AirbnbProperty Management 9 mins read

Airbnb business help: some of the common problems you’ll face [+ solutions]

By March 20, 2020 No Comments
airbnb business tips

Is your Airbnb business a hobby or a profitable entity? Airbnb business management takes skill and patience to generate more money. It also requires tackling common problems and finding solutions to scale. 

Ready to save time, earn more, and work smarter? Turn your passion project into profit with these Airbnb business management tips. 

1. You’re spending too much time on the same guest tasks

Airbnb business managers spend hours managing repetitive tasks like guest check-in and check-out. Passing on recommendations, WiFi information, and everything a guest needs often feels like a full-time job. Instead of focusing on growing a vacation rental business, you’re focused on the same tasks day after day.

A digital guidebook helps streamline the guest experience and frees up more time for Airbnb business management. Guests can click a link and download a digital guidebook with your branding and customizations. Now they have access to everything they need for a successful stay. 

digital guidebook banner

2. You’re struggling to expand

It’s challenging to grow and expand your Airbnb management service without a portfolio of properties. You can go the slow route and try to find other vacation homeowners who want to outsource their property management to you. But property management is often seasonal and reduces your chance for more income.

Upselling guests on experiences and services is another way to scale and grow. Offer early check-in, airport pick-up, midday cleaning, excursions, and even grocery delivery to earn extra cash per booking. With upsells, you boost revenue without having to scale your portfolio. Note that upselling in vacation rentals isn’t complicated like it used to be. All you need to do is activate the feature in your digital guidebooks and get a payment service like Stripe to handle guest credit card information securely. Here’s what it looks like from the guest’s perspective: 

example of guidebook marketplace

3. You spend too much time cleaning the rentals

How many hours did you spend cleaning rentals? We get it: you want the cleaning to be perfect. After all, guests scrutinize their rentals and leave poor reviews for homes that aren’t spotless. The problem is that your Airbnb management business can’t scale when you’re doing repetitive chores (like cleaning.) While you’re scrubbing toilet bowls, you can’t think of and implement growth strategies.

Invest in a cleaning service that focuses on the vacation market with on-demand availability. Schedule cleaners, watch their progress and leave visual checklists through apps like Properly, Breezeway, VR Scheduler, or eCleanit. Depending on your market and your target traveler profile, you can even pass that extra expense onto the guest.

4. You’re trying to do everything yourself 

There’s more to Airbnb business management than cleaning and booking guests. Customer service, purchasing supplies, making repairs, and scouring for new business are time-consuming. When you try to do them all, you risk not accomplishing much. 

Outsource tasks outside of your zone of genius. If you’re great at marketing but struggle with guest communications, hire a virtual assistant. You’re a real estate guru but can’t keep up with the accounting side of the business? Great, pay for a part-time accountant. The more you can outsource, the more you can focus on your best skills. Luckily, in the age of the internet, you can find great help for cheap on platforms like: 

  • Upwork: great for virtual assistants, marketers, web design, social media
  • Fiverr: great for graphic design, one-time repetitive tasks (i.e., data-entry)
  • Freelancer: great for hiring professionals (i.e., accountants)
  • LegalZoom: if ever you need to set up an LLC, clarify local or state regulations surrounding vacation rentals, or answer any type of legal question 

5. You’re not practicing money management

If you’re like many vacation rental owners or managers, accounting may not be your strong suit. But poor cash flow and not setting up proper financial foundations can leave your business broke before it gets off the ground. You need to know your numbers to figure out where to invest in your business.  

Quickbooks and similar programs can help streamline your finances. All you need to do is input your income and expenses, and the software takes care of presenting the data for you. If you’re at the stage where you’re juggling multiple properties, a dedicated bookkeeper or CPA experienced in vacation rentals can also help. Note that with a professional accountant, you’ll also have the bonus that you’re staying compliant with tax laws and maximizing your potential deductions. 

