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- Travelers are increasingly choosing home-sharing platforms to book vacation rentals given their relative safety over hotels and minimized contact with others.
- Compared to Vrbo or Airbnb, TurnKey Vacation Rentals stands out for its large, well-appointed homes with thousands of listings in top US destinations.
- Here's everything you need to know about how TurnKey works, what makes it different from other platforms, how to book, cancellation policies, and more.
- Read more: Everything to know about vacation rentals, including the best booking platforms, COVID-19 safety info, and the best places to go in the US
Many Americans have returned to travel in some measure as the pandemic continues, though the methods they're selecting may be different than in the past.
Home-sharing platforms such as Airbnb have reported an uptick in booking private vacation home rentals when compared to this time last year.
The trend is largely due to the fact that private homes can be safer than hotels given the absence of encounters with other people, which eliminates the virus's primary mode of transmission. Indeed, infectious disease experts agree it's the safer choice.
And the options to consider are plentiful. Airbnb, Vrbo (which now includes HomeAway), and Marriott Homes & Villas are just a few of the popular outfits to book vacation homes. It's important to identify the platform right for your individual preferences and concerns before booking.
For those seeking a higher-end stay — and are prepared to splurge on it in some cases — that platform might be TurnKey Vacation Rentals.
TurnKey lists thousands of homes in popular US travel destinations and — unlike many other platforms — vets each of these properties to ensure a hotel-like experience and standard.
Here's what you need to know about TurnKey, why it might be right for your next trip, and how to go about booking.
What is TurnKey Vacation Rentals?
Founded in 2012 and based in Austin, Texas, TurnKey Vacation Rentals is a full-service vacation rental property management company for premium and luxury-level rental homes in top travel destinations across the country.
The idea is to offer more of a hotel-like experience for guests, as well as full-service management, and a marketing platform for hosts.
Unlike Airbnb or Vrbo, TurnKey offers only pre-vetted listings. It also handles management details centrally, using a standardized set of tech tools. That means users can expect a higher baseline for customer service, cleanliness, and quality than from other sites that lack this pre-approval process.
"We manage premium and luxury vacation rental properties in top destinations across the US and inspect them and manage them ourselves to make sure they meet our high standards for cleanliness, comfort, and service," says TJ Clark, TurnKey president and co-founder, explaining the vetting process. "When evaluating a property for our program, we consider the comfort and design of the home, as well as the unique amenities and locations that make the home highly desirable to travelers."
The platform lists approximately about 5,500 homes around the country in 55 destinations and is fast growing, adding about 200 properties each month.
On the host side, this makes it one of the largest property management companies in the US, providing the listing platform and marketing as well as guest support and home care.
On the guest side, visitors can contact the company directly for support. There are local teams in every market to ensure properties' readiness, standards, and provide quick attention to guests' needs.
TurnKey is also a partner of Homes & Villas by Marriott International, which means select TurnKey properties can be listed on the Marriott site that in turn allow Marriott Bonvoy members to earn or redeem points when booking a vacation rental. Though, this is not true of every property. If you're interested in staying in a Marriott home or villa, you may read our explainer of the platform here.
How is TurnKey different from other home-sharing platforms?
In addition to only featuring pre-vetted homes, TurnKey also distinguishes itself in the marketplace by guaranteeing tech-enabled homes as a way to provide a more consistent and reliable guest — and host — experience.
The company's proprietary smart home technology includes time-coded digital locks, in-home tablets, noise decibel monitors, automated scheduling of housekeeping, and more.
Clark explains that TurnKey invests more than $5,000 in each home that joins the program to add these features. "These are TurnKey services provided at our own expense." He also adds, "Guests should expect a consistent, fine-hotel experience in every home, every stay, every time. And owners should expect high standards for care without paying exorbitant commission rates. So we've developed our own smart technologies that integrate with our exceptional local and national team members."
For example, TurnKey's digital lock is installed on every TurnKey home with codes that are generated automatically and sent via SMS to guests, cleaners, and service providers. This also allows for a contactless, socially distant check-in process.
The noise monitors detect excessive decibel levels and will trigger a text to the guest or to local TurnKey staff, who will dispatch to the home to make sure homeowners avoid damage and neighbors are undisturbed.
Also, for hosts, Wi-Fi log-on monitoring notes when guest log-ons exceed the guest's agreed-upon number of occupants, triggering a text to the guests or staff as well.
In addition to these key tech differences, TurnKey also enacts a singular cancellation policy and cleaning protocol enforcements across all homes. On other platforms, these typically differ from listing to listing without a universal expectation. On Airbnb, for example, it's up to the host to decide and implement their own cancellation and cleaning policies, and resulting fees, which can vary dramatically from home to home.
How do I book through TurnKey Home Rentals?
TurnKey properties are available to book directly on the platform's website. They also are marketed across more than 50 vacation rental sites such as Expedia, Vrbo, Airbnb, Booking.com, FlipKey, and more, making them easy to find and identify online.
