Posts for OWNER RESOURCES Category

AlaVHR – 2020 Year in Review


A Tale of Tragedy and Triumph

Undoubtedly, 2020 will go down in history as one of the most unusual years for the travel industry. We started out strong with record breaking website traffic and inquiries, only to be shut down by the COVID pandemic. At AlaVHR, we started out as vacation rental owners and we knew immediately that this was going to be a challenge for our owners.

We swiftly went into action by granting EVERY owner on our website a FREE 90 day extension on their subscription, no questions asked and no strings attached. We also gave any new subscribers a free trial to get back on their feet as the area reopened.

Once travel restrictions began to lift and the beaches reopened, it became clear that travelers were finally paying attention to those ridiculous booking fees charged by the “big sites” and they flocked to for relief. Our site traffic and inquiries spike by 500% over last year in May 2020, and continued strong for the rest of the summer.

Most owners were hopeful that they would have a full recovery from the COVID cancellations and the future looked bright indeed, UNTIL…. Along came Sally. Hurricane Sally had her eye, literally, on the Alabama Gulf Coast and she certainly overstayed her welcome. Sally was stronger and much SLOWER than anyone expected – saturating our land and brutally beating our trees and buildings for what seemed like an eternity.

The aftermath was surreal. Everywhere littered with giant overturned trees, branches blocking roads, fences down, roof shingles littering the streets. Everywhere we went looked like a war zone. It was heartbreaking to survey the damage. But in the midst of the destruction, something else stood out – the strength of a community coming together to help one another. Neighbor helping neighbor – the outpouring of human kindness left us humbled and honored to call Coastal Alabama our home.

Now, almost four months later, most of the rentals are ready to welcome guests, or will be very soon. Some communities were particularly hard hit and those may not be ready until Summer 2020 or even later. Those who sustained damage are working hard to make their homes even better than before. The worst hit areas will ultimately become the most beautiful. One thing is certain, our communities welcome you back with open arms. We want you and your family to continue to make memories with us.

Despite the setbacks, our website,, had an exceptional year. Check out these amazing statistics!

  • Website Traffic up 93% – nearly 2,000,000 Page Views in 2020
  • Inquiries up 150% – over 15,000 Inquiries in 2020 vs 5,000 in 2019
  • Listings up 26% – We now have nearly 400 Active Listings – we are the LARGEST “no booking fee” website serving Alabama. We have 60% more Alabama Listings than our nearest competitor.
  • We sent out over 300,000 emails in 2020 and our email database has grown to nearly 15,000 traveler emails.
  • We have over 18,000 followers on Social Media, including an extremely active Owner Support Group that is open to anyone who owns or manages a vacation rental in Alabama.

While we are growing, our competition is shrinking. What sets us apart? We pride ourselves in giving exceptional customer service, routinely going above and beyond. We have helped many new owners learn the ropes to set them up for success in this business. We continue to focus primarily on supporting individual owners and small scale property managers. We guarantee that your listing will be seen, not buried under major property management companies or hotels.

We truly believe the worst is behind us and that this will be an amazing year for our AlaVHR family – and when you join AlaVHR, it really is like being part of the family. Most importantly, we want to thank every owner who treats US like family and continues to put their faith in us. We will continue to work very hard for you in 2021!

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Using PayPal Invoices for Vacation Rental Owners

OWNER RESOURCES - March 18, 2020

At, we do not collect payments from travelers so you get paid directly. Many owners use PayPal for Business to manage their reservation invoices. It’s actually very easy to set up and use with a few simple steps.

We created a series of three short videos to get you started.

Part 1: Create a Template in PayPal

Part 2: Create an Invoice in PayPal

Part 3: Manage Invoices in PayPal

We are dedicated to helping owners succeed – if you have any questions or need assistance with your listing, please contact us.

Thank you for choosing Alabama Vacation Home Rentals!

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How to Sync Your Vacation Rental Calendars on AlaVHR

OWNER RESOURCES - March 11, 2020

Syncing your vacation rentals calendar with Alabama Vacation Home Rentals is quick and easy. Once you’re done, you’ll be able to monitor all your booked dates in one place so you can manage them easily and efficiently. This article will show you how to sync your VRBO, HomeAway, and Airbnb calendars with AlaVHR.

