Vacation rentals are a hot topic and you either feel tempted to join-in on the growth of the industry or you're already in. It is something that real estate professionals get constantly tempted to get involved in.
Managing vacation rentals is not a simple task. It should NOT be confused with traditional property management. When you manage vacation rentals - you are a VRM (Vacation Rental Manager) and not a PM (Property Manager).
VRMs job has changed significantly in recent years and it continues to do so, especially their relationship with owners, guests, and online travel agents (OTAs). The arrival of Airbnb on the market, and the much younger clientele it attracted, caused the industry to shift expectations. It went from newspaper type ads on vrbo.com and homeaway.com to hotel-like online bookings. From guests expecting people waiting for them at arrival to now expecting hotel-like service and amenities. From being ok with staying in someone else’s home, to wanting a de-personalized home that will feel their own for their stay.
This shift requires new tools and new capabilities. The delivery method of hospitality has undoubtedly evolved. Currently, there are a myriad of choices for software solutions, tons of different hardware options, and a countless number of home furnishings.
There are 3 essentials for success as a VRM:
Amazing Interiors (and professional photos showing it)
Multi-Channel Distribution (Expedia, HomeAway, Airbnb, Booking.com, and more)
Management Automation (communication, pricing, vendors (cleaners), etc)
Furnishing the property is typically an overlooked task by the VRM. In most cases the VRM and the home owner agree to either work together or for the VRM to furnish the home on the owner’s behalf. In either case it results in over 100 decisions that make the VRM’s job un-pleasant. By using a solution such as Magnetia, the VRM can focus on other tasks that require attention when on-boarding new properties.
The VRM also needs to have a great understanding of the dynamic nature of each distribution channel, which changes daily. Each channel has their own way of uploading properties and treatment of the types of properties. For example, Airbnb.com requires one set of information, booking.com requires another, and expedia.com third set of information. Their software (or extranets) don’t talk to each other, which complicates the process even further. Having a technology system in place that can help streamline this communication is not optional any more, it is essential.
And last but certainly not least, the VRM has to be comfortable using multiple software applications. To provide a seamless hospitality to guests it takes over 15 applications working simultaneously and talking to each other. If this process is not managed well, the guest finds out very quickly and it typically reflects in low guest ratings, bad reviews, average daily rates pushed down, occupancy rates dropping, and basically risking the success of the business.