The short-term rental industry is a complex, constantly evolving marketplace, and managing even one vacation rental can seem like a full time job. When deciding to manage your vacation rental property, there is a lot to consider.

 

We’ll cover the essentials you need to get up and running smoothly, before walking you through higher level considerations for managing your property yourself. Here’s what you’ll need to consider to get started...

7 considerations on how to manage your vacation rental properties

 

1. Channel distribution. First things first, in order to ensure that you are generating the most reservations you should be listing on all five of the major listing sites - or at least create a strategy that adds channels incrementally. MyVR customers have seen significant jumps in revenue for each additional channel they add, thanks to a larger audience and the benefits that stem from it.

To round out your channel management strategy, create your own direct channel to drive bookings without channel fees and to have a place to centralize your marketing efforts. Managing all of these channels can become challenging, especially as your business grows. Property management software (PMS) with direct connections can connect you to each channel error-free without middleman channel managers.

2. Booking calendar. To avoid double bookings, make sure that your booking calendar is synced with your direct channel and across each listing site you’re on. While you can manage this manually or with iCal, this is not recommended. Instead, use a PMS to automate your booking calendar so that data errors and double bookings never occur.

3. Guest check-in and check-out. Travelers are moving from hotels to short-term rentals more than ever before, but they’re still expecting a hotel-like experience. Implementing a seamless check-in and check-out process will make your guests feel right at home. You can automate this process by setting up a series of emails for guests, that give them instructions before they arrive and how they should leave your property before they leave.

4. Guest communication. Guest will have different preferences for how they communicate with you during their stay, so you should try to accommodate them as much as possible.

Provide you or your host’s phone number and be responsive to emails. You can also set up autoresponders that have vital information like emergency contact numbers, specific about your property and a notice that you will contact them as soon as possible if you aren’t around your email all the time. It’s also a good idea to outline your communication options or guidelines in your vacation property welcome book so they are easily accessible as well.

5. Housekeeping and maintenance. An obvious aspect of managing vacation rentals is housekeeping and maintenance, but it can be overlooked with so much else going on. It’s likely difficult for you to clean each property before and after each stay by yourself, so instead search for a housekeeper (or a team of housekeepers depending on your property count) to maintain your units’ cleanliness. Check out these tips for more on automating you rental's cleaning and maintenance processes.

6. Protecting your properties. It’s only a matter of time before an accident happens during a guests’ stay, but it’s all part of managing a vacation rental business.

There are two ways to protect your properties: a security deposit or insurance. Deposits are the more traditional route, but they aren’t favored by travelers because of the financial burden they cause. They also pose an administrative hassle to managers and withholding a portion of a deposit can cause strife and prolonged mediation until a settlement can be reached.

Insurance, on the other hand, offers more coverage than security deposits minus the hassle for both parties. And what’s even better, within MyVR you can purchase Damage Protection by Assurant - a fully integrated insurance solution backed by Fortune 500 underwriter Assurant - and put it to work for you in a matter of minutes!

7. Getting guest reviews. In the vacation rental industry, reviews are like currency. After your guest checks out, you should make it a priority to earn their review as soon as possible. While channels typically request reviews for you, if you don’t receive one, it’s worth following up with a personal note if you have their contact information. But note that some channels like Airbnb will require that you review your guest before the guest is asked to review your property.

 

Managing your properties yourself

Many owners are tempted to self-manage because it saves on management fees, however, if you go this route, you’ll be taking on a lot of responsibilities.

Managing your short-term properties yourself means onboarding and maintaining your listings across every channel, keeping your booking calendar up-to-date, coordinating with cleaners - or cleaning the property yourself - communicating with incoming guests and inquirers and more.

With so much to juggle in self-management, you’ll likely need approximately 15-20 hours per week of bandwidth to manage your operations properly, but every property and owner’s goal is different.

If you are hoping to get maximum return on your investment, it may be worth partnering with a dedicated short-term property manager. Even netting the management fees, they can give your property maximum exposure and you can start earning immediately thanks to a minimal learning curve.

For more considerations to inform your decision, check out the full ins and outs of managing your properties yourself versus partnering with a property management company.

On the other hand, if you do have the time and want to manage your properties on your own, consider using property management software like MyVR to keep everything in order and running smoothly. We offer vacation rental property managers and owners easy-to-use software that is guaranteed to help them book more nights and minimize errors.

Whichever option you decide on to manage your vacation rental business, it’s important to automate as much as you can. Choose a robust PMS that will help you to manage as many aspects of your business as possible, so that you can focus your energy on the tasks that can’t be automated. And maybe that will include taking some down time to relax and enjoy the results of your hard work!