How to Sync Your VRBO/HomeAway or Airbnb Calendar with AlaVHR

Step 1: Open Your AlaVHR Calendar Inside the Owner Dashboard

  1. Log into your account on
  2. If you are already logged in, click “My Panel” at the upper right corner of the page to open the Dashboard.
  3. Select “Vacation Rentals” on the left menu
  4. Then click “Manage Listings/Calendar” to view your listings
  5. Find the property you would like to sync calendars and click “Calendar”

6. On the “Availability” tab, select “iCal Import” – this is where you will paste the iCal Link from VRBO or AirBnB later

Step 2: Copy Your Calendar Link from the VRBO/HomeAway or Airbnb Owner Dashboard

VRBO/HomeAway Instructions

  1. Open another tab on your browser and log into your VRBO or HomeAway Owner Dashboard
  2. Find the property that corresponds to your AlaVHR listing and click “Manage”
  3. On the drop down menu under Manage, select “Calendar” to see your Reservations Calendar

4. On your Reservations Calendar, click “Import/Export”

5. Choose “Export Calendar” – a window containing the calendar link will appear.

6. Copy the entire link and go back to the corresponding listing inside the AlaVHR Owner Dashboard

Airbnb Instructions

(NOTE: If you have both VRBO and Airbnb calendars, import from the first calendar before starting the second)

  1. Open another tab on your browser and log into your AirBnB Owner Dashboard
  2. Find the property that corresponds to your AlaVHR listing and click “Calendar”
  3. Select “Availability Settings”

4. Scroll down until you see “Sync Calendars” and then choose “Export Calendar” to view your iCal Link

5. Copy the entire link and return to the corresponding Availability tab in the AlaVHR dashboard

Step 3: Sync Your Calendar

  1. Return to the corresponding listing inside the AlaVHR dashboard, Availability Tab/iCal Import
  2. Paste your iCal link to the first available “iCal URL” textbox on your AlaVHR Availability dashboard
  3. Click “iCal Import”
  4. Calendar will automatically update once per hour
  5. IMPORTANT: Verify any cancellations or modified reservations update correctly. Contact us if you need assistance.

You have successfully sycned your calendars!

When you receive a booking through AlaVHR, just go to either your VRBO or AirBnB calendar and manually block the dates – it will automatically transfer to the AlaVHR calendar.

If a reservation is not importing correctly, first try to delete the reservation on your AlaVHR calendar, then click “iCal Import” to refresh. If you still experience issues, please contact us and we will be happy to look at it for you.

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Exclusive Deal for Flora-Bama Border Owners!!!

Do you own vacation rental property in communities near the Alabama-Florida state line?  We realize that many guests search this entire area when choosing a vacation rental and we want to make it easier for them to find YOU!  That’s why we have teamed up with our sister site in Florida to offer you this EXCLUSIVE deal!

Get double the exposure and all the benefits of being on both sites – for a special low rate!

First, set up your subscription on the regional site for your property.

Alabama Properties – Click Here to Get Started              

Florida Properties – Click Here to Get Started  

Once you have set up your paid subscription, you will automatically be eligible for a 50% discount on the border site!  It’s that simple!

You will also be eligible for all rights and privileges awarded to subscribers on both sites – including social media groups, newsletter exposure and other promotional opportunities.

Properties located in the following areas are currently eligible to participate.   If you would like your area to be considered for this special program, please contact the main site for your property.

Orange Beach Area, Alabama
Lillian Area, Alabama

Pensacola Area, Florida
Gulf Breeze/Pensacola Beach Area, Florida
Perdido Key Area, Florida 

On the Alabama site, all listings will be available under our Gulf Coast Region.

On the Florida site, all listings will be available under their North West Region.


