Short term rental is a booming business right now, since Airbnb properties and short term rental vacation homes offer a more intimate, authentic experience to travelers than a big hotel would. However, just because you like a vacationing spot enough to buy a villa, boat, or condo there, it doesn’t necessarily mean you are acquainted with the rental market, local contractors and housekeepers, and the like.
A vacation rental management company is a very sound investment if your vacation real estate is far from where you live, or if you lead a busy life and don’t have all the time it requires to keep it booked, clean and in tip-top shape.
These are many boxes that must be checked to really turn a profit from vacation rentals. Are you ready to do all of those jobs, and confident you will do them well? If you’re not so sure… perhaps a property management service is a good investment for you.
What is included in vacation rental property management?
If you thought managing a rental property is a simple, straightforward job, you will be surprised at all the moving parts and aspects involved. Nowadays the competition is stiff, Airbnb has changed the game, and guests are more discerning than ever. You will have to stage and market your property, be ready to manage online bookings, have a trusted local team who will clean and fix your place, and much more.
Let’s go into the most important aspects of the job in some detail.
Staging and property listing
Airbnb is a great platform, and there are many other booking channels such as HomeAway and Vrbo, which match properties to potential customers. But advertising online is not just posting a few photos and being done with it – rental property listings are very competitive, with professional photography and enticing copy that captures the imagination of potential guests.
A good property manager will be aware of local festivals and events which may draw guests, and make sure that your property listing ranks high in the various websites it is advertised.
A really good vacation property manager will not stop their efforts after publishing a few listings. Vacation rental marketing can also mean creating attractive brochures and distributing them in local schools, academies, colleges, or other entities that attract visitors in need of a place to stay. The better your property is marketed, the more rental income for you.
Bookings and payment
Did you know that the acceptable turnaround time for answering guest inquiries is 15 minutes? Are you ready to be checking your phone or computer and answering every question at all times? Consider that your guests are likely to work office hours, meaning their questions will come at night and over the weekend.
Most vacation rentals nowadays are managed online, with guests browsing online, reaching out to the online bookings that catch their eye and paying online with a credit card. Are you internet-savvy enough to handle all of this? Rental property management companies usually have a dedicated staff member for “all things internet” and receive periodic training to stay on top of the trends and internet security.
Staging and guest experience
Your vacation rental should be spotless when guests arrive – this goes without saying. But more rental business means more competition, and these days rental vacation spots are offering a better guest experience than ever before.
For example, most good vacation rentals offer a free welcome kit for guests, which may include local delicacies, wine and water, and high-quality toiletries. There is also an expectation that vacation rentals will have a guide to local attractions, places to eat, and the like.
If guests have had a lovely experience, they are likely to return and leave a good review. A good vacation property manager will ask happy guests for reviews and reach out to past guests to try to bring them back.
You probably won’t be able to inspect the property after every stay to assess any damages that may require fixing before the next guests arrive, and to speak to the guests about the damage and retain part of their deposit to fix it. This is one of the clearest signs that you need a good vacation property manager.
Vacation rental property management fees usually include pre-booking cleanings as well as a few deeper cleans throughout the year. Damage repair and maintenance (inspecting AC units, touching up paint, and the like) tend to be negotiated separately – each property management business has their terms, and you should ask about how they handle emergency repairs so you don’t get a 3am call from a frantic guest who is dealing with a plumbing emergency.
Legal and admin
Anyone who manages properties knows there is a lot of paperwork involved. Local regulations for long term and short term rentals vary from city to city and state to state, and they tend to change. Taxes may need to be paid, permits acquired… are you really sure you can do this on your own?
If you are not totally sure you know the local regulations and fees, paying for vacation property management will probably cost you less money (and fewer headaches) than dealing with fines and penalties from the local authorities.