Vacation Rental Property Management: Everything You Need to Know

October 25, 2022 | Hailey Friedman

The vacation property management rental market is worth a whopping $74 billion. Plus, some Airbnb owners make well over $1 million annually through renting out vacation properties. 

But before you step into the market, you’ll need a management plan. That’s where vacation rental management companies come in. You can sit back and relax while your rental works for you!

Today, we’ll explore vacation rental property management and assess different companies that might meet your needs. Plus, we’ll help you figure out optimal pricing with our dynamic pricing tool (more on that later).

What is Vacation Rental Management?

Have you ever heard of Airbnb or Vrbo? Of course you have — you might have already used them to stay at a vacation rental. But Airbnb, Vrbo, and other vacation rental sites have great opportunities for property owners as well. 

Many companies help vacation rental owners rent out their homes, apartments, condos, or even land to people looking for a place to stay, usually as short-term rentals. Rentals can last anywhere from one night to a few weeks. 

Mid-length and longer-term rentals (usually months-long) also offer seamless opportunities for almost-passive income. With the rise of remote work, you’ll find more demand for this these days.  

But those companies don’t really handle vacation rental management. Who fixes  the lightbulbs, maintains the grass, and changes the sheets once a guest leaves? 

Vacation rental property management entails additional work to keep your rental functional and appealing to guests. Here’s what that management includes:

Guest Communication

As a vacation rental owner, staying up to date with your guests and answering their questions is one of the most critical parts of your job. 

Answering guests’ questions, big or small, helps make their stay much more enjoyable. On the other end of the spectrum, you’ll have to handle complaints sometimes. Vacation rental management includes professionally – and quickly – managing guest complaints. 

Some property management software are specifically designed to make guest communication quick and easy, with unified inboxes to funnel all communication like texts, emails and whatsapp chats into one platform, automated responses to the basic questions every guest will have, and portals for guest and owners to find all the info they need on their rental.

Booking Management and Scheduling

Organization is key so you know who’s staying at your property and when. When accepting reservations, you must ensure you don’t layer multiple bookings with overlapping dates. Make sure to schedule in time for housekeeping between arrivals too. 

Other booking and management responsibilities include:

There’s also the guest screening process. If you’re finding guests on Airbnb, check their reviews to look for any past experiences that might encourage you to reconsider. 

On some platforms, guests can rebut poor reviews as well. Sometimes you can get a better sense of potential renters through their responses to criticism. Was their comment on their bad review professional and reasonable? Or did it contain profanities and unreasonable expectations?

Luckily, there are property management companies and software that help with all of these tasks.

Maintenance and Repairs

Common issues that come up in all vacation rentals are leaks and broken appliances. When these issues arise, you have a few options for dealing with them.

If you or a handy family member live nearby, you can try dealing with the issue yourself. Sometimes you can assess the damage and fix the appliance while the guests are present. However, sometimes a broken appliance means ordering a new part or even a whole new appliance. This may mean your guests will be without a dishwasher or washing machine during their stay. 

If you’re not handy, you can also keep a handyman on retainer to deal with issues while you are away. Maintenance also includes regularly performing checks on your heavily used items.

Lastly, you’ll need to keep the property clean and hire regular pest control and lawn care.

Vacation Rental Management Options

Now that you know more about what rental property management entails, you might be nervous about the work you have ahead. But vacation rental management companies and contractors help alleviate the load. 

Three main options are popular among rental property owners: individual rental managers, vacation rental companies, and vacation rental management software.

Vacation Rental Managers

A vacation rental manager is a one-person show for your rental property. This person can be an individual that you hire, or it could be you! Individual managers are often much cheaper than big companies, and provide more personalized service. 

But less staffing means less availability, which could mean slower service times.

Cost: Usually vacation rental property managers charge a percentage of monthly rental income, around 8-10%.

Vacation Rental Companies

Full-service companies, like Vacasa and Evolve, can also manage your vacation rental property. They often have entire professional teams dedicated to ensuring your property is up and running.

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Vacation Rental Management Software

You don’t even need to be tech-savvy to reap the benefits of vacation rental management software. Why not combine vacation rental management and hospitality with automation? It usually results in more time on your calendar and money in your pocket. 

Whether you own one property, are a vacation property manager for multiple properties, or an enterprise vacation rental management company, property management software makes the process a lot easier. 

Some examples of this software include Wheelhouse, Guesty, Hostaway, and Lodgify. Some property management companies even have proprietary software included in their services.

Cost: 

While some software companies are less transparent about costs, companies like Lodgify work on tiered monthly fees and variable booking fee plans. The highest booking fee at Lodgify is 3.9% (“Lite Plan at $0/mo), and the highest monthly fee is $56/mo (“Ultimate Plan” with 0% booking fee).

And don’t forget Wheelhouse. The software is a specific dynamic pricing tool using market data and competitor analysis to improve revenue by 40%! With carefully collected market data, we make informed recommendations for your rental prices, and even custom recommendations for different properties.

Vacation Rental Management Tips & Strategies

All set with a vacation rental management company? Perfect. Here are some tips and strategies to maximize success:

Pay special attention to vacation property management companies that offer marketing services like advertising and photography. Attracting potential guests to your property is half the battle. 

For more marketing tips, check out this comprehensive book about short-term rental properties from Bigger Pockets!

Vacation Rental Property Management Jobs

Are you a property owner looking to make vacation rental management your full-time job? The good news is that opportunities exist in this role nationwide and the industry has steady growth projections over the next decade.

The median annual salary for a vacation rental manager is $42,837, but it ranges between $33,805 – $53,997. While there is no formal degree needed to become a vacation rental manager, it is helpful to have a Bachelor’s degree in either hospitality, business, real estate, or the equivalent experience. Some states require licensing to practice as a vacation rental manager, so check your local requirements.

But where do you find vacation rental manager jobs? The traditional route is always an option; search on sites like monster.com, indeed, LinkedIn, and jooble.org to see many listings across the country.

Another route is to check out the career pages of existing rental management companies. They often have openings, but if they don’t, it doesn’t hurt to submit an introduction letter and resume. 

The boldest option is to show off your marketing skills by advertising yourself as a vacation rental manager seeking owners to work with. This is best for experienced managers who have great references to back them up.

Find Success with Vacation Rental Property Management

Vacation rental property management could be your first step to passive income and financial freedom. If you hire a vacation property management company, the process gets a lot smoother. 

But you always have to ensure your pricing matches the market. The last thing you need is to invest time and money into a property that doesn’t even cover your basic expenses or performs worse than all neighboring rentals. 

That’s where Wheelhouse’s dynamic pricing tool comes in. Our intelligent pricing software studies over 10 billion data points to recommend the perfect pricing for every rental. Because it’s dynamic, the recommended pricing changes with the market to ensure maximum occupancy. 

Owners report an average increase in revenue of 40% when using Wheelhouse! Best of all, you can choose to manage your prices manually, or set-and-forget for a more hands-off approach. And as your portfolio grows, the software scales to help you manage all of your rentals.

Ready to see dynamic pricing in action? Try it for free today!

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