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Owner Testimonials



Hear what fellow owners say about listing with Alabama Vacation Home Rentals – we are owners like YOU, first and foremost.  We are the only locally owned and operated regional site that serves the entire state of Alabama!  We will work very hard for you – give us a chance to earn your business with a FREE trial listing!   Get started today


“We listed our Orange Beach condo, Silver Beach 803 as a vacation rental about 9 months ago.  We have had a great response with inquiries and bookings and will continue to list our property here.  They are heavily marketing in the Alabama region and promoting in multiple areas.  Susan is very responsive to questions and issues.”  – Brenda B., September 25, 2018  See Brenda’s Listing Here


Some of my nicest guests have reserved through ALAVHR. This site is great for them as they don’t have to pay a reservation fee and for me because it lets me correspond with them without having to go through a “middle man.” I believe ALAVHR is doing a great job and look forward to a long and successful relationship with them.”  Linda G.  July 5, 2018  See Linda’s Listings Here


Kathy G., Owner

I am enjoying using your site with its ease of use and no booking fees for guest. With the Industry adding more and more fees (on both sides) and forgetting how they got so large, ie us owners, its refreshing to have a platform to advertise where they keep us in mind. I have gotten several reservations for our condos and know it will continue to grow thru word of mouth. As an owner myself, I really appreciate the enhancement to watermark our photos. Very simple to do and if you are unsure, Susan will assist you to get it done. I had my photos stolen off another site and created a new listing to scam guests on Craigs list of all places. I will use every tool I can find to prevent this again. The watermark does not hinder the ability to see the photo but because my name is front and center, no one will want to right click and save. After asking, Susan was also able to disable the right click and save from a computer (doesn’t work on a tablet or mobile device though) . Thank you for all you are doing to help all rental property owners in the area maximize our earning potential. Being such a young business I have high hopes this can become a games changer for all of us in the future.”  – Kathy G., June 24, 2018   See Kathy’s Listings Here


“I love that I can offer guests a legitimate website and have complete control over the booking and deposits! Other companies charge a fee for this, a fee for that, oh and don’t honor your wishes for a refundable damage deposit. It’s like banging your head to get anything from that company of anything happens!! This website saves the GUESTS AND Owners all those crazy fees!! Susan had been amazing to work with as well! Are you an owner!? STOP WASTING YOUR MONEY using those other sites! Guest looking to book- don’t go anywhere else!!!!”  – Jami B.  July 31, 2018   See Jami’s Listings Here


We are a very new website – launched in September 2017.  ALAVHR-Roy-Susan-ForsonIn that short time, we have become the FASTEST GROWING regional site in Alabama!  Join our team and let us start promoting YOUR vacation rental!

Questions?  Feel free to Contact Us anytime, or Call Us during regular business hours at (251) 333-6500.  We are here to help!


Roy and Susan Forson, Owners


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How to Spot a Scammer – Updated for 2019


How to Spot Scammer ALAVHR Watch our video and learn how to spot scammers!

Article by Susan Forson, Owner,, first published June 29, 2018

How to Spot a Scammer

Vacation rental scams are not new, but they have recently increased in our corner of the world.  Last July, I received a frantic phone call from a traveler who arrived in Gulf Shores, suitcases in hand, and discovered that her family had been scammed out of their vacation rental.   She called me because we have a very active Facebook community where we help connect travelers with vacation rental owners.   I helped calm her down, and went through the scenario with her – yes, she had been scammed.   It is very difficult to prosecute these scammers but I did encourage her to contact her bank and to file a police report.   Fortunately, we were also able to help arrange a legitimate condo for her and her family to stay in.    It breaks my heart to hear such stories – and they are becoming all too frequent.

We issue many warnings and reminders in our groups about scammers, but this phone call spurred me to action.  I wanted to pull together what we have learned about scammers and make a video that you can share to educate travelers.

The bottom line is that no matter how careful you are, there is no way to prevent scammers from contacting you on Facebook or Craigslist.   The best line of defense is to learn when to be suspicious and always choose a payment option that provides fraud protection.  We cover all of these topics and even share real life examples from recent scams in our video.

Please take a few moments to learn how to spot a scammer and how to protect yourself – and please share with your friends and family.  If you are the administrator of a Facebook page for connecting travelers with vacation rentals, we invite you to join our Scammer Busters group on Facebook.  We use this group to notify other admins when scammers have been reported.  Our goal is to reach as many groups as quickly as possible to spread the word.  The examples used in this video were reported to the Scammer Busters group.  Travelers may also contact any member of the Scammer Busters group to ask whether someone has been reported or if you are not sure you are being scammed.

