You know you need to answer all those guest messages, but you’re too busy juggling payments and bookings and trying to schedule maintenance and cleaning to get to them.
In the meantime, your guests are getting frustrated waiting for a reply.
If only you could find some dependable staff to help out. But then that would eat into your increasingly slim profit margins…
Too often, the challenges with vacation rental management distract you from focusing on the guest experience and expanding your property portfolio.
But, it doesn’t have to be an uphill struggle. The right vacation rental management software solutions can help you overcome common challenges—like labor costs and shortages, time management, and scheduling—so you can streamline your processes, get more bookings, and grow your business.
We’ve put together a guide to the top tech solutions to common vacation rental challenges so you can do just that. We’ll look at the top challenges vacation rental managers face and the best software solution for each one—so you can maximize each opportunity and increase your revenue.
1. Labor costs and shortages
More and more, guests expect pristine, well-maintained properties and amenities in addition to a fast response and turnover rate—despite a historic labor shortage.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, the vacation rental management industry has seen significant drops in qualified, dependable workers. Staff limitations make it difficult to scale your business and perform vacation rental cleaning and maintenance, which can negatively impact the guest experience and your reviews and host status.
As Wolf Worster, Director of Partnerships at TurnoverBnB says, “Economists confirm that labor market tightness will be a challenge in many industries for years to come. Supply and demand challenges are amplified by early retirement, the 2020 immigration collapse, and the “Great Resignation”. Vacation rental management companies will have to continue to adapt to labor shortages just as they do with other changing aspects of our industry.”
Vacation rental management software automates backend tasks like cleaning and maintenance scheduling, guest communication, reporting, and much more. This lets you effectively run operations with fewer staff and labor costs.
And if you’re using Hostfully, you can integrate it with cleaning partners like Breezeway, EZcare, TurnoverBNB, Operto Teams, and Properly. TurnoverBNB also has a cleaner marketplace that quickly connects you to cleaners. This makes cleaner rates more competitive by creating a marketplace where vacation rental managers (VRMs) can shop around and hire reputable and competent contractors.
2. Guest communication
To get outstanding guest reviews and ratings, and drive bookings, it’s important to consistently communicate with your guests before, during, and after their stay—and make sure they have all the information they need.
Consistent guest communication takes valuable time and energy away from scaling your property management business and creating a sensational guest experience.
There’s nothing worse than receiving calls and texts at 3 am from an unhappy guest who doesn’t know where the lockbox is. Or being glued to your phone answering the same repeated questions for every guest.
So, how can you reliably communicate with your guests while freeing up your schedule (and your fingers)?
A property management system (PMS) automates guest communication making it easier to stay on top of last-minute questions, concerns, or changes. It also helps provide key information to guests before, during, and after their stay, so they don’t need to contact you in the middle of the night asking how to lower the thermostat.
By giving guests everything they need in advance, they won’t need to take time out from their relaxing vacation to follow up with you, so they have a better experience and you get better reviews.
PMSs like Hostfully also let you create personalized Digital Guidebooks that provide guests with check-in information, house rules, local attractions or recommendations, detailed instructions to operate amenities or appliances, and security codes or passwords. By answering guest questions up front, and sharing customized guidebooks specific to their stay, you can take the majority of guest communication off your plate while racking in high ratings.
And, to accommodate guest expectations surrounding cleanliness and security, Hostfully makes it easy to perform contactless check-in by integrating with major smart lock brands and home automation solutions that eliminate time-consuming key handovers and insecure lockboxes.
3. Owner communication and reporting
Running a successful vacation rental management company (VRMC) means keeping owners happy and informed with consistent communication and reports.
Sending regular reports to owners and giving them full visibility into their property’s performance can be stressful and time-consuming. Especially when you have to manually input the correct vacation rental listing, guest information, and payment details.
VRMs need to keep up a professional, regular exchange of information with owners, which can prevent them from focusing on their guests and winning more bookings.
Vacation rental management software like Hostfully lets owners access your PMS and central calendar through intuitive Owner Portals so they can see what’s happening with their property. It also lets owners collaborate and communicate with you on financial reporting, scheduling, and payment distribution, so there’s never any confusion or miscommunication.
You can also:
- Check owner revenue share
- Distribute payments
- Put a hold on an owner’s calendar
- Send monthly statements
- Adjust for capital expenses
And, with Hostfully’s Enhanced Reporting feature, VRMs don’t have to manually go in and send their reports, which are auto-populated with the correct information. This saves you even more time and reduces the risk of manual error, which helps bolster invaluable owner relationships at scale.
4. Decreasing profit margins
To sustainably grow your property management business and increase your revenue, you need the right tools to outcompete newcomers in your area.
Industry expenses and labor costs are increasing, and competition is higher than ever. In fact, in our most recent Hospitality Report, 26% of respondents reported a lot more competition in the short-term vacation rental industry in 2021. This could be due to the increase in demand for properties outside urban areas post-pandemic—and new hosts listing their vacation homes as a result.
Rising expenses and competition can cripple your ability to run and scale your business. So, what can you do to overcome this challenge?
Investing in pricing tools that dynamically adjust your rental prices to shifts in market demand can help generate more revenue by always ensuring you get the best nightly rate. For example, if there’s a big football game in town next month, you can raise your prices to reflect the increase in demand.
