those who haven't set next year's rates yet.  


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Pricing.


Scroll all the way to the bottom, and enter in the last day guests are able to checkoutExample:  If guests can book up until the last day of the year, enter January 1st as cut-off date.  Changes will automatically save.

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


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Where Do I Update Pet Fees and Pet Requirements?

Guests love to bring their furry friends on vacation with them.  If you have a pet-friendly property, let guests know if you have any specific pet requirements.   There are two pricing options to choose from:  a "per pet" fee, or a flat "per stay" charge.  Of course you can always opt for a gratis pet policy.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.

Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Pricing tab.


Scroll down to the Additional Pricing Options section.  Type your pet requirements into the Pet friendly field.  This info will show near the Pets Allowed section on the public view of your listing.  Click Yes


After you click Yes, you will be presented several field options.  Enter your Pet Fee amount, check the box if Taxable, and choose either the flat Per stay fee, or the Per pet fee.  Changes will automatically save.


To see the changes on the public view of your listing, scroll up and click Preview Listing on the left.


Scroll down to your listing's Suitability section, and you'll now see a green check mark next to Pets Allowed, and any requirements you entered earlier. 


Guests can now select the number of pets from the drop down menu, and the rate will be calculated in their total. 


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees





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How to Add Linen, Pool Heat, Cleaning Fees, Etc.

You can add a one-time "flat rate" or "per person" fee to your reservations.  Please read these tutorials for updating pet fees and additional guest fees.


Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Pricing.


Scroll down to Additional Pricing Options and click Add a Fee.


Name your "Type of fee" - I call my cleaning fee a "Clean/Prep" fee.  Enter Amount of fee per reservation.  Check off "Per Person" if the fee is to be multiplied by the number of guests on the reservation.  Check off if the fee is taxable like the nightly rate. 


Cleaning fee shown on your listing's Rate calculator. 


Tip:  Keep in mind that in many areas lodging tax is applied to the total amount of the reservation, regardless if the fee is listed separately.  In North Carolina, even traveler booking fees (charged by listing sites) are taxed in the same manner as the nightly rate. In other states, optional fees may not be taxable.  But in most cases a cleaning fee is going to be taxed, as it is not optional for guests to rent an uncleaned home. 

Do triple check if your tax advisor says that the cleaning fee is is not taxable (as it is labor).  I stress the importance of verifying this info, as I know of many owners who were advised incorrectly, and later liable for back taxes on cleaning fees. 

If you have any doubts about what fees are taxed in your area of the U.S., I highly suggest contacting Avalara.  They are a U.S. based company that specializes in the collection and remittance of short term rental taxes.  They have tons of free information on their website, and you can call them toll free to ask questions regarding your local tax laws.  I am not affiliated with this service; but these guys know their short term tax laws.  

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members How do I remove a calendar from Houfy


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Introduction to Post, Story, and Guidebook

The sharing of local information is what differentiates Houfy as a "market network" versus a standalone "marketplace" (ex: listing site).  Layman terms: Marketplace + Social Network = Market Network.  Houfy is so much more than just a place to list and book properties. 

Once you begin to think of Houfy in terms of a market network (with thousands of owners/travelers sharing local info), you'll begin to see the potential power of Houfy.  Not only will Houfy be "interesting" to site users–but interesting to search engines (Google/Bing/Yahoo,etc.) as well!  Relevant content = higher search engine rank = more traffic = more bookings

Before diving straight into writing, I suggest first spending a few minutes learning the basic concepts of Houfy Social.  Once you understand the difference between posts, stories, and guidebooks (and the purpose of each one), you'll find that sharing info on Houfy is actually quite simple!   


Let's start with the Social Jargon:

Houfeed = the page you see as soon as you log into Houfy.  Your Houfeed is a continuous stream of Post/Stories published by you, and your Followers/Friends

Follower = a member who sees your posts/stories in their Houfeed.  Any member can follow any other member

Following = members you follow to see their posts/stories in your Houfeed

Friend = a member who is "following" you, and you are "following" the member back



Log into your dashboard. In the top left click "View your Profile"


You can now see friends, followers, and people any member is following.


  1. Post/Story = two ways to publish info on Houfy Social
  2. Guidebook = a compilation of related posts/stories.  You will then attach these guidebooks to your listings.


What is a Houfy Post and when would I use one?  

