Having a solid coterie of staff is crucial to ensure the smooth running of your Airbnb short term rental business and make sure you keep your guests happy enough to leave you great reviews. However, staffing has always been a pain point in the vacation rental business, making it a challenge for property managers to find the right staff to manage a variety of functions, from cleaning and maintenance to accounting, marketing, and customer support.
However, whilst the industry experienced incredible growth, overall, over COVID, it also got harder to find and retain staff. Labor shortages have significantly impacted both vacation rentals and hotels even as travel bounces back. What’s more, new roles have opened across the industry, particularly with evolutions in technology and emerging short term rental trends.
Building your Airbnb vacation rental team requires: 1. Figuring out your team’s composition 2. Understanding the marketplace and common pain points 3. Hiring new employees 4. Managing staff to ensure sustainable growth 5. Firing bad employees
The tasks required to keep an Airbnb vacation rental running are many and it is inconceivable that just one person can do it all. Whether you choose to hire permanent staff members, gig workers, temporary work staff, or a mix of all, you need to put together a crack team to ensure your business is operating at an optimal level.
Here is a list of important staff members you may require for your Airbnb vacation rental team:
Despite the fast-growing trend towards self check-in and automation, the short term vacation rental industry continues to be very personable and having a motivated and effective staff is paramount for ensuring you keep growing occupancy, rates, and revenue. To sustainably increase sales and profits and ultimately scale your Airbnb business, you need the help of each and every member of your team.
Having a great team will also positively impact your ability to sell your vacation rental business, should you ever choose to do so, making it a far more attractive buy to potential buyers.
In 2022, it’s become harder than ever for vacation rental property managers to hire and retain good employees. As competition increases from corporate players making massive strides into the space and many experienced staff having been furloughed or let go during the initial pandemic months having no plans to return, the current context for building a great vacation rental team is perhaps more challenging than ever.
The primary pain points experienced by property managers in creating a productive, profitable, and sustainable vacation rental team are:
Shortage of experienced candidates to hire
Higher competition for available pool of candidates
High labor costs
Reduction in labor productivity (particularly in the midst of Quiet Quitting)
Higher frequency of employees quitting
Greater requirement for training, particularly from new candidates to the field
A sense of being in a crunch having to repeatedly go through the process of searching for, hiring, and training staff
Building and maintaining a great vacation rental team involves a variety of factors that must be taken into consideration across three essential processes. These are:
Hiring New Employees
Retaining Existing New Employees
Firing Bad Employees
When recruiting, just don’t stick to one method of finding candidates. Use as many available to you as possible. From online job sites to your social media, personal referrals, notice boards and even word of mouth. Spread the message as far and wide as possible so you can widen the pool.
Before you start interviewing, make sure you have a comprehensive understanding of what the position you are hoping to fill requires. Figure out what skills and experiences are absolutely necessary, what can be learned, and what other mandatory requirements you expect them to fill.
A prospective candidate may have the right skills and experience but if they don’t fit the culture of your company not only will they not be a great fit and likely to leave soon but disrupt the existing harmony of your team as well.
Don’t try to wing it. You want to make sure you touch all the bases with all the candidates.
Don’t take candidates’ answers to your questions for granted. Ask them for specific examples. For example, rather than asking if they take initiative and leadership which they can answer with a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’, ask them to name a specific instance of when they took the initiative and showcased leadership qualities.
Just because you have been provided with a detailed CV does not mean you can’t ask questions about the information presented in them.
No matter how much you like a candidate during an interview, don’t tell them they are hired immediately. Finish all your interviews and take a day or two to ponder their answers and your notes before deciding.
Make sure you set aside more time than you think to conduct the interviews scheduled for the day. You don’t want to be hurrying through interviews distractedly because you have a meeting coming up soon.
Make the effort to check on each candidate’s references. Because many companies don’t, a few people are known to provide false references believing no one will check. Checking references will also yield information about the candidate that you would otherwise not have obtained from just the interview or reading through their resume.
Whenever possible, hire from within your team. It’s cheaper and more efficient to promote someone from within your existing team, even if you have to provide them with additional training, rather than hire someone new from the outside.
Even with a foolproof process, it is inevitable that you will end up hiring a bad apple at some point, but there is no need for that to be a frequent occurrence. Take your time, be picky, and make sure you are hiring the best candidate for your business. If you are looking to fill a position urgently, you can outsource the work to an agency or gig worker temporarily until you find the right candidate.
Make sure your employees know exactly what is required from them. Spelling out their roles and responsibilities will avoid confusion as well as any overlap in work between staff. Make sure you review their job descriptions with each employee.
If you are going to wait until an employee brings up a problem, you are already cleaning up a mess. Be proactive and check in with your staff regularly, whether that is once a month or once every quarter. Schedule the time into your calendar well in advance and let your employees know. This way you can catch emerging problems before they become an issue.
Make sure you make yourself available to your employees but don’t be afraid to maintain boundaries. Let your employees know when and how they can contact you about any concerns or suggestions on their mind. Always respond.
Make sure you communicate clear expectations of performance for each employee. Whether that is achieving sales growth of at least 10% or 10 new social media leads every month, make sure they understand what you expect of them. Vague expectations like ‘improve sales’ or ‘grow conversions’ can mean different things to different people. Don’t forget to discuss the expectations with each person so you are not being unrealistic or know if they need additional help to achieve your targets.
Tracking your employees’ performance is not just a metric to calculate an end-of-the-year performance bonus. Use it to see how you can help your employees improve.
Provide training and development opportunities to your employees so they can learn and grow within your organization. Developing talent from within is far more cost effective than hiring and firing.
It is important to recognize the good performance of your staff and reward them accordingly. Failing to do so will demotivate the good performers and lead them to finding better positions elsewhere.
If a problem arises don’t wallow. Act fast to resolve the problem and make sure to act fairly, even if it takes a lot more effort.
Being a kind and understanding human only makes you a better leader, one that your employees will be happy to work for. Yelling at an employee for a mistake or refusing them time off work to care for a sick child won’t make them want to continue to work for you. Plan for such disruptions by having a roster of part-time workers you can rely on in an emergency.
In a top-down structure like a vacation rental business, all your staff are looking to you to see how to act and behave. If you don’t practice what you preach, don't expect your employees to follow suit.
Make sure you read the terms of the contract to ensure you have just cause to terminate their employment.
Depending on the contract and/or legally mandated terms, make sure you provide adequate notice.
Whether it’s intellectual or physical property, make sure you take over all the property owned by your business.