If someone tells you to go to a place where you can find a precious treasure, but there are many challenges you should deal with in order to get there, will you go without even asking what those challenges are? The same thing goes on with property management. Whether you have started your job as a short-term rental manager or are in the middle of the path, you should know that there are some common property management problems that each and every person in the industry shares.
If you’re still an amateur, good for you as this blog post is the result of the experiences of REAL property managers who have been in the industry for some time.
Moreover, if you’re familiar with the industry, there’s a good chance you already know these problems. But, still, reading the article is to your benefit because we do not just give a list of the challengers you know and leave you there, but we’ve introduced some innovative solutions that you’ll absolutely find practical.
Problem 1: Guests Trashing Your Properties
Just Google the term “Airbnb guest trash house” and find a long list of articles of desperate property managers and landlords sharing their experiences of their guests leaving their houses in unbelievably catastrophic situations.
While one of the benefits of managing short-term rentals is that you can keep track of your property’s condition more and maintain it much better, there are guests who don’t care about your property at all as they may be there for a couple of days. After all, they’ll leave and you’re the one left with a trashed apartment/house.
If you ask any property manager, this is the first common property management problem most of them will tell. It is even so exasperating that some property managers think about quitting their job over such a problem.
Well, now you might think that security deposits are a good solution, but sometimes, especially now that the mid– to longer-term stays have been so popular, damages that are caused by guests who have stayed in your property for a month are too many that the security deposit you’ve collected in the first place is not enough at all.
Solution: Screen Your Guests Before Handing Your Property to Them
During the off-seasons or at the beginning of your job as a property manager, you might get so excited whenever a booking comes in that you totally forget this common property management problem.
What you should not forget under any circumstances is to screen your guests carefully and approve them before handing them the key to your main investment, your property.
First of all, don’t forget to collect the payments through safe methods that’ll approximately eliminate the risk of getting chargebacks. If you’re interested in knowing more about handling payments securely, here you can find some useful information.
Do not EVER forget collecting the security deposit. Even if your guest wants to stay for more than a week, still it is better than not having anything in hand.
Ask them to provide their contact details and ID documents.
Moreover, regarding the PMS (Property Management System) and channel manager you use for your business, you can benefit from a booking process that does all these steps for you. This way, whether a booking comes from a channel or your direct booking website, you can be sure everything is taken care of, and your property is handed over only to those who are capable of ticking all the boxes.
If you want to know about this solution in more detail, you’ll find this page helpful.
Problem 2: The Constant Need for Enhancing Guest Experience
According to the UK Parliament, the number of short-term rentals in England has increased enormously during the recent years due to “the development and growth of ‘sharing economy’ or ’peer-to-peer’ accommodation services.”
Airbnb reports that 223,200 active listings were posted between July 2017 and July 2018, 58% of which were for an entire property.
One look at the above-mentioned numbers and information proves to any reader how highly-competitive this market is. With this data in mind, can you claim worrying constantly about improving your guest experience is not the second common property management problem you face?
If you do not try to boost the quality of the service(s) you provide your guests with, someone else will win your potential or even previous guests.
Solution: The More You Automate and Personalise the Process, the Happier Your Guests Will Be
In the previous section, we talked about the necessity of collecting your guests’ contact details and some important information through the booking process.
Even though your booking process should be so accurate, it should be as streamlined as possible. Complex booking processes repel every guest. Even if your property is fantabulous, they’ll easily forget it and go for another one.
Moreover, if your booking process is designed in a way that you can collect your guests’ real email addresses, you can be in contact with them in the future and build loyalty by staying in touch and giving them the most personalised experience based on their preferences.
Problem 3: Getting More Direct Bookings
No one can deny the exposure that Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, and many other channels and OTAs bring to your business in the very beginning.
As long as they exist, it’s somehow impossible to name even a single successful property manager that started their business without the help of these booking platforms.
But the fact is that this exposure comes at a cost, which is increasing year by year and lessening your income from every booking.