A good analogy is to think of what you might post in a facebook group, but instead you are posting this to your "friends" or "followers" on Houfy.  For those of you who don't use facebook, think of when you might email some of your "contacts" to share something or ask a question.  Ex:  "My guests love these wrinkle-free, cotton sheets." - you might also add a link to the store where you bought them, and add a photo or two.  People reading your post on Houfy can comment and reply, etc.  Or you may ask something like:  "Does anyone have recommendations of where to eat near the Biltmore Estate?"  Members can reply with suggestions. 

Posting = simple questions, casual short text, basic links and photos.   


When should I write a Story instead of a Post?

Most of you are currently using Houfy Social to create useful guidebooks for your guests.  So at this stage, 95% of the time you will likely be choosing to write a story, rather than a post.  Don't be confused by the word "Story," and think you need to write about funny tales from your past!  In this context, think of a Story as being similar to a blog post, article, or more detailed/useful information than a casual post. 

Stories allow more options in regards to formatting:  you can embed links, videos, pics, bold, highlight, italicize, underline, make headings, number items, etc.  In essence, a story allows you to create pretty documents. 

So take all of those old "things to do" and "places to eat" Word documents and turn them into pretty Houfy stories.  Travelers can comment on them, share them on their social media, and bookmark them into their own guidebooks for a future trip, etc.  And, your guests will appreciate that you have all of this info handy for them!  

What is a Guidebook?

A guidebook is just a collection of related stories/posts.  Think of it as organizing information into folders.  You may have a guidebook called "Best Hiking Trails near Lake Lure," "Top 10 Breakfast Spots in Asheville," or "Rainy Day Activities."  Others can read your guidebooks under your profile. You can set these to public or private, depending on whether you want other Houfy members to be able to view them.  Maybe you are creating your own private guidebook and bookmarking others' stories/posts for your own vacation, so you might set this guidebook to private.  

If you are creating guidebooks for guests, then you will make these public and attach them to the appropriate listing.  Ex: your "Best Food Trucks in Asheville, NC" guidebook likely wouldn't be attached to your listing in Spain.  On the other hand, a guidebook about "How travelers can save $$$ on vacation" may be attached to all of your listings.  

No one is going to force you to write stories and create guidebooks if you don't want to.  If you need help getting started, go ahead and start converting your arrival info into Houfy Stories.  And then compile them all into a Welcome Arrival Guidebook for your guests.  I email all of this info directly from Houfy as soon as guests make a booking

I now love having my guidebooks and being able to provide my guests with online information about my area. 

Here is an example of one of my guidebooks:

Apple Orchards near Asheville and Lake Lure, NC
There are so many apple orchards to visit, when staying at A Touch of Luxury Cabin; this region of North Carolina is known as Apple Country....



Visit Houfy Help Social for steps in creating posts, stories, and guidebooks

Houfy Help Social
Houfy social is a social network where members can post/share/follow and become friends with other members. Guides can be created and shared...


A Touch of Luxury Cabin - Mill Spring
Cabin in Mill Spring. Welcome to "A Touch of Luxury" located on the border of Mill Spring and Lake Lure. This is a custom-built, 1672 sq. ft., 2 BR/2BA log cabin, 15.9 miles from the Tryon Internation...
David Sullivan

Thank you for this Bridget! I have started a few stories and put them into a guide. But how do I attach it to our listing? Our listing still shows that we haven't shared any guides. Thank you! (I'm actually Laureen for my father David)

Carl and Bridget

Go to Profile Pic in top right corner. Scroll down and click on My listings and select the listing where you want the guide attached. Then click Guides. You will now see all of your Guides. You will have the option to click Yes, or No. Click Yes if you want the guide visible on the listing. Then Preview your listing to make sure others can see it from the traveler view.

Reply7 months
Marty & Janet L.

Great instructional Bridget - this will benefit all members.

Carl and Bridget

BTW - thanks for your questions yesterday. It made me rethink how to reword a couple of things like mentioning that Guides are shown under your profile (at least the public ones). I think adding that part makes it a bit more clear.


Reply6 months
Susan Walker

This a great help Bridget. I'm new to Houfy and was finding this a bit confusing! I write a blog on my website, can I share some of these as stories on Houfy to make up my guides?

Many thanks, Susan

Carl and Bridget

Hi Susan,

I am may not be 100% clear on your question. But here goes: anyone can share the url link to another member's story as it is public - as it's meant to be shared! No different than sharing an article you read from someone.


I think you are asking about creating guidebooks on your Houfy listing? Yes, you are able to bookmark any Houfy member's Story into one of your guidebooks.


It will all become more clear once you to start using it!



Bridget

Reply3 months
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How to Bookmark a Story to a Guidebook



Stories can be bookmarked to an existing guidebook, or a new guideook. You can add ANY Houfy member's story to your own guidebook. Be sure you are logged into your dashboard.  Click on the story's Bookmark icon.  


