10 Innovations Vacation Rental Managers Can Implement to Increase Efficiency

Mar 08 2020
10 tech innovations for vacation rental companies

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


What’s in this article?

Are you looking for ways to increase vacation rental profits while lowering your overhead and time commitment? Instead of just raising the Average Daily Rate or increasing the number of properties you manage, focus on efficiency. After all, a dollar saved through efficiency is a dollar earned.

In this day and age, streamlining your vacation rental management company doesn’t need to be complicated. With these ten practical innovations in the vacation rental industry, you can channel your efforts to boost revenues without increasing your workload.

1. Property Management Platform (PMP) – Save time, money and energy

Problem: Vacation rental property managers spend too much time and money on repetitive tasks. These include managing bookings, communicating with guests through a variety of apps, reporting, and upselling. They work on maintaining their business instead of growing it. On top of that, managers spend time logging in and out of all the apps they need for specialized tasks like coordinating cleaning, maintenance, adjusting prices on all the platforms.

Solution: A PMP will solve three major issues for you. First, you can centralize all your properties across all the platforms on one hub. Second, the channel manager of a PMP will automatically manage your calendar when a property books on one site. Third, a PMP like ours uses powerful API technology, which allows you to integrate niche vacation rental software directly into your central PMP hub. No more logging in and out of different apps to manage your operations!

Result: Vacation rental managers cut their repetitive tasks drastically. You can use that extra time to grow the business or boost the guest experience.

2. Cleaning quality control – Cleaning and turnover will be done right, without leaving your chair

Challenge: Even reliable, thorough cleaning teams don’t always know what spots of the house to focus on or how to set it back up correctly. To ensure a certain level of quality assurance, the vacation rental manager needs to send someone for one last quality assurance check.

Solution: Vacation rental management apps like Properly and Breezeway can be set up to provide clear instructions for the cleaning process. Cleaning crews will know exactly how to clean and set-up a complicated layout or rental. If you have a particular item that needs special care (ie, an espresso machine), Properly and Breezeway even let you create special instructions and focal points.  Similarly, VR Scheduler can be set up so that cleaning crews keep you updated of omplicated cleaning tasks via point-by-point checklists.

Result: A dedicated cleaning software helps vacation rental managers spend less time on quality assurance. This is one of those tools built to scale a vacation rental company. The time saved on assigning tasks and QA is multiplied per property, not to mention that Properly, Breezeway, and VR Scheduler are all integrated into Hostfully’s centralized Property Management Platform (PMP).  The added benefit to all these apps is that they streamline assigning cleaning crews for turnover.

3. Digital guidebooks – Systemize the guest experience

Challenge: Vacation rental property managers spend too much time communicating repetitive information to guests during their stay. Directions to the property, check-in and check-out instructions, how to operate the thermostats, where to find dish detergent – how different would your operations be if you or your staff didn’t have to answer those questions anymore?

Solution: Digital guidebooks are an effective way to connect with guests without the time commitment. They contain sections where you can include local recommendations like restaurants, clubs, and attractions. On top of that, you can leave check-in and check-out instructions, wifi passwords, and detailed house instructions. By just clicking on one link, the entire guidebook gets downloaded to the guest’s smartphone without the need to download a separate app.

Result: Digital guidebooks free up your time, but they also improve the guest experience. With a digital guidebook, guests have your local recommendations wherever they go during their trip. Watch your 5-star reviews go up all while doing less work.

Bonus: Our innovative digital guidebooks now include a marketplace feature that allows hosts and managers to directly upsell items and services to guests. From within the digital guidebook, guests can buy perks like late check-out, mid-stay cleaning, food and beverages, and even personalized experiences.

digital guidebook banner

4. Dynamic pricing – Stop leaving money on the table

Challenge: No one wants to leave money on the table, but how do you ensure that doesn’t happen? It’s challenging to find the balance between Average Daily Pricing, Revenue Per Available Room, and Occupancy Rate. Not to mention calculating all those figures is time-consuming.

Solution: PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, and Beyond Pricing are dynamic pricing apps that adjust all pricing variables in real-time to help you maximize revenue. These tools look at seasonality, historical data in an area, holiday demand, and even day of the week to find that pricing sweet spot. They also all integrate with Hostfully, which means that all your properties across all distribution platforms get the same update. Talk about efficiency!

Result: Automatically get custom pricing. Boost revenue and increase occupancy rate without lifting a finger, or worse, crunching numbers yourself on a spreadsheet.

5. Shared documents – Ensure all employees have access to critical documents at all time

Challenge: Team members aren’t always up to date on information and require meetings and email chains to get on the same page. In large vacation rental management companies, employees rely on standard operating procedures. But this can be problematic in rural, remote, or cottage areas where the internet is unreliable.

