Managing multiple short-term properties and vacation rental homes entails a range of different operations, and it’s important to be aware of each one before choosing this career or adding more listings to your portfolio.
Here’s a quick rundown of the basic responsibilities of vacation and short-term rental property managers:
Marketing to Property Owners
You can’t run a property management business without properties, which is why you have to start by making homeowners aware of your company and the many services you provide. A good way to do this is by building a website that relays just how reliable you are as well as all of the operations you oversee as a professional short-term and vacation rental manager. You’ll want to optimize your site in order to make sure your target customers can find it. Be sure to include the location of your company so when property owners search for “rental management near me,” your website will be among the search results.
You also need to keep your vacation rental management fees competitive to keep yourself in the game. If you do run their rentals successfully and bring in revenue for your homeowners, it is likely that they will recommend your business to their friends and acquaintances, helping you to grow your portfolio through word of mouth.
*Quick Note for Owner-Managed Vacation Rentals
If you’re a property owner who prefers to manage your rentals independently, then you can obviously skip the above section, but you’ll find that the sections below are just as relevant to you as they are to professional property managers. Keep reading to learn more about the responsibilities involved in running successful vacation rentals.
Listing Your Rentals
While it’s certainly a good idea to build your own direct booking website, to be truly successful as a short-term property manager, you need to promote your listings on the platforms today’s travelers use to book their vacation accommodations – online travel agencies, like Airbnb and Booking.com. Listing your rentals involves uploading photos of your properties, writing descriptions about them, specifying the amenities you offer, outlining any house rules you may have and assigning prices to each property, which brings us to our next property management responsibility.
Pricing Your Rentals
Pricing your rentals is not a one-and-done operation. If you want to truly maximize your occupancy and revenue, you’ll need to continuously increase and reduce your prices to reflect demand. This means assigning higher prices for popular travel dates and lower prices during low seasons. If you have multiple properties on multiple sites, this can be a time-consuming endeavor and you might want to use a pricing solution that can be integrated with your channels to automate the process.
Syncing Your Calendars
To avoid renting out the same listings on the same dates to guests utilizing different channels to make their reservations, you’ll need to align the calendars on all of your channels to accurately reflect your bookings. This means that if you got a booking through Airbnb, you need to block off the dates of that reservation on all of your other channels so that other travelers won’t think your listing is available on those dates. In order to avoid double bookings, which usually results in bad reviews and can be quite damaging to your business, you need to stay on top of this task at all times. A channel management tool that syncs your calendars across all of your channels can be extremely helpful here.
Communicating with Current and Potential Guests
The easiest way to let a booking fall through your fingertips is by failing to respond to an inquiry from the interested guest. It is critical to provide prompt, friendly and helpful answers to any questions your receive pre-booking in order to secure the reservation. At the same time, you’re not off the hook once the reservation is made. Guests expect responsiveness throughout all stages of the booking process and falling short in this area could cost you in reviews, which could cost you in future bookings. Since providing timely responses to inquiries from multiple guests coming from a variety of platforms can be quite overwhelming, some property managers prefer to centralize all of their communication in one inbox with the help of sophisticated software, and some even outsource their communication entirely.
Coordinating with On-The-Ground Staff
Your cleaning, maintenance and reception staff are responsible for preparing your rentals before each guest party’s arrival or greeting the guests and providing them with access to the properties. These personnel need to know where to be at any given time as well as how many guests to prepare for, as well as any special requests that have been made by the incoming guests. This is another element that directly affects your guests’ experiences and therefore, the reviews they leave.
Reporting to Homeowners
Again, if you’re running owner-managed vacation rentals, this doesn’t apply to you, but if you’re managing vacation rental properties on behalf of their owners, you’re going to need to keep them in the loop about their properties’ performance. Homeowners want to know things like how much they’re earning, how many bookings their listings are attracting per month, quarter or year and how they’re doing relative to their competition. Software tools that build shareable reports for you not only save you time in communicating your business performance to your clients, they also make you look professional and reliable.
Analyzing your business
Property managers aren’t the only ones who need to know how business is going. As a serious entrepreneur, you need to check in on your business on a regular basis and analyze different parameters to identify strengths and weaknesses so you can replicate what works and fix what doesn’t.
Enhancing Your Guests’ Experiences
There are measures beyond providing quick responses and ensuring your rentals are properly prepared before each check-in to enhance your guests’ experiences and have them raving about your rentals. Integrating home automation technologies, allowing your guests to use keyless entry, or providing welcome boxes or customized travel recommendations can make your rentals unforgettable to guests and encourage them to recommend your accommodations to other travelers, leave you glowing reviews and even return on subsequent vacations.
There are, of course, plenty more responsibilities you’ll be taking on as a property manager, including processing payments and distributing salaries to your team, but these are the primary tasks you’ll be facing on a day-to-day basis. The good news is that a lot of the work can be automated or made simpler through software solutions. The better news is that the reward you’ll get for investing in your business will be well worth the effort.