8 Ways to Automate Your Airbnb to Boost Profits and Efficiency

Jan 03 2023

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


What’s in this article?

There comes a time when every Airbnb host must make a choice. Either risk burnout or automate and delegate.  

Automation can transform your hosting experience, save money, and boost profits. It reduces errors, stress, and time spent on repetitive or manual tasks and admin and increases efficiency.

But making the jump from managing your Airbnb manually to setting up automation can feel complex. It can be difficult to know where your hosting could benefit from automation, and where to start.

 That’s why we’ve explained:

  • 4 reasons why you need to automate your Airbnb
  • 8 ways to automate your Airbnb (and why it beats doing things manually)
  • How to use automation to go beyond Airbnb to make your rental operation even more successful and efficient

CTA for automating your business

Why automate your Airbnb?

A search results page on Airbnb for Portland, OR
Automation can increase efficiency at your Airbnb, which has a knock-on effect on how well your property shows up on search results.
Source: Airbnb.com

1. Better OTA search rankings 

Automating tasks like guest inquiry replies and reviews means your properties will rank higher in online travel agent (OTA) searches. This is because platforms like Airbnb reward hosts that respond quickly and submit prompt reviews. 

They want hosts to have a high response rate, so guests are happier. Happier guests come back time and again, making the OTA more money. Faster responses and reviews = more eyeballs on your listings. This will lead to more bookings and revenue overall.

2. Fewer manual tasks 

Using automated Airbnb management software takes everyday, manual tasks off your plate. This saves hours of time, complication, and stress, leading to more bookings and happier guests.

Automating essential tasks—like messages or cleaning notifications—means that once they’re set up, you barely have to think about them. No more waiting around by your phone or laptop to hit “send” on a check-in or check-out message. No more worry about missing important inquiries when you’re sleeping. Automation is always awake.

3. Fewer errors 

The less manual work and admin, the less room for human error. With everything set up to run automatically, there’s no chance of you forgetting to send access details to guests, or letting cleaners know they’re needed after a guest checks out.

You can set up automated SMSs and emails, so everyone always receives all the information they need, when they need it. 

And, because you’ve pre-written all messages and set up the information carefully in advance, you’re likely to make fewer mistakes compared to if you were hastily typing a message manually while doing something else. 

4. Improved efficiency 

Automating your Airbnb property business via digital tech makes running it far more efficient. There’s less time spent on repetitive, manual tasks, or managing assistants. Leaving you with more time and headspace to focus on pleasing guests, growing your portfolio, working your day job, or being with your family.

Automation makes guest stays more efficient too. You can send check-in details via automated SMS and include instructions on how to use the coffee machine or local restaurant recommendations in a digital guidebook. Guests have everything they need, at the right time, at their fingertips.

5. Cost savings

Automation helps save costs and boosts revenue too. Automating tasks means you can save money on hiring extra staff or assistants. Automating extras like in-property upsells (and taking automatic online payments) can also help improve guests’ stay and bring in extra revenue. All without any extra work from you.

8 ways to achieve Airbnb automation

A visual infographic showing icons numbered by the 8 ways to automate your Airbnb, plus summary of 4 reasons why to do it.
Automating multiple areas of your Airbnb positively impacts your OTA rankings, efficiency, and profitability.

1. Cleaning and task coordination

A view of Hostfully’s task management tool
Using a PMS like Hostfully makes it easy to set access for cleaners and other staff.
Source: Hostfully.com
Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
Cleaning schedule/team tasks
  • Complicated
  • Manual availability checking
  • Access issues
  • Potentially inconsistent 
  • Risk of dirty rentals
  • Automatic alerts
  • Consistent checklists
  • Digital and automated access
  • Timely cleans

Managing cleaners and cleaning team schedules manually can be a logistical nightmare for Airbnb hosts.