Solution: Create all your corporate documents in Google Docs and spreadsheets and share the link with your team. From anywhere, your staff will have access to critical information if needed. Google recently added an offline feature that your employees should turn on. With it, documents automatically download whenever the device (mobile phone or laptop) connects to the internet. It makes it to read documents even without an internet connection.

Result: Employees will always have access to documents that will always be up-to-date, even in areas where internet isn’t reliable.

6. Task management platform – Visualize workflow and guarantee no task falls between the cracks

Challenge: As a manager, it’s easy to assign tasks. But how do you monitor progress and ensure timelines are met? Tasks with more than two people across multiple properties grow in complexity and consume time and energy to stay on top of.

Solution: Tools like Asana or Trello are intuitive and easy to use and keep your team on track. Both allow you to visually see how a task is progressing through time, and organize all communications by project (instead of blowing up your inbox). If your company has repetitive projects, both Asana and Trello allow you to create templates that you can copy/paste for future use.

Result: Vacation rental property managers quickly assign duties, then watch the workflow evolve as the team gets to work.

7. Remote lock management – Give access to your properties remotely

Challenge: Leaving a key under the doormat is fine for small-time hosts but can lead to property damage. The next step up, lockboxes, offers convenience but they’re not the most secure solution. You can’t easily change the lockbox combination between guest visits. Finally, meeting guests to exchange keys just isn’t feasible for most vacation rental managers.

Solution: Install digital door locks on your properties. They look like regular keypad door locks, except that they’re so much more than that. They connect to wifi, and with powerful software like Lynx or RemoteLock’s hub, you can change the combinations remotely. This means that guests won’t need a key to get it, and they’ll get access to the property only for the duration of their stay. What’s even better is that these platforms integrate with the Hostfully PMP. Hosts can manage access from Hostfully’s PMP, as well as set it up to send automated messages with property access to guests. For example, you can create a message that will be delivered 24h before check-in with the PIN for the door access.

Result: RemoteLock and Lynx management apps both adds a layer of protection for vacation rental property managers, and the integration gives you the flexibility to send auto-messages. You’ll boost your properties’ security without burning any of your precious time.

Bonus: If your vacation rental company makes use of numerous team members and contractors, you can use device management apps to send unique access codes. You can tailor accesses depending on who needs access.  Regional managers can also be assigned ‘master keys’ with wider permissions. Once you stop working with a team member or contractor, access can be taken away just as easily.

8. Home automation – Save on heating and cooling when properties are vacant

Challenge: Vacation rental management companies grapple with heating and cooling costs of vacant properties. This is a considerable expense in extreme climates (ie, desert properties, winter cottages). The solution to this problem isn’t elegant either. You can ask guests to fiddle with the thermostat when they leave and hope they remember. Or worse, travel to the property yourself to do it. Managers who operate remote properties can end up wasting a lot of time traveling back and forth.

Solution:  Install smart thermostats in your properties. They adjust the temperature based on occupancy. Some devices can even be managed remotely through wifi. So when a guest checks out, lower the heating/cooling, and a few hours before check-in, bring it back up to comfortable levels, all from the comfort of your office chair.

Result: You’ll save on heating and cooling costs, without having to spend hours traveling back and forth to the properties to adjust the temperature.

9. Virtual concierge – Turbocharge the guest experience and blend smart tech with digital guidebooks

Challenge: Guests love the vacation rental model, but still expect hotel-grade concierge service. Providing local recommendations consumes a lot of time, but then again, that personal touch might be the tipping point for consistent 5-star reviews.

Solution:  Smart speakers are more common in households than ever before. Guests recognize them from their day-to-day and know how great they are. So why not include one in your vacation rental? Well, that’s just the start. Did you know they can also enhance the guest experience?  Virtual Concierge Service found a way to make our award-winning digital guidebooks interactive through smart speakers. What happens when a guest wants to know if there’s a good taqueria nearby? They can ask the speaker. What about check out? Ask the speaker.

Result: Virtual Concierge Service allows vacation rental management companies to provide an innovative approach to customized guest experiences.

10. Business analytics – Make wise decisions based on data, not just a hunch

Challenge: Keeping mental tabs on what worked for boosting occupancy rates and revenue isn’t necessarily the best way to make future decisions. While your hunch is probably right most of the time (hey, that’s how you got to where you are now), when we’re talking about scaling and acquiring more real estate, you need to support that gut feeling to investors with data.

Solution: Key Data Dashboard is a visual, easy-to-understand data hub that tracks key performance indicators (KPIs) for all properties in your portfolio. While KPIs might sound like a buzzword for those big shots in the business world, when it comes to vacation rentals, they make a massive difference to your bottom-line. An all-in-one KPI tracker and predictor like Key Data Dashboard will help you make accurate predictions of future growth and income in your market in the blink of an eye. You can also link Key Data Dashboard to your Hostfully PMP, which will give you direct access to those KPIs from your central property management hub.

Result: You’ll save time when making future predictions as Key Data collates all that information into one easy to understand dashboard.