As an Airbnb host and vacation rental owner and/or manager, you are pulled in multiple directions every single day with an endless list of repetitive and new tasks. You might also be struggling to make a profit or just break even. Trying to keep up with the sheer amount of work, manage your costs, and find some time for yourself can leave you feeling overwhelmed and anxious. It can even impact your productivity. There are however a number of tried and tested tips that can help you save both time and money without cutting down on the quality of service you provide as an Airbnb vacation rental host.
A PMS is a comprehensive vacation rental software that offers the most efficient means of streamlining and automating your vacation rental operations. A highly-rated PMS like Hostaway will offer a comprehensive suite of features including channel management, communication tools including a unified inbox, automation, and other tools like marketing and analytics. It will also provide seamless integration with hosting tools like guest screening, noise monitoring, smart locks, etc.
While you do have to pay to use a PMS, it is more of an investment considering the huge savings in effort, time, and cost in the short- and long-terms. It also frees you from having to hire additional staff to help with hosting tasks like managing messages and cleaners.
With the global pandemic of 2020-21 having upended short term rental trends, relying on your historical data to gauge the best pricing strategy for your vacation rental just doesn’t cut it anymore. As the landscape gets even more competitive with new hosts and institutional investors coming in, Airbnb hosts need to access short term rental data, analyze macro and micro trends specific to their location, type of rental, etc, and adjust prices even daily. A dynamic pricing tool will take care of all of these, providing the best prices for your vacation rental daily, within the parameters you have set, such as minimum night policies and rates.
Airbnb’s AirCover for hosts is certainly an expansion of its previous liability and damage protection programs. Even when promptly delivered (Airbnb Superhosts are assured of dedicated and prompt customer support) however the programs only cover hosts so much. It is always advisable to get insured. The small monthly payments may feel wasteful but vacation rental insurance will more than pay off when you are left with serious property damage due to guests or weather, left reeling after an exodus of cancellations, or being sued by a guest for liability.
The changes wrought on travel during the pandemic together with the move to increased digitization have left most guests with no expectation that their Airbnb host will wait around to welcome them with a comprehensive tour of the property. Most guests in fact prefer for that to not happen. Initiating a self check-in process for your Airbnb therefore will not only keep your guests happy but save you valuable time waiting on delayed guests and late-night arrivals. It takes the pressure off both parties to show up at a certain time and leaves them free. It also provides added savings and safety in the form of being able to time locks to the exact check-in and check-out times.
Do make sure to provide your guests a detailed check-in guide prior to their arrival though and make sure to be available to them via call, text, or e-mail in case they have clarifications. A well-designed welcome book including house rules and helpful instructions on the use of various amenities will also go a long way with guests retaining their privacy without feeling lost.
Choose to automate as you upgrade with smart devices like smart lights, smart thermostats, water leak sensors, and motion sensor lights for the outdoors. These can not only be energy efficient but allow you to automate and control the lighting, heating, cooling, etc of your property for optimal energy- and cost-efficiency. By switching off automatically when a guest is not present, for example, you don’t have to worry about lazy guests leaving your lights and air-conditioning on when they are out and you with a hefty bill at the end of the month.
Automating guest messaging is another smart way to save time and money while providing excellent service. You can use free templates to get you started and match messages to triggers like booking confirmation or three days prior to check-in so you don’t have to do any of the work or hire someone to handle the constant deluge of messages coming in. And because the automated response is quick, guests are not left waiting.
Just because your mother said it doesn’t make it wrong. It always makes sense to attend to your repairs now. Ignoring them won’t make them go away. Only make them worse, until you are left with serious damage, a large bill, and even lost bookings and income. A guest left with soap on their face because the shower stopped working mid-way will leave you a bad review that could haunt your business for a long-time to come.
The best course is to be proactive with maintenance and employ a handyman to make weekly maintenance rounds. But if you are starting out and can’t afford that at the moment, make sure you have a trusted handyman on call to attend to problems as soon as they are discovered. Or use a handyman service.