You need to: 

  • Confirm guests have checked out on time
  • Make sure cleaners are available at the right time
  • Ensure access while keeping the property secure, and without affecting access for future guests
  • Update supplies so cleaners never run out of cleaning materials
  • Ensure the clean is done consistently and to a high standard every time
  • Inform cleaners in the event of a last-minute booking, early check-in, or late check-out
  • Get updates on the cleaning and ensure the property is ready for the next guests
  • Check everything is in good repair, and maintain/repair it if not

Coordinating this manually can take endless time and stress. 

Whether you’re using manual SMSs, emails, or calendars, making sure each stage of this process happens as planned is a full-time job in itself. And the stakes are high. A dirty rental means an almost-guaranteed terrible review.

In contrast, automation makes this simple. With a tool like Hostfully, you can:

  • Set pre-written messages to automate cleaning staff alerts when someone checks out
  • Write cleaning checklists so each clean is consistent
  • Schedule periodic reminders about replenishing supplies and checking for repairs
  • Grant cleaners access via smart locks 
  • Limit cleaner access when a new guest has checked in
  • Contact staff quickly in the event of a last-minute booking or requirement


2. Guest communication

Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
Guest communication
  • Slow
  • Relies on you being online 24/7
  • Risk of missing messages or forgetting to send
  • Risk of frustrated guests
  • Fast
  • Pre-written
  • Scheduled and sent at the right time
  • Online and works 24/7
  • Happier guests

Communicating well with guests sets the tone for their entire stay. From the first inquiry to their final thank you and goodbye, they want to receive helpful, fast, and professional responses.

In fact, research from 2022 shows that 54% of property managers reported receiving higher demands and more questions from guests over the last two years. It also showed that 76% of hosts actively communicate with their guests nowadays, compared to just 40% in 2021.

But guest messaging 100% manually can also be time-consuming and stressful for you as a host.

Accidentally forgetting to send a message due to being busy or not looking at your phone (or being asleep because of different time zones) can spell disaster for an Airbnb guest. They risk not receiving their check-in or check-out instructions in time, leading to frustration and a bad first impression.

Plus, fast replies on Airbnb contribute to a higher place in search results and more chance of Superhost status. This increases trust among guests and gets you faster customer support from Airbnb too. Manual communication can slow this down significantly.

With automated emails and SMSs, you can: 

  • Pre-write and schedule important information to send to guests at the exact right time on autopilot. No one is left waiting around
  • Save time by pre-writing messages and using message templates (no more manual typing or coming up with messages from scratch each time)
  • Save on admin and stress with no more waiting around to hit send at the perfect time, or waking up at 2 am worrying if you remembered to send that check-out reminder

Using a PMS tool like Hostfully’s Booking Pipeline also makes guest communication faster and more effective. It lets you see where your guest is in their booking journey. You can follow up reliably, guide them through to booking and ensure they are sent the right information at the right time. 

This is much easier to do digitally and automatically than having to keep track of leads and guests manually.

Hostfully booking pipeline show in mobile view
Hostfully’s mobile app lets you keep track of lead status on-the-go.
Source: Hostfully.com

3. Self-check-in and check-out

Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
  • Unsecure lockboxes
  • In-person handovers prone to delays or logistically complicated and stressful
  • Risk of key loss, breakages, or theft
  • Safe
  • More secure
  • No need for real person interaction
  • No stress in case of delays

Short-term rental property access can present a real headache to Airbnb hosts, which automation software can fix. Check-in and check-out access needs to be: 

  • Safe and secure, even if you have new guests every night or week
  • Easy to communicate to guests quickly 
  • Easy to use without in-person help
  • Understandable to people who may not speak English

Manual check-in also requires more time, effort, and can cost more. If you’re doing in-person key exchanges, you may need to hire an assistant to meet guests in person (or spend time doing it yourself). 

This system can be time-consuming, requires you (or an assistant) to be nearby, and isn’t scalable. It’s also stressful for you and for guests if they get delayed or want to change plans. It risks them not being able to check in if they miss the window, causing issues before they even arrive. 

Physical keys can also get lost or stolen. Lockboxes can be broken into or stop working. These cause even more security problems, frustrated guests, and extra costs.

