Vacation Rental Management: 8-Step Guide to Business Automation

The process of managing your vacation rentals might get overwhelming as soon as your business starts to grow. Read our guide to find out how to automate each aspect of your business to spend less time on routine operations and yet become a prosperous host.

Vacation rental property management

Vacation rental management tipsHow Does Vacation Rental Management Work

Vacation rental management tips

The vacation rental industry has grown tremendously over the past few years, along with the number of people involved in vacation rental management. The process of property management goes far beyond arranging bookings and coordinating house cleanings. It actually includes a long list of essential operations and tasks that a vacation rental manager has to handle on a daily basis. 

In a nutshell, the vacation rental management process consists of:

  • Creation of listings on third-party booking platforms;
  • Adjustment of property pricing;
  • Response to inquiries and communication with guests;
  • Alignment of calendars on multiple channels (to avoid double bookings);
  • Coordination of property cleanings and maintenance;
  • Marketing and advertising;
  • Improvement of the guest experience.

The popularity of short-term rentals among travelers is growing, so it’s no surprise that more people are looking to get a slice of this lucrative market by starting their own vacation rental business. Thus, the number of listings on various vacation rental platforms is increasing every day. The figures speak for themselves: 

Vacation rental management guide for hosts

Hosts often choose to manage short-term rentals themselves, but the whole process often turns out to be more complicated than initially expected. The growth of your business will certainly present you with plenty of new vacation rental management tasks and challenges. As a host, you need to meet them head-on!

Vacation rental management tipsWhy Automate Your Vacation Rental Management

Vacation rental management tips

It’s a fact that 50% of all new companies fail during the first 5 years. The good news is that you don’t have to be one of them! 

Scaling your vacation rental business against a backdrop of intense competition doesn’t sound easy, right? That’s why getting to grips with effective vacation rental property management techniques will help you to stand out from the crowd. Fortunately, we live in the 21st century, it’s the digital era and we can all make use of the great variety of technology on offer, especially software designed to handle and scale a vacation rental business.  

Once considered a mere fad, vacation rental management automation is now deemed a necessity. Successful property managers and rental property management companies realize that automation is the way forward. 

In fact, in 2018 hosts spent a total of $15.5 billion on property management and guest communication software. This figure is expected to grow over the course of the next few years. In order not to fall behind, and to stay on top of your competition, it’s high time you embraced automation.

Being experts in vacation rental management and automation the iGMS team has compiled an automation checklist for hosts. We support thousands of hosts from over 133 countries around the globe and it would be our pleasure to share our knowledge on vacation rental management automation with you. 

We have identified the top 8 automation strategies, implemented by the most successful hosts. It doesn’t matter if you have 1 listing or 100, you can still reap the benefits of vacation rental automation using them. It’s time to get automated and boost your business!

Vacation rental management tips1. Automate Airbnb Messaging for a 5-Star Guest Experience

Vacation rental management tips

Great communication is the key to offering first-rate customer service. However, messaging prospective clients and current guests can be arduous, taking up to 75% of your time. 

The average traveler considers approximately 8 properties and inquires about 5, before making a booking. Guests appreciate an opportunity to book a listing on the spot, that’s why Instant Book listings are so popular among guests. However, if you are not ready to use Instant Book yet, your potential guests will expect a quick response to all inquiries. 

Approximately 63% of property owners reply to travelers within 60 minutes. But even that could prove too long for impatient guests. Exceed expectations and show off your vacation rental management skills by replying faster. With Airbnb automation, you can reply in just a couple of minutes.

  1. Prepare templates based on standard responses

Start by looking back through your Airbnb messages. Identify the major stages of the reservation process and the messages you usually send. Your Airbnb message flow will look something like this:

Vacation rental management for hosts

You can optimize your vacation rental management technique by converting your most frequent responses into templates. Make sure to save the templates for quick and easy access (Google Docs, Spreadsheets, Airbnb Saved Messages, etc.).

  1. Use the email auto-responder

Instead of delaying your replies to guest inquiries, use the email auto-responder to share a quick message. Most email services have an auto-responder, and depending on your schedule, you can choose how to customize the message.

  1. Use a vacation rental management tool to automate messages

Vacation rental management tools enable hosts to easily create and save templates. You can set triggers and send replies on preset dates and times, according to your standard messaging flow.

You can do all of this, and more, via iGMS, vacation rental software for professional hosts. iGMS has developed a whole host of helpful features. Using the tools at hand will simplify communication between a guest and a host and improve efficiency. Here’s a taster of what’s on offer:

  • Single inbox

Organize dialogues with guests on multiple vacation rental sites (Airbnb, Vrbo, Homeaway, etc.) into a single feed.

