When To Hire A Vacation Rental Manager

(or switch property managers)

Are vacation rental management companies worth the fee?

As a vacation rental owner, you have two options: Manage the rental yourself, or use a vacation rental management company. Hands down, the biggest advantage of managing it yourself is the revenue, as you'll avoid paying a management fee. But that cost has to come from somewhere. Is it your time? Your energy? The value of your second home?

Let’s imagine you set a goal of generating $100K in gross annual revenue from your vacation home. We’ve found this requires roughly 10 hours of work per week (per home, if you’re managing more than one). Now ask yourself: What is your billable rate?

If you’re earning a salary of $100K, your personal hourly billing rate amounts to roughly $50/hour. Vacation rental management is a round-the-clock job, and doesn’t stop during the holidays. At 10 hours a week, that’s 520 hours per year. Multiply this by your hourly rate, and you’re already spending $26,000 worth of your time, energy, and knowledge.

$26K with a goal of $100K - that’s already equivalent to a 26% commission rate, which is the low end of what any luxury vacation rental management company would charge. And we haven’t even factored in additional costs yet - this is just a glimpse into the high cost of a rent-by-owner approach.

Below are 15 of the most common reasons to switch to a vacation rental management company, rather than doing it yourself. We've compiled this based on the biggest gripes we hear from vacation homeowners who attempted to take on the behemoth task of doing it themselves.

When to Hire a Vacation Rental Management Company

1.You’re ready to give up on VRBO and HomeAway.
You wish you could have open and private communication with your guests, rather than being forced to conduct every aspect of the reservation process through VRBO. You’re tired of trying to learn all the ways for your listing to rank higher in 2018. You’ve been surprised by strange policies, and have seen your guests pay higher and higher service fees, with no additional income for you.

We’ve heard it all. If you’d rather wash your hands of having to deal with vacation rental listing sites, the right vacation rental manager will handle all of this for you.

2. You don’t have the time or knowledge to employ dynamic pricing strategies.
To compete in today’s vacation rental space, you’ll need to update nightly rates to reflect seasonal demand, local events, fluctuating rates among neighbors’ rentals, the home’s performance, and more. Property managers have experienced teams of experts who can do all of this for you.

At InvitedHome, our revenue team is headed up by Owen Miller, who has brought his knowledge of pricing and revenue from the airline industry to the world of vacation rentals - with impressive results.

3. Guest inquiries from multiple listing sites are piling up.
Maximizing revenue and setting ambitious income goals means marketing your vacation rental on several listing sites. However, the more sites you use, the more inquiries you’ll receive, and you’ll need to have a plan in place to respond to all of them immediately. If you’re falling behind in responding to inquiries, guests are likely passing your home over for a similar rental, and you’re leaving money on the table.

4. You’re tempted to forego guest screening.
As the inquiries keep streaming in and you’re trying to vet your guests before accepting the reservation, you may start to wonder if the time it takes to screen your guests is really worth it. If you’ve reached this point, schedule a call with a property manager immediately. Never attempt to expedite the process by cutting back on screening.

Guest screening is the best way to maintain your peace of mind when renting out your second home, which is likely your second most valuable asset. The time spent upfront will ensure the safety and long-term value of your home, not to mention help you sleep easy.

5. Your free time is consumed by in-stay guest requests and questions.
Does this sound familiar? You’re out to eat with your family or friends when you have to take a call from a guest whose call may range from an actual emergency to a question about the remote. Or, you return to your phone after a few hours away from it only to find four missed calls, a dozen text messages and an email about something that’s gone wrong in your home.

Your free time is yours. Let a full-service vacation rental management company field all of your guests' calls and requests, while you get back to your family.

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6. You owe the government huge sums of tax money for improperly charging your guests.
If you don’t know how to properly set up your listing and document your rental income, you run the risk of unnecessarily owing substantial taxes.

If done correctly, the guest will end up paying a large portion of these taxes, and it’s already built into the price of their experience. If you’re not sure about how taxes work with vacation rentals, it may be time to hand the reins to a vacation rental manager who is. We cover this in our post on the 18 Ways to Increase Vacation Rental Bookings and Profits in 2018.

7. You realize there’s been a regulatory update you didn’t know about.
Noises ordinances, parking restrictions, minimum night stays, maximum occupancy changes: All these and more are cropping up in areas with a high concentration of vacation rentals.

If you aren’t ready to stay on top of the rapidly changing regulations within the industry, or fear you won’t know how to keep your operation going without skipping a beat amid the changes, it may be time to let an expert handle your home.