With automation, most of these problems are eliminated overnight. Automated check-in, using smart locks and access codes, enables you to:

  • Set codes automatically with each new guest, ensuring security
  • Send guests their codes digitally in advance, for peace of mind and easy instructions
  • Stop meeting guests in person. No more time spent hanging around or hiring assistants if you can’t be there. No stress for guests in case of delays
  • Avoid problems with lost or stolen keys
  • Grant access to cleaners and other staff with their own personal codes

4. Guest guidebooks

A view of the Hostfully Guidebook platform with a map
Hostfully Guidebooks lets you answer common guest questions before they even arise.
Source: Hostfully.com


Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
Guidebooks, manuals, and guest recommendations
  • Answering the same questions over and over
  • Manual texting or emailing
  • Risk of missing messages
  • Frustrating guest experience
  • Paper guidebooks need time-consuming, laborious manual updates
  • Common questions answered
  • How-to guides for amenities also included 
  • Guests have info easily accessible, on the go
  • Guidebook can be updated digitally in minutes for all properties at same time

Messages aren’t the only way to communicate with guests. Beyond the important details like check-in time and self-check-in access codes, guests also want to know insider tips. Automation makes it easier to share yours.

Guests might have questions like how to use the coffee machine, whether they can use the washer-dryer, or what your most-recommended local restaurant is. 

Sticking to manual processes for this can mean you have to:

  • Spend time manually typing out messages
  • Answer the same questions again and again
  • Stay by your phone or computer in case a guest messages

You also risk upsetting guests if they have a time-sensitive question and you don’t get back to them fast.

In contrast, using a PMS like Hostfully lets you automate these tips and recommendations. You can create a guidebook personalized to each property, which includes all these insights. You can: 

  • Put a QR code next to the coffee machine that takes the user straight to an instruction guide
  • Send the guest a link with your washer-dryer policy or cost, and how to use the machine
  • Include a guidebook of recommendations for your favorite nearby restaurants and bars

This saves you time and stress when it comes to guest questions. It also means guests don’t need to ask in the first place, improving their stay and experience.

5. Reviews

A concept image of Revyoos.com windows
Hostfully PMS integrates with Revyoos.com to showcase all your reviews in one place.
Source: Revyoos.com


Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
  • Easy to forget or feel awkward about asking
  • Difficult to ensure they leave a message in the right place
  • Tough to share online if review left on paper
  • Send pre-written review request with exact right phrasing
  • Send at the exact right time
  • Increase the chance of getting good reviews
  • Easily visible online

Reviews are crucial for Airbnb hosts. They increase future potential guests’ trust in your service and show your expertise on the platform. High numbers of five-star reviews also contribute to Superhost Airbnb status and mean your properties show up higher on search result pages.

But remembering to ask guests for reviews manually and effectively can be difficult.

You need to: 

  • Ask at the exact right time (e.g. just before or just after booking)
  • Send a link to the form or page you want them to leave their review on
  • Craft the perfect message that isn’t too needy but also gets the job done
  • Offer them a chance to mention any issues and get them resolved privately first
  • Highlight the best bits about your rental so they mention them in their review
  • Show the reviews off across different platforms, including your socials, website, Airbnb, and even other sites like Google Reviews

You also need to leave reviews for your guests.

Automating guest review requests does all of this automatically. You can pre-write the perfect message using Airbnb host review templates, and send the review request on time. There’s no chance of an awkward in-person question or forgetting to ask. This will increase the chance that guests will leave a review, and that it will be positive. 

Automating reviews can also let you leave positive reviews automatically (such as leaving a five-star review for every guest, except if there was a big problem). This saves tons of time and stress—and keeps your responsiveness rating up on Airbnb too.

Property management systems (PMSs) like Hostfully also integrate with review websites such as Revyoos.com. This brings all of your online reviews together and showcases them in a single place on your website. So you can show would-be guests your expertise, boost trust, and secure more bookings.