  • Templates

Convert your most common responses to templates. Personalize communication by using smart elements that can be varied according to each reservation.

  • Automated triggered messaging

Send messages and updates to guests on preset dates and times to keep them always informed.

guest communication automation
  1. Hire a concierge service to provide 24/7 guest support

You can also take vacation rental management to a whole new level by offering flawless communication to guests at every stage of the reservation. A concierge property management service such as Aircomms will enhance the entire guest experience by taking care of your guests 24/7.

AirComms service is integrated into the iGMS system. So, you can see all of the interactions with your guests on one single dashboard. To sweeten the deal iGMS users get 10% off AirComms’ services for 12 months by dropping an email to this address and mentioning the special promo code: iGMS10.

  1. Use email automation platforms for post-departure communication

Successful vacation rental management depends upon the level of effort you put into promoting your rental property. Keep in touch with your past guests by sending monthly newsletters and promotions using email automation platforms e.g. MailChimp, Constant Contact or SendGrid, etc.

However, make sure you ask your guests to share their real email address. Airbnb creates temporary emails for each guest that will be deleted from the system after they checkout.

Well-thought-out post-departure communication may help secure reservations from past guests. You could also generate referrals if you start offering discounts for the family members and friends of guests.

Vacation rental management tips2. Synchronize Reservations across Multiple Vacation Rental Sites

Vacation rental management tips

Managing multiple reservations on various vacation rental sites can be a real challenge for hosts. Without a full picture of what’s going on, you could easily find yourself getting a double booking. There are a couple of options for improving the process of tracking your reservations:

  1. Export your vacation rental calendars to Google Calendar

Your vacation rental management process will benefit from syncing calendars.

Bookings from all platforms will automatically sync with Google Calendar and you can add external bookings too. You will then see an overview of everything in one place. Remember syncing is not instant and can take up to 24 hours.

  1. Synchronize bookings through vacation rental software

If you manage multiple vacation rental properties across different sites iGMS vacation rental software could work wonders for you. Simply integrate your accounts and listings, and you’ll see all of your reservations on one interface. This allows you to track rentals and minimize the risk of double bookings. Advanced vacation rental software such as iGMS allows you to:

  • Alter reservations if necessary without logging in and out of multiple accounts.
  • Create manual reservations and block out dates.
  • Control/adjust pricing for each platform to stay competitive. Changing your price frequently will also increase your chance to appear on the first page of the Airbnb search results.
  • Synchronize bookings from different platforms almost instantly. So, you don’t have to wait too long to see them appear on your multi-calendar.

Vacation rental management tips3. Automate Airbnb Reviews to Top Search Rankings

Vacation rental management tips

Want to make it to the 1st page of the Airbnb search results and earn Superhost status? To do this you will not only need to enhance your vacation rental management skills but also encourage your guests to submit their reviews.

Only 20% of guests are willing to write reviews. Increase this number by making sure you always provide feedback for your guests, they will then be prompted to leave a review for you in return.

guest reviews automation
  1. Create templates for guest reviews depending on stars (4 and 5)

  • Prepare a couple of standard templates based on the reviews you usually post. If you are not sure what to write, check out the reviews left by other hosts or find good examples on Google.
  • Compile a document (Google Docs, Spreadsheets, etc) with positive and negative guest reviews, so you can copy them easily whenever necessary.
  1. Set a notification on your Calendar or reminder on your smartphone

Make sure you leave feedback for your guests within 14 days of checkout.

  1. Find a vacation rental management software with the reviews automation feature

Leaving a review is a piece of cake if you opt for using a vacation rental management solution with a review automation feature. You will be able to:

  • Build review templates using predefined elements.
  • Receive notifications on how many days you have left to publish a review.
  • Get notified of a guest leaving a review for you.
  • Publish reviews on different vacation rental platforms without logging into numerous accounts.

Vacation rental management tips4. Automate Your Check-in/Checkout Process

Vacation rental management tips

Meeting and greeting every guest does sound like a nice idea, but it’s not always practical. Even if you’ve agreed a check-in time with guests they could be delayed by traffic, a late flight, family issues, etc. Which means you could be left waiting around, twiddling your thumbs.  

