How Does Vacation Rental Management Work

It’s no secret that effective vacation rental management can multiply your bookings and elevate your Airbnb business to new heights. In fact, Vacasa reports that if you hire rental managers or management companies to oversee your rentals, you can save up to 30 hours of time spent on daily business tasks. It’s clear to see that good management is essential for long-term success, but what exactly does vacation rental property management involve?

Keep reading to get a crash course in everything you need to know about short-term rental management — what it is, what it requires, and how to use it to give you an edge.

Vacation rental management examination

What Is Vacation Rental Management?

Vacation rental management is the supervision and administration of vacation rental properties, ranging from handling bookings, cleaning, and maintenance, to marketing, and taking good care of the guest experience.

Someone who undertakes vacation rental property management is responsible for a whole host of daily operations with the purpose of providing a brilliant guest experience and ensuring the smooth running of a short-term rental business.

Although it overlaps in some instances, vacation rental management is different from regular property management. Short-term rental management requires a lot of time spent on guest communication and marketing of properties, far more than traditional property management.

People book vacation rentals more commonly for holiday purposes, so vacation rental managers also focus on providing a top-notch guest experience. This is in contrast to regular property management, as most people lease regular properties on a longer basis for living, not vacation, purposes.

Property management services for seaside properties

How Does Vacation Rental Management Work?

Vacation rental management, in essence, is simple. If you own a property such as an apartment, house, cottage, or villa, you can rent it out to travelers and holidaymakers.

People who book your vacation rental property are likely to stay for several days up to a week, however, they can also book for extended periods. The tasks that you handle relating to property maintenance, and ensuring your guests enjoy their stay, make up rental management.

Vacation management can be outsourced, meaning you hire an external manager or management company to oversee your rentals, or you can do DIY management meaning you undertake all management tasks yourself.

Starting Your Career as a Vacation Rental Property Manager

For many years the short-term rental industry has boomed. The rise of short-term rental platforms such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and has made it easier for hosts to launch their own vacation rental businesses.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the industry by halting international travel in many countries, the industry is far from dead. With the current pause in travel, domestic travel has seen a surge in popularity. Now the majority of bookings are coming from staycationers, digital nomads, and families.

This year has also seen a major rollout of vaccinations in many countries, and some countries are managing to safely reopen. The revival of travel is nearer than ever, and becoming a vacation rental property manager is still a potentially lucrative endeavor.

Running a property management business is all about organization

1. What does a property manager do?

Despite the title, it’s not actually necessary to own a property to become a vacation rental property manager. With the necessary qualifications and expertise, you can manage properties of other property owners without ever owning one yourself.

As a property manager, your day-to-day operations will include:

  • Responding to guest messages and inquiries
  • Handling reservations and cancellations
  • Setting and adjusting rental prices for reservations
  • Obtaining payment for booking
  • Overseeing guest check-in and checkout
  • Restocking supplies after every stay
  • Arranging property cleanings and maintenance visits
  • Writing guest reviews
  • Marketing and promoting the property online.

When scaling your property management business, you can take on managing several more vacation rentals for various clients.

2. How to manage your vacation rentals yourself?

Deciding to self-manage your rentals does offer benefits, such as reduced costs and more control over your rental properties. However, rental management is also a time-consuming process that requires juggling many different responsibilities.

To ensure your management procedures run as smoothly as possible, you should first draw up a business plan and identify goals you want to achieve. You should also consider hiring a cleaning service and establish a network of reliable contractors who can help with maintenance, guest communication, etc.

Learn more about how to manage a vacation rental property yourself

The next essential step is to get yourself familiar with PropTech tools and software solutions. To thrive in the vacation rental industry and be ahead of your competition, you should automate most of your operation with vacation rental software, such as iGMS.

iGMS offers advanced functionality that helps vacation rental homeowners and property managers run their businesses on autopilot, including:

  • Managing multiple accounts and listings on the top OTAs from a single interface
  • Synchronizing reservations across multiple platforms to eliminate the risk of double bookings
  • Organizing messages into a single feed with a unified inbox
  • Improving communication with automated templates and triggered messaging
  • Automating the process of guest reviews
  • Creating and coordinating cleaning tasks with live tracking to completion
  • Creating your own direct booking website
  • Managing direct bookings using a direct booking management toolkit
  • Processing payments securely via integration with Stripe.
  • Creating essential reports on your business results within minutes
  • Adjusting your pricing in a smart way through integrations with PriceLabs, DPGO, and Wheelhouse

Try iGMS in Action

3. What does it take to be a vacation rental manager?

Vacation rental interior overseen by vacation rental management services

Rental management is not for the faint-hearted. So, before you decide whether or not being a property manager would be a good career choice for you, take a look at some characteristics that serve property managers well:

  • An ability to multitask
  • Excellent time management skills
  • Flexibility and problem-solving attitude
  • An ability to manage people and oversee tasks to completion
  • Willingness to obtain new knowledge and skills
  • Being a great communicator (an essential trait as you will have to build good relationships with your guests to ensure a brilliant guest experience)
  • Optimistic and energetic personality.

Aside from managing a vacation rental, you will have to keep a close eye on your competitors. You should be open to implementing new tactics and strategies in your management process and be adaptable to fast-changing trends in the vacation rental market.

4. How to become a property manager?

If you’ve decided to pursue a rental management career, you need to know that becoming a certified property manager will take time. So, first, you should consider the following:

  • The legal requirements of property managers in your state or country
  • The best legal courses and certifications that relate to your country/state’s requirements
  • The time it will take to become legally certified
  • Your long-term business goals as a vacation rental property manager.

