Evolve and Vacasa are two of the most popular property management companies in the United States. Each offers a unique set of benefits and can free up time that would otherwise have been spent on repetitive, routine, tasks.
That said, neither is perfect. You’ll also need to weigh up the cons to make an informed choice.
Here’s a more detailed look at the advantages, disadvantages, and other key factors to keep in mind before you make a long-term commitment.
Vacasa offers full-service vacation rental management to tens of thousands of vacation homes in hundreds of destinations across North America. When you entrust your rental property to them, you’ll get access to the following services and features:
Vacasa leverages digital marketing to help you fill up your calendar. They focus on two main strategies: channel partnerships and direct marketing.
They partner directly with a number of the leading booking websites like Vrbo and Airbnb. The benefit of their partnerships with these platforms is that they’re first in line to access new features. Plus, as property updates are synced in real time, it’s much easier to use a multi-channel approach (which includes listing on their own website).
Another one of their marketing strategies is their partnership with Wyndham Rewards. This way, Wyndham’s network of millions of global travelers can redeem their points for booking a property in the Vacasa network.
As mentioned, your property will also get listed on their own website. They have an in-house team of trained professionals that knows how to use strategies like search engine optimization (SEO) to improve your listing’s online visibility. In addition to SEO, they also invest in search engine marketing (SEM) and email marketing to help you reach the right target market.
As part of their services, Vacasa will also control your nightly rates. While some hosts will dislike this, it can actually be viewed as a value-added service.
The platform uses proprietary tools, data analytics, and industry-leading tech to update your rates. These pricing updates are based on factors like local events, trends, and the weather.
Aside from using tech to set a competitive rate for your vacation rentals, the company also ensures that your guests benefit from the latest tech for a more convenient stay. Examples of smart home features that they leverage are smart locks, noise monitoring devices, and Wi-Fi routers.
Hosts can get up to three smart home devices for free when they sign up. What’s more, the Vacasa team will monitor these devices round the clock to ensure your property remains protected.
In addition to smart home technology, guests can also enjoy 3D virtual home tours.
While Vacasa’s management fees are customized around each vacation rental property using factors like property type and location, you can expect to pay more. In fact, they’re very open about this. On their own website, they admit that their fees aren’t the lowest on the market. According to online sources, you can expect to pay anything between 18% and 35%.
In addition to this commission, they also charge a guest fee and extra fees for amenities like a hot tub. While you won’t have to pay this, it can add up, meaning that your nightly rate will become more expensive.
Property owners have also complained that it can become confusing having to keep track of the commission, guest fee, and additional fees.
Based in Denver, Evolve takes a modern approach to property management. They also have tens of thousands of properties all over North America in their portfolio. While they’re based in Denver, they use a hybrid structure and their cross-country team members work closely with their headquarters.
The services that they provide include:
Evolve uses marketing specialists as well as professional photographers to advertise your vacation rental. To help you reach as many travelers as possible, they’ll take a multi-channel approach too. In addition to listing your rental on their own website and using their traveler database, they’ll also use major booking sites with which they have direct partnerships as well as social media.
Compared to other property management companies, Evolve is one of the most affordable service providers. They charge only 10% and that’s only after your guests have actually checked in.
Add to that their risk-free guarantee and you can enjoy more peace of mind. With this guarantee, the management fees that you’ve paid will be refunded in full should you be unhappy with their service after the first six months.
Similarly to Vacasa, Evolve also relies on technology and data to set your nightly rates. It combines daily data analysis with factors like demand and seasonality to make automatic adjustments to your rates.
However, it’s not at the expense of human experience. They also have a team of revenue experts who will create a custom strategy for your property and keep track of its performance.
Evolve restricts their services to traditional property types that include houses, cabins, apartments, condos, and townhouses. This means that if you list shared accommodation, like a private room within your home, you won’t be able to use their services.
The company also has a specific set of criteria that properties must meet. They should have their own entrance, a full kitchen or kitchenette, and a minimum of one, attached bathroom.
That said, if you have a less traditional property like a tiny home or basement apartment, you can still reach out to them if you meet the criteria above.
Unlike Vacasa, you’ll still have the ultimate responsibility of organizing cleanings and maintenance. Their responsibilities start and end at checking with the cleaning company that the property is indeed ready for the next guests.