You will now see the "Save to Guide" Pop-up window.  Check the box next to any guides where you want to save the story; this will automatically save. You can attach to multiple guides. Or click on "Create a new guide." 


When creating a new guide, this Pop-up window will appear.


Name your guide and fill out the description.  Select your wording based on whether your guide will be private or public.  Only you (or people you give the link to) can view your private guides. I am going to call my guide "Story Ideas" and describe it as "Ideas for my Houfy stories"


Select "Lodging" or "Real Estate."  (Real estate is for properties listed for sale on Houfy).  Now start typing in a location and a drop down menu will appear.  Select the location that you would like this guide to be listed under.


Click the drop down arrow next to "What kind of guide is this?" Choose the category that best describes your guide, or select "Other" if none are close.  You don't have to choose a category. Houfy will add more category options later.  I have chosen "Other" since this is just a private guide for myself.


Now click "Add a photo" if you would like to add a photo to the face of your guide. This is optional.


You will now see this Pop-up window. Click "Add Photo" and upload a photo from your computer.


This blue bar appears while your photo is uploading.  


Once uploading is complete, you will now see your photo.  If you don't like the photo, click the X to the right and upload a new one.  There is also a "Rotate" photo button in bottom left corner.


Now click "Save Changes" button. You can always change your photo later too.


The "Create a guide" Pop-up window will now show with your new photo. You may need to scroll down to view and select the "Privacy" settings options.


Select whether this guide will be "Private" or "Public" and Save.


After saving, your guides will appear along with your new guide at the bottom. You can see there is a lock icon on my private guides.


If you would like to create guides before needing to bookmark a story, you can do that also.   Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click Guides.



Click the "Create a guide" link and you will see the "Create a Guide" Pop-up window as shown earlier.  Then follow same steps as above. 


Help Guide for more information about creating posts/stories.

Houfy Help Social
Houfy social is a social network where members can post/share/follow and become friends with other members. Guides can be created and shared...










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How Do I Update My Payment Methods?



Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing


Click Settings tab


Click Payment Information tab


Check off payment options.  Changes will automatically save.   To view changes click Preview listing


Scroll near bottom of listing to see public traveler view 


Comparison of Stripe and Square for credit card payments with Houfy


Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


Write a comment

Where Do I Upload My Rental Agreement?



Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Click Edit to make changes to your listing.


Click Settings tab.


Click Rules tab.


Upload Rental Agreement, or drag and drop.


Your document link should appear once agreement is successfully uploaded.


Where does my guest view the agreement?

From the home screen, after guest enters dates and clicks "Request to Book," the screen below will appear.  Guest can click on your rental agreement to download and review.  In order to proceed with the booking, the guest will need to check the box agreeing to your cancellation policy, house rules, and Rental Agreement.  


I have never used a Rental Agreement and why would I need one?  

If you aren't already familiar with your local laws, go ahead and start learning about them now.  First find out if a Rental Agreement is required for short term rentals in your area.  Your local laws may require specific information to be included within the agreement.  For example, North Carolina is governed by the North Carolina Vacation Rental Act.  This Act spells out owner obligations, guest protections, and what clauses must be included within the agreement. 

When creating a Rental Agreement, many owners use the assistance of an attorney; others don't use any agreement at all.  There can be circumstances when having a signed Rental Agreement is beneficial. For example, some credit card companies may not acknowledge a "click to accept" (checkbox) as a legitimate cardholder signature.  You might be asked to produce the actual guest's signature during a credit card dispute

It's also a good idea to check with your insurance company and ask what kinds of documents are needed if you ever file a claim.  Will a print out of your reservation from a listing site be sufficient, or do they require documentation with a real signature?  You also might need a Rental Agreement if you ever have to take a guest to court.  

Most owners allow the guest to book by clicking "I agree" to their sample agreement, and then have the guest sign and return the actual agreement.


Below are sample agreements that other Houfy members have given permission for anyone to use.  Feel free to take parts from any or all, and customize your own.  Do not rely on any of these samples as "legal documents" that will meet all of your needs.  You still need to research your own laws.  



Tiki House Rental Agreement
To rent Tiki House, we require you to sign/accept a rental agreement. This is for your protection as much as ours. The agreement spells out all the details of renting, from checking-in to checking out!


Willoughby Cottage - Sample Rental agreement
1. AGREEMENT: The Willoughby Cottage, LLC. ("Cottage"), the Owner, and Guest agree as follows: Above Guest is an adult and will be an occupant of the unit during the entire reserved period. Other occupants will be family members, friends and their...


