Managing a vacation property comes with many responsibilities. You have to stay on top of finances, insurance and taxes, track bookings and inquiries, market vacancies, organize maintenance and cleaning duties, interact with guests, and so on and so forth.
When you’re juggling multiple vacation rentals you have to decide whether you should hire a property manager or attempt to do everything yourself.
How involved do you want to be — or can you be?
Some owners want to be involved with their vacation rental as minimally as possible; others want to manage things themselves to save money, or to know exactly what’s going on with their investment.
If there’s a significant geographical distance separating you and your vacation rental, your ability to be hands-on will be limited and you may have no choice but to look at full-service property management options.
Considering that you could find yourself spending all of your “spare” time managing your property rentals, what you need to figure out — as realistically as possible — is how much time you are willing to spend on the business and day-to-day responsibilities.
A good place to start is to consider what services you absolutely need for your rental.
What services do you need for your vacation rental?
To determine what services you need, list the major and ongoing tasks to run your rental property and decide whether each activity fits within the time you have available, or if you need someone to help out. Consider everything from preparing listing details for your website, marketing vacancies, liaising with guests, cleaning properties between rentals, gathering reviews and more.
If you choose to DIY and you reach a certain size, there are tools out there - like MyVR, for instance - that can help you manage your budding business with a range of online services from channel distribution, guest communications, reservation processing and other administrative tasks in between. This will free up time that you can reallocate to your business.
Many vacation rental owners choose to use a property management company to manage some or all of their vacation rental business.
Not only do property managers have experience with properties like yours, they may also have a strong professional network or advertising opportunities that are less accessible to owner-run properties.
Management comes with a price, however, and it can vary dramatically depending on the business and services provided. Some property managers scale their rates according to the support you actually need, so you may be able to negotiate a package that works for you.
Traditionally, there were established property management models to consider, but the rapid evolution of the industry in recent years has created a multitude of hybrid variants that stem from these four basic models:
A full-service vacation rental agency. A full-service agency will look after everything from bookings, to marketing, to cleaning and on-site troubleshooting.
A property manager, or property management company. A property manager will manage the day-to-day maintenance of your property and serve as the contact if something comes up during a guest’s stay. However, someone else will need to look after marketing as well as reservations and inquiries.
A booking service. A booking service will manage your reservations and respond to inquiries. They may or may not also assist with marketing, but you will still need to oversee maintenance and face-to-face service.
Subcontractors and friends. If you’re committed to staying in the do-it-yourself club, you may still have to involve others when necessary. For example, you may need to recruit a friend to serve as a contact person when you’re not available, or hire someone to do the cleaning between guests.
If you choose to hire a property manager or are leaning that way, perform due diligence on the company and their experiences, ensuring your choice will make the most out of your investment. If you’re interested in being connected to a pre-vetted property manager, email firstname.lastname@example.org to be connected to an experienced, MyVR property manager serving your area.
While managing a vacation rental will add many additional responsibilities to your daily life, there are programs and services out there that will make things much easier on you whether you go the DIY route or choose to hire out help.