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Katie Cohen

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Katie is FlipKey's content strategist and product marketing manager. She began her career in online journalism, and she has written for many outlets, ranging from the Boston Phoenix to the Fidelity Investments website. Katie loves a good road trip, particularly when there is local food to try upon arrival. She also enjoys photography, bike rides, and octopus videos.

Occurrences of fraud on our site are extremely rare, but it’s important to be aware of the risks. The last thing you want is a fraudster (or “hacker”) accessing your email account, posing as you and requesting payment from your guests.

So it’s vital to watch out for warning signs of phishing attacks and put some simple security measures in place. Use our security checklist to keep your online accounts safe.

1. Find out about phishing

Phishing is the practice of sending emails that appear to be from a trustworthy source to get sensitive information (e.g. login/passwords, credit card details) for fraudulent purposes.

These emails may contain a link directing you to a site that looks like FlipKey, but actually has a slightly altered or misspelled URL (e.g. owner-details.flipkey.com). You enter your login details and the scammers then know how to access your FlipKey account.
For more information and to report an incidence of fraud, visit the Federal Trade Commission website.

2. Look for signs of a fake inquiry

FlipKey has security systems in place to identify scam emails. However, fraudsters are always inventing new ways to trick us, so it’s important that you’re on the lookout too.

Our top anti-phishing tips:

Tip #1 Only respond to emails that you know are from us

We’ll only ever contact you from email addresses that end in:

  • @e.flipkey.com
  • @bm.flipkey.com
  • @flipkey.com
  • @flipkeyrentals.com

Here’s an example of a valid inquiry address format: Alison.Jones_290ppkn@bm.flipkey.com

Tip #2 Never enter your details on a non-secure website

We never misspell or add words to our core website address. We’ll only ask you to log in to your FlipKey account with a website address starting with:
https://secure2.flipkey.com


You should be suspicious if:

  • The sender asks you to click on a link that takes you to a website address that doesn’t start with “https”, then asks you to enter sensitive information.
  • The sender asks to pay by check, sends too much money and asks for a refund of the difference.
  • The sender is overly keen to move the conversation away from our secure FlipKey site.
  • The inquiry is written in poor English and overly formal. (However, please note that you may receive legitimate inquiries from travelers who don’t speak English as their first language.)
  • The inquiry includes a lot of the traveler’s personal circumstances, which are irrelevant.
  • The inquiry is for a noticeably long period of time.
  • The sender wants to pay by Western Union, banker’s draft or cashier’s check.

3. Protect your email account

  • Think about setting up a designated email address just for inquiries from travelers – your other online accounts won’t be affected if this address is hacked.
  • Some email providers, like Google, Yahoo! and Hotmail, have an additional security measure called 2-step verification. If you access your email account from an unknown device, you’ll receive a pin code via text message to complete your login. If a hacker tries to access your account, you’ll be alerted by the text message and the hacker won’t have the code to get any further.
  • Check the settings on your email account to make sure nothing has been changed. Fraudsters often set up redirects on email accounts, which means they could be receiving your inquiries and requesting deposits.

4. Sign in to FlipKey regularly

  • Every inquiry you receive will appear in your FlipKey Inbox as well as your personal one. If you notice that any of them haven’t been delivered to your personal email address, contact us immediately.
  • Set up text alerts. If you receive a text alert but don’t receive an email inquiry, you’ll know to contact us to investigate (the text and the email won’t necessarily arrive together, so please don’t worry if they arrive a few minutes apart).
  • Download the app and make sure push notifications are turned on (do this via the Settings app on your phone).

5. Use different passwords for each online account

This way, even if a hacker gets hold of one password, your other accounts will remain secure. Remember to log out straight away after using any online account.
A good password is:

  • Hard to guess.
  • At least seven characters long including letters (uppercase and lowercase), numerals and, where possible, symbols.
  • Changed regularly.
  • Not stored on your computer or any other electronic device that can access the internet.

We’re here to help

We don’t want you to miss out on any genuine inquiries, so if you receive one that you’re not sure about, just get in touch.

One of the key ways to successfully get FlipKey bookings is to have an up-to-date calendar, which is why we give you the option to have your calendar updated daily and synced with your other systems.

Calendar sync automatically updates your FlipKey and TripAdvisor calendars with bookings from your HomeAway, Google, Airbnb, and Yahoo calendars, or any other calendar that uses iCal technology

Cal shot

How to sync your calendars

Sign in to your account, go to Properties > Update calendar and select Sync with other calendars. Follow the instructions on the screen.

Note that syncing a calendar won’t send out updates from your FlipKey or TripAdvisor calendar. You’ll only receive information from your external calendars.

