Guides

Bridget's Houledges for Vacation Rental Owners

Houledge for owners listing their properties on Houfy.

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. Join first, then 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


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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
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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.

Reply9 days
Colin Davies

Thank you Thijs! Much appreciated!

Reply15 days
Thijs Aaftink

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

Reply16 days
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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.

Bridget Johnson

Exactly!

Reply23 days
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.

Replya month
Bridget Johnson

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.

Replya month
Bridget Johnson

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.

Replya month
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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. 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 bumpy road some of us have already walked! 

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


1. Always Remember: a Story is Not a Guide; A Guide 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 Guide are all, three completely separate things.  Stories and Posts can be bookmarked (added) to Guides.  Don't use the Guide'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 Guide.  

Publish a Story about the hiking trail, and then bookmark the Story to your Guide.  Even if you only have one hiking trail to put in your Hiking guide, it should be added as a Story.  Unlike Stories, "Guide 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 Guide descriptions. Just cut/paste the text from your Guide 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 Guides. 

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.  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 Guide

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 guides (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. Guide = a compilation of related posts/stories.  You will then attach these guides 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 guides 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 guides for a future trip, etc.  And, your guests will appreciate that you have all of this info handy for them!  

What is a Guide?

A guide is just a collection of related stories/posts.  Think of it as organizing information into folders.  You may have a guide called "Best Hiking Trails near Lake Lure," "Top 10 Breakfast Spots in Asheville," or "Rainy Day Activities."  Others can read your guides 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 guide and bookmarking others' stories/posts for your own vacation, so you might set this guide to private.  

If you are creating guides for guests, then you will make these public and attach them to the appropriate listing.  Ex: your "Best Food Trucks in Asheville, NC" guide likely wouldn't be attached to your listing in Spain.  On the other hand, a guide 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 guides 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 Guide for your guests.  I have separate stories for my Departure Checklist, Cabin Supplies, and Directions.  I email all of this info directly from Houfy as soon as guests make a booking.  I now love having my guides and being able to provide my guests with online information about my area. 

Here is an example of one of my guides:

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 guides

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...
Tina Schmidt

Thanks so much for this information! It was very helpful in framing my understanding as I try to maximize my HouFY potential!

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)

Bridget Johnson

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.

Reply2 months
Martin Lerario

Great instructional Bridget - this will benefit all members.

Bridget Johnson

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.


Replya month
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How to Bookmark a Story/Post to a Guide



Stories can be bookmarked to an existing guide, or a new guide. You can add ANY Houfy member's story to your own guide. 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


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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...


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

Reply2 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. One caveat: the refund 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.  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.


Julia Borgstrom Kastendiek

Bridget, YOU ROCK! This is all very helpful. I signed up for stripe. It's not visible on my Houfy site unless I am a guest, right???

Peggy And Mike Gardner

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

Bridget Johnson

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!

Reply3 months
Mike And Lara Morgan

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

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