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Facts and Figures

  • 3 million Britons damaged property when visiting UK hotels
  • UK guests checked out with £5m worth of stolen bathrobes
  • 80% of guests have taken something as a memento of their stay
  • 336,000 beds have been broken
  • 672,000 electrical items (kettles, irons, hairdryers etc) needed to be replaced
  • Over 300,000 TV sets ruined

*Source 'More Than Business' over a 5 year period

As Recommended by the Minister of Tourism

Guestscan with the Minister of Tourism

"I was very interested to see Guestscan's solution..."
John Penrose, Minister of Tourism


Spotting a Rogue Renter

Thursday 28th April 2011

Spotting a rogue renter

Fraud, malicious damage and theft are just a few of the ways holiday property
owners can suffer at the hands of customers. But now a new association aims to
give owners advance warning of potential problems, as John Kerswill discovered

f you let out a holiday property, you’ll
know all about the guests from hell – if
not from bitter personal experience,

then from the horror stories that circulate
whenever owners get together.

It could be something as simple as

leaving the property in an appalling mess,

or stripped of valuable items, or damaged

by thoughtfulness like letting a bath

overflow, or fat splatter from a frying pan.

But it could be more calculated and

malicious. I’ve heard tales of guests who

said nothing during their stay, then wrote

with a portfolio of pictures showing filthy

conditions, threatening a letter to Trading

Standards or a devastating review on the

online review site, Tripadvisor, unless a

large refund by way of ‘compensation’

was forthcoming. Needless to say, the

property had been immaculate when the

guests had arrived: it was they who had

trashed it.

In fact, Tripadvisor is becoming

something of a sore point with hotel and

B&B owners, who increasingly find the

threat of a bad review (or prospect of a

good one) used by guests either to get

preferential treatment or a discount off

their bill. It’s tempting to cave in to this

blackmail because reviews on Tripadvisor

can make or break an accommodation

provider. The same pressure in the cruise

market led to a minor scandal a couple of

years ago when it was revealed that one

cruise line was rewarding ‘positive

posters’ with free cruises. Bear that in

mind when reading unusually glowing or

devastating reviews...

For the moment, the Tripadvisor effect

is less overwhelming in the holiday rental

market, but don’t bank on it staying that

way. And while hotel managers can keep

a close eye on guests who don’t seem

quite right, owners of rental properties are

often based miles away (or even on a

different continent), so will often have no

opportunity to meet or assess their guests.

So what can a property owner do to
avoid these rogue guests? Until recently
the honest answer was ‘not much’. But a
new organisation promises to put power
back in owners’ hands. The Guestscan
Association – the first of its kind in
Europe – allows accommodation owners
to check out customers before
confirming a booking.

Members of the association have
access to an online database of known
troublemakers, so they can identify and
easily filter problem guests in advance –
reducing the risk of damage, nonpayment
or anti-social behaviour. The
scheme relies on a comprehensive
online database that members can
access instantly via a PC, laptop or

It has taken two years of development
to get Guestscan ready to roll out, with a
huge amount of work going into
ensuring that the scheme is fully
compliant with the data protection laws
and other regulations.

The way it works is that owners have
to join the Guestscan Association (which
costs £4 a month for up to five
properties) and comply with the rules of
the association in the members’
handbook. They are given a unique
username and password that allows
them to retrieve information about a
specific guest immediately. If no adverse
report appears, accommodation owners
can rest easier in the knowledge that the
customer has had no previous recorded
misdemeanours – and accept the

Members having a bad experience
with a guest can report misdemeanours
in several categories:

• Non-payment (stipulating amount
• Damage to property (stating value of
• Abusive behaviour towards staff
• Abusive behaviour towards guests
• Excessive noise
• Extra unauthorised guests
• Theft of property (stipulating value of
stolen property)
• Fraud
• Other (must be specific)
Every report form is scrupulously
checked by Guestscan before being
posted on the database. All the
information will be provided and shared
by Guestscan members, with no public

Neil Campbell, the man behind
Guestscan, is keen to stress that it is not
a blacklist, but a pooling of information
between members that helps safeguard
the owners of holiday homes, small
hotels, B&Bs and caravan and camping
sites. Members can also take advantage
of a free tailor-made booking system (for
up to five properties or rooms).

Clearly, the more members the
association has, the more feedback it
will provide and the better it will work.
A similar scheme has been operating
successfully in Australia for some time,
so the prospects look good.

The opportunity to identify fraudulent
or malicious customers before they do
any damage has been welcomed by
Martin Sachs of the English Association
of Self Catering Operators:

“Guestscan is another level of due
diligence and provides an innovative
new safeguard for anybody letting out
property. EASCO welcomes new
services for self catering operators and
Guestscan is a genuinely new idea that
will give peace of mind to its

For more information, go to


or call 08444 935 088.

Cottage Industry


Cottage Industry is our regular feature aimed at anyone who already rents out holiday cottages or villas, or is thinking of giving it a go. In
coming issues we’ll be aiming to give really useful information and advice, with profiles and case studies of successful ventures as well as
explorations of common problems and mistakes.

Cottage Industry is sponsored by Boshers, providers of Tailored Holiday Home Insurance for commercially
let holiday homes, cottages and apartments in the UK

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