For many people, the idea of owning and managing multiple vacation rental properties is a dream come true. You can maximize your investments, enjoy multiple income streams, and get help paying off your mortgage, taxes, and homeowner’s insurance. But if not handled correctly, the day-to-day tasks of managing multiple vacation rental properties can be a nightmare.
(Read more about how purchasing a vacation rental property can help you reach financial independence.)
Dealing with the needs of multiple guests at once can be time-consuming and stressful, and juggling multiple reservation calendars can lead to double bookings and missed opportunities.
And then there are the routine tasks that go into maintaining each home and property, including lawn care, housekeeping, and handling any emergency repairs that come up along the way.
“If you have just one property, you can get away with running it as a side gig,” said Jim Prugh of Lindsborg Vacation Rentals, which owns and manages several vacation rental properties in central Kansas. “But when you start moving into two or three properties, it takes a lot of time and effort.”
Fear not. The following tips will help you maximize your investments, minimize your stress, and ensure that all guests leave each vacation rental property a 5-star review.
Integrate each vacation rental property’s booking calendars
Owning multiple vacation homes means keeping up with multiple booking calendars, as well as responding to inquiries from potential guests about each property.
“In this 24/7 society that we live in, folks are not always considerate about other people’s time,” said Grimes. “The homeowners who are most successful are those who respond promptly and thoroughly to each potential guest inquiry.”
It’s crucial to ensure each vacation rental’s calendar up to date and answer questions from people interested in learning more about your home and its amenities.
To maximize your profits, make sure each of your vacation rentals is priced correctly. In the slow season, consider discounts and promotions to increase bookings.
Prugh said he almost always increases his home rental price by 20%t on weekends. He may also increase the rental price by as much as $100 per night depending on demand.
“Be aware of what brings people to the area. Especially if there’s a large festival or convention or golf tournament in town,” he said. “There are a number of reasons why people might say, ‘Yeah, I wanna go there.’”
TurnKey’s professional property managers have a deep understanding of the regions they serve to ensure your vacation rental property is always priced at the appropriate market rate. They also use proprietary software that empowers them to integrate multiple calendars from multiple sites, like HomeAway and Airbnb, to ensure every calendar for every home is always up to date.
If you do choose to manage your vacation rental business yourself, be prepared to spend time and money maintaining each home’s calendar.
“If you have one house, you can probably manage your reservations pretty well with a simple Excel spreadsheet,” said Prugh. “Once you start adding more properties, you’ll need to start looking at property management software. You don’t want to have someone show up and think to yourself, ‘That was today?’”
Purchase linens and toiletries in bulk for each vacation rental property
Picture it: Your guest goes to use the restroom and discovers there’s no toilet paper. Part of a property manager’s job is to ensure each home is fully stocked for the next guest.But if you’re doing things yourself, the easiest way to avoid a snafu like this — and the poor reviews that may follow — is to ensure each home is fully stocked with clean towels, sheets, and toiletries. You can shop for these in bulk at most big box stores.
Grimes says every home maintained by Red Cottage Inc. has two sets of linens per bed for instances when there’s a tight turnaround between bookings.
“If it’s a busy Friday in August, you need to make beds right away,” she said. “Laundry can take a long time. You don’t want your cleaners sitting around waiting for the dryer to finish.”
While items like clean sheets, toilet paper, and salt and pepper may be on every vacation rental owner’s checklist, she recommends going deeper.
Are there spare batteries for the remote in the house? What about extra lightbulbs or garbage bags?
You also have to take into consideration each home’s amenities.
“When do people run out of propane? When they’re outside grilling,” said Grimes. “We always have a spare tank on hand, and part of the cleaner’s job is to make sure that spare is full. These are the things that aren’t always front of mind.”
Invest in smart home technology
Smart home technology can help you gain time back in your busy days when you’re managing your vacation rental yourself.
That’s why owners of multiple vacation homes embrace smart technology to help automate the tasks that go into preparing and maintaining each property.
Even though the Lindsborg Vacation Rentals team wants to greet each guest personally, Prugh says he has push-button keyless door locks on each rental to ensure guests can access the home as soon as they arrive.
TurnKey Vacation Rentals also uses a keyless technology known as ResortLock on each home they manage.
Smart technology can also help you automate tasks like turning on each home and property’s lights at dusk. This is especially helpful for homes in remote areas. Many of the vacation rental properties Grimes manages are in areas where there are no streetlights. She doesn’t want to risk starting off on the wrong foot with a guest because they can’t find the home from the road.
Other smart products that make managing multiple vacation rental properties easier include water-sensing leak detectors, smart window shades, and programmable water heaters.
While many of these appliances can be set on a daily or weekly schedule, Grimes also recommends setting up “triggers” to remind you or your property manager that a guest is on the way and the home needs to be prepared for their arrival.
In cold weather climates, this could mean turning on the radiant floor heat several hours before a guest arrives. In warmer locations, you want to turn on the air conditioner to cool and dehumidify the home.
“If you can do something from your phone,” Grimes said, “it’s a wonderful feeling.”
When managing multiple vacation rental properties, it’s not just about giving the guest the best experience. You also want to make your life easier. That’s how you turn the potential nightmare of owning multiple homes into the dream life.
Hire a property manager who can cover multiple vacation rentals
Let’s be real. Owning and managing even a single vacation rental property can be time-consuming and demanding. Owning and managing multiple properties can be a full-time job. Actually, several full-time jobs.
Our experts at TurnKey say it can take up to 30 hours per week — per property — to run a profitable vacation rental.
That’s why many homeowners turn to property managers to help them save time and increase their profits.
A property manager can help you optimize your listings, build relationships with potential guests, and market each home. Once your vacation rental is booked, a property manager will then handle the tasks of welcoming guests, dealing with any issues or questions that come up during their stay, and getting your home ready for the next tenants. Learn more about the benefits of hiring a property manager.
If you own multiple homes in a single city, finding a local property manager who will serve all your vacation rentals should be relatively straightforward.
But if your vacation rental properties are spread out across several cities, the state, or country, it’s best to trust them to a property management organization with a national reach. In a situation like this, it’s not just a matter of preparing, promoting, and pricing each home. Your property management company will also have to ensure each home adheres to local ordinances and laws regarding short-term rentals.
As the vacation rental industry has grown, so have the regulations regarding liability insurance, property inspections, and business taxes. Almost every city in the United States now has some sort of ordinance in place.
“If you have not covered yourself and learned about the municipal regulations that govern vacation rentals, or if you’re not aware of local and state tax laws, it can come back to haunt you,” said Jennifer Grimes, founder of Red Cottage Inc., which oversees 60 vacation rentals in upstate New York.
TurnKey’s national property management teams are well-versed in the rules regarding taxes, insurance, and zoning of each region they serve. They don’t just ensure that your home is ready for guests, but also that it’s in compliance with all state and local ordinances.
“Ignorance is not an excuse,” said Grimes.
If you live in the same area as your vacation rental properties, Prugh recommends taking it one step further by attending local city council meetings, networking with other property owners, and taking a stand on the issues that affect your business.
“The larger your network, the more opportunities you have to make your business more professional,” he said.