Helpful info about vacation rental agreements

Short-Term (Vacation) Rental Lease Agreement
The short-term or vacation rental agreement is a lease that is made between a landlord and tenant that is generally between 1 to 30 days. The agreement is most common for higher-end properties to outline the exact terms and conditions of the rental period.


Need an agreement right now? Use this site for an emergency agreement.

Short-Term (Vacation) Rental Lease Agreement
The short-term or vacation rental agreement is a lease that is made between a landlord and tenant that is generally between 1 to 30 days. The agreement is most common for higher-end properties to outline the exact terms and conditions of the rental period.



Here are more guides to help you in setting up your property listing

Houfy Help Guide for Vacation Rental Owners
Help guide for Houfy members Getting Started on Houfy - Where Owners and Guests can Book Without Fees


Julia Borgstrom Kastendiek

Thank you , once again, Bridget. You Rock!!I need to use this to set mine up. Do you have an actual RA agreement Word doc you can let me utilise??

Joanne Diorio

Can I get one too

Reply6 months
Phyllis Stehlin

Can I have one also?

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Should I use Stripe or Square for credit cards?



Many of you are wondering whether Stripe or Square is better for your Houfy business.  This will depend on several factors and each owners' individual needs.  I've compiled a summary of the differences I've learned about each.  Keep in mind that each processor offers so many additional features (free and paid); I can't even begin to list them all.  You can learn more details about those on their websites though.  For now, I'll just cover the main points that relate to Houfy reservations. 


What is the cost to signup?

FREE!  Both Stripe and Square have no signup fees.  No contracts.  No termination fees.  If you don't like them, cancel any time. 



How quickly will I receive the guest payment?

Right away!  Well, technically as soon as Square and Stripe deposit the funds into your bank account.  Although both are payment options connected to Houfy, $$$ only passes between you and the guest. 

You receive payments directly from the customer at the time of booking.  This makes it easy for your guests to pay online at the same time they are making a reservation.  No need to first accept the booking request, and then later send a separate payment invoice.  This is the payout schedule for both companies:

Square:  Within 1-2 business days, no matter which country the payment is coming from.  This schedule applies to all Square account holders.

Stripe:  Unless your business is considered to be a "high risk" industry, below are the general payout times. Note: the first payment may take between 7-10 business days.

Australia and U.S.: 2 business days

New Zealand: 4 days

Japan: once a week, day of your choice

Most other countries: 7 days.

 

Read more here about Stripe's payout schedules, and even how to customize your payout time. Note for Square: When your invoices are paid, you will be sent a daily deposit summary at 5 p.m. Pacific time (by default) - Unless you have customized your "close of day" time for a different hour.  If for some reason you are not receiving these notifications, double check your settings. Log into dashboard, click "Account & Settings" icon.  Scroll to "email notifications," and from there you can select which notifications you'd like to receive. 

 


In which countries is this available?

Stripe: Australia, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Italy, Japan, Luxembourg, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Portugal, Singapore, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom, and the United States. Sign up here to receive notifications as new countries are added, or request an invite.

Square: U.S., United Kingdom, Japan, Canada, and Australia.

Note: U.S. territories are excluded.


How much are the credit card fees? 

If you process over $250,000 annually, contact each company's sales dept. for a quote. Both companies accept all major credit cards: Visa, MasterCard, Discover, American Express, JCB, and UnionPay.

Stripe:

Online domestic invoices, Apple Pay, Google Pay:  2.9% plus .30 cents per transaction

International invoices:  Same as above plus an additional 1% conversion fee, and a 1% international card fee may apply. Read about ways to avoid conversion fees. And read more details about other U.S. non-credit card payment methods.

European Cards: 1.4% plus .30 cents per transaction


Square:

Online invoices (including international):  2.9% plus .30 cents per transaction.  Your customer may pay a conversion fee to their bank.  

Read more details about in-person card payments and rates.



But I only accept payment by checks.

Some Houfy members (including Thijs) are having the guest make a small credit card deposit at the time of booking, then collecting the balance by check or transfer. This keeps fees to a minimum.  It also prevents a guest from blocking your calendar while that check never arrives in the mail.  And the guest has now put some $$$ down to secure the reservation. Here are instructions in setting that up.

Square:

At this time, the option to have guests pay by E-check or ACH debit is not available. Other Square users have requested this, and will update if/when I receive notice.


Stripe

Updating shortly.


What about chargebacks?   