Savvy vacation rental management calls for hosts to be productive, so save yourself time by automating the check-in/checkout process. Your guests will thank you and they won’t feel stressed if they’re running late. Remember not everyone wants to have a long-drawn-out chat with a host after a long journey.

self-check-in
  1. Automate self-check-in /checkout

Setting up automated check-in and checkout can also ease vacation rental management. Installation is neither pricey nor problematic. There are a few options to choose from for your Airbnb business:

Key lock box

Just pop your key inside the key lock box and set the combination for simple and secure Airbnb check-in and checkout. You will need to let your guests know where to find the key lock box and the combination code to open it. Top picks include:

  • Master Lock 5425D
    Suitable for indoor and outdoor use; allows secure storage for multiple keys.
  • RIA Key Storage Lock Box
    Made from zinc alloy and heavy-duty steel, which can protect the box from hammering and sawing! The ORIA is suitable for storing multiple keys.
  • Kidde AccessPoint
    Portable, easy-to-use spin dial combination lock. With around 10,000 available combinations, the Kidde is virtually impossible to crack.

Electronic lock

Another option in your quest to simplify vacation rental management is to install an electronic lock. No more security concerns or playing “find the lost keys!” Simply set a code for one set of guests, then change the code prior to your next guests arriving. Top picks include:

Smart lock

Choose a Smart lock to make Airbnb check-in and checkout super easy for guests. This method also helps the host to retain control (key in vacation rental management).

Smart locks work by utilizing an electronic system that responds to a signal from your smartphone. All you have to do is to share an invitation code with your guests beforehand. Top picks include:

  • August Smart Lock Pro
    Locks and unlocks your door, controls keyless access and keeps track of who comes and goes. Also, works with Alexa.
  • Schlage Sense
    Free iOS and Android smartphone app lets you manage codes, set schedules, and view history.
  • Yale Assure Lock SL
    Locks and unlocks your door via Siri also can be controlled via the Apple Home App.

Check-in and checkout automation platforms and services

Professional services such as EveryDoor and KeyCafe are worth a look as they are capable of making the self-check-in process completely hassle-free. The host sets the Airbnb calendar and the key service provider e.g. Everydoor, pulls bookings from the calendar to set up access for each guest.

KeyCafe provides 24/7 customer support and real-time notifications. So, you can rest assured that your guests can access your property without any issues.

  1. Opt for a concierge service

Concierge services such as Aircomms can also help smooth out vacation rental management. Concierge services allow for faultless check-in and checkout by providing 24/7 support to your guests. Choose a professional service and you can relax, knowing the communication surrounding the check-in and checkout process will be perfectly arranged.

Vacation rental management tips5. Use Smart Amenities to Delight Your Guests

Vacation rental management tips

After making sure that you have all the necessary essentials it is time to think about how you can set your rental apart from the competition. 

Why not go the extra mile and add smart amenities to impress your guests and further enhance your vacation rental management? 

Adding smart gadgets to your vacation rental is a sure-fire way to create a “wow” effect for your guests.

They will help to attract more bookings and encourage glowing reviews. Installing smart amenities can make you happier as a host too! Automation can help to save money and time. 

Vacation rental automation

Let’s check out which smart amenities are worth installing:

  1. Smart thermostat

No guest wants to turn up at a cold and uninviting property. The smart thermostat alleviates this problem.

Set your thermostat to activate when your guest unlocks the smart lock. You could go one step further and integrate the thermostat with your vacation rental software. The system has advance warning of guests checking in and can adjust the temperature accordingly.

Many of these devices are now compatible with Alexa, Google Assistance and Siri, so the home temperature can be easily controlled by voice commands via an app. Installing a smart thermostat will not save a fortune at once but definitely is a great way to reduce your energy bills.

  1. Smart lighting and motion sensors

Nowadays there are many smart lighting options available that are capable of impressing your guests. For example, you can install inexpensive color-changing LED bulbs that provide lighting effects to match the mood and occasion.

You can also add smart motion sensors in a bid to save on your utility bills. Motion sensors detect which rooms are not in use and then shut down the lights automatically. Good for the environment and for your wallet!

  1. Virtual assistant

A virtual assistant such as Amazon Alexa or Google Home can really boost your vacation rental management credentials. Turn the virtual assistant into a personal concierge service for guests by programming a number of actions that can be triggered by voice. You can also use Alexa or Google to deliver important information to your guests without meeting them in person.

  1. Digital welcome book

Technology is advancing at a rapid rate, and guests like to have access to their gadgets 24/7. It’s never been easier to provide guests with real-time access to useful information, recommendations, and tips from you.

Go digital with your vacation rental management. According to Touch Stay, 74% of guests would like to have access to a digital welcome book on their devices before or during their stay.

Simply create your guest book in PDF format and add to your folder on one of the cloud services (Drive, Dropbox, Box, etc.). Then send the link to your guests prior to their arrival (along with the check-in instructions).