6. Perfect pricing

A dashboard from Hostfully dynamic pricing partner Wheelhouse
Using dynamic pricing tools via a PMS like Hostfully ensures your rates are always as competitive as possible.
Source: UseWheelhouse.com


Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
  • Complex
  • Time-consuming to do manually
  • Likely less effective due to fewer variables being checked
  • Outsourcing to separate, specialized company
  • Accurate, automatic calculations based on many variables
  • Automatic, multi-channel changes

If you’re not continually adjusting your pricing, you’re leaving money on the table. Automation is key here too.

Airbnb rental prices need to be: 

  • Competitive
  • Responsive to changing demand
  • Change from the weekends to the weekdays
  • Adjusted for the seasons

The most competitive rental hosts may even change their prices daily. What’s more, you want to make sure you’re getting paid the same amount per night, even if you’re listing your properties on more places than just Airbnb. For example, Airbnb charges 3% per booking, while Vrbo charges 5%.

Keeping track of all that manually could be a full-time job in itself. 

In contrast, to optimize your pricing for the best occupancy rate, harness the power of “dynamic pricing” platforms. These use technology to automatically calculate the best rates. They use hundreds of data points to calculate pricing, including by: 

  • Season
  • Day of the week
  • Last-minute or long-term stays
  • Changing demand
  • Local events
  • Comparable competitors in the area

PMSs with integrations for dynamic pricing platforms can make this a lot easier, saving you time and money. Hostfully integrates with a range of tools that maximize your revenue potential, with less work.

7. Revenue-boosting upsells

Hostfully Guidebooks upsell

8. Financial records

A view of a Hostfully financial report
Hostfully can help to simplify and generate otherwise complicated financial reports.
Source: Hostfully.com


Manual/in-person process Automated, digital process
Financial reports
  • Airbnb basic income tracking only
  • Complicated
  • Time-consuming
  • Complex to calculate manually yourself
  • Automatic calculation of fees, taxes, financial documents, and business reports
  • Easy to generate reports in a single button click

The majority of Airbnb hosts need to keep track of their revenue and other financial numbers. 

Airbnb’s system alone is basic from a financial standpoint. You can see your simple earnings and rates, but beyond that, managing your financial details manually can take time and require expertise you don’t have (or care to learn). 

You may need to: 

  • Calculate how much you’re paying in fees
  • Figure out how much you need to pay in tax
  • Sort out fees or financial documents for local authorities
  • Show property owners how much their property is making (if your business model works in this way)
  • Send your details to your accountant or financial manager
  • Build a case if you want to scale your vacation rental business or get funding in future

In contrast, using automation tools embedded within your PMS can make keeping track of financial details much easier. For example, Hostfully lets you generate reports with a single button; and see all of your takings, fees, and taxes automatically on a single page.

Don’t limit yourself to Airbnb: Automation beyond OTAs

Automation isn’t just useful for Airbnb. It can also help you to expand your reach onto other platforms, scale, and improve your direct booking strategy too. 

Here’s where else automation helps.

A visual infographic showing icons numbered by the 8 ways to automate your Airbnb, plus 4 extra ways to do it beyond Airbnb / OTAs
Achieving automation beyond Airbnb and OTAs includes channel management, direct bookings, customer data management, and digital signatures.

1. Channel management

A flowchart graphic of how Hostfully’s automated centralized calendar works
Using a channel management system with Hostfully automatically avoids double bookings.
Source: Hostfully.com


Manual/in-person process/Airbnb only Automated, digital process
Channel management
  • Only one channel (or a handful)
  • Fewer people seeing your listing
  • Fewer bookings
  • Less niche targeting
  • Manual, time-consuming updates
  • More people seeing your listings
  • More bookings
  • Less manual work updating listings
  • Centralized calendar to avoid double booking automatically

Many automation systems and PMSs let you list properties far beyond Airbnb. And the more channels, the better. More channels = more bookings and revenue. 

You can also niche down further. For example, if your rental is a country cabin, you can list on Airbnb and sites that specialize in rural escapes. This will attract more ideal guests and get you great reviews. 

Automating channel distribution makes the whole process much easier. Instead of juggling inquiries and bookings from multiple platforms, you can connect each to a central hub that manages it all for you. 