Hopefully you'll never have a chargeback.  But just in case, here is a quick overview:



Stripe

Chargeback fee is $15.  If you win the dispute, you are reimbursed the chargeback fee.   

Square

No fee if a customer files a chargeback, even if you lose the dispute.  For those of you who receive a lot of transactions equaling $250 or less, you may benefit from their free chargeback protection program.  Many home shares and one night stays will qualify.  Transactions amounts over $250 do not qualify.

The protection program does come with some limitations.  As long as the amount in dispute is no more than $250, you've followed Square's payment "best practices," and responded to the dispute sufficiently... you'll be covered up to $250 a month, even if the dispute is not ruled in your favor.  This is not a month to month carry forward policy.  Read more details about this program.



Can I accept payment while traveling abroad?

Yes. As long as you have Square or Stripe connected to Houfy, you are good to go!  If you aren't connected, then you must read this section below about Square.

  
Stripe:  You can generate invoices from any location.

Square:  You can only process payments when you are physically located in the country where you activated your account.  For in-person card payments using the Square app, your location is tracked by GPS.  If you are sending invoices through your Square dashboard, then location is tracked by your IP address.  When you connect to Houfy there shouldn't be any issues, as the cardholder entering payment info is considered to be generating the invoice rather than you.



How will refunds affect my cancellation policy?  

It's important to consider your cancellation policy when choosing a processor.  For those of you who have a NO refund policy, this likely won't affect you.  However, the rest of you keep reading...especially if you offer guests a cancellation window!


Square:
Processing fees are reimbursed back to you when refunding guests.

Time frames:

  • Refunds processed via a mobile device must take place within 120 days of the original transaction date.  Outside of that time frame, you will need to process refunds outside of Square.
  • Refunds processed via your online Square Dashboard must take place within one year of the original transaction date.

So if you plan to accept a refundable damage deposit, be sure to not process this too far in advance.  

Stripe
Processing fees are not reimbursed back to your account when refunding guests.  There is no time limit on applying a refund back to a guest's credit card; however, the more time that passes, the likelihood the card has expired, etc. Stripe recommends first contacting the guest (to see if anything has changed) if at least 6 months have passed. Payments that underwent currency conversion will be converted back during the refund process.



What if I need customer support?

Both companies offer online and phone support; however, you will need to sign up for a free account before you can receive phone assistance from either company.  You can create a Square account by clicking on my referral link here.  Both of us will save processing fees of $1,000 within the next 180 days.  Note: You must click my link in order to save the fees.  I made the mistake of having someone's link and signed up directly through the site; I lost out on the savings..ha!

When you call Square you will hear a recording asking for you to enter your customer code in order to access a phone representative.  Log in to your Square dashboard and click here. You will now see your customer code and it will always remain the same.  Keep it in a safe place as it identifies your account. 

Square: Phone: 1-855-700-6000, Hours: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m Pacific Daylight Time

Stripe: No public phone number. They will call you immediately, but you first need to log into your dashboard to request a phone call. Hours: 24/7

After you create a free Stripe account, click on the "open book" icon in the top right corner.
There will be a drop down menu to select support. Scroll to the bottom and click on "contact us." From there you can choose to have a rep. call you.  Fill out the short info and you will be presented 2 codes.  One code is what the rep will repeat when they call you.  The other code is for you to repeat back to the rep.  It's usually very fast.  I called 3x within the past few days and Stripe called me in about one minute.


Once you are signed up for Stripe or Square, you can now "connect" your account to Houfy. Follow the screenshots in the link below.

Houfy and accepting Direct Payments with Stripe or Square
We have connected Stripe and Square on Houfy for you to receive direct deposits & payments from your Guests. This will only work if your listing is verified by us. Of course!


Be sure your accepted payment methods are reflected on your listing.

How do I update payment methods?
Log into your dashboard. Click on profile pic in upper right corner. Then click My Listings.


Peggy And Mike Gardner

Signed up for square using your link. Thanks for the guide.

Carl and Bridget

Great! Will try my best to keep it updated. If you learn of any cool new features feel free to tell me about them. Thanks!

Reply8 months
Mike And Lara Morgan

Thank you. We've been using PayPal, but want to signup for one of these. Very helpful article.

Dawn Blackbuck Lodge Bandera County

Signed up for Stripe, linked it, and had my husband sign up and reserve a Monday in the future for $1. It worked.

Carl and Bridget

Great! Dawn, Are you in the Say Yes to Houfy facebook group yet?


I wasn't sure if you were a member and suggest joining if you haven't just in case you later have any questions, etc.

Reply3 months
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