I use the VRBO calendar as my primary and they have a calendar widget that I've integrated into my personal rental site . Always screen your guests and use this one calendar. Letting people book a rental automatically through a site is not a good idea. its not a hotel and you need much more control over this type of business. Especially, if your friend doesn't want her places trashed.
You can sync all your calendars so you update only one and the others update automatically, thus assuring all calendars are identical. This is easily done and available via HomeAway, VRBO, Vacationrentals, Flipkey, AirBnB, Vacation Rental Mgt sites like MyVR and your personal websites
@Christopher Kilpatrick This is why I only use VRBO as the other sites don't really give you an opportunity to screen the guest and you don't get their contact info until after the booking is made which is somewhat risky. IMHO just stick to the one site VRBO/Homeaway.
I agree with what the others have said - I wouldn't allow an automatic booking and would instead ensure that a human has spoken with guests prior to their renting a house. You should still look to sync your calendars to avoid double booking, but I'd vote for staying away from the practice of allowing online bookings.
For guest screening, most people have a digital profile these days. In addition, I Google them, looked them up on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, etc. to attempt to see who they are. While this does not guarantee that you are going to have the perfect guest, or group of people staying at your rental, it does give you an idea as to who the person is and what activities they take part in. I do not permit anyone under the age of 25 to rent any of my homes. I've had plenty of ".edu" email addresses specified within the initial inquiries, which is a dead ringer for college kids. In addition, I communicate the information of irresponsible guests to others I know that have rentals on our lakes. They typically do the same. I would suggest that your friend make initial contact with other property owners to get the scoop on what issues they have encountered along the way.
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