Discover more about how to become a certified property manager

Starting a Vacation Rental Property Management Company

1. How to start your own property management company?

Once you have gained experience as a property manager, you can confidently start your own vacation rental property management company. However, starting a property management company requires a lot of preparation and attention to detail. Some of the essential areas you need to cover when starting a company include:

  • Planning and deciding on the legal structure of your business
  • Creating your business plan and defining your business goals
  • Obtaining the necessary licensing to practice as a business
  • Selecting the best tools and software solutions to help run your business
  • Choosing and setting up your office space
  • Creating a website and marketing your business to attract clients.

Find out more about how to start your own property management company

2. How to succeed in the vacation rental management business?

To succeed in the vacation rental industry, there are a few key strategies you can implement to ensure your bottom line remains as consistent as possible:

1. Get educated

One of the best ways to replicate success is to study it. Examine case studies of successful rental property management companies to pin down their secrets for success. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a company via social media (the best choice would be LinkedIn) to establish a connection and common ground.

Once you have become more familiar, you can ask them about common obstacles they have faced, and how they have managed to overcome them. By learning from others’ mistakes and how they remedied them, you can overcome any potential challenges or roadblocks more easily.

Find out more about what makes a vacation rental management company successful

2. Keep up with trends

The rental industry is a constantly evolving, developing industry, and trends can emerge in a flash. An underlying factor for success is to stay relevant by keeping up with new marketing and business trends as they pop up.

Failure to do this could result in clients overlooking your business for more dynamic and informed companies. A good way to monitor trends as they change and grow is to follow relevant platforms and sources that specialize in vacation rental management, such as industry-related YouTube channels and property management blogs.

Vacation rental software for vacation rental managers

Learn more about the vacation rental industry trends for 2023

3. Search for new opportunities

As a property manager, you should always be looking for new opportunities to help your business expand. You should actively seek out fresh ways to market your business and acquire new leads and customers. Take note of what your competitors are doing online, and ask yourself how you can do the same (if you are not doing it already).

Hiring a Vacation Rental Management Company

Whether you are a homeowner of one vacation home, or several, you may need a property management company to help you manage things. There are a few things to keep in mind for hiring a property management service for your vacation home:

1. How to find the best vacation rental property management company?

1. Identify your needs

The most important first step is to identify your needs as a host. How much help do you need with managing your vacation rentals? Do you only need help with managing guests and the rental, or do you also need help with marketing and attracting bookings? Once you’ve identified and made a list of your needs you can begin looking for a company that meets your requirements.

2. Do your research

The next step is to begin searching for a company that offers the services you are looking for. It’s a good idea to also keep your budget in mind, as larger enterprises will likely charge more for the same property management services than smaller, independent companies.

After identifying potential companies, you can begin screening and vetting them. Check the reviews on Yelp and Google Business and ask the businesses in question to provide references from their current or former customers.

Person researching a vacation rental management company

3. Ask the right questions

To make sure you select the ideal company for you, it’s important to ask specific questions about their business model. Some questions you can ask include:

  • How many employees make up the company?
  • Do they offer full-services, or can you select the services you require?
  • Will you be assigned a fixed agent for your rental, or will it be managed by a team of agents?
  • Does the company respond to guest requests and messages outside of office hours?
  • How does the company handle emergencies outside of work hours?
  • How will the company track and monitor the performance of your rental property?
  • What strategies will the company use to improve your rental’s performance and occupancy rate?
  • Does the company work from a fixed contract?

4. Find out about fees

Another important topic is vacation rental property management fees. Companies generally work from one of three fee structures: the guaranteed income model, the fixed-rate model, and the commission model.

Each fee structure has unique pros and cons for property owners. Aside from knowing what businesses charge, you also need to know what services are being covered in the fee structure, and if certain services will cost extra.

Check out more advice on how to choose an Airbnb management company

Find out about fees for your business to improve revenue management

2. What does a vacation rental management company charge?

A rental company’s fees range from around 10% to 50% of the monthly rental income, and can depend on certain factors:

  • The location of the rentals (urban, beach rentals, mountainside properties, etc.)
  • The number of rentals you would like the company to manage
  • The size and type of the rentals (luxury villas will require more overall management compared to apartments)
  • The size of the company
  • Whether the company is a local company or an international organization
  • The services offered by the property management company
  • The fee structure used by the company (fixed-rate, guaranteed income, commission-based, etc.).

Keep in mind that the fees you end up paying will impact your net revenue as a property owner. Finally, after vetting each company’s property management fee and service structures, you can compile your results in a list or spreadsheet. This will help you to cross-compare each company and weigh up their pros and cons, before deciding on the company that best suits your needs.

Discover more about vacation rental property management fees

3. 5 best vacation rental management firms in the US

Although it’s best to do your own research when it comes to selecting a vacation rental property management company, here are some of the top-rated management companies in the USA:

  • Evolve Vacation Rental
  • Turnkey
  • Casago
  • Vacasa
  • Yonder

iGMS: An Essential Tool for Vacation Rental Management Success

Whether you’re an independent property manager or running a larger management company, iGMS can help you hit all your targets. Harnessing the power of automation, iGMS seamlessly runs your operations from a single interface, from listing management to communication. Never miss an important task again and watch your venture grow to new heights.

Try iGMS for Free

About the Author

Phoebe Gunning is a content writer in the Communications Department at iGMS. She is passionate about the vacation rental biz, notably helping hosts make the most out of their vacation rental businesses. Some of her hobbies include reading, traveling and drinking a good cup of coffee.

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