So you’ve got an Airbnb or a vacation rental. But you realized you don’t have the time to run it as well as you’d like. Or perhaps you’ve realized it takes a lot more expertise than you’ve got to make it work. And how do you consistently get great reviews? What do you do?
You jump online and try to learn in an hour or two the knowledge that others have spent years learning on how to run a successful Airbnb. Often the advice covers the fundamentals that any good Airbnb host should know and typically includes:
- Proactive guest communication
- Creating visually appealing, detailed listings on Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, and other short-term rental sites
- Monitoring your pricing, and adjusting it based on competition, seasons and any events that are in your town
- Vetting your guests and ensuring you are only renting to best people
- Keeping your place in top condition — so hotel standard cleaning and providing great amenities
- Keeping in touch with your guests during their stay
- How to ensure 5-star ratings
If you graduate from the ‘advice’ phase and come to the conclusion that it’s one thing to get some good tips, but another thing to actually do the work required, you might looking at hiring people to help you.
Makes sense, right?
You get to save time, increase your positive reviews, and worry less about keeping your Airbnb running smoothly.
So, you make the decision to hire someone — but what are you actually looking for and how do you really know if you are hiring the best people for your Airbnb?
Well just so happens I can help you on that. Here are my 10 tips for finding and hiring an Airbnb or Vacation Rental (VR) property manager:
1. How many properties are they currently managing?
This should be the first question you should ask. If the answer is: “none”, then don’t proceed any further. The Airbnb and VR property management and service provider industry is a new one, but if other hosts and owners aren’t using this service provider, that’s not a good sign.
If the answer is “10 or more”, then you need to be clear as to how many people with are working with the property manager. By my calculation, it can take a minimum of 4 hours per week just to effectively run 1 Airbnb (excluding cleaning time — which is normally subcontracted). So, given the average person allocates 40 hours per week to work, if your potential property manager has 10 or more properties you need to be sure that they can adequately scale to manage your property as well.
2. An attractive listing is going to get you really great guests
You want to hire someone who is a guru when it comes to creating engaging and attractive listings. They don’t need to be a Saatchi & Saatchi guru, but you don’t want a deadbeat whose approach to marketing is a single photo with a two-line summary of your Airbnb/VR.
Regardless of whether it’s Airbnb or another short stay platform they need to have a proven approach to:
- Having professional photography of your property, from a wide number of different angles
- Providing recommendations on amenities for your property, than can be featured in the photographs
- Writing up engaging, relevant and comprehensive copy for your listings that will get you noticed and guests wanting to booking your property
How do you verify what they tell you about their skills in creating solid listings? Get them to send you the links to 3 active properties — whether it’s Airbnb or another platform — that they are currently managing.
While you are checking out the properties your prospective property manager is looking after, also take the time to read the reviews. Are they consistent and rating 5 stars?
Make it a point of finding any negative reviews and seeing what caused them. If it’s grumblings around the location or something outside of the control of the property manager, then ignore it. But if it’s things like ‘poorly kept property’, or ‘bad communication’ or even ‘the air-conditioning didn’t work’ — then that’s a black mark against the property manager.
4. What’s their ‘secret sauce’?
Think of this as their ‘Unique Selling Proposition’. In other words, what makes them different from the other property managers you could hire for your property? What do they do that is different from other service providers that keep them in business and gets you great reviews on Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway?
Some of the techniques that really good property managers know how to leverage include:
- Providing really helpful guides for your property and the local attractions, that guests find easy to use.
- Providing small gifts for guests that both surprise them and are practical.
- Sending you regular status reports on your property — including ROI, suggestions for improvements, maintenance items you may want to consider.
Pricing is an artistic science. You want to know that your property manager is on the pulse of the optimum nightly rate for your property. There are so many variables involved — from location, seasonal demand, competition, current events…so you need someone who understands the wide range of levers they can use to ensure you are getting the best nightly rate, whilst maximizing your occupancy. It’s a challenging science, but you want someone who has proven experience doing it successfully.
How much do they charge and how much are you willing to pay? From my experience on Airhosta, you can end up spending anywhere from 10% through to 25% of your nightly rate to hire a property manager.
Don’t be tempted to go cheap. You want someone who is going to spend the time in getting the best return for you, as well as ensuring you are consistently getting 5-star reviews. This takes time and effort and you get what you pay for. At the same time, don’t overpay for services and or products you won’t need — for example, top range amenities (soaps, linen etc…) when middle range amenities will suffice.
Mature processes and systems are a must-have for your property manager.
I’ll give you an example. A guest somehow misplaces their key for your property, and at 11 pm when they get back to your property, they realize they can’t get in.
A good property manager will have a contingency in this scenario. They may have a spare key being kept by a local trusted shop or café. The guest is redirected to the shop or café, shows some id and provides a code to the person serving at the shop or café and is provided with the spare key.
There’s a big investment for property managers to scale up their businesses, and having proven, well thought out processes can ensure that both you and your guests have to only do the minimum to enjoy the benefits your property can offer.
This is truly a must-have. If you are looking to hire a property manager, they need to be able to communicate exceptionally well — verbally as well as in writing. This means actively listening to any issues you or your guests may be experiencing, and then
In addition, someone needs to be available beyond business hours. This means being contactable via both cell phone/mobile as well as alternative means (like skype and email). The reality is — running an Airbnb, like a hotel, is a 24/7 so people need to be on hand to both assist your guests and/or assist you as a host/owner.
9. Cleaning…what’s their plan?
Your vacation rental is competing against hotels and other short-term properties. Any services provided to maintain your property need to be hotel standard. For example the last thing you want to see, as a guest, is a shower with a pile of hair and mold in the bottom. Or the lovely odor of someone else’s body odor on the pillows.
So what is your property manager going to do about it? Who do they hire to do the cleaning (assuming they do it directly themselves)? What checklists and standards do they enforce with any services they co-ordinate for your Airbnb/VR?
Like hiring someone for a job — you want to do as much work upfront to ensure you are hiring the right person for your Airbnb / VR, as there is significant hassle downstream of dealing with someone who isn’t the right fit.
Your prospective property manager should be willing to offer you the opportunity of speaking to a number of their current clients, verbally of course. Written references or references via email don’t cut it. When you do speak to the references, 3 questions you should always ask:
- How is it going with the property manager?
- What could they do better?
- Why do you continue to use them?
Hiring an expert for your Airbnb or Vacation Rental is an important strategy to maximizing the best ROI (Return on Investment) for your property. If you’d like to connect with service providers for your Airbnb or Vacation Rental, then we can help at Airhosta — an online marketplace that connects the very best Airbnb and Vacation Rental service providers with hosts and owners.
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