The key to managing vacation rentals remotely is automation, process efficiency, and risk mitigation. First of all you will need to reflect on your business by considering each task, touchpoint, and process. Start by mapping out the setup of a property and the customer journey. What is needed to get a property up and running? How will guests interact with the property? How will guests interact with you?
Once you’ve done this you’ll start to see how some tasks are easier to automate than others. In this article I’ve provided some tips on four key components of your vacation rental: guest communication, check-in, marketing, and cleaning.
First and foremost, design your guest journey as seamlessly as possible. Guest complaints are the most time-consuming challenges when operating a vacation rental; they are also among the most difficult to plan for and automate.
The key to automating this process and minimizing issues is templated conversations, using feedback, and building expectations.
Use automatic templated messages, this will save you countless hours of time. Hostaway can easily be used to send on-time check-in and checkout instructions along with creating button answers to common questions. Your templates should evolve overtime so as to better inform guests about your property.
Listen to your guests, they often provide valuable information about how to better your property. Anytime a guest makes a complaint, asks how to do something, or provides recommendations, take note. This feedback is crucial for identifying process improvements and saving you time in the future.
For example if a guest asks how to work the fireplace, consider why they couldn’t figure it out without your direct help. Is your guide on operating the fireplace overly complex, a simplification, are guests unable to find the information themselves? Why is that? Or perhaps you never provided a guide in the first place.
Once you know the source of the issue you can resolve it for next time. Perhaps you should rewrite your guide, maybe it needs to be in a more visible place or sent in multiple touch points. Maybe the fireplace needs replacing with an easier to use model.
While designing your guest experience you need to define rules and expectations. Provide a comprehensive list of rules that your guests should follow in your property such as rules regarding smoking, pets, noise, number of guests, etc.
Defining rules and expectations mitigates risk and allows you to charge damage deposits that minimize your losses. Moreover your rules help target a specific target market that will be less challenging to host.
Guest check-in is among the first things you should be finding an automated solution for. The solution with most properties is simple: use a smart lock. Smart locks are fantastic tools for operating vacation rentals. The August Lock for example is integrated with Airbnb & VRBO which allows for unique codes to be sent to each guest automatically. Long gone are the days of meeting guests and handing over keys.
Some check-in processes can’t be as elegantly simple as a smart lock. Apartment buildings, for example, require a two step process. You first need to find a way to get them in the building before they can get in the unit.
Each building is different and therefore may require a different solution. In order to conduct apartment check-ins you’ll likely need to us multiple methods such as an exterior lock-box, redirecting the intercom buzzer, or using the building concierge service.
The pricing and distribution of properties at scale is a daunting and time-consuming task. Property managers find out early they need to find solutions that allow for automation of these parts of our guest marketing strategy. Attempting to adjust prices and updating calendars for multiple properties on multiple sales channels leaves a lot of room for error. In order to resolve this issue use software solutions such as Beyond Pricing, Price Labs, Airdna, and Hostaway.
Dynamic pricing is crucial to any vacation rental because it is a one of the main ranking metrics and a tested way to improve property performance. We recommend using Hostaways integrated pricing tools: Beyond Pricing or Price Labs to help manage the majority of pricing decisions.
In addition consider using Airdna to provide valuable market data used to supplement those decisions.
We also strongly suggest diversifying the distribution of your properties. Diversification minimizes risk and improves financial performance. The primary vacation rental channels are Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and direct reservations.
The best way to list on multiple sales channels is with the use of a channel manager. Channel managers ensure that price and availability are correctly distributed on each of your sales channels. In addition they provide a unified inbox for dealing with customers that booked on different websites.
The most difficult process to automate is the cleaning and restocking of properties. This process is among the short list of tasks unable to be conducted remotely. Therefore there are only two strategies for remote management either build a team or outsource the work.
Hostaway is an important tool used by property managers to manage cleaning tasks or any other onsite task such as maintenance.
Through Hostaway, automatic alerts are sent to our cleaners regarding confirmed, modified, or cancelled reservations. Cleaners can, in turn, send a response when tasks have been completed. Visibility into the cleaning process is crucial to remote Airbnb management.
Managing vacation rentals remotely can be difficult but not impossible. It requires you to be smarter, more proactive, and collaborative. The major benefit of designing your business this way is that it saves you time and sets you up to scale your business.
Vacation rental hosts writing unique messages, handing keys over in person, pricing each night, and cleaning their own properties have restricted their growth. Smart hosts know that if built correctly they can provide a superior guest experience with less direct involvement.
Book a demo with the Hostaway team to learn how remote vacation rental management is simplified with Hostaways amazing tools.