Below, we will discuss the self-managed option . Even with the help of property management software, which can facilitate the bookings, communications and invoicing, the most time-consuming aspect will be cleanings, pricing and guest communication.
Estimated read time: 5 minutes
First and foremost, congratulations on making this far! Most people only talk about wanting to own real estate and never take action, so well done. That said, there is still work to do.....now it's time to implement the business plan so you can start cash flowing your STR property! How do you do that, you ask?
If you've been following along with the blog, we started by debunking common myths of STR investing, followed it up by learning some of the industry lingo, and then discussed pre-acquisition considerations. This is part one of a two part series on post acquisition considerations. With that, let's jump right in!
Marketing and Listing Placement: While AirBnB gets a lot of press (and deservedly so, because full disclosure, that is where the majority of our bookings come from), there are many different online marketplaces where guests are searching online for vacation rentals, including (but not limited to) VRBO, Homeaway, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com. Thus, if you're only listed on AirBnB, you're missing a large segment of the market. We saw a clear increase in activity once we started listing our units on multiple websites.
Professional photography: We will keep this short and sweet - spend the $300-$500 and get professionals photos taken of your property. We love when we see other listings with pictures clearly taken from the owner's phone, as we know we instantly have a leg up on them.
Calendar Management: Once you're listed on multiple marketplaces, it's critical that your calendar on each website reflects ALL your bookings. While you can do this manually, we would NOT recommend this. For a fee, you can use a 'channel manager' that will automatically update every website's calendar when you get a new booking. This is critical as you don't want to double book guests and then have to cancel, which will impact reviews (discussed below). We use Rentals United as our channel manager, but there are many different companies that offer this service (Orbirental, Lodgify, Hosty, Tokeet, Uplisting, Kigo, Booking Automation) for a wide range of fees depending on unit count and need for ancillary services (accounting, messaging, etc.).
Decor: When outfitting the unit, mimic a hotel (white sheets, white comforters, white towels). Guests don't want to 'guess' what might be hiding in dark sheets - conversely, there is nowhere to hide in white. Don't overthink it here - just copy the hotel model.
Pricing: One (of the many) great benefits to STR is your ability to change prices when supply/demand fluctuates. Just like Uber prices increase (e.g. surge) when it's raining out because demand is up, you should be doing the same when demand for your property increases. Big concert in town and you're close to the venue? Your city is hosting a bowl game? St. Patty's day? These are all opportunities to increase prices and thus revenue, as guests generally expect to pay higher prices around tent pole events. A good way to set your price during these periods is to monitor what the major chain hotels are doing, as they have been in this business far longer than you have (presumably).
Guest reviews: Just like when shopping on Amazon, in today's sharing community, guest reviews are critical in the STR business. Being responsive, not over-selling the unit (or area the unit is located) in your property write-up, and providing a clean unit are vital to getting positive reviews. On AirBnB and TripAdvisor, the more positive reviews you’ve obtained, the higher up on the search results (think being on the top of a Google search) your listing will appear. Additionally, some sites like AirBnB offer 'superhost' status to the top owners, which will inherently increase your visibility and lead to more bookings.
As always, we hope you found this article helpful. Please let us know what you thought by leaving a comment below. Next week, we will go IN DEPTH on perhaps the most important post-acquisition consideration, property management....
Until then, happy STRing!