This avoids the risk of missing bookings or the nightmare scenario of accidentally making a double booking. You can also push listing updates across all channels at the same time, saving you hours compared to manual adjustments.

2. Direct bookings

A view of a vacation rentals direct booking website powered by Hostfully
Direct bookings, with automations powered by a PMS like Hostfully, can transform your business beyond Airbnb.
Source: Hostfully.com


Manual/in-person process/Airbnb only Automated, digital process
Direct booking
  • Manual site building
  • No double booking protection 
  • No real-time rate or availability updates
  • No online payment system
  • Easy-to-build tools
  • Site connected to your PMS
  • Availability and rates updated automatically
  • Payments taken digitally online

Considering whether to go beyond Airbnb? You’ll also want to boost your direct booking strategy by building a direct booking website. Research shows that 93% of successful, larger vacation rental businesses (10+ units) have direct booking sites.

Benefits include:

  • Reduced reliance on OTAs
  • Saving fees on OTA bookings
  • Building better relationships with guests
  • Establishing a more visible, trustworthy online brand
  • Having a place to show all of your reviews, not just on Airbnb

Many PMSs, like Hostfully, let you either build your own direct booking website or enable you to drive your site with its powerful engines. So you can show availability and updated rates, and take payments online automatically, with no extra work from you. Guests book and you save money.

3. Customer data management

A view of the Hostfully and MailChimp integration
Automating email collection with Hostfully makes it much easier to send future marketing emails.
Source: MailChimp.com


Manual/in-person process/Airbnb only Automated, digital process
Customer data management
  • Awkward, haphazard email collection
  • Manual data entry if email address given
  • No relationship building
  • Guests likely to use OTA if they book again
  • Pay more in OTA fees
  • Automatic data capture
  • Automatic creation of marketing email list
  • Better relationships
  • More direct, repeat bookings
  • OTA fees saved

If you want to scale and grow your hosting operation, you’ll want to find a way to contact customers away from Airbnb’s platform.

The easiest way to do this is to capture guest data (like email addresses) so you can send marketing emails after their stay. Airbnb makes it difficult to do this, as it wants to keep you on its own platform.

Collecting email addresses manually can therefore be time-consuming and awkward. Automating it using digital solutions is much faster and easier. You can then create an email “list” and send regular updates and offers. This builds better relationships with guests and increases the chance of repeat direct bookings. So you save money on Airbnb fees and secure regular guests.

4. Digital signatures

Manual/in-person process/Airbnb only Automated, digital process
Digital signatures
  • Time-consuming
  • Disorganized
  • Non-secure way of signing documents
  • Unsafe storage
  • Manual updates or chasing for signatures
  • Digital, automatic e-signing system
  • More secure
  • Easier to process
  • Faster documentation
  • Automation chasing and updates

Managing documents (say, from new property owners) manually is time-consuming. Using digital automation to connect to e-signature platforms means you can automate rental agreements, digitize documents, and take signatures digitally too. 

This saves hours of time and stress compared to doing it piecemeal by email, or even in-person, or by mail with paper copies. It also keeps your documents in one, digital place.

Airbnb automation: boost profits and save time, effort, and stress

Making the move from manual Airbnb management to automation can feel like a risk. It may appear complex to figure out if it will really help, and what vacation rental software to use if you make the jump. 

But automation has multiple benefits. It helps you show up better in Airbnb searches, it saves time by reducing many repetitive, manual tasks and you make fewer errors. It massively improves efficiency and saves serious money.

Using a property management system (PMS) like Hostfully enables you to bring automation to all major areas of Airbnb rental operation. This includes Airbnb cleaning coordination, guest communication, digital self-check-in, review requests, pricing, upsells, and finances.

It also helps you to think beyond Airbnb. You can harness Hostfully’s power to automate even more advanced strategies, like channel management and distribution, direct bookings, and customer data management for effective marketing.

Automation makes your Airbnb easier and more efficient to run. It boosts your profits, and even lets you set your sights on scaling too.

CTA for automating your business