Expert Insights: Choosing The Right Vacation Rental Property Management Company

Mar 08 2019
Small Can Be Luxury: Getting More from a Smaller Property

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

Many vacation rental hosts decide to manage their property themselves, while others believe that vacation rental property management is the best way to go. If you choose the management route, how do you know which one is the best? You need a manager who is responsible, trustworthy and has a proven track record of providing a 5-star hospitality service.

To help you in your management quest, Hostfully has assembled experts in vacation rental property management to give you the best advice to consider when looking for your next manager. Let’s get started!

Think about logistics – William Asbury | Guesthoo

When considering whether to seek professional management or to go at it alone, be sure to consider two things a) your time availability, and b) your proximity to the property. Managing a full time short term rental can take time, and a lot of it. And underestimating the commitment is one of the most common misconceptions that hosts make when starting out. The tasks are normally short, but often. 10 minutes spent messaging guests, a few emails to coordinate cleaners, calling a maintenance contractor to arrange a repair, suddenly that’s a few hours gone!

And if you do not live near the property, this can create additional stresses as you will have to rely on your local housekeepers for cleaning and feedback on maintenance issues. So if you lead a very busy life or are not based nearby, you may consider a local end-to-end property management company who can take care of all the issues. You may even find your overall earnings are increased as professional management leads to better reviews, which drives more bookings!

Have skin in the game – Andrew McConnell |

Working with more than 900 Managers, and more than 10,000 homeowners at, I have found the biggest thing to look for from a Manager is that they have skin in the game. Managers can talk about their projections, and you can bring them down on their commissions perhaps, but what is included (and excluded) in that rate? What are they committing to?

Managers willing and able to provide a guarantee or fixed income tend to be those who are most confident in their own abilities, and they’re most capable of delivering value for owners. Using the company’s willingness and ability to offer a guarantee as a quick filter can save you a lot of work, and worries, in the long run.

Vacancy rates and fees – Brian Davis | Spark Rental

Ask about every single fee. Some vacation rental property manager’s nickel and dime owners with endless fees, such as property visitation fees, repair coordination fees, leasing fees, lease extension fees, and so on. Property owners should press for details about every single fee charged by property managers.

Also, get clear on their vacancy rates. How occupied does this management company keep their vacation rentals? How does this manager’s vacancy rate compare to the overall vacation rental vacancy rate in the area?

Focus on the pros of hiring a property management company – Daniel Rusteen | OptimizeMyBnb

When it comes to hiring a property management company, many owners just consider that it’s a simple tradeoff. You pay the company a fee and they convert your property into a passive income asset. But offloading to a turnkey management company entails so much more than that. So consider these additional “pros” when planning whether or not to hire a short-term rental property management company:

  • The obvious one: More “you” time!
  • Professionals handling home maintenance, repairs, and upgrades
  • Faster response times to guests (increases conversion rate from inquiry to reservation)
  • Round the clock on-call emergency contact
  • Knowledge (how Airbnb works, handling insurance claims, recommendations for trusted smart locks, etc.)
  • Connections (established and trialed cleaners, maintenance staff, etc.)

All of these pros will lead to increased occupancy and nightly rates. That means more cash in your pocket. Even with hefty management fees, some owners report earning more per property – and without the hard work of being a host!

Do your research – Laura Hall | Kid & Coe

Every vacation rental property manager has a website; the vast majority also have social media feeds, typically Instagram and Facebook. Have a look through them and go with your gut. Which do you like best? Which feed shows properties like yours, with engaged followers, comments from the type of guests you want to attract? A quick look at the community around the agency is going to show you whether it’s a good fit for you or not.

Understand marketing strategies – Brian Davis | Spark Rental

What does this vacation rental property management company do to market their vacation rentals, beyond just posting on Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO? Posting there should only be the start of a larger, cleverer, and more thorough marketing plan.

Occupancy expectations – Randy Bonds | BRIC Vacation Rentals

Many variables exist in property management companies depending on geographical location but one question that should always be asked is detailed occupancy expectation. With proof!

Operations are extremely important for guest satisfaction but without a proven marketing plan, revenue for the owner will always be lacking.

Teams and reviews – Conrad O’Connell | 91 Digital

When deciding on a vacation rental property management, make sure that:

  • The vacation rental property manager has a defined marketing strategy in place that spans listing sites, their own website and have proven the ability to drive online bookings for other owners.
  • They have the ability to deal with issues/problems with the property with ‘on the ground’ teams.
  • The vacation rental property manager has good reviews on Google, HomeAway and Facebook.
  • They have trustworthy cleaning teams (staffed or outsourced) that provide a clean experience for every new guest.

Don’t forget about costs – Laura Hall | Kid & Coe

Think about your property as a business. You’re looking to make money from it, and to make it an easy business to run. Ask rental companies directly about their commissions so you are clear on what you can make. Be clear about whether or not you can list on multiple platforms at once to maximize your available dates. Set your prices so you cover more than your basic costs once the agency’s commission is taken off. Don’t forget to check what happens if something goes wrong – if a stay is canceled, if something is broken, how does the agency help you with it – or are you on your own?

Look for a partner – Richard Olivarez | Ocean Reef Vacation Rentals & Real Estate

You are searching for more than a vacation rental property manager; you are searching for a partner. A little homework will go a long way. What’s offered will vary from company to company.

You don’t want to fixate on commission, but instead, take a look at the whole package. A discounted commission often means discounted service and many times the companies with the higher commission will ultimately generate you more revenue. Be sure to ask about their fee structure. Discount companies need to create to make their revenue.

When searching out a company take a look at their track record. How long have they been in business? In recent years there have been many fly-by-night companies that have started up and have quickly closed down, taking their owner’s revenue with them.

Also, ask to see their facilities and meet their staff. You need to know who you are trusting your home with and fully understand their approach to managing your home.

Several tips – Stephen Ezer | Premier Residential Services

The vacation rental property management company should be reachable by phone, text, and internet, and have the ability to schedule work with confirming emails. They should also have a well-trained staff that is professional in appearance and has the equipment and supplies necessary to provide the services. 

The vacation rental managers should be of sufficient size that there is staff that does quality control inspections post services. They should also be able to respond to unscheduled requests in a timely manner. All of their charges should be rendered so that there is a clear understanding of the fees and dates of services.

Final thoughts

As you can see, there’s a lot to consider when deciding on a vacation rental property management service. Most importantly, the experts above believe that the company should be easily accessible via phone and email, have structured and common-sense fees, be able to show a track record of reviews and referrals of their 5-star service and contingency planning for last-minute cancellations. Brian Davis of Spark Rental also showed us that we need to fully understand a management company’s marketing strategy and its overall vacancy rates.

A company that is upfront and honest with the above details, could be your next small business partner. Remember, running a vacation rental property is a small business, so treat it as such.