We don’t want to get to the discussion of comparing OTAs and direct bookings as we’ve talked about the advantages and disadvantages of each of them in a separate blog post.
To eliminate the 15-30% of your net profit that you should pay to Online Travel Agencies, you’ve got no other choice but to get more direct bookings.
Again, let’s get back to this fact: managing short-term lets is becoming a more and more competitive industry. So, what’s your plan to stand out in the crowd?
Solution: Expand Your Online Presence as Much as Possible
Getting more direct bookings is one of the most difficult common property management problems to overcome, both for the professionals and the amateurs.
However, the ever-growing popularity of online businesses paves the way to some extent. What does it mean?
It means with over 50% of consumers searching for businesses online, there’s a huge number of potential guests to whom you can showcase your properties if only you have the right tools:
· A Direct Booking Website
That’s the first and foremost platform you must have in order to get more direct bookings. If you boast an SEO-friendly website, you can publish interesting blog posts and get the attention of searchers in addition to showcasing your properties.
If you’re planning to do so, don’t forget to have a well-planned content creating strategy.
· Social Media Platforms
If you’re still underestimating the power of social media and the exposure it brings to your business, now it’s the time to change your mind. Otherwise, you’ll definitely fall behind the competition.
· Google My Business
Did you know that 75% of the people who search for businesses online are on Google? GMB (Google My Business) is a free and easy-to-use online platform that’ll provide you with a lot of opportunities. Moreover, if you don’t have our first solution, a direct booking website, it offers you a website too.
Well, it’s not a very professional one, but at least it’s a good platform to direct your potential guests to.
Problem 4: Operations Management
If you manage only one property, you have probably not faced this struggle yet. However, managing the many necessary operations is another common property management problem that the ones who run multiple properties experience a lot.
As a short-term rental manager, you’re in charge of filling the properties all year around, and you have to do most of the job remotely.
This means, without being able to visit the properties frequently, you need to make sure the maintenance issues are taken care of, they’re clean after and before each booking and keep track of all the other tasks you should take care of.
Even if you decide to expand your company and hire more staff, you also need to pay more money. So, there must be a way to take control of everything like a pro without having to bear more difficulties.
Solution: Find Ways to Automate Different Aspects of Your Business
If you’re serious about eliminating this barrier, there’s no way for you to use a proper property management system. Handling everything manually or expecting your staff to do so, just takes up the precious time that can be devoted to the expansion of your business.
Moreover, while choosing an adequate property management software, you’re sure that you’re minimising human errors by allocating most of the work to a system.
Imagine all the operations from one central login, where you can communicate with all your staff, including your cleaners, manage check-ins and check-outs, keep track of housekeeping and maintenance tasks, get a grasp of your listings’ rates and availability, and so on.
This is what your PMS should enable you to do. If you’re still looking for the right PMS, here you can find some useful tips you’d better bear in mind while choosing the best one.
Problem 5: Overbookings
As you might not be in the place where you can totally depend on the direct bookings you get and forget about channels and OTAs, you should probably know one of the most famous, common property management problems everybody has: overbookings.
If you’re determined to increase your reach, you probably have listed your short-term rentals in more than one channel. But making sure that your rates and availability status is updated on all these platforms is a highly time-consuming, burdensome task.
In addition to the time and energy it takes away from you, it can simply ruin your brand’s good name, which you’ve tried too hard to build up.
Solution: Using Channel Managers
Here’s where channel managers come to your rescue. In fact, it is impossible to run a business in the hospitality industry without the help of a channel manager.
Of course you know that there are two types of channel managers. The first type offers 2-way native API integrations. However, some others sync using iCals.
We suggest that you pay special attention to this feature when choosing your channel manager because when your channel manager supports API integration and is synced to the channels that are the same, the possibility of overbookings is totally eliminated.
Problem 6: Pricing Management
Should you want to well-operate a vacation rental business, you can’t take a set-it-and-forget-it approach. Setting dynamic rates for several room types or the same accommodation at different times of the year is essential to gain as much profit as possible from the market. However, it is quite challenging to follow the market trends and define a suitable price for every single property unit in the given time.
