We’ve spoken about the dangers of self-managed rentals, but as far as investments go, is professional managed vacation rentals really your best bet? The short answer is a resounding yes. Countless property owners have learned the hard way that vacation rental management is a full-time job that requires a great deal of time, strategy and experience. Trying to ‘wing it’ will often end up causing you more stress than you bargained for, even if you do manage to bring in a small income for your effort.
In order to understand just how much value a professionally managed approach can offer property owners seeking a smart investment, it can be very useful to compare it side by side to a self-managed approach. In this handy guide, we take a closer look at each model to see what challenges and returns each has to offer.
How Managed Vacation Rentals Compare to Self-Managed Rentals
Wondering how managed vacation rentals stack up against self-managed rentals? We compared the two across the key areas of rental management: bookings management, guest services, marketing and day to day management. Let’s have a look to see how each fared against the other.
Reservations are the life-blood of the rental industry. Even if you are using a tool such as Airbnb, which has a built-in calendar tool, you will still need to plan ahead to ensure that your bookings are consistent all year round. Some of the differences that self-managed and managed vacation rentals have in this area include the following:
- Self-Managed: You will need to keep track of your bookings, either through an online booking application tool or a calendar. This is a lot easier during prime travel seasons, but not as easy during the slower months. Your system will need to be reliable to ensure that there is no risk of double bookings, reservations not reflecting or any other potential issues that can cause you grief. Online tools make things easier – you will still have to take a hands-on approach so that you are always aware of when your property is booked and when it is empty. You may also need to answer queries before bookings are confirmed, deal with cancelled bookings, follow up on deposits and update your calendar if bookings are changed later down the line.
- Managed: The entire reservations process, from enquiry all the way through to payments is managed. Vacation rental managers are fully trained, with experience and expertise in handling reservations. Your manager will ensure that your property bookings are managed at all times, that payments and deposits are sorted and that there is no risk of double booking or other problems.
This can be one of the biggest headaches for any property owner. Dealing with guests requires a great deal of patience, professionalism, tact and experience. Guest services go far beyond answering enquiries, responding to complaints and ensuring that someone is there to welcome guests on arrival. Guests that have a positive experience are much more likely to leave glowing reviews, return again and refer your property to their friends and family. Some of the differences between managed and self-managed rentals include:
- Self-Managed: You will need to interact with potential, current and previous guests on a regular basis, answering questions, fielding enquiries, dealing with problems, welcoming guests to your property, ensuring that they have everything they need and helping to make their stay as memorable as possible. You could keep things simple and only provide the most basic level of service. This will usually result in the most basic level of review however. If your goal is to impress guests, a lot more work will be required. You will need to provide concierge services, welcome packs, housekeeping, world-class guest relations and security, around the clock. If you have a full-time job, this is obviously very difficult. Outsourcing specific services quickly adds up, costing you a fortune in the long-run.
- Managed: A good vacation rental manager will handle every aspect of guest relations. Whether it is welcoming guests on their arrival and providing a special welcome pack, scheduling routine housekeeping, providing free WiFi, assisting with concierge or pro-actively assisting guests in some other way, there is no replacement for 24 hour guest services. Your guests will be happy, which means that they will leave good reviews. This in turn will help you to increase your bookings consistently.
Another major aspect of vacation rental is marketing. How will you increase your booking rates and market your property? You have a few options here. You could stick to the major booking platforms, or you could aim for a comprehensive approach across multiple channels. Some of the ways that managed vacation rentals compare to self-managed in this area include:
- Self-Managed: In addition to managing your bookings calendar and providing guest services, you will need to make time to market your rental. In today’s highly competitive vacation rental space, this is not as easy as it seems. There are many, many incredible rentals all vying for space on Airbnb and other platforms. How can you be sure that yours stands out from the rest? Will you focus all your efforts on a single platform, or expand your reach to as many platforms as possible? Unless you have a background in marketing and a solid understanding of the short term rentals market, this can be a full-time job on its own.
- Managed. A good vacation rental manager will actively promote your property across a diverse range of channels. Listings will be expertly crafted, professional photographs will be taken to showcase your property in its best light and strategies will be developed to help your listings get maximum exposure. This is essential for short and long term growth over low and peak seasons. A good marketing plan can make all the difference to your success.
Day to Day Management
Ongoing management and maintenance are a vital part of rentals that help to ensure that your property stays in top shape. Whether it is housekeeping services, plumbing, electrical upgrades or repairs, upkeep or renovations, maintenance can greatly affect your property’s success. Some of the ways that managed rentals compare to self-managed in this regard include the following:
- Self-Managed: As the landlord of your vacation renal, you will be responsible for keeping the property in good working order. Between guests, you will need to check that all appliances are working, linens are dry cleaned, crockery and cutlery all accounted for, plants watered, pool maintained and all the myriad other tasks that go into day to day management of a vacation home. Someone will need to be on call 24/7 in the case of emergencies – blocked toilets, light bulbs blowing, televisions not working, swimming pool not sparkling clear and blue or any number of issues that could realistically arise. You could do this all yourself, or hire a landlord, which can be pricey on top of all your other costs.
- Managed: An experienced vacation rental manager will handle all aspects of property management and maintenance. A manager will have contacts for various professionals, from plumbers to alarm companies; laundromats to electricians. A well-managed rental ensures that guests are kept comfortable at all times, so that everything works as it should. Your property will be clean, organised, fully equipped and fully prepared to meet the often high demands of self-catering guests. The best part? You won’t ever have to deal with late night calls or tiresome maintenance that takes up too much of your valuable time.
So there you have it… time and time again, managed vacation rentals out-perform self-managed rentals. If you are serious about getting ahead in the short term rental space, contact Totalstay today to find out more about our unique approach to vacation rental management.