Just like toilet paper, you don’t want to have to run out of linens like bedding and towels. Prepare for unpredictable circumstances like longer drying periods due to rain or extra cleaning due to staining. In similar vein to buying toilet paper in bulk, invest in multiple sets of linens so you always have more than enough spares ready to be used when needed. Or you might find yourself driving desperately to buy new linens at any price while an angry guest waits for clean towels.
Daily turnover from short stays are not the only ways you can save by allowing for long term rentals.
Long term rentals are a growing trend. According to Airbnb, in 2021, 1000,000 guests booked stays of at least 3 months long while 1 in 5 nights booked from July to September were stays that lasted at least one month. Meanwhile, nearly half of all nights booked on Airbnb in Q1 2022 were for trips 7 days and longer. The trend is so huge that Airbnb even unveiled Split Stays as a response to the lack of inventory in certain markets for longer stay guests. If you are not allowing for long term rental you are not only losing out on revenue but also on saving time and effort in dealing with fewer guests.
Making your vacation rental more eco-friendly is not only good for the environment but will help you attract eco conscious guests. It will also save you a lot of money and hassle. However, there are more ways to optimize your sustainability than just LED bulbs. A great first step is to conduct a professional energy audit of your property. Your local power company can likely help you with this. You can also hire a professional or DIY with a self-assessment.
This may not sound like it could yield big savings, but over time, buying in bulk will definitely add up considerably towards your savings. Find a store in your area that gives good deals for purchasing household goods in bulk. You can also look for deals online. Buying in bulk also saves you the time and hassle of doing frequent supply runs.
Taking inventory of your items is just as important. Not only can you keep track of how much and when each item is being used but the data can give you insights into how to optimize usage for savings without costing in quality. It also helps you make sure you don’t run out. A guest without toilet paper is likely to be a guest lost for life.
You could be missing out on significant savings on your taxes if you are unaware of the expenses that are tax deductible. Talk to your accountant or do your own research to find out which expenses will yield deductions related to your Airbnb vacation rental business. Don’t forget to always save your receipts.
Another great way to save yourself time, effort, and costs in the future is to make sure you pay your taxes on time. Being charged with tax fraud is a lot more difficult than the annoyance of getting your taxes done.
Whether you are using a PMS which will do it for you or doing it off an Excel spreadsheet, track your data and take stock of your fees, revenue, profits, and more so you have an accurate and in-depth understanding of your spending, income, and profit margins. A PMS like Hostaway will not only automatically track your data but provide analysis and reports in easy to understand formats. A comprehensive picture of your finances will give you insights into what is working and what is not, where spending needs to be curtailed, and interesting trends that you may have not otherwise realized.
Unless you are renting out a room in your apartment, it can be difficult to attend to the cleaning of an entire property yourself, particularly if you are booked and expecting new guests in 2 hours. Hiring a cleaner or a cleaning service will eliminate the task entirely and you can recoup the cost through your cleaning fees charge. Professional cleaners can be relied on to do a thorough job, far better than you could. You can even manage your cleaners or cleaning service through a PMS like Hostaway so you don’t have to keep calling or messaging to arrange cleanups.
One bad guest is all you need to put a big dent on your revenue. Going back and forth with Airbnb trying to get reimbursed for the damage caused by bad guests can be a nightmare. Bad guests are also much more likely to leave you with a bad review or make complaints against you in an effort to discredit your complaint once you realize the damage left behind.
Don’t rely on Airbnb to screen your guests for you. Invest in a guest screening service like Chekin, Autohost, or Superhog, that conducts background checks. You can also do your own due diligence like checking guest reviews and their social media prior to accepting their booking, though this can only take you so far. Screening for bad guests not only reduces risk to your property and business but helps you attract high-quality guests, better reviews and ratings, and increase your revenue.