Running a vacation rental is not an easy task. It can take your whole day if you want to be on top of everything. There is so much more than just giving the best product offering to your customers. You have to manage online listings, taxes and regulatory compliance, day to day operations, rental website, and much more.
This seems like a hefty task for just one person to manage, however it is not impossible. One of the most important benefits is that it saves a lot of costs. For any business, profits come in two ways, increasing the topline or the sales, and minimizing the costs. Haven’t we all heard, ‘A penny saved, is a penny earned’? That’s exactly what managing your property on your own, brings.
We know managing your own property can be a handful; for some quick assistance and tips, check out the slides below:
How to go about it?
There are ways for going about it, depending upon the scale of your operations. If it is not too large, you may try a few simple techniques to have it under your control. These cover most aspects of managing a vacation rental property. So here they are:
1. Go Lean: You need to understand that you only have two hands. If you can’t manage all your listing websites, and your target monthly earnings are being met, then you may limit listings to one or two websites. For this, you need to pick those, which get you the most number of customers. You may not have too much on your own website.
This is so because very few people book from such websites. The lesser options you have the easier it is to manage. Your website might be more like a standing page with contact information and pictures. It can have a redirection link that takes bookings to the listing websites. This helps in keeping the listings in one place. It also reduces the need to constantly update the website. You may do it once a month.
2. Be organized: One of the most helpful tools in being organized is the Google calendar. It has tasks and reminders. You may upload your listing calendars on it from different listing websites. It will help you in having all your bookings in one place. This will give you a complete picture of availability and bookings. You may update bookings once a day or even more frequently as per your need. It can keep you informed about periodic tax payments and other paperwork. It is the simplest and cheapest organizing tool. You may even combine it with Google Keep to sync your to-do lists. It seems too simple to be true. However, it is true. Try it out.
3. Develop a schedule: After a thorough observation of the daily and periodic tasks, develop a daily schedule for yourself. Every day you might have to look at the listings, new bookings, and payments. Once done with that, devote the time the guests stay at your property. The next task could be to check up on supplies and property upkeep. Such broad categories of tasks will reduce oversight.
4. Survey and inspection: You can be innovative here. These days, Drones are very popular. You may hire someone or buy one and define its paths using GPS. It can automatically take a tour around your property. This will bring you the footage of your property bringing to your notice any repair or maintenance work required. This saves you the worry and time of surveying the property on your own. Although it may miss out on a few problems here and there, it can capture most of them if paths are well defined.
5. Communications: Don’t forget, you need to communicate with your guests from time to time. This could be to convey that their booking is confirmed or to guide them for their stay at the property. It could even involve informing them about a special event you are hosting at the property. Or any other during-the-stay communication. Some can be standardized and automated, such as instructions for stay at the property. These can be formulated once and shared through scheduled emails as per the timing of the stay. Most mail clients have this functionality. You may even schedule a post-stay email for feedback and gratitude expressions.
This is a ‘sum of the parts’ approach to managing your vacation rental property. It is successful for a smaller scale of operations. For slightly larger or mid-level operations, you may look at a few third-party applications. These could be one or more of the following:
1. Listings Management: Applications such as Rentals United can help you manage all your property listings from one place. Be it Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, or any other website. You can manage close to 50 such listing websites from their software. Your calendars are synced with bookings from all the sites and there is a lot more to it. They have 3-monthly, 6-monthly & annual plans, and prices vary from $134 to $240 depending upon the number of properties you have. Pick a plan that best suits your needs.
2. Social Media Management: Applications such as Buffer can help you manage all your social media accounts from one place. There are various kinds of monthly subscription plans starting from $15 going up to $99. Each plan has the capability of handling your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest accounts. Whatever you want to post can get customized as per platform requirements. This also gives you engagement stats. Instead of doing it all on your own, it will do it for you. It can be accessed through a desktop or smartphone.
3. Taxes: Applications such as Avalara MyLodgeTax takes care of all your taxes and approvals and is customized for vacation rental owners. They have two plans based on the number of properties you own. If you own less than 6 properties, then for a $20 monthly fee and a per property one-time setup fee, they will take care of all your taxes and filings. For a higher number of properties, you may request a quote from them.
4. Smart Property: Applications such as PointCentral take care of all how to make your property ‘smart’ so that remote management becomes easier. It will take care of all your HVAC devices, garage control, water & electricity management, video cameras, security systems, and so on. The automation and Property ERP system brings managing all these aspects to one place. It could be your desktop at the reception or any other central device. With a few clicks, you can keep the entire property under control. You can get a customized quote for your property requirements.
5. Currency Management: Applications such as Vert S take care of different currencies. It helps the owners in accepting several different currencies and quoting the guests in their own currency. It helps in enlarging the pool of guests who are welcomed to the vacation rental. This helps the owner in generating more sales.
You might be thinking that having so many apps, each dedicated to one aspect, can also be tedious. For that purpose, there are several multi-functional apps and software. These handle more than one aspect explained above. Some examples are:
1. MyVR: They have three plans providing a whole plethora of services such as listing aggregation, booking and payments management, calendar, email and inquiry management, and so on. They even have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) assistance in place. On top of that, they integrate the repairs, cleaning, maintenance, and other upkeep activities of your property. You may combine this with your dedicated tax and social media softwares mentioned above, and you are good to go. Other strong competitors could be iGems & Lodgify which provide all the services that MyVR provides.
2. Avantio: This is another tool that deserves a mention. Along with everything that MyVR does in terms of listings integration, it also integrates accounting and legal aspects. They have support for Quickbooks, Pricelabs, Stripe, and other softwares. If you have Avantio, you may not need a dedicated tax software. You can combine it with social media management software and manage your property end to end.
This brings us to the end of our suggestions. There are many tools to assist you with every aspect of property management. Although you pay a subscription fee for these applications, the cost is still lower than that of hiring a permanent specialized force for such management. You may not be able to let go of the staff for servicing the guests but most of the other aspects can be automated or streamlined through technology.
It’s time for you to decide how you can make the most of these resources at your disposal. Think from the perspective of your property and your needs. You may come up with a comparison chart for the financial aspects. This will help you decide the best-suited combo of apps and software for your needs. So don’t be daunted by the task of managing it all alone. You have assistance at your fingertips.