And, when you combine your pricing tools with Hostfully’s Channel Manager, you can update prices on your listings on your calendar in real-time and across all your distribution channels, as well as offer discounts for regular or repeat bookings.
Hostfully also helps optimize your listings across all popular distribution channels like Booking.com, Airbnb, Vrbo, and HomeAway, establish a direct booking strategy and website, and upsell guests on in-stay services.
For example, using Hostfully’s Digital Guidebooks, you can offer attractive, personalized services guests might want to add to their experience. Like sports equipment rentals, airport transfers, grocery delivery, and mid-stay cleaning. All of which help create an additional revenue stream.
5. Cleaning and maintenance management
For a quick guest turnaround rate and excellent reviews and ratings, it’s important to stay on top of your cleaning and maintenance management—so your reputation and listings stay spotless.
If a property doesn’t get cleaned, or there’s a maintenance issue that doesn’t get addressed, it can end your reputation as a property management company and negatively impact occupancy rates. In a post-pandemic world, now more than ever, if standards in cleanliness, upkeep, and sanitation aren’t being met, your business won’t stand a chance.
But for most VRMs, manually scheduling cleaning and maintenance after or before each stay can be a cumbersome and demanding task. It can be hard to coordinate all the relevant parties, ensure access, and perfectly time your cleans or repairs. Especially during a labor shortage.
So, what can you do to help manage cleaning and maintenance?
Integrate your PMS with cleaning management software to connect you with dependable contractors and automatically schedule cleans when guests check in or out.
If you’re using Hostfully as your property management platform, you can easily communicate with teams and keep everyone on the same page by integrating with the top cleaning and maintenance management software. All your teams can access the same calendar, which is automatically populated with updated cleans and maintenance checks—so nothing slips through the cracks.
6. Parties and neighbor complaints
Running a successful property management business means keeping property neighbors (and vacation rental owners) happy and on board with vacation rentals in their neighborhood.
Loud parties and complaints from neighbors can affect your reviews, host status, ability to list the vacation rental property, and even your relationship with the property owner.
But, it can be hard for VRMs to screen guests and predict their impact on the local community. Manually asking for documents like IDs and running credit and identity checks, not to mention scanning and uploading everything, takes valuable time from you and your guests.
Integrate home automation, screening, and insurance solutions with your property management platform.
Integrate Hostfully with screening and insurance tools like Autohost, SUPERHOG, Safely, and InsuraGuest so you can both prevent bad guests and stay protected if they do slip through the net.
Hostfully also offers you peace of mind and an early heads-up about violations through integrations with NoiseAware, Operto, and Minut. Get real-time noise detection, as well as temperature and humidity notifications within your property without compromising guest privacy.
To get your accounting in order, it’s important to find ways of predicting your revenue and expenses, despite industry uncertainties like last-minute cancellations and tricky online travel agency (OTA) payment policies.
Manual accounting can be rife with errors, and make it hard to determine your business’s financial health. And, when you rely on receiving payments from OTAs, you open yourself up to the risk of not being paid for last-minute cancellations and future cash-flow issues.
For example, vacation rental platforms like Vrbo and Airbnb won’t pay you until 24 hours after the scheduled check-in. So, if a guest cancels before that time, you don’t get paid.
Use Hostfully’s Enhanced Reporting feature to adjust your figures based on your business model and reservation data, rather than waiting for OTA payments to come in. Create your own equations and add your own variables to account for your particular needs: like splitting OTA fees between owners and guests, or tax deductions.
You can also integrate Hostfully with popular accounting tools like Ximplifi and QuickBooks to automatically manage all your payments and expenses from one place.
And, with Hostfully’s Booking Pipeline feature, you also get a birds-eye view of your entire booking pipeline, so you can easily cross-reference your bookings and accounts.
Vacation rental software: solve challenges, boost revenue
With challenges like rising labor costs and competitors, decreasing profit margins, guest and owner communication, and cleaning and maintenance management, you need to find ways to differentiate your property and get bookings.
Our list of software solutions to common VRM challenges will help you do all that and more. Hospitality tech solutions facilitate in-demand services and amenities like contactless check-in, personalized experiences and guidebooks, and upsells—so you can improve the guest experience and drive more revenue.
And if you’re looking for a PMS that helps solve common challenges by automating manual tasks, scheduling, and guest communication, as well as creating powerful owner and enhanced reports, look no further than Hostfully.
Frequently asked questions about challenges with vacation rentals
Are short-term vacation rentals profitable?
Yes, short-term vacation rentals are profitable. And, according to Hostfully’s Vacation Rental Industry Report, although there has been a rise in competition in the short-term rental industry post-pandemic—vacation rental managers in more competitive markets are still seeing an average income increase of 32%.
What are the advantages of having short-term vacation rentals?
There are many advantages to having short-term vacation rentals and running a vacation rental management business. Some advantages include:
- Being your own boss or Airbnb host
- Being a homeowner
- Optional holiday home
- Tax benefits
- Property appreciation
- Passive income
What are some of the challenges of owning a vacation rental?
While there are many different challenges to owning a vacation rental, some of the most common challenges include:
- Labor costs and shortages
- Guest communication
- Owner communication and reporting
- Decreasing profit margins
- Scheduling cleaning services and maintenance management
- Parties, bad renters, and neighbor complaints