How to Hire an Airbnb Property Manager [+ questions to ask]

May 13 2019

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


What’s in this article?

While owning an Airbnb rental property can be a lucrative opportunity, it can also be time-consuming. As an Airbnb host, owning a rental property is anything but a passive gig: you must manage your bookings, communicate with guests in a timely fashion, and keep your property in pristine condition.

Maintaining a high guest occupancy and providing five-star guest service consistently requires a significant investment of your time. If you need to hire an Airbnb property manager but don’t know where to start, we’re here to help! In this article, we’ll provide tips on finding the best Airbnb property manager to help you increase bookings, elevate the guest experience, and free up your time.

We cover six evaluation criteria to help identify your next Airbnb property manager, including:

  • Expertise in marketing a vacation rental property
  • Airbnb property manager fees
  • Common services provided by an Airbnb property manager
  • Reviewing guest reviews and references from current clients
  • Approach to guest service
  • Knowledge of the local vacation rental market

Expertise in marketing a vacation rental property

An Airbnb property manager should have an in-depth knowledge of vacation rental marketing fundamentals and a history of implementing a diverse set of marketing strategies to boost bookings. This can include everything from using social media to promote a listing to knowing how to optimize your Airbnb listing page.

Some of the questions you should ask to evaluate an Airbnb property manager’s marketing chops include:

  • How can you improve my Airbnb search ranking? If your rental property is in a competitive area, it will be harder to get noticed. Knowing how to improve your vacation rental’s ranking in the search results will allow your property to be seen by more prospective tenants.
  • Which other rental sites do you list vacation rental properties on? The easiest way to increase your bookings is to increase the number of eyes that see your listing. Airbnb is a very popular rental platform, but there other great alternatives as well, including VRBO and Flipkey, to name a few.
  • Do you use email marketing? If so, how big is your email subscriber list? Email marketing is a great marketing tactic for retaining customers. A seasoned Airbnb property manager should be using email marketing to keep previous guests enticed to come back for more.

Airbnb property manager fees

While hiring an Airbnb property manager or management company can help streamline the process and operations of owning a vacation rental, making sure you can afford to hire one is also important. When shopping for an Airbnb property manager, verify the fees being charged are in-line with the industry average.

Property management fee structureWhat is the industry average? Typically, fees for Airbnb property managers run 30%-50% of your overall revenue (with an industry average of 28%) if your compensation structure follows the “commission model” management fee. If you are looking for a potentially more cost-effective management fee model, you can also use the guaranteed model, where the property manager is guaranteed a fixed monthly income, regardless of how often the property is rented.

Common services provided by an Airbnb property manager

With Airbnb property management companies charging up to 50% of your rental revenue, the services they provide should ensure high occupancy rates and a consistent five-star guest experience.

Here are some common services provided by Airbnb property managers:

Setting the right rental rates: performing market research to find out what similar properties are priced at to make sure you are priced competitively and maximizing while reducing vacancy.

Marketing your property: taking high quality pictures (maybe even creating an instagram specifically for your property if it’s a vacation rental property) and actively updating your listing on popular rental platforms

Finding high-quality tenants: verifying your guest is a good guest through his prior ratings and reviews.

Managing maintenance and repairs: ensuring that everything is working in tip-top shape is critical to maintaining 5-star reviews for short-term renters and making sure you are keeping your long-term tenants happy.

Knowledge of housing laws: having a solid understanding of tenant-landlord laws and local and federal housing regulations will reduce the risk of incurring penalties and fines by local housing authorities.

Customer service: being in open communication with guests is key to maintaining happy customers, increasing bookings, and reducing vacancy.

Reviewing guest reviews and references from current clients

There are two ways you can start getting data-driven in your search for your ideal Airbnb property manager. An Airbnb property manager can tell you they are the best at providing guest hospitality, but the proof is in the pudding!

Check the guest reviews for the Airbnb properties the manager manages. While verifying the reviews, please keep in mind that oftentimes guest reviews can be unfair. If a review is complaining about the location of a property, ignore it. But if the review references “poor communication” or “poorly maintained house”, you need to keep an eye out for similar type complaints.