How calendar syncing gets you more bookings

1. Receive better quality inquiries

Travelers get frustrated when they find your listing and get excited to stay with you (“Look they have our dates free!”), only to be told that you are booked up, because you did not update your calendar. Improve your reputation by keeping an updated calendar so both parties are happy.

2. Accept more booking requests

Tired of leaving money on the table because you’re already booked? Fully updated and synced calendars mean no more misunderstandings getting in the way of you and guests who send you booking requests.

3. Give travelers the confidence to book with you

Keeping an updated calendar shows your customers that you care about your rental. When your calendars are synced, the Calendar last updated date on your listing will refresh every day.

Questions? Learn more in our Help Center.

Just as they would expect an immediate response from a coworker they’ve emailed or a friend they just texted,  potential travelers expect the same type of quick response from you when they are booking a vacation rental. That’s why we hold our owners and managers accountable for a speedy reply. Your response rate showcases to potential renters how consistent (or not) you are in responding to your guests.

Where can I find it?

Your response rate appears in the “About the owner” or “About the manager” section of your listing. It appears after you’ve received your fourth inquiry.

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It’s based on whether or not you’ve responded within 24 hours to your last 20 inquiries or booking requests. If you’ve not yet received 20, the percentage is based on those you have received. You can also see your response rate at the top of your owner dashboard.

On each individual message, you’ll see your response time, which is the average time it has taken you to respond to your last 20 interests.

Why is it important?

A traveler is  much more likely to book with you when you respond quickly. We’ve given you a 24-hour window to send your reply, but our site data shows  that responding within six hours doubles your chances of a booking. A few more items:

  • Responding quickly shows guests that you’re proactive and don’t like to keep them waiting—something they’ll remember when it comes time to write a review.
  • Your response rate plays a key role in your listing’s position in search results, meaning more travelers can find your property easily.
  • Time is precious for travelers looking to book last minute, and they will skip right over your listing if your response rate is poor. If travelers repeatedly have to wait a long time to hear from you, we’ll have no choice but to deactivate  your account  to avoid any further frustration.

How to improve your response rate

Get a 100% response rate by responding to every inquiry and booking request within 24 hours. Challenge yourself to respond as quickly as possible.

We know you’re busy and  it can be tough to follow these guidelines, so here are some helpful tips:

  • Download our free mobile app to manage bookings from your iPhone or Android device.  Sign in regularly and make sure your listing is kept up to date so you don’t need to worry about checking any details before confirming a booking.
  • Review your saved responses (Go to Bookings > Update booking settings) and make sure you’re happy with them so you’re less likely to make any edits before responding.

So you have a new inquiry on your home; congratulations! If you’re ready to take the reservation, your next step is to confirm the booking by collecting a payment. This means you’ll send a quote by email, asking your traveler to pay by credit card or PayPal on FlipKey.

Here’s how to do it all, using our secure payment system:

1. Take a look at the inquiry in your Inbox. You’ll see your guest’s travel dates and a summary of the money you’ll be collecting. Just below that, you can read the message from your guest.

Quote-Gif

2. Click Edit or view quote details to review your pricing breakdown in full. Here, you can make adjustments like adding a discount, or billing your guest for just the booking deposit up front.

Booking tip: if you decide to collect a booking deposit ahead of the final payment, remember that the deposit is non-refundable if the traveler cancels.

3. Include a reply. Your message template appears already in the message box, automatically personalized with your guest’s name. You can uncheck the box next to Use your message template if you’d like to write a different message to this guest.

Booking tip: You can edit what your saved message templates say by going to Booking settings > Messages to guests.

4. Finish up by clicking Send quote. We’ll notify your guest immediately that they can reserve their trip by making a payment. You’ll also receive email updates from us on their progress.

Booking tip: You don’t need to reply to an inquiry to request a payment. Go to Bookings > Create a quote to send your own quote from scratch.

Once your guest has paid, you’ll have a confirmed reservation on the books. We release your money 24 hours after the check-in date, and you can expect to receive it in 3 to 5 business days, depending on your bank.

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We’re starting to move owners and property managers on to the new dashboard, so the next time you sign in to manage your rental, you could see our new design. It might seem a bit different from what you’re used to, so we put together this guide to show you where to find some of your favorite features.

Your rental business at a glance

After you sign in, you’ll land on the homepage of your dashboard, which shows you at-a-glance information about your rental business. The central area shows your progress toward a complete listing, while the statistics near the bottom keep track of your revenue, listing visits, reviews, and more. Your response rate now appears along the top of the screen.

Overall view of new dashboard

 

 

Top navigation takes you where you need to go

You can get to every page of your account from the menu at the top of the screen. Properties has all of your listing-related items like description, location, and photos. Here, you can also find links to manage your reviews or add a new listing.Properties menu

Bookings is where you can track reservations and update your booking settings—including cancellation policy, extra fees, and your saved messages that you can send to guests during the payment process. Finally, all of your administrative items like your contact settings, profile information, and deposit method are in your Account menu.