However, they do have a network of reliable cleaners experienced in vacation rentals that you can use. Alternatively, if you already have your own cleaning crew, they’re willing to partner with them.
While they can offer some help, scheduling cleanings is one of the most time-consuming aspects of owning a vacation rental. It’s one of the main reasons why hosts turn to a vacation rental management company. So, depending on your needs and expectations, this could potentially be a huge drawback.
Make no mistake, cost is a deciding factor. If you’re choosing between Vacasa and Evolve, you might be keen to go with Evolve – no further questions asked.
However, there are a number of other factors that also deserve your consideration like services, relevant experience, and reputation.
While vacation rental management services don’t necessarily differ significantly from one management company to the next, it’s still important that you study their list of services.
Each property management company has their own unique services that they offer. For example, one might use their own cleaning staff while another one expects you to organize your own (as is the case with Vacasa vs Evolve).
Another might include interior design services, while the next work only with guest-ready properties. You get the idea.
It’s best that you first make your own list of must-have services. You can then use this as a type of checklist to help you narrow down your search.
The following are examples of essential services that you’ll ideally want to be included:
Both Vacasa and Evolve specialize in the vacation rental industry. However, if you’re looking at other property managers or property management companies, it’s key that they have previous experience working with vacation rentals.
Managing long-term rentals requires a different business model than short-term rentals. Not only are the expectations among short-term guests higher, but there are also local regulations that you’ll need to abide by.
It’s also a good idea to partner with a company that has experience with managing rentals in your location. An understanding of the local trends is needed to optimize revenue.
Just like your potential guests will typically first read your guest reviews, so too should you do your due diligence. Ensure that you read online reviews about each vacation rental management that you’re considering.
If they’ve received negative reviews, look at how they’ve responded. The way that they respond to their own negative reviews can give you insight into how they could respond to bad guest reviews.
Both Vacasa and Evolve boast a bag of mixed reviews. Some hosts had a great experience; others nearly the complete opposite.
As both these companies also allow guests to book directly via them, it’s important to separate how guests have experienced their service from that of property owners. That said, guest reviews can still offer insight into how well the properties are managed and maintained.
For example, on Trustpilot, the reviews are mostly positive. Happy hosts have highlighted their overall communication and responsiveness. Guests were also mostly happy with their interaction with the Vacasa team as well as the accuracy and cleanliness of the properties in general.
On other platforms like Reddit, Vacasa clients have listed issues with damage protection and additional fees. It’s especially the hidden costs that catch hosts off guard.
A number of hosts have highlighted that the guest fees that they add amount to a significant sum, let alone the percentage they deduct for their service. This means that while your nightly rate might be high, your payout is actually small.
On Trustpilot, the picture looks pretty similar. The reviews are mostly positive with happy Evolve clients praising them for helping them to get set up.
Concerns that Evolve clients have highlighted relate to their client support, customer support, and damage protection. Also, while they do have a network of cleaners that you can hire, hosts that have used this service have complained about consistency.
If you’re more concerned about saving time than money, Vacasa can be the better route. While their fees are considerably higher and less transparent, they do take care of cleaning too. Cleaning scheduling is one of the most time-consuming aspects of self-managing your property, making this service very attractive.
Evolve, on the other hand, is a better option for a smaller rental business. They’re upfront about their pricing model, making it much easier to budget (and stretch your dollars). That said, cleaning scheduling isn’t included in their standard services. This can be a dealbreaker.
As for experience and reputation, it’s pretty much even. Vacasa was founded in 2009, with Evolve following two years later. Both concentrate on vacation rentals and are familiar with the type of guest experience you’ll need to deliver to be successful in this niche.
When it comes to reviews, both have also received their fair share of positive and negative guest reviews. Some hosts have switched from Vacasa to Evolve and vice versa.
You don’t necessarily need to pick between Vacasa and Evolve. While there are a number of other companies and individual property managers that provide reliable vacation rental management services, you also have another option — self-managing.
With a vacation rental software like iGMS in your tech stack, it’s completely possible. It offers a host of features to hosts helping them to:
You might just find that these features are all the help that you really need. In fact, you’ll notice that many hosts recommend investing in a software solution like iGMS over outsourcing your property management tasks to a company.
Want to pay a fixed monthly fee instead of a percentage of your profit each month? Sign up for free and see how iGMS can change the way you approach your vacation rental.
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