In today’s digital age, it’s entirely possible to manage your vacation rental home remotely. As a homeowner, it is entirely possible to live in a different city or state than your rental property. Thanks to technological advances, the internet, and highly specialized property managers, homeowners can remotely manage their vacation rentals and outsource the work it takes to have a thriving vacation rental business.
But because the vacation rental property industry constantly changes and innovates, it can be hard to keep up with your competition, regulations, what your guests need, and more. Here are the top tips and tricks to manage your vacation rental home remotely, according to a few industry experts.
Respond to guest questions about your vacation rental ASAP
One of the most common complaints that homeowners have is the necessity to be online around the clock for their guests. Our Guest Experience team member said:
“You have to be around to quickly respond to guest inquiries in hopes of securing a reservation, then you must be available for any issues/requests that could happen during a guests stay”. “An owner that doesn’t live in the same location as their rental adds another element.”
Handling booking requests becomes even trickier when you take into consideration the myriad of time zones potential guests could be looking at booking you in. You probably won’t be awake when a family from Europe requests to book your cabin in Aspen.
Homeowners can streamline booking by allowing their guests to “instant book,” but instant booking has its downsides, as well; you won’t be able to screen your guests as thoroughly, for example.
Keep your property listing up-to-date
On top of responding speedily to booking requests, it’s important to keep property listing photos current and respond to customer reviews. These tasks can get tedious and time-consuming. Some property owners find relief in hiring a third-party to step in and take control of the communication and remain available 24/7 that guests can text, call, or email at all hours with any issues. That way you can relax and actually enjoy the extra income your home provides.
It’s also crucial to know how much your home is worth and where to list it online. Home rental rates vary dramatically throughout the year—and even throughout the week—so your home’s rate should change daily to match the market rate, which can get pretty tedious. It’s recommended that homeowners keep different price points midweek versus weekends, on holidays and peak periods, and in the off-season. Properly setting those initial prices should be based on several factors like input from each owner, characteristics of the home, comparable home prices in the area, and guidance from the local team property management.
Find a reliable housekeeper or home cleaning company
Guests expect a spotless home when they arrive for their vacation. That can be a hard expectation to meet when you manage your own vacation rental remotely; you’ll rarely be the person who prepares the home before guests arrive. Sam Zuo, who manages over 10 vacation homes throughout California, said this was one of his biggest struggles. “We solve this by only working with the best independent cleaner or a cleaning company,” he said.
But actually finding an excellent cleaning service can be difficult, especially because homeowners don’t want to find them by trial and error.
Finding reliable vendors such as housekeepers can be frustrating because very few owners have a large encyclopedia of references to choose from.
Keeping a list of recommended, local housekeepers will help you avoid getting stuck in an unfortunate situation where you need a room cleaned in a pinch. When homeowners partner with a top property management company, the company handles all of this for an owner. They should be able to easily find the cleaners, schedule them, and makes sure that your guests are completely satisfied with the outcome.
Build a home care vendor network
Finding a great cleaning service is just one of many services remote vacation rental homeowners should think about. Homes that are well taken care of also need a reliable maintenance company, a lawn care company, pest control company, and more.
“Understand the business by breaking down the components that are in their day-to-day,” Zuo said. “Figure out which part you can outsource and remove yourself.”
This is increasingly important as a remote vacation rental homeowner.
Additionally, a successful rental homeowner should consider hiring someone who is available to be on-site in case a guest needs immediate assistance.
Follow vacation rental technology trends
Every year, new technology is introduced to the vacation rental home industry that can streamline the way you communicate with your guests.
Digital smart locks, for example, are a reliable and secure method to welcome guests to your home without actually being there to open the front door. Each guest has their own code that is only valid during the time of their stay, and housekeepers and vendors are issued unique one time codes for when they need to clean or make a repair at your property.
Connect with other vacation rental homeowners
Connecting with fellow vacation rental homeowners will provide you not only with a sense of communal support, but with more resources to streamline your own business.
Zuo said he got started in the industry by joining Facebook groups and reading blogs online. Now Zuo facilitates a Facebook group where 800+ renters on Airbnb come together to help one another grow their business by sharing ideas, best practices, and asking questions.
His Facebook group is also connected to a blog he runs, called Passive Airbnb, that gives advice to renters who hope to manage their properties remotely while making six figures. His blog publishes articles that guide homeowners in pricing their homes, navigating the Airbnb website, and how to become a superhost on Airbnb.
There are also hyper local Facebook groups for rental homeowners, such as the Austin Airbnb Hosts, that can provide more accurate information for the local industry. Every city has their own renter community, economy, and best practices; joining a Facebook group is a great step to familiarizing yourself with the community.
Become a short-term rental advocate
We always recommend that vacation rental homeowners get active with local legislative bodies because of the ever-changing environment of short term rentals where local laws constantly change.
In Austin, for example, the city council took a stance against homes that are full-time rentals in 2015 and voted to have them outlawed in the city by 2022.
Hire a vacation rental property manager
If all of this is starting to sound overwhelming, you’ll want to hire a property manager who specializes in vacation rentals. Many homeowners realize the tremendous need to hire so many outside vendors that they instead partner with a top property management company to handle it all. Some of those struggles included tracking damages made to his home and collecting on that damage, collecting taxes and paying taxes annually, and ensuring he hired a maid who would show up.
As new companies and technologies are created and innovate, homeowners are offered more options and tools to manage their vacation rental properties. Following these tips and tricks can help ensure a smooth and enjoyable rental process for both homeowners and guests.