People often get involved in short-term rentals via sites such as Airbnb with the aim of earning some extra cash. It soon becomes apparent that managing your property takes up to a day per week of rental. It is time-consuming to manage your listing, respond to enquiries, check guests in and out, change and wash sheets and towels, and deal with general admin.
In some countries, you even have to register your property as a short-term rental business, issue invoices and/or report guests’ identities to comply with local regulations.
So how can you take control, and use technology to help manage your property efficiently and gain the rewards?
The first thing potential hosts should do is define your goals based on what you value. Is it the money? Is it your time? Is it to grow your portfolio of properties?
Whatever you are looking for, defining your values and goals from the outset will help you choose how to manage your properties, where to invest your time and money for maximum benefit, and what you can cut back on to save time or money.
With this clarity how can you make short-term letting work for you so you can stop being a slave to Airbnb? Here are my suggested steps.
Go for outsourcing
To get you those 5-star ratings, there are lots of tasks that need completing so your property is always in perfect condition.
You may want outsource tasks like cleaning and laundry. There are lots of companies managing these aspects for short-term lets. Just make sure you find a reputable company who will treat your property with the care it needs.
You could also consider outsourcing the management of the property to professionals, such as Airsorted and Hostmaker. This will leave you more time to add and manage additional properties in your portfolio, further increasing your income.
Manage multiple listings
Airbnb is an excellent site, but there are other reputable options. By listing on multiple websites, such as Booking.com and Homeaway.com, you can maximise the rental time on your property. Trying different sites will allow you to find the right site for you as well as keeping the property occupied as much as possible (just make sure you check the differing terms and conditions).
With more bookings coming in from a number of different websites, you need a good booking system to manage everything.
A channel manager is software, usually available as a web app that centralises your booking calendar and allows for instant bookings on each major platform where your property is listed. With easy management tools, you can control every aspect of your rental property from a single online dashboard which distributes the information instantly to all of your platform listings.
Channel Managers, such as Guesty, allow for near-instant confirmation without the possibility of overbooking your property. Given the number of hosts who now offer instant booking, it’s important to provide your guests with quick, if not instant, booking confirmation.
Get smart access
One of the biggest challenges for hosts is providing access to your property. One option is to meet your guests and hand over the keys, which involves a lot of travelling and waiting around for late guests, not to mention the unusual and out-of-hours check-in times.
The other option is to leave your key under a plant pot or in a coded box at the front door, posing all sorts of potential security issues.
Smart locks can save hosts a lot of time, allowing them to provide access to your guests, whatever time they arrive. The guest simply checks themselves in without you having to meet them with the key, making your property instantly feel like home and putting your guests at ease.
Better yet is a smart lock that connects to your bookings via your channel manager. Solutions like Homeit provide you with secure access control to allow guests, cleaners or your laundry company into the property. The right solution will be secure, easy-to-use, plug into your channel manager and can be operated from anywhere in the world. It will also make it very easy to share access with guests, including explaining how the system works, especially for more senior guests who may have trouble with complex technology.
Appeal to business travellers
There is a big market for business people staying in short-term lets. The costs are often a considerably lower than hotels and they get the benefit of some home comforts.
With a few small tweaks to your property and listing, you can make sure it appeals to business customers. For example, an iron and board may be a necessity to keep business attire looking sharp.
Clearly other amenities such as high-speed Wifi, will be appreciated by everyone but is likely to be essential for business guests. Use your own experience and list everything that a business person will need. You can then adapt your property and profile to show you are catering for the business traveller.
Add additional properties
As you get more experienced with running your Airbnb business, you may find yourself wanting to expand your property portfolio.
This means managing can no longer be sorted with spreadsheets and email exchanges. You’ll need a centralised system that will allow you to efficiently manage your operation. A Property Management System (PMS), such as Cloudbeds & VReasy, comes at a cost but it will greatly help you take control of your bookings and the day-to-day running of the business.
Features you should look out for in a good PMS system include the ability manage your bookings in your calendar, keeping track of service and housekeeping, tracking revenue and reporting, leveraging the rates and offers to maximise occupation, a customer database, and of course, an integrated channel manager for dealing with multiple booking sites.
As work towards meeting your goals for your Airbnb you’ll find these steps will help you use technology to help manage more efficiently and your financial rewards will be greater.