It is a common practice to understand the constant changes in the short-term rental industry through implementing your experience and keeping track of competitors’ behaviour and strategy. However, running a thorough market study needs spending a considerable amount of time and energy. In order to beat the competitors and catch significant market shares, you should act fast, as the demand in the vacation rental industry has a short lifetime.
Furthermore, underpricing your vacation rental is a common mistake that can significantly reduce your returns. This can happen if you overlook variable costs while setting the base price for your vacation home. Therefore, it’s crucial to carefully consider all expenses to ensure you get the most out of your rental investment.
Solution: Use Dynamic Pricing and Deal Analyser Tools
A smart pricing tool is a powerful solution that finds the optimum price point at any given time based on many variables. By considering the interplay of supply and demand and analysing the historical and real-time data, dynamic pricing software provides you with recommendations tailored to your rental business.
The pricing tool involves monitoring market changes and adjusting prices accordingly. It is also customisable and allows restrictions, such as regulating the minimum rate and length of stay. Listing channels, your direct booking website, and your PMS can all be integrated with the intelligent pricing tool. As a result, the modifications you make will be quickly applied to the booking platforms, which makes pricing management even more straightforward.
Dynamic pricing tools, although smart, still need regular monitoring and customisation. Furthermore, some pricing tools lack the feature of providing a base price and require manual input. It’s also essential for hosts to analyse their property’s return potential before setting prices and providing data for pricing tools.
One of the tools that can enhance your pricing accuracy and efficiency is the property deal analyser. This tool performs precise analysis of property profit and provides data for accurate pricing decisions, reducing the risk of underpricing.
By using a dynamic pricing tool in conjunction with a property deal analyser, hosts can make more accurate and efficient pricing decisions, ultimately leading to increased profitability.
Problem 7: Dealing with Property Damage
The fact is even when you are too careful of verifying guests, and hopefully, your cleaning crew is very professional, property damage happens.
You are certainly aware of the common causes of property damage, such as windstorms, heavy rains, fire, and theft, and the huge costs they leave behind.
In addition, normal wear and tear, damaged roof, worn and clogged gutter, and water leaking are minor problems that can lead to severe property damage in a matter of time.
As a vacation rental owner and manager, you need to always keep an eye on your properties, since you understand how significant the impact of property damage is on the profitability of your business. So if you want to increase your income, you should think of ways to prevent losing it, and one of these approaches is protecting your rentals from damage.
Solution: Do Ongoing Maintenance, Secure Your Property, and Have a Property Insurance
Always remember that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. It is critical to detect the risk, prevent hazards, and minimise property damage to evade a disaster.
Here are some useful recommendations on how to decrease the risk of property damage.
Maintenance schedule: Prioritising maintenance tasks and specifying frequency plans are excellent solutions to keep your property in good condition. You can schedule weekly, monthly, and annual maintenance duties to avoid overloading and ensure nothing is overlooked.
Security and safety systems: Equip your short-term rental with high-tech home security and safety tools, such as carbon monoxide and fire alarms, water leak detectors, and outside security cameras. Doing so helps you to hamper and limit the harm as well as loss of income.
Property insurance: Last but not least, landlord insurance is a great protector for those rainy days. Despite all the efforts to maintain the property safe, sudden and out of control events can ruin your dream house in a matter of a night. As such, it is essential to have the right property insurance that covers all of the costs of repairing your damaged property.
Problem 8: Communicating with Guests
Once a guest books with you, the next thing that should be the main concern is how to turn him into a loyal guest. Making good communication is the key to earn your guests’ trust and build strong relationships.
As a vacation rental manager, you know how important and also challenging it is to handle organised communication with a single guest multiple times, including pre-booking, during the stay, and after the departure.
Your guests want to receive instant answers to any question, whether early in the morning or late at night. Being continuously available as a property manager is not giving a favour anymore; it is a must.
