One of the best things about the current state of the Short Term Rental (STR) market is that one could be perfectly content as a remote host, with properties all over their city, or even, the world, and manage them as if they were living next door. As well, investing in real estate, pandemic or not, is always an exciting prospect for an enterprising individual.
But that means that you’re potentially far away from the physical address of your investment, which means you can’t be there if anything goes wrong. Thankfully, there are options to help manage every facet of your rental property and the guest’s vacation journey.
Picking the Right Platform to Host your Property
Depending on what property or properties you have on offer, and what you feel guests are looking for, there are a variety of sites where vacationers are looking for rentals. These are the best places to reach your target customer at the right time, and each one offers something a little different. You could choose to focus on one platform, or list your property on multiple platforms and rely on a Project Management Software (PMS) to keep track of your reservations and prices.
This is number one on everyone’s list, and has the largest community of vacation rental hosts. With over 7 million listings and 220 regions and countries, there are a lot of options to choose from. While there’s no fee to list a property on the site, hosts do pay a service fee per booking.
Do note, that with the sheer volume of listings (with some geographically adjacent to yours), a host would need to find ways to make their listings stand out, with sharp images, unique amenities and features, as well as dynamically pricing your nightly rate.
What makes Airbnb unique and the clear frontrunner in the STR market, is the ability to list different types of properties (shared rooms, cabins, full houses, and even treehouses).
This site is a part of the Expedia Group, and one of the most popular vacation rental sites for holiday seekers. Originally known as Vacation Rental by Owner, this is a site that focuses on private apartments and houses for rent, ideally for a vacation stay, rather than one night here or there. A homeowner/host can either pay by booking, or through an annual fee.
This platform differs from Airbnb in the sense that it only allows hosts to list private spaces, and full properties, rather than just a spare room. This means that the listings on the site cater more towards an older audience who are willing spend more and travel with family.
Also owned by the Expedia Group, HomeAway was the original format of VRBO, before it was spun off into a separate site. They offer over 2 million rentals across 190 countries, and the benefit here is that if you list with HomeAway, then you automatically cross-listed on VRBO. This means more eyes can see your property.
Much like VRBO, it only allows private apartments and houses and offers an annual subscription or a pay-per-booking option for hosts.
This site has more than 27 million properties listed, and was once known more as a hotel booking site, rather than a vacation rental booking site. But in recent years, that’s changed. Now, you can use this site to find a short term rental, much like any other.
The differentiating factor, however, is that booking doesn’t offer its own payment system, but allows a host to choose their own payment options, and the site then invoices the hosts for a commission. Other than that, there’s no cost to list your property, and it a great site to have in your list of platforms you’re using.
There are also other sites, such as TripAdvisor, Homestay, atraveo, and OneFineStay that also offer listing services and various benefits to a host. Do do your due diligence in evaluating what site would best suit your property, and also, while you’re at it, find a software that’ll amalgamate all of your listings into one dashboard.
Vet your Vacation Renters
The beauty of all the online rental portals, as well as the proliferation of social media, means that when someone requests to book your property, you can take a look and screen them to see if they’d be a good fit. While this might seem like a lot of work, it’s a necessity to protect your investment. Every member of a STR booking site has a profile and a booking history with reviews. Looking at how they’ve been rated by previous hosts, as well as how they themselves rate their hosts and stays, will inform you if this is someone you want to let into your home or property, and if they’ll offer any sort of risk.
Especially since you’re not in geographic proximity to the rental, it helps to know that it’s in good hands.
The worst thing a remote host can do is remain radio silent. A host should communicate often (but not too often), with their tenants to check in on their stay, answer questions and offer suggestions. With the help of a good piece of management software, you can automate emails to welcome them to the home, give them check-in/check-out instructions, and some can even offer a virtual AI-enabled concierge to answer any questions that they may have, that you might not have time to answer for the 100th time.
Offer Self Check-In
Since a host can’t be there in person, and manage the keys physically, it only makes sense to offer a way for guests to access your property without meeting a physical person. In most cases, this means a lock box or a service like KeyCafe, but there’s an even better option; a smart lock. Both options have the ability to send notifications when a guest has accessed your property, but with a smart lock, there’s no physical key to keep track of.
Through a keycode or an app that works with a mobile device, guests can get into their rental property without any hassle. They’ll have all the information they’ll need right at their fingertips, and with a hosts remote access, they can offer help if a guest is having trouble gaining entry, and you’ll also know if there’s any unauthorized access immediately.
This is also a great way to monitor check-outs as well as offering access to your cleaning staff.
Automate as Much as you Can
With the advent of Smart Technology, you can manage every facet of your rental, from the temperature via a smart thermostat, monitor noise levels with a noise sensor, and control access to the wifi and other wifi enabled devices with a smart router. Ideally, you’d only want to jump in with your remote access if you need to, and leave your guests be, but it’s helpful to bae able to manage the temperature and ensure no unauthorized parties and activities are going on in your property, which could potentially affect your ratings and the property itself.
Invest in a Good Property Management Software
If you’re listed across multiple booking sites, then it’s a pain to have to manage each listing individually. Thankfully, software exists to permit you to manage your vacation rentals easily via an integrated dashboard. This way, you can control all guest communications, bookings and alterations, manage prices and property management operations, as well as coordinate with your vendors, any maintenance staff, and cleaning teams.
An even better feature is that with a unified inbox, you can also automate messages that are triggered with actions such as booking requests and their check-in date. You can also synchronize calendars to manage reservations and print detailed reports of key metrics, so you can best manage and optimize your properties.
All this means you can take care of everything efficiently, so you can focus on your own activity outside of vacation rentals.
Feel Closer to Your Rental Than Ever Before
Implementing these key ideas into running your business from afar, will offer you peace of mind that your properties will remain safe, clean and ultimately, profitable. It takes a bit of laborious setting up at the beginning, but it will be worth it in the end.
And when your business starts to run perfectly, you’ll be able to attract more bookings, get positive reviews and enjoy the fruits of your hosting responsibilities.