Going that extra mile in your vacation rental management by creating such a handy portable resource for your guests will be a solid investment toward 5-star reviews.

Vacation rental management tips6. Opt for Cleaning and Maintenance Automation

Vacation rental management tips

There’s no surprise to learn that guests expect high levels of cleanliness. Yet 44% of hosts find cleaning to be the biggest headache associated with vacation rental management.

If guests aren’t happy with cleanliness they are prone to leaving negative reviews. You could even incur penalties and ruin your excellent reputation. Don’t leave the cleanliness of your rental to chance, opt for automation.

  1. Implement smart gadgets to simplify the cleaning routine

Smart devices can provide valuable help when cleaning your rental. Not all gadgets are cheap and cheerful, but you could reduce your cleaning time and save lots of elbow grease! Top picks include:

  • Automatic robot vacuum  — learns fast how to navigate your vacation rental to make the floors perfectly clean.
  • Robot mop — a perfect addition to improve your vacation rental management cleaning techniques and a great solution for hardwood floors and tiles. Get into those hard-to-reach corners to ensure immaculate cleanliness.
  • Robot window cleaner — a simple device that comes with remote control. No more risking your life to clean a few windows.
  1. Manage your cleaning team using Google Calendar

If your Airbnb Calendar has been synchronized with Google Calendar tools such as IFTTT, Zappier, and Boomerang will enable you to create auto-messages. These can be sent to your team of cleaners reminding them of a “cleaning” event in your property.

Apps like these can be a real time-saver for your vacation rental management efforts. No more wasting time on creating emails or making calls to schedule a cleaning.

Vacation rental cleaning automation
  1. Keep track of your supplies with home inventory apps

There are useful home inventory apps on the market specifically designed to allow you to keep track of your possessions. The apps offer a variety of features — add photographs, sort items by room, and add a price paid for each item in your vacation rentals. Check out Sortly, Memento Database, My Stuff, etc.

  1. Enhance your cleaning process with vacation rental software

Vacation rental software is an ideal solution for vacation rental management companies and hosts as it helps to completely streamline all cleaning and maintenance activities.

It is virtually impossible to keep all your rentals clean even using the top-notch smart amenities without a team of cleaners. Whether you outsource or have your own cleaning team a vacation rental software will help you to:

  • Create automated cleaning schedules — cleanings will be scheduled after every guest checks out and a cleaner will be notified automatically by email or/and text message.
  • With some tools like iGMS you can even auto-assign cleaners for complete workflow automation and then see the real-time progress of work performance.
  • Pin your to-do notes and special guests’ needs. Collaborate with your crew by adding tasks to the reservation.

Enjoy hands-free cleaning and team management — if you use specific software, make sure it has a mobile app. That way you, and your cleaning team can operate on the go.

Vacation rental management tips7. Control Your Earnings by Automated Bookkeeping

Vacation rental management tips

One of the aspects of successful vacation rental management is understanding how to plan your budget to keep your business prosperous. You need to gain control of your expenses and your earnings.

  1. Track your expenses using accounting solutions

If your vacation rental portfolio is quite extensive use a handy tool such as Quickbooks, Xero or Mint to track your income and expenses. Based on the data from your bank account you will see how much you spend on vacation rental utilities, supplies, etc.

  1. Generate financial reports with your vacation rental management tool

To budget better it’s useful to gain an overview of how things are going. Use a vacation rental management tool with a reporting capability and you can take a look at your financial data almost instantly. For example, iGMS facilitates the creation of financial reports in no time, showing you the detailed information on your earnings and the status of your payouts.

Vacation rental management tips8. Set Your Business on Autopilot

Vacation rental management tips

How about “hiring” an all-in-one solution to help you handle all of your vacation rental management tasks?

Check out iGMS, professional vacation rental software that helps hosts to set their business on autopilot. iGMS is one of the leading short-term rental software services available on the market helping thousands of vacation rental managers from 133 countries across the globe.

Being hosts ourselves, we know everything about the challenges faced by property managers.Vacation rental management tips

With over 15 years of experience in IT and software development, we have the knowledge and skills to create a product that integrates seamlessly with Airbnb, HomeAway, Vrbo and other platforms.

Key benefits:

  • Automated and triggered messaging designed to increase guest satisfaction by ensuring a prompt and effective response to all inquiries.
  • Review management feature allowing you to automate the process of leaving reviews for your guests. 
  • Multiple profiles management on one interface, eliminating the need to constantly log in and log out.
  • Cleaning and team management automation streamlining tasks and ensuring smooth performance.
  • Reporting feature for tracking your business results.

Change To Our Vacation Rental Software To See Real Changes In Efficiency Instantly