Finding the right person to manage your Airbnb is just as important as finding the right property to invest in. The vacation rental property management model will determine occupancy, daily rates, recurring costs, and all other factors that affect return on investment.
In this article, we’ve put together a guide on how to find someone to manage your Airbnb for optimal results. Specifically, we will cover who can manage a short-term rental, what Airbnb managers do, and what process you should undergo for finding the best Airbnb manager for your specific needs.
Who Can Manage an Airbnb
You have a few options to choose from regarding who can manage your Airbnb property, based on your experience, availability, and preferences:
- DIY Airbnb Host: If you live in town, have some extra time, and have an interest in hospitality, you can opt for managing your short-term rental yourself. This comes with major benefits like taking personal care of your second home and not paying third-party fees. On the flip side, unless you are a real estate professional, you might find it hard to deal with legalities and guests and optimize daily rates.
- Co-Host: The Airbnb platform gives owners the option to list Co-Hosts who take care of the property and the guests. These are usually family members, friends, neighbors, or investment partners. The pros include entrusting your rental with someone you know, while the major con is that this person might not be a hospitality expert.
- Local Airbnb Manager: You can hire a small-scale, local professional or company that specializes in managing short-term rentals in the area. Small property managers bring local expertise and more personal engagement, whereas they lack access to nationwide data and corporate accountability.
- Nationwide Vacation Rental Management Company: One of the most popular options is hiring a large property management company that covers multiple markets and manages thousands of properties. Some examples include Awning, Vacasa, Casago, Air Concierge, and Rabbu. Working with them gives you access to well-established processes but deprives your property and guests from personalized care.
13 Things an Airbnb Manager Does
The responsibilities of an Airbnb manager can somewhat vary, especially between a half-service and full-service manager. Generally, half-service Airbnb property management companies focus on listing creation and optimization, distribution and marketing, guest communication and support, dynamic daily pricing, revenue management, and sometimes tax collection.
Full-service Airbnb managers provide the following services:
1. Getting and Renewing Short-Term Rental Licenses and Permits
Short-term rental laws and regulations in most US markets require Airbnb operators to get a license or a permit that usually needs to be renewed annually. The best Airbnb managers are aware of local requirements and regulations and will take care of this on behalf of the host.
2. Designing and Furnishing the Rental
Some Airbnb management companies help owners get their property guest-ready through interior design and furnishing. Furnishing a vacation rental according to the local market trends and supplying it with all most demanded amenities can help boost revenue with up to 50%.
3. Listing and Advertising the Property
While everyone can create a listing on Airbnb or Vrbo, not everyone knows how to optimize it to show on top of search results for potential guests. There’s a lot that goes into Airbnb SEO including writing a catchy description, using the right words, uploading professional photos, having a lot of positive reviews, etc. A good short-term rental property management company has a team of SEO experts and content copywriters who know how to grab the attention of interested guests.
4. Handling Airbnb Marketing
To boost results, it is not enough to list a vacation rental on a platform or two. You have to actively market it on other distribution channels, social media, email, paid ads, display ads, etc. Getting your listing in front of the eyes of as many potential guests as possible is one of the primary responsibilities of an Airbnb manager to maximize occupancy.
5. Determining Airbnb Rates
Airbnb pricing depends on seasonality, so nightly rates should be lowered during off-season, while they can be increased during peak-season. Public holidays and local events should also be taken into consideration. This is known as dynamic pricing.
The best Airbnb management companies use a mix of AI-analyzed big data and human supervision to adjust Airbnb rates day after day. This is the only way to strike the right balance between daily rates and occupancy rates.
6. Interviewing and Screening Guests
As a host, it is your right to decide whom to welcome to your vacation rental and whom not to, and this right gets transferred to your Airbnb manager once they take over. Professional property managers have access to proprietary or third-party tools to screen guests in order to decide who is safe to host and who is not. After all, you do not want to open your second home to someone who will inflict more damage than the revenue will cover or who will cause troubles with neighbors or the local authorities.
7. Communicating with and Supporting Guests
Guest communication and support are two of the most demanding tasks related to running an Airbnb business. An Airbnb manager should be able to optimize this process using a combination of automation and human intervention for speedy, yet helpful responses to guest inquiries.
8. Coordinating Check-ins and Check-outs
Whether they opt for smart locks or in-person visits, a property management company needs to take care of checking guests in and out. They need to ensure that guests have everything needed to start their stay on the right foot including smart codes or keys, property instruction manual, list of emergency contacts, etc.
9. Cleaning and Restocking
Another responsibility of the person who manages your Airbnb is to make sure that it is always clean and well-stocked before guests are due to arrive and that linen has been changed and properly washed. As a hospitality expert, the property manager should recommend what amenities and supplies you should provide to guests, but eventually it is your final decision as the Airbnb host what extras to offer to renters depending on your budget and goals.
10. Managing Reviews
Airbnb reviews by guests are important both for ranking high on vacation rental listing platforms and for convincing interested guests to choose your property over competitors. Vacation rental property management companies actively work on collecting positive reviews from guests besides writing reviews to guests, which is also an important part of the Airbnb algorithm.
You should know that most nationwide companies list properties under their brand name to benefit from their status as an Airbnb Superhost. This, however, means that owners lose the reviews their properties have gathered should they choose to cancel the services of the Airbnb manager. Awning does things differently. We list rentals under the name of the host, so you get to keep your reviews forever.
