Marlin Scattolini is a founding partner of Hey Comfort, a growing vacation rental management company that caters to corporate and holiday guests. Prior to entering the short-term rental market, Marlin was a successful long-term rental manager, with over 600 properties under her care.
With a background in engineering, Marlin has a keen eye on identifying bottlenecks. As we’ll see below, she used her analytical skills to uncover which parts of her business weren’t scalable, and deployed automation and integrations to save time.
During the summer of 2022, Marlin and one of her investors converted a long-term rental condo into a short-term lease for corporate housing. “After realizing how profitable short-term rentals can be, we decided to convert a second property. It didn’t take long until we got six vacation rental properties up and running” Marlin says.
The administrative challenges of managing these properties quickly became apparent. As Marlin explains it “When we only had one or two properties, keeping calendars in Airbnb and Vrbo updated was easy. But when we grew to six, it became difficult.” Marlin was spending almost 4 hours per day communicating with guests, keeping calendars updated, and coordinating cleaners.
Marlin was struggling to find time to manage her Airbnb and Vrbo calendars, so she synchronized them with iCal. Her vacation rental mentor had warned her that iCal was prone to double-booking, so she knew this was only a temporary fix. To take some of the burden off herself, she hired an employee to handle guest communications and manage reservations.
Despite these measures, Marlin was still spending almost half her days managing reservations. She realized that tasks such as figuring out who was checking in and out, updating the PIN code on doorlocks, logging into different platforms to chat with guests, and changing nightly rates were huge time-wasters. “There had to be a better way,” she said.
After being recommended Hostfully by her mentor, Marlin completed her onboarding in under 6 hours. Marlin adds that “the Hostfully onboarding specialists were great at helping me get started. But what I really liked is how they took the time to explain what each tool could do for my business.”
Immediately, Hostfully solved her calendar sync issues. Now reservations coming in from Airbnb automatically blocked off the Vrbo calendar, and vice-versa. Over the next few weeks, Marlin also expanded her distribution to include Booking.com and HomeToGo. This helped Hey Comfort close vacancy gaps, and attract different traveler types.
Marlin also discovered the power of Hostfully’s automation triggers. “I have a trigger for absolutely everything that happens in the business” Marlin adds. Hey Comfort has triggers that send notifications or messages for any new booking notifications, security deposit reminders, check-in instructions before arrival, and thank you notes after departure. Perhaps the most important time-saving trigger for Marlin was coordinating cleaning tasks automatically. To do this, Marlin created a trigger that notifies her cleaner via SMS whenever a reservation is booked, modified, or canceled. This way Marlin doesn’t have to worry about cleaner scheduling.
Thanks to calendar synchronization and automated triggers, Marlin was able to reduce the amount of time she spent on coordinating Hey Comfort’s operations from 4 hours to less than 1 hour per day. This gave Marlin the opportunity to focus on expanding Hey Comfort’s listings and acquiring another vacation rental management business. Within 6 months, Hey Comfort had successfully managed 50 properties.
Once Marlin automated her most time-consuming tasks, she discovered the Enhanced Reporting feature of Hostfully. This allowed her to create custom columns that automatically calculated fees for her monthly and owner reports. Though the feature was complicated, the Hostfully Customer Service team was quick to answer Marlin’s questions. Marlin explains that “Enhanced Reporting is a very powerful feature, but it can be intimidating at first. Luckily the Hostfully Customer Service team was always quick to respond to all my questions.”
The Pipeline tool was also a great asset for Hey Comfort. Marlin used it to monitor her business’s activity, her guest experience specialist used it for check-in follow-ups, and her maintenance crew could better schedule time preventative work between reservations.
Marlin also signed up for PriceLabs, a dynamic pricing software service that she integrated with Hostfully. PriceLabs changes nightly rates and sends the information to Hostfully automatically. Hostfully then updates the calendars on the listing sites and OTAs Hey Comfort advertises on. This increased her revenue by 25% and saved Marlin from having to adjust prices manually.
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