Solution: Answer Your Guests’ Inquiries ASAP, Know Their Matters, and Keep Them Updated
Giving 24/7 service is one of the strategies to answer guests’ questions and meet their requirements as quickly as possible. You can also provide an easy-accessible FAQ section on your booking website answering the routine questions.
Also, the more automated your business is, the easier your job is. You can set some automated greeting emails and notifications to be sent out and sit back and relax because you know everything is sent to your guest at the right time.
Get to know your guests and their preference if you want to gain their loyalty. Besides providing a spotless stay that satisfies all tastes, you can personalise your loyal guests’ trips by preparing their specific interests. In this way, you are showing them that their concern is yours, too.
Sending email newsletters and updates is a good way to stay in touch with tenants. You may update your guests on new property services and share fun details through some appealing emails. Keeping guests in the loop is the game-changer that can be achieved by implementing innovative technology and employing qualified staff.
Problem 9: Finding the Right Cleaning Service and Crew
Hiring a qualified and trusty cleaning company is one of the most common property owner’s concerns due to some reasons.
1) vacation rental properties are mainly evaluated upon their level of cleanness.
2) taking good care of cleaning tasks during the short time between turnovers is vital. So your cleaners must always be available, fast, and efficient.
3) your cleaning crews are your eyes and ears in the place to spot any repairs and report property damage and theft.
Therefore, it is quite crucial to employ a cleaning team that pays as much care as you to the property and meets your cleaning standards.
Solution: Look For a Local Professional Cleaning Service, and Prepare a Cleaning Checklist
First, it is recommended to ask your friends and family if they have any recommendations regarding trustworthy cleaning companies that they know or have worked with. Other nearby property owners are also helpful resources, referring you to the best vacation rental cleaning services in the region.
Local cleaning companies should usually be your first choice as they are near your place to handle cleaning tasks faster. For example, they can sort out last-minute bookings and sudden changes in housekeeping plans quickly. You may locate numerous companies by searching “nearby vacation rental cleaning companies” in Google Maps. However, if you are looking for the least hassle, hiring a property management company to handle the job could be the best approach.
Another issue is to find a clean-up crew that addresses all your cleaning standards thoroughly. Accordingly, small cleaning agencies are usually better choices as they are more likely to perform customised services. Moreover, finding the proper cleaning service will be easier if you prepare a cleaning checklist and see if any company can admit following your procedure.
And lastly, using a housekeeping app is an absolute wise choice that enables you to check your rentals routinely and have comprehensive control over all cleaning tasks remotely.
Problem 10: Collecting Guests Reviews
As a landowner, you have done a lot and spent your time and money reaching what property owners’ desire, which is nothing but receiving positive reviews.
From gaining a good ranking and online reputation, guests’ decent comments on your rental property significantly impact the number of bookings you receive. However, the number of guests who complete the review right away and without any follow-up is so few that you can count on your fingers.
Therefore, in spite of providing a solid and memorable stay, it might go unnoticed by not getting enough feedback. So collecting guest reviews is a pain point for every property manager.
Solution: Write Your Review Promptly and Keep Following Up with Guests
As the first step, you can leave your comment for the corresponding guest immediately after their departure to show them that writing reviews are valuable for you.
Reach guests when the memory of the trip is still fresh in their minds. So you may provide a paper note placed on the table or the sticky board in their room encouraging them to complete a review. It is also good to mention how their feedback will improve your work as well as their next experience with you.
Another way is to catch guests right away after check-out via text messages and emails. Try to make the process easy for them. You can send an email and drive your guest to complete reviews, whether within the email or direct links to the related page.
Last-word About Common Property Management Problems
The challenges that we’ve mentioned in this blog post were only some of the most common property management problems we’ve gathered from talking to people in the industry. However, if you’ve faced any other problem, just share it in the comments. They might be others who have faced the same struggles as well and may be able to share their experience with you. And if we know the answer, we’ll be more than happy to help!