Inbox: more reservation info at your fingertips

The envelope icon takes you to your inbox, where you can see the status of each inquiry and booking request. Use the Show filters button to refine the messages that you see. Just as before, you can click into a conversation to accept/decline booking requests, or to request payment in response to an inquiry.

Where to find helpHelp topics

Keep an eye out for the blue Help topics bar that appears in the upper right corner of your account pages.

Here you’ll find links to on-screen tutorials that will walk you through the steps of your most common account tasks. It’s like your own personal rental management assistant! Even if there aren’t tutorial links, you’ll see links to FAQs that are relevant to the task at hand.

If you still need help, watch our video tutorial, or check out our updated Help Center. Happy Bookings!

Headline

For travelers browsing FlipKey’s listings, your headline is what entices future guests to choose your listing above all of the others. Is your headline as clickable as can be? Follow these tips to improve it in just 10 seconds.

Remove listing criteria.
We’ve taken care of showing the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, and sleep capacity both on the search results page and to outside search engines, so you don’t need to include these in your headline.

Be specific about the location.
If you want to mention where you rental is, zero in on the neighborhood or key attraction. We already categorize your rental by city, so you don’t need to worry about including that.

Check the word count.
You have 50 characters to play with for your headline, but keep in mind that travelers are browsing FlipKey on a variety of screen sizes, including tablets and mobile phones. Brevity is better. While you’re at it, run a spell check.

Remove extraneous information.
With conciseness in mind, take out any item that doesn’t add to your headline. That includes unit or floor numbers and any other identifier that is meaningless to travelers.

Pick one or two of your best attributes.
Now that you’ve freed up some room in that headline, pick one or two of your best features to make your headline stand apart.

Headlines: before and after

Not-so-great headline: 2BR/2BA Condo Unit #317
Great headline: Luxury Ski Chalet with Fireplace

Not-so-great headline: San Francisco Apartment
Great headline: Great views near Ghirardelli square

Ready to get more eyeballs on your listing? You can update your headline by visiting Listings >  Edit Listing > Details.

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It’s easy to get the essentials down when traveling abroad, like making sure your passport is current and remembering to exchange some money into the local currency. Perhaps what’s harder to grasp are the local customs, which might be different from your own but matter a lot to the people in whose country you’ve just arrived. Although none of these will set off an international incident if you forget to follow them, you’ll do yourself a favor in making new friends if you try to remember these customs during your journey.

Traveling alone can be both daunting and liberating. Without family drama, travel companions’ hangups, or even a set schedule, the possibilities might seem endless. Here’s a list of our top destinations for those who are traveling solo, and how to reign yourself in and have a meaningful trip that’s all about you.

Russian River, CA

Tip: Go exploring
Upon arrival, nothing beats a good walk, drive, or bike ride to help orient you to your new destination. Keep your eyes peeled for interesting spots that you might want to check out later, including restaurants, unusual attractions, or places where locals gather. The town of Healdsburg in the Russian River area of California has a great downtown full of interesting shops and restaurants. Pop in and ask the shopkeepers about their favorite wineries. Who knows—you might get yourself invited to a tasting in the surrounding Sonoma wine country!

With South By Southwest starting in just a few weeks, we think it’s time to offer our seasoned wisdom on surviving another year of blockbuster events. Whether you’re a big-time music fan attending your first festival, or a schedule nut looking to maximize your conference agenda, we’ve got the tips to get you through it.

Dress for the weather
Yes, you might have planned on wearing your favorite ironic T-shirt or those new strappy sandals, but neither will do you any good if the forecast calls for atypical festival weather. Keep an eye on that hourly forecast, and plan accordingly. An extra layer will be a lifesaver should the skies turn gray, and it’s helpful indoors too—conference halls and screening rooms are notoriously chilly, no matter what’s going on outside.

January is National Book Month, and to celebrate, we’re rounding up some of our favorite destinations for book lovers. Whether you’re the type to swoon while standing in the spot of your favorite climactic scene, or thrill in retracing the steps of your most-beloved author, you’ll find a spot that you won’t want to miss on your next trip.

San Francisco, California
Beat Poets
The city by the bay has long been a draw for poets and artists, especially the Beats during the 1950s. Visit City Lights, the legendary book store that published Allen Ginsberg’s “Howl” and made North Beach synonymous with Beat culture. Throw back a few beers at nearby Vesuvio, where Neal Cassady and Jack Kerouac were known to tipple. If you can tear yourself away, take a walking tour of the area, organized by the Beat Museum.