Facebook Profile Tips

  • Newly created accounts
  • Older accounts with very few photos or activities
  • Account name does not align with URL version of account
  • Friends list not visible
  • Many foreign friends, particularly from Nigeria or other English speaking third world countries
  • If friends list is not visible, check to see who has “liked” or commented on photos – go back a month or more
  • Check which groups they belong to:
    • Are there a LOT of vacation rental groups scattered geographically?
    • Are they in mostly buy/sell groups?
  • Claim to be a realtor – check the company they claim to work with.  Many scammers use the same fake company name
  • Check back for our latest video “Who’s Profile is It Anyway?” for an in-depth, real life example of how to dissect a scammer’s profile

At Alabama Vacation Home Rentals, we are dedicated to stopping scammers.  We verify every owner that lists on our site and never charge booking fees or site commissions.   We are a proud member of the VHRNetwork – a regional network of listing sites, like ours, that provide a safe way for you save money.    Visit to find the region for your next vacation.

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Book Direct with ALAVHR and Avoid Booking Fees on Your Next Alabama Vacation Rental!


It’s no secret – the vacation rental industry has changed dramatically over the last few years and not for the better.  These changes negatively impacted both the traveler and vacation rental owners alike.  As a result, more and more owners are leaving the online travel agencies (“OTA’s”) and listing their properties on regional sites like Alabama Vacation Home Rentals, where there are no booking fees and no commissions.   Most regional websites charge owners much less to list their properties and travelers pay absolutely nothing!    This is how the OTA industry actually started – before they got greedy!

Alabama Vacation Home Rentals (ALAVHR) is a pure and simple listing site that connects travelers and vacation rental owners. We believe in open and direct communication between owners and travelers before, during and after the booking.  In contrast, OTA’s want to control the process by making the rules to their benefit, at the expense of the traveler and owner.   The reason that OTA’s block communication between owner and guest is simple, they want their money.

On February 7, 2018, we participated in the first ever “Book Direct” day. Vacation rental owners, hoteliers and industry related websites are coming together as one common voice to educate travelers and guests to inform them that there is an alternative to the OTA’s.  Looking for tips on how to #BookDirect safely?  Read our article here.

BookDirect to Save Hundreds of Dollars On Your Next Vacation Rental!

So say NO to VRBO!  Other OTA’s that will gladly take you hard earned money are: AirBnb, Flipkey, HomeAway, Booking, etc. All of these websites will charge both the owner and traveler very high fees. Buyer beware!  Ask questions and read the website!   Some sites, like Booking .com, try to hide their fees as commissions tacked on to the owner cost.  In the end, the traveler pays more for the same vacation and often times, the owner makes much less on their own property that the OTA’s.

Why pay more for the same vacation rentals?

Booking a vacation rental on a no fee-listing site can save you money, sometimes hundreds of dollars! Yes, hundreds of dollars!  At Alabama Vacation Home Rentals:     Our pledge to you:  We do not charge a traveler fee and never will!

Receive personalized service.

Vacation rentals are not hotels.  Each one is unique.  In fact, not every vacation rental is for everyone. Booking direct with an owner or property manager allows for open communication so that you can ask important questions before you book.

Want the inside scoop?  Owners are local experts who know their destination the best, the attractions,, the restaurants, the vendors, the happy hours the discounts, etc., and are more than happy to share with you their insider local tips.  Remember, owners genuinely want your repeat business and will go the extra mile to ensure you are happy and enthusiastic enough to come back and tell your friends.   Many owners appreciate returning guests so much that they offer special perks or discounts.

Receive the best possible price.

The cost for an owner to list their property on the OTA’s has become increasingly more expensive.   While many of these OTA’s want you to think that they are offering you the best possible price, the fact is they are not.   Owners have no choice but to pass the increase on to travelers.   Your cost goes up!    Speaking directly with the owner guarantees you the best possible rental price, access to special offers and/or last minute cancellations deals.

No fee regional listing sites are gaining in popularity.  Alabama Vacation Home Rentals  (a member of Vacation Home Rental Network) is one of them.  Owners and travelers can make a difference by spreading the word that there is an alternative to VRBO, HomeAway, AirBnb, Booking etc.

You have saved all year for your vacation, so save some of those hard earned dollars for enjoying your vacation and not lining the pockets of a big OTA.  Make sure it is your perfect vacation rental BEFORE you book.

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