Thinking about jump-starting your career in the vacation rental industry and running your own property? Starting a new business can be an advantageous as it gives the opportunity to network with industry experts, acquire new skills, and become profitable. However, within a guest facing vacation rental industry, there is a considerable amount of work that needs to be completed to get your property ready to rent. To help kick start your endeavor, Breezeway has compiled 5 essential steps to professionalize and effectively scale your rental operations to its fullest potential - we’ve even added pro tips from our super operator friends, Thanks for Visiting!
1) Identify your pain points and find the right partner to tackle them
Many aspects of operating a vacation home are hard, but when narrowing down your top pain points, keep in mind the most time-consuming tasks. Once you have a list of your top pain points, find a trusted partner who can help solve them. Select a partner who integrates with other platforms you are using so you can reduce manual work and save yourself time. Utilizing the power of integrated technology can keep your business running more efficiently with greater insights into reporting and metrics.
TFV Pro Tip: “In relation to launching your vacation rental, pain points can include how you’re going to take bookings — Are you planning to exclusively list them on OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO, etc.; Or are you going to also accept direct bookings?
Other pain points can be about the logistics when hiring your team. How will you proceed with turnovers and cleaning arrangements? Who is going to be your go-to maintenance person? And on that note, do you have contacts for the crucial roles like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and your general handy person? These are all important factors to assess when launching a successful vacation rental property!”“In relation to launching your vacation rental, pain points can include how you’re going to take bookings — Are you planning to exclusively list them on OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO, etc.; Or are you going to also accept direct bookings? Other pain points can be about the logistics when hiring your team. How will you proceed with turnovers and cleaning arrangements? Who is going to be your go-to maintenance person? And on that note, do you have contacts for the crucial roles like plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and your general handy person? These are all important factors to assess when launching a successful vacation rental property!”
2) Incorporate personalized touches to elevate your brand
Never forget that we are in the hospitality business and it's all about that five-star guest experience! Showing attention to detail can go a long way in how your guest internalizes their stay and your brand. Modern technology can gather reservation details that may indicate a special occasion for your guests' stay, like a family reunion, bachelor/ bachelorette party, or wedding. In these cases, be sure to leverage this knowledge and add a personalized element to their stay, like a gift that caters to their occasion. Thoughtful touches, big or small, can make your guests experience more memorable and increase the potential for a positive review.
TFV Pro Tip: “Having personalized touches elevates your brand and is a great way to accomplish guest retention rates. Consider your call to action. Providing an amenity, in addition to brand awareness tools, not only allows your guests to share them with friends and family; but it also adds to the overall guest experience, and builds a positive relationship between you and your guests.”
3) Cater to your target audience
It's important to effectively market your brand to stand out in a crowded market. Use social media to its full potential to promote your business and increase brand awareness. In addition, leverage multiple listing platforms to build credibility for your business. There are numerous knowledgeable agencies and resources available to master this task if you're unsure where to begin. Hosts need to have an exceptional website listing that focuses on the key strengths of the property, such as special details about the location and amenities, as well as high-quality professional photos. Overall, brand consistency is paramount when it comes to building your business' foundation.
TFV Pro Tip: "Knowing your target audience is crucial for being able to cater to them. Just like any other business, you want to connect your property with a guest who will really find value in it once they arrive. This creates a synergistic relationship that benefits both parties.
Anticipating your guest’s needs, and what they might find helpful during their stay, is a great way to ensure the best experience. Here’s an example: if you know that your guests are visiting on behalf of business, you may consider providing them with coffee to-go cups, or a printer so they don’t have to find the nearest FedEx or Staples, as well as, takeout menus, as they’re most likely not going to have time to cook a meal. Really hone in and consider what they could utilize the most during their stay.”
4) Hire trusted cleaning & maintenance staff
Sourcing reliable, trustworthy, and quality maintenance crews plays a fundamental role in providing the ultimate guest experience. Given the rapid influx of short term rental bookings, it's no surprise that retaining quality staff has become one of the biggest pain points for operators over the past two years. When searching for trustworthy crews be sure to get referrals, set realistic expectations, and offer competitive wages. It's crucial to make routine and preventative maintenance a top priority as it can make or break your brand.
TFV Pro Tip: “A great place to start is asking your trusted inner circle. If you don’t live in the area where your STR is located you can also reach out to realtors, as they love building relationships and know who has a good rotation and who doesn’t. Also having interviews to set up processes can help build a stronger team. When interviewing, you can ask them questions like: Do you have experience with short-term rentals? Do you have any short-term rental owners that I could get a referral/reference from? You can also simulate a situation and ask them what their process would look like for handling a specific situation, and how can one verify the work? Overall, it’s really about going with your gut and being ready to pivot and adapt as a short-term rental owner.”
5) Prioritize your state's legal requirements to stay compliant
While this isn't the most glamorous tip, it's imperative to operating your short-term rental successfully. With ever evolving regulations in our industry, it can be difficult to keep up. To eliminate the stress of staying compliant with your state's legal requirements, join local committees and boards to advocate your business and educate yourself on where your city or town resides with STR legislature and rules. As the STR industry continues to soar it's crucial to be licensed, pay taxes, and know the rules of your property from the inside and outside.
TFV Pro Tip: “Making sure you are compliant to your local laws and regulations is an absolute must. It’s not an excuse to fly under the radar and it’s not good for the industry. It’s going to be a headache for you, plus, you want to be a good neighbor and community member, so tapping into how to be an efficient operator under that area’s laws may require you to get involved with local government meetings. Being a voice for your local jurisdiction is going to be crucial for your business.”
Watch Breezeway's, Koryn Okey, VP of Client Experience, share her expertise on how to select the right technology partner!