Damage waivers: Automation key for one-woman business


Using damage waivers and damage deposits to save time and money

February 1, 2024 | Villa in Umbria, Italy
damage waiver automation for short term rentals
When trained lawyer Saskia van der Bolt visited Umbria on holiday in the late 90s, she never dreamed she’d spend the next 20-odd years ensuring that visitors to this part of Italy have a wonderful time. She moved from London to a small village with her partner in 2000, and her life turned upside down. “I had no idea what to do with myself.”

Challenges – being a one-woman business, COVID, bureaucracy, taxes

“Being a property manager in Italy is not easy. There is a lot of bureaucracy and taxes. It is complicated to grow a business.”

As with most hosts and property managers, she saw a drop in bookings during COVID, but the business survived – mainly thanks to direct bookings.

“We had a lot of repeat business from guests who trusted us to offer a safe place to stay.”

Her company benefited from the post-COVID boom, with soaring demand for properties of all sizes, but in 2023 occupancy slightly dropped though still better than pre-COVID. She’s not yet seen the predicted upswing in bookings in 2024.

“As a one-woman business, there is always too much to do. Automation is key.”

This is also what attracted Saskia to Know-Your-Guest in the first place. On the one side, homeowners insisted on a deposit to protect their homes, whereas many guests did not want to pay a deposit upfront, causing a bureaucratic headache for her.

Solution: How does she use Know-Your-Guest?

“We use guest-screening in many of the properties and I offer guests a choice between a non-refundable damage waiver or a damage deposit. I leave it up to them.”

She plans to switch to Know-Your-Guest’s comprehensive damage protection plan offering insurance of up to 5 million euros for some properties.

What are the benefits of using Know-Your-Guest features?

“For me, the biggest benefit is not having to chase after damage payments. It takes away the bureaucratic hassle, saves time and it calms down hosts who worry about damage to their properties.” Her reason for wanting to upgrade, is: “The added security will be a big selling point for house owners. Especially new hosts often worry that guests will ruin their homes. Although these fears are often unfounded, it could help to persuade homeowners to work with me.”And if there is a case of serious damage, Know-Your-Guest will deal with everything. “It’s another form of automation.”

Although damage waivers bring in additional money, her potential earnings are limited by the fact that she’s offering guests a choice between damage waivers and damage deposits.

Her tips for running a successful property management company?

“Ensure guests have a good experience and great memories. She uses her blog and a digital guidebook to help guests explore the area. “Always be available and ensure the booking process is as smooth as possible.”

Close collaboration with homeowners and ensuring that everything in the rentals is always in perfect working order is important.

“With guests, be as kind as possible from the very first contact to when they leave. Even if things go wrong, if you have the right attitude, they’ll come back.”

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