Another data point to help you verify an Airbnb property manager’s expertise and ability to provide guest service is checking references from current clients. You should talk to a minimum of five of the Airbnb property manager’s clients, asking them a wide range of topics, including everything from the reviews of their rental property to the property management’s ability to improve guest occupancy.

Knowledge of local vacation rental market

Without having a strong understanding of the dynamics and competition of the local vacation rental market, your Airbnb property manager will be unable to understand how to attract new guests, develop effective marketing strategies, provide local recommendations, and know how to price your property competitively.

Questions you can ask Airbnb property managers when evaluating their knowledge of the rental market include:

  • What are the high and low seasons in the local market?
  • What is the average rental price of vacation properties in this market?
  • Are there any local regulatory rules that hinder profitability?
  • What are some of the local attractions that vacation rental property guests enjoy?

Managing your Airbnb property yourself

Does the concept of hiring an Airbnb property manager seem compelling but a little too heavy on the pocketbook? There are plenty of great alternatives to help you scale many of the responsibilities and daily operations of an Airbnb property manager in an affordable, easy way.

One of the alternatives many Airbnb vacation rental property owners are increasingly turning to is online property management platforms. By leveraging the power of a platform like Hostfully, you can develop a white-glove, high touch approach to the guest experience without investing too much of your time.

Remove the operational headaches of running your own Airbnb vacation rental property while keeping more of your rental revenue. With an online property management platform, you can perform many of the core responsibilities of an Airbnb property manager, including:

  • Personalized communication via automated guest messaging
  • Listing your vacation rental property quickly and easily on multiple vacation rental sites
  • Curating local experiences via a digital guestbook
  • Providing flexible options and immersive guest experiences through upselling opportunities

Much of the work of an Airbnb property manager is guest communications. If you use software like Hostfully to automate reminders, check-in details, and provide a guidebook that presents all the essential house rules and local recommendations, you’ll cut down your time significantly. Further, type of software allows you to integrate into multiple booking channels, not just Airbnb, to help you immediately increase your revenue.

Approach to guest service

Whether you hire an Airbnb property manager to manage your Airbnb properties or decide to manage your properties yourself, providing a five star guest experience to your guests should remain core to your operations. You or your Airbnb property manager are responsible for shaping the experiences of your guests. You should take this responsibility seriously: the experience that you provide for your guests can turn into the best marketing strategy to attract loyal repeat customers.

If you’re looking to boost your guest experience, here are a few ideas to help get you inspired:

Responsive communication: Staying in touch with your Airbnb guests is important, especially if they are requiring support or need help with something. There are a variety of new technology tools that help you improve your ability to communicate with your guests without requiring a big time investment.

Welcome package: It’s the small touches that count, and a welcome package is an affordable yet effective method to leave a lasting impression. Including a handwritten note welcoming your guests with a bottle of wine and a local treat is a great way to greet your guests and incentivize them to keep coming back for more.

Local guidebook: When your guests arrive and are looking for something to do, your local guidebook can give them the lowdown on special eateries, hidden attractions, and sights to see. The more unique your recommendations are, the more valuable your guests will find your guidebook.

Amenities: Who doesn’t love amenities? In addition to providing the essential amenities required by Airbnb for your guests, you can replicate the guest experience of a luxury hotel by going above and beyond. Some of the amenities that you can include a dedicated workspace (especially good with business guests!), workout equipment, and Instagram-worthy outdoor spaces.

Hiring an Airbnb property manager

Hiring an Airbnb property manager is a big decision, but making the right hire can pay off in a big way. If you are able to afford the steep fees, you can transform your vacation rental business by improving the guest experience and boosting your Airbnb marketing efforts.

However, if you want to keep more of your vacation rental revenues while still providing many of the services guests can expect of an Airbnb property manager, leveraging an online property management platform can help scale your vacation rental business in a cost-effective way.