11. Managing Maintenance and Repairs
The best Airbnb managers conduct regular home inspections in order to identify any issues early on and prevent the need for major repair works down the road. While most property management companies do not have an in-house team of maintenance works, they work with vetted local professionals to maintain short-term rentals and repair them as needed. Small fixes are done independently, and major repairs are coordinated with and approved by the owner.
12. Collecting and Remitting Transient Occupancy Taxes
Many Airbnb management companies have an automated system to collect ToT and remit it to local authorities. This saves a lot of time for Airbnb hosts, especially those who are not experts on taxes.
13. Reporting Results to Owners
Most Airbnb managers provide hosts with access to an online owner portal where they can track performance, booking calendar, daily rates, occupancies, and finances in real time. Managers should be able to provide owners with detailed reporting whenever demanded.
11 Tips for Finding an Airbnb Manager
So, how do you find someone to manage your Airbnb? When looking for an individual Airbnb manager or a company, follow a step-by-step process to ensure that you find someone who will help you optimize the performance of your vacation rental and maximize your ROI.
Here is what the process should look like:
1. Set Criteria for Your Airbnb Manager
The first step in finding an ideal short-term rental property manager is setting up specific criteria. You should consider the needs of your property and your needs as the owner. Answering the following questions will help you decide on the boxes that your future Airbnb manager needs to tick:
- Is your home guest-ready? (some companies offer interior design and furnishing, while others don’t)
- How big is your house? (some managers work only with small homes or large homes)
- Do you have a lawn, a swimming pool, and/or a hot tub? (some managers do not take care of these or charge separately)
- Do you want to cater to specific types of guests: groups, corporates, traveling professionals, families, couples, etc.? (some managers specialize in providing certain experiences)
- How involved do you want to be in the management of your Airbnb rental? (this will help you decide if you need a full-service vs. half-service provider)
- Would you rather work with a small local manager or a big national company? (personal approach vs. corporate supervision)
- By how much do you expect your revenue to grow? (some managers commit to a percentage)
- How much are you willing to pay to have someone manage your Airbnb? (most Airbnb property management fees range between 20% and 45% of monthly income)
- Do you prefer an experienced manager?
- Do you prefer someone with an in-house team or someone working through vendors?
Once you answer all these questions for yourself, you’ll have a clear list of criteria to search for the best Airbnb manager for your property.
2. Ask for Referrals
One of the best ways to find someone to manage your Airbnb is to ask the local real estate investor community. Most experienced investors are always happy to help novices, and they’ll be glad to give you recommendations on the top Airbnb management companies in the area.
If you don’t know other investors, you can ask for referrals on real estate forums like the BiggerPockets Forums. You are guaranteed to have a list of recommendations including personal experiences and pros and cons for each manager.
3. Interview Candidates and/or Companies
Next, reach out to the recommended Airbnb managers or companies and try to set up phone or in-person interviews with them. If candidates are not responding or are unwilling/unable to talk to you, this is already a sign that they are too busy or simply not caring enough and will not provide good management services to your property.
During the interview, try to gauge not only the experience, knowledge, and expertise of the manager but also their personality. Since you are looking for a long-term partner to help you run and grow your vacation rental business, you want someone that you can trust and you can work with.
4. Figure Out Their Fees and Your Budget
Be very open about your budget with the candidates that you like. Ask them directly how much their charge per month and what services this fee covers. Inquire about extra fees like onboarding, design and furnishing, linen, swimming pool and hot tub management, and early-termination. Make sure that you clearly understand how much they will expect you to pay every month and what you will receive in exchange. It’s best if you get all this in writing.
5. Look at Their Communication with Guests
One of the most important aspects of managing an Airbnb property is developing the right process and owning the right skills to establish effective communication with guests before, during, and after their stay.
Ask candidates to show you copies of the messages they send to guests. Understand if the process is automated or human-led and whether communication is only reactive or also proactive. Ask about the average response time. Make sure that the property manager responds to enquiries in full and follows up efficiently.
6. Read Reviews of the Airbnb Management Services by Both Property Owners and Guests
As a next step, spend some time on the internet reading reviews of the services provided by each Airbnb manager that has made it to your short list. Consider reviews by both property owners and guests to get a comprehensive picture.
Focus on reviews on major review websites like Google Reviews, TrustPilot, BBB.org, and Sitejabber as these are independently gathered and are likely to discuss both positive and negative experiences. Meanwhile, avoid reading reviews on the company website as those are likely to be skewed and share only positive opinions.
7. Understand Their Airbnb Property Management Schedule
Before you make a final decision, ask what the onboarding process looks like based on the current status of your property and how long it will take before your listing is live.
Also, choose an Airbnb manager that is already managing a few properties in the local market (as it means they have knowledge and experience) but who is not overwhelmed with more rentals that they can adequately manage. This is important if you opt for a small company with limited resources.
Make sure that you know what the management schedule looks like: how often properties are cleaned, restocked, inspected, and maintained.
8. Dig into Their Marketing Plan
Another thing to look at when finding the best Airbnb manager for your rental is how they plan to list and market your property. Understand if they list both on their own website and major platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, etc. Check out existing listings and see if they are Airbnb SEO optimized. Also pay attention if properties are listed under the name of the Airbnb manager (owners lose reviews if they opt out) or the Airbnb host (owners keep reviews if they opt out).
Ask if the company has partnerships with major brands in the travel industry. In addition, check if they use email marketing, social media marketing, and/or paid advertising. Your Airbnb manager needs a solid digital marketing plan in order to