There’s a lot to consider when choosing the best vacation rental management company for your property.
Whether it’s your first time renting or you’re a long-time owner who wants a helping hand, properly managing a vacation rental means juggling a ton of moving parts. From marketing your home and getting five-star reviews to organizing on-the-ground services like cleaning and maintenance, it can be a lot for any one person to take on.
But hiring the right vacation rental management company can take a huge amount of stress off your plate — not to mention it can give you valuable time back while potentially maximizing your home’s potential.
Of course, you’ll only reap those rewards by making the best management choice. That’s why you should ask any vacation rental management company you speak to these seven key questions upfront. Each answer can help you weed out the not-quite-right options, and confirm you’re hiring the best vacation rental management company who can give what you need to succeed.
No matter how much vacation rental experience you have, you want a manager with a firm understanding of the local market.
The best vacation rental management company will have a strong grip on high and low booking seasons, competitive rates, what types of property are most popular in the area, and how local regulations might affect vacation rentals.
You can prep for your conversation with our vacation rental market analyses, which provide detailed looks at everything from income potential by property size to average daily rates by season. Then, ask your potential vacation rental management company questions about the local market. If they provide reasonable and informed answers, they’re likely in tune with the current industry trends that can impact your revenue optimization strategy.
If they seem uncertain or lack knowledge around these details, you may want to look elsewhere. And don’t base your confidence solely on their years of experience in the business — many longtime property managers don’t keep up with changes in the industry, in turn producing lackluster results for owners.
Many vacation rental management companies charge fees that range from 25-50% of your rental income. That can translate into a big chunk of change coming out of your pocket. So before hiring anyone, you should use a vacation rental income calculator to help determine whether you can afford to pay that high of a fee and still meet your rental income goals.
You also want to evaluate contract terms closely, as many times it can be what forces owners to stay with a poor property manager. If you find in the first two months that the property manager isn’t doing their job well — but you’re locked in for a year-long contract — you could be very unhappy for the remaining ten months. Plus, some can take months to pay out owner profits. So an unfavorable contract could mean you’re waiting an especially long time for hard-earned cash to land in your pocket.
When talking contracts, ask whether there are any out clauses based on performance or poor service. If, say, the management company fails to clean the property consistently and you get bad guest reviews or a lack of bookings as a result, you should be able to leave their service without penalty. You’ll also want to know the payment terms and timing, so you’re not stuck in a profit-less holding pattern even when money should come in.
The best vacation rental management company should, plain and simple, provide high-quality services. So you’ll want to know exactly what’s included in their fees. Ask whether they cover things like:
You should also ask about any services not included in their fees. For example, some property management companies will charge extra if they have to visit the home to address a potential problem. Or they might set and forget your rates without shifting them based on market trends. Excellent guest support — and expert attention to details that help maximize your home’s performance — should not cost extra after you sign a management agreement.
Once you know what services the fee does and does not cover, ask yourself if it’s enough. If your potential management company covers everything from marketing to maintenance, the fee may be worthwhile. If it only gets your home onto one local listing site and doesn’t include thorough guest support, you may want to keep shopping.
To really succeed in the vacation rental space, strategic marketing is a big ticket to more revenue. The best vacation rental management companies will apply a robust marketing strategy that hits on every facet of a strong online presence, so it’s important to ask your potential property manager exactly what their plan entails.
First, understand where your home will be promoted. Many vacation rental management companies prefer to market their clients’ properties only on their own website, or just one major site like Airbnb. But in today’s vacation rental environment, where competition for bookings is higher than ever, that’s simply not enough. You’ll want to have a professional listing on all the major sites to make sure you’re not missing out on profit potential.
Second, great marketing goes beyond where your home gets seen — it’s also about the quality of your listing and its ability to actually earn bookings. As you have conversations with potential property managers, listen for phrases like “appear high in search results” or “search engine optimization.” These are good indicators your manager knows how to raise and maintain your listing’s online presence.
Finally, ask companies how they bring in repeat business and attract new guests to your home. Your manager should actively request reviews from happy guests, and follow up with those who already stayed at the property to encourage another booking in the future. If they don’t, they might not be as focused on long-term success as they should be.
While your guests may not be awake around the clock, finding a management company that’s always available is critical to capturing as many bookings as possible and creating a five-star guest experience.
This means the best vacation rental management company has experts constantly available before, during, and after a guest’s stay. So if your manager is only available from 9-5 on weekdays in their local timezone, you may miss out on bookings. Plus, you could disappoint someone who’s at your property and can’t reach someone for help.
You should also ask if guests are able to book online and use a credit card. Very few are willing to get on the phone or use a debit card anymore, so if your potential manager doesn’t offer an easy guest experience, you’re likely to miss out on bookings.
After every stay, you should confirm that guests left your property in good condition and any accidental damages have been documented and addressed. Be sure to ask potential property managers how they handle issues like broken dishes or missing items after a guest’s stay.
The best property management companies help you nail post-stay logistics, and have processes in place if damage ever occurs. Make sure you’ll be covered by a damage protection program or guest deposit system, and that the manager efficiently owns guest communications about incidents.
It can be smart to speak with a few existing clients prior to signing a contract. They can share details about working with the company, and give their honest perspective on what to expect.
If that’s not possible, ask to see a variety of case studies — especially ones for your area — to help provide proof that they can successfully manage your vacation rental business. Even better if they’re able to validate whether that customer is still currently working with them or not.
Choosing the best vacation rental management company might feel like a lot, but it’s nothing compared to doing it on your own.
The good news: you can cut right to the chase by working with Evolve. Our revenue-driving approach includes everything from helping you find your next investment to filling it with guests and boosting your income.
To learn more, hop down to the form below and start a conversation with one of our pros today.