By André Roque, Homeit.
Many entrepreneurs start small with an Airbnb business but with the intention of expanding into a full-time concern and creating a successful business. When starting, people quickly find that managing your property takes up to a day per week of rental: managing the listing, responding to enquiries, washing linen, checking guests in and out and dealing with general admin.
In some countries, you have to register your property as a short-term rental business, issue invoices and/or report guests’ identities to comply with local regulations.
Due to all this work, it’s estimated that 40-50% of new hosts leave the market within the first year, abandoning any bigger business plan they may have had. However, they don’t need to if they follow the following steps.
The first thing any potential host should do is define your goals based on what you value. Is it the money? Is it your time? Is it striking the right balance between time and money? Is it to grow your portfolio of properties? Or do you want to progressively transition from your current job into the short-term rentals business full-time?
Defining your values and goals 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 that in mind, how can you make short-term letting work for you so you can stop being a slave to Airbnb? The five steps below will help.
From cleaning to washing sheets to the finishing touches that get you those 5-star ratings, there are lots of tasks that need completing in order to rent your property in perfect condition.
Tasks you will likely want to outsource include cleaning and laundry. These are the most time-consuming tasks and the easiest to outsource, with lots of companies built around 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 a great site, but there are lots of other reputable sites out there for listing your short-term let. By listing on multiple websites, such as Booking.com and Homeaway.com, you ensure that you can maximise the rental time on your property.
Each has different rates and features, so it pays to check out the terms and conditions on each site. Trying different sites will allow you to find the right site for you as well as keeping the property occupied as much as possible.
A big challenge of listing on multiple sites is managing the additional bookings quickly and easily. With more bookings coming in from a number of different websites, you need a good booking system to manage everything. Failing to offer instant bookings or neglecting to respond to requests in a timely fashion will cost you in rental fees and reputation.
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, helping you to maintain your positive reviews. Given the number of hosts who now offer instant booking, it’s important to provide your guests with quick, if not instant, booking confirmation.
- Manage several properties
As you get more experienced with running your Airbnb business, you may find yourself wanting to expand your property portfolio. More properties mean a greater income and help you build up your real estate empire.
When you have a portfolio of properties, however, the work going into managing them can no longer be sorted with just spreadsheets and email exchanges, you need to have 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.
- 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 can mean travelling and waiting around for late guests, and some unusual and out-of-hours check-in times.
Options such as leaving your key under a plant pot, or in a coded box at the front door, pose all sorts of security issues.
Smart locks can save hosts a lot of time, providing access to your guests, whenever they arrive. Guests simply checks themselves in, making your property instantly feel like home and putting them 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; useful for those guests who may have trouble with technology.
- Adapt for business customers
There is a big market for business people staying in short-term lets instead of hotels. The costs can be a lot lower and they get some home comforts, such as a kitchen and living space.
With a few small tweaks to your property and listing, you can make sure it appeals to business customers. Features such as an iron and board may make little impression on tourists, but for people on a business trip, they can be a necessity to help them look sharp for meetings.
Other features, such as high-speed internet, will appeal to all guests but can be essential for business customers. Take a few moments to put together a list of things business customers could benefit from and try and adapt your property and profile to match these particular needs. If you get this right you’ll get reach out to a new, and possibly repeat, business clientele.
Follow these steps and a small project can become an efficient and successful business.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
André Roque is founder of Homeit, a smart access technology for the sharing economy’s short-term rental properties booked online on platforms like Airbnb or Booking.com. Homeit enables hosts to rent properties without delivering keys to guests or service providers, and enables guests to check-in at any time of day. It removes the need for copied keys (and therefore the possibility of lost keys), and the system works with every door, internal and external, whatever the physical lock, and integrates with the property’s booking calendar. Guests have instant access to the property, and hosts have transparency, and therefore peace of mind. They know who’s coming in, who’s going out (whether it’s cleaners, workers or guests), and when.