On their own website, prospective travelers can search directly for properties in their desired location. Similar to other platforms, TurnKey's site allows travelers to refine their searches using filters such as location, date range, and the number of guests. Additionally, more nuanced filters for pet-friendliness and other specific amenities are available.
Like most other platforms, TurnKey offers travelers the chance to read reviews written by past guests, which are accompanied by rankings on a scale up to five stars. On TurnKey, 90 percent of guest reviews are four to five stars.
What is the average cost of a TurnKey property?
As with all home-sharing platforms, home rates on TurnKey vary widely by a number of factors including the season, home size, amenities, and location.
Consider some examples in popular destinations. This Palm Springs desert area listing includes a four-bedroom main home as well as two casitas, a waterfall pool, and a putting green for a total resort-like experience fit for large groups. The compound starts at $950 per night.
Or this ultra-hip smart home in Venice beach that looks and feels like a hotel, with chic furnishings, four bedrooms, and more than 3,500 square feet of living space. It starts at $825.
While those tricked-out examples are pricey, they're geared towards luxury seekers and groups, which actually often offers more value than booking multiple accommodations.
TurnKey also offers properties in a range of price categories. Consider this ocean-view one-bedroom getaway fit for a couple, or this modern two-bedroom beach condo, both starting around $200 and located on Maui, where real estate and lodging are notoriously expensive. That rate is likely less than what you'll pay for a smaller hotel room.
What are TurnKey's cancellation policies?
As mentioned, the TurnKey cancellation policy is a blanket one that applies to all bookings.
If a guest books more than 30 days in advance of check-in, TurnKey requires a 10 percent down payment to reserve the home. All bookings made more than 10 days in advance are fully refundable if the guest cancels the booking within 72 hours of the time of booking.
After this cancellation period expires, all guest payments are non-refundable. As it's a small window, guests may purchase travel insurance, including "cancel for any reason" policies in order to mitigate risk.
Unlike other platforms on which the cancellation policy varies by host, TurnKey offers this as a standard policy.
However, it should be noted that because TurnKey markets its properties across more than 50 listing sites, another site may require TurnKey to choose one of its existing cancellation policies. In these cases, the platform selects the one that most closely resembles its standard cancellation policy. So, if you have your heart set on a TurnKey home, but need flexibility in your plans, it might help to shop around to see if you spot it elsewhere.
Where is TurnKey available?
TurnKey operates in more than 80 US destinations, including beach, mountain, urban, desert, and leisure areas. Many are within a few hours' drive of major metropolitan areas.
These markets include California, Colorado, Florida, and Texas. Additional markets dot other states such as Alabama, Arizona, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Nevada, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming.
What are TurnKey's COVID-19 policies?
TurnKey photo-verifies homes are professionally cleaned with products approved by the EPA for use against COVID-19. This happens through its GuestWorks system, which requires professional housekeepers to follow a stringent set of cleaning standards, customized for each home.
In response to the novel coronavirus, TurnKey rolled out enhancements to this system, including updated checklists with more rigorous requirements for cleaning high-traffic areas and high-touch surfaces, such as doorknobs, handles, and light switches. Every home on the platform enforces these policies.
In addition to the enhanced cleaning protocols and photo-verification practice, TurnKey also implemented a temporary 24-hour hold between guest stays on bookings in May and June for an added level of safety.
TurnKey's tech-based system has always allowed for contact-free entry through keyless access codes, a notable safety feature amid the coronavirus crisis.
As a COVID enhancement to that practice, TurnKey promises neither its team members nor vendors will visit the property when either a guest or owner is present in it during the pandemic.
Everything else you need to know about booking safe vacations during COVID-19
- Everything to know about vacation rentals, including the best booking platforms, COVID-19 safety info, and the best places to go in the US
- 6 things to know before booking a vacation rental, and where to search if Airbnb is booked or too expensive
- Is travel safe? We interviewed experts on risks associated with flying, booking hotels or Airbnbs, renting cars, and more, plus ideas on safe vacations during COVID-19
- Are Airbnbs safe? We spoke to experts, a company representative, and an Airbnb host to share everything you should know before booking someone's home
- Everything to know about Airbnb Plus, including how listings are vetted, if they cost more, and if it's worth it
- Airbnb announced vigorous new cleaning protocols for hosts in response to COVID-19. Here's how to know if the listing you're considering is participating — or not.
- Which is safer: Airbnb or hotels? Here's what doctors say
- Airbnb vs. Vrbo vs. HomeAway: Here's how each vacation home rental service works, plus their cancellation and coronavirus policies
- Everything to know about home rental site Vrbo, including how it works and what makes it different from Airbnb
- Marriott Bonvoy also includes private vacation home rentals through its Homes & Villas platform — here's how it works plus top rentals available to book in the US
- Expert tips for taking a safe, socially distanced road trip