4 Tips for Managing Your Vacation Rental Business
The vacation rental industry is an exciting place to be. For property owners, it’s becoming a great way to make a little (a lot of) extra money on the side. For guests, it’s the perfect opportunity to organize a unique vacation and save some money compared to the average hotel.
Even with the recent pandemic and tourism industry economic fallout in mind, vacation rentals have still seen an impressive degree of success. They provide great options for people who want to go on vacation with their spouse, family, or friends while still staying close to home. In fact, the vacation rental industry was valued at $1,389 million in the United States in 2021.
In spite of all these benefits, running a vacation rental property certainly comes with its own set of challenges. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of our four top tips for vacation rental business owners, whether you’re just getting started or are looking to make the most out of your property.
1. Use a vacation rental management software
Whether you’re managing a vacation rental locally or remotely, it can certainly be a challenge to keep up with your different responsibilities. Luckily, the rising popularity of vacation rentals has spurred the innovation of a wide variety of vacation rental management software. This software will make your life much easier by streamlining the management of all the tasks that go into owning a rental property. They can also assist you in achieving growth for your vacation rental business.
You might’ve heard of vacation rental management software before, but perhaps you aren’t familiar with exactly what they do. Some of the most useful features of this kind of software include:
This allows you to keep track of your rental listing on various different booking platforms in one easy place. Some of the most popular booking platforms include big names like Airbnb, Booking.com, and Expedia.
Helps you collect and organize payments for your reservations, as well as keep track of your expenses.
Send all the necessary messages to your guests including confirmations, reminders, key details, additional information, and directions. It also gives you a direct line of communication with your guests so both parties can get in touch easily when needed.
Keep track of all your different reservation dates, as well as other key reminders like cleaning and key exchange.
Reporting and analytics:
Advanced reporting and analytics allow you to determine the success of your rental property by considering data related to website traffic, property management reports, and booking data over time.
If you don’t already have a website for your rental property, most software provides website building functionalities and professionally designed templates to help you get started.
One of our favorite vacation rental management software is Lodgify. If you’re looking for an excellent all-around solution for your rental property management, we’d highly recommend that you check them out.
Lodgify was founded in 2012 and is based in Barcelona, Spain. They’ve absolutely established themselves as one of the leading vacation rental management software out there. They aim to help you get more bookings, save time, and connect with top channels. You can also try out their software for free for a week-long trial!
Lodgify has all the features outlined above and more. They also have an impressive array of templates and a ton of ready-to-go integrations. Whether you run a bed and breakfast, small hotel, serviced apartment, or a cottage in the woods, Lodgify has a solution for you.
2. Keep excellent records & documentation
Many people own a vacation rental as a second source of income or side-hustle. Owning and renting out a property can be a great long-term investment and is a big moneymaker for many. If you’re trying your hand at the vacation rental business, however, it’s important to remember just that… treat it as a business.
When we say treat it as a business, make sure you’re organized, confident, and keep track of absolutely everything. That means maintaining detailed records and documentation on absolutely everything: expenses, insurance papers, bookings, guest information, payments, supplies… the works.
Many vacation rental management software helps you keep detailed records and stay on top of all the necessities. However, if you’re not using such software, you’ll need to keep track of all the above yourself. That’s the tricky part about vacation rentals: you’re usually your own boss and don’t have any higher-ups or overarching management to rely on.
If you find yourself in that situation, documenting software could be a great tool for you. Documentation software has many possible uses for rental property owners. It enables you to write, refer back to, and store internal documentation in an easily accessible, secure, intuitive workspace. On the other hand, it can also be used to develop external documentation to provide to guests.
If you’d like to try out documentation software for your vacation rental business, we’d highly recommend giving Document360 a whirl. It’s a cloud-based software that’s highly effective for both internal and external documentation. It’s intuitive and easy to use, but also has a great variety of features to choose from. Some of the highlights include:
- A markdown editor
- Different levels of access
- Intelligent search functions
- Collaboration tools
- Search & performance overviews
If you’d like to try Document360 out for yourself, you can book a demo on their website. After that, their paid plans start at 49 USD per project, per month.
3. Automate and schedule as much as you can
When it comes to managing a vacation rental property, all those little tasks add up fast. It can be easy to get overwhelmed and forget about things, which unfortunately will lead to problems and a perceived lack of professionalism for you. In order to avoid this, one of the best things you can do is automate and schedule as much as you can.
When we talk about automation, we mean more than automated guest communications and online bookings. Those are great solutions that can easily be carried out by using vacation rental management software, but you can take automation a step further.
For instance, a handy next-level automation hack is setting up a self-check-in system. Instead of having to spend time personally handing off your keys or sending someone to do it on your behalf, take your efficiency up a notch and let guests do the process themselves. This is especially convenient when guests arrive later or earlier than expected.
In order to streamline this process even further, you can put together a document outlining everything guests need to know about your property upon arrival. If they have any questions, they can always contact you for further information.
There are a variety of ways to set up a self-check-in system, but some of the most popular include:
- Leaving a key with a front-desk attendant or doorperson
- A key lockbox
- A keypad with a code for entry
- A smartlock
Another example of real-life automation is a regular cleaning service. Rather than having to constantly change your cleaning schedule or book cleaning days at random, find a cleaning company or cleaner that you like working with and want to develop a long-term working relationship with. That way, you can set up a regular schedule with them and take a bit of administrative work off your to-do list.
4. Maintain high-quality, up to date listings
Last of all, maintaining high-quality, up-to-date listings for your vacation rental property is absolutely key to your long and short-term success. All too often there are great properties out there that do not see as much success as they should due to bad photos, missing details, no testimonials, a lack of amenities, or otherwise confusing information.
When getting caught up in the day-to-day operations of managing a vacation rental, it’s all too easy to let these things fall by the wayside. They certainly might not seem like a top priority when dealing with things like payments, guest communications, and check-ins. Nevertheless, they are essential if you want to maintain a professional reputation and keep those bookings coming in on a healthy rotation.
If you need some inspiration, do a quick search and check out the online presence of some of the most successful or well-known rental properties in your area. Take note of their photo quality, amenities, and information. That’s what you should be striving for as much as possible. If you’re running your rental property like a business, market it like a business. It’s absolutely worth that initial investment in professional photos or a couple extra appliances if they’ll generate strong returns in the long run.
Take your vacation rental to the next level
Whether you’re just breaking into the vacation rental industry or you’ve been in the game for a while and are trying to finetune your management approach, it can be difficult to know where to begin. There’s so much to keep in mind when managing a vacation rental property.
Nevertheless, the tips we’ve outlined in this article provide a great starting point. They’re straightforward, generate great results, and are flexible depending on the kind of vacation rental you’re dealing with. Whether you’re now considering trying out a vacation rental management software, are going to put more thought into your documentation, might implement some new kinds of automation, or are thinking about sprucing up your listing, you’ll be impressed with the effects your actions can have on your vacation rental business success.