6. Your cash flow stalls or isn’t big enough

A thin cash flow reduces your ability to fix up, or upgrade your rentals, invest in more properties, or take on more risk. You’re stuck at this financial threshold with little room to grow.

Consider taking on a silent partner who can infuse more cash into your Airbnb business. If your operation is profitable, taking on a partner in a joint venture will give you that chance to break free from the stall and continue scaling. If you’re not ready to take on investors or partners, try upselling services and add-ons (see point #2) can also raise your revenue without the extra time commitment. 

7. You need the right informational resources

The vacation rental industry is a varied landscape. For any newcomer, the learning curve is steep. Each company caters to specific traveler profiles. So what works for an Airbnb business in Miami during Spring Break doesn’t necessarily work for a rest-and-relax experience in Napa Valley. Finding reliable information that can be applied universally is hard to find.

Dramatically reduce your learning curve by tapping into expert communities and resources. Danny Rusteen, Jasper Ribbers, and Mark Simpson of Boostly run engaged, valuable Airbnb-focused Facebook groups. For newsletters, try VRMB, Rentals United, and Skift. And of course, the Hostfully blog contains articles tailored to vacation rental managers and owners of all types.

8. How you track income and expenses is messy

Payments and expenses are the lifeblood of your Airbnb business but aren’t always easy to handle. Do you use credit cards, PayPal, direct deposits? On top of that, mixing your professional and personal finances will spell disaster during tax time, which might make you lose on important deductions.

The minute you get into the vacation rental industry, use a dedicated bank account and credit card for your business. It keeps all your vacation rental expenses in one place and simplifies claiming deductions during tax time.  

9. Shopping for supplies is eating up your time

How many hours do you log shopping for supplies for your Airbnb management company? Even online ordering eats up valuable time if you’re hunting for the best deals. 

Save money and shop for everything in one place. Amazon Business offers discounts on everything from cleaner to paper towels. Note that the challenge of supplies for your vacation rental can be solved if you hire cleaners (see point #3) or outsource some of the repetitive tasks (see point #4).

10. Customers are lukewarm in your reviews

When you’re a newcomer on popular booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, your business is vulnerable to poor reviews. One negative review can skew your overall rating and impact future bookings as potential guests may be dissuaded from booking anything that isn’t 5-stars. But it can also impact where in the search results Airbnb puts you, which also affects future bookings.

Increase your odds of getting glowing reviews with the following action items: 

  • Do everything you can to get guests to leave a review after they leave.
  • Offer upscale amenities guests want (and are willing to pay more for).  If you don’t have them already, consider investing in your vacation rental to get them.
  • Make sure you leave great welcome packages.
  • Use technology to cut down on guest irritants. Digital guidebooks are cheap and efficient ways to do this.  In this case study, you can see how a large vacation rental management company used digital guidebooks to improve the guest experience and save time and money.

11. You can’t figure out optimal pricing

Seasonality can change rental prices at a moment’s notice. And when you’re already swamped with the day-to-day operations of an Airbnb business, is it reasonable to stay on top of upcoming conferences, festivals, and travel trends? Not to mention that the more booking platforms your properties are listed on, the longer it takes to get the task done. The problem here is that by not adjusting prices, you stand to leave money on the table.

Invest in a dynamic pricing app to set your rates for you. It’s as literally a set it and forget it situation. You’ll save yourself time, money, and headaches along the way. Some of our recommendations include Wheelhouse, Pricelabs, and Beyond Pricing.

12. Your expenses are too high

Your Airbnb management company needs net profits, not just income, to thrive. When you go through booking platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo, their fees eat away at your bottom-line. Ideally, you want to keep every dollar earned for yourself.

Even a small Airbnb business can reduce fees by creating a direct booking site. Why go through the troubles of building a website? If guests book directly, you don’t have to pay fees to anyone! Luckily, creating a booking site for your vacation rental company is easy with drag and drop builders like Wix and Squarespace. With a little bit of search engine optimization (SEO), you can attract Google users for free. Note that if you don’t want to become an SEO expert, that’s a job you can outsource (see point #4).