8. Noise violations start adding up.
As communities crack down on quiet times and stricter noise ordinances, you - and your guests - may be slapped with a hefty fine of as much as $1,000, depending on the area.

A top-shelf property manager should have technologies and processes in place to stop noise issues before they escalate to actual violations. At InvitedHome, we’ve partnered with a noise-monitoring company called NoiseAware, and have already saved our owners thousands of dollars in would-be fines. Learn more about it here.

9. You lie awake at night wondering about your guests’ safety (and your liability).
You know you have guests in-stay. You’re happily at home, about to fall asleep, when thoughts of the worst case scenario start to plague you. There goes your restful night.

With a property manager, your home will receive routine inspections and ongoing preventative maintenance that nip any potential safety issues in the bud. At InvitedHome, our inspection process includes ensuring proper functionality of carbon monoxide monitors, fire extinguishers, fire alarms, and more. You’ll also know a team is standing by to handle any late-night emergencies, should they occur. Don’t go another sleepless night because of stress over your guests.

10. You’re tired of answering the same guest questions over and over again.
Despite creating a welcome book for guests that’s full of useful information, you still find you’re answering questions about the hot tub, remote control, fireplace, and air conditioner far too frequently. Or perhaps a guest says they have an emergency, only to tell you they’re out of towels.

Don’t get jaded by the many calls that will surely come in from your guests. Instead, choose a property management company that has a dedicated guest experience team that will handle every guest issue - no matter how big or small - with courtesy and helpful information that will ultimately enhance your guest’s stay.

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11. You don’t know how to market to past guests.
Repeat bookings are one of the largest, most reliable, and most trustworthy forms of revenue. However, maximizing this revenue means staying in constant communication with past guests, so you’re top of mind when they start considering their next vacation.

The dedicated marketing team that comes with a vacation rental manager should stay on top of all of this for you, using email and social media to keep your past guests engaged and ready to book the same home again when they start their travel planning. Get in touch to learn about InvitedHome’s in-house marketing team and the campaigns we run to keep your guests excited to book your home again for their next vacation.

12. You don’t have time to read and respond to guest reviews.
The importance of reviews can’t be understated, with 81% of travelers saying reviews are important on travel booking site. Trust is a key component in vacation rentals, and you can establish this trust from the outset with a continuous scroll of (at least mostly) positive reviews.

But those reviews don’t come easy. In addition to creating an experience that’s worth the time it takes for your guests to write a review, you’ll also need to solicit reviews in a tactful way. Perhaps even more importantly, you’ll need to stay on top of all guest reviews, and respond quickly to any negative ones. There’s also an art to responding to negative reviews that 1.) lets the guest who wrote the review know you’re doing your best and will address the issue, and 2.) lets future guests know that it was a one-time problem that won’t occur during their stay. If you don’t have the time or energy to do all this, consider letting a vacation rental manager take on the duty.

13. Guest damages are affecting your bookings.
Whether intentional or not, guest damages can have a domino effect on your overall bookings and revenue. If you’re running a strong operation and have plenty of bookings lined up with small turnaround times, you’ll have to address the damages extremely quickly. In the high season, or in a popular tourist destination, emergency maintenance and cleaning comes at prohibitively high costs, if it’s even available. This can spiral even further if you can’t make the fix in time for your next guest, resulting in canceled reservations, poor reviews, and a worse reputation on listing sites.

Property managers have the resources to handle emergencies and damages swiftly and completely, and in the rare event they lead to canceled bookings, they know how to assuage the situation and keep your home’s reputation intact.

14. You have an unfortunate experience with a guest in-stay.
There are some events that are completely beyond your control, such as power outages caused by foul weather or cut water due to municipal construction. In these instances, your options as a rent-by-owner are extremely limited, and will most likely result in a canceled reservation.

Property managers have the option of finding their guests alternative accommodation within their portfolio when events like this occur, in turn saving the guest’s vacation.

15. Your vacation home has become a burden, not a joy.
You bought your second home to be a source of joy, and a place where you can escape the daily routine with family and friends. The day your vacation home becomes a point of stress, rather than a refreshing getaway, is the day you should consider a vacation rental manager. For many owner who choose to rent-by-owner, this day comes much faster than they expected.

One final departing thought

How much is your peace of mind worth? To know hospitality experts are taking care of everything discussed below in this post. To know your home is being cared for through preventative maintenance and regular cleanings to preserve its long-term value. We’ve found in our homeowners that this peace of mind is what they’re looking for most, and we love when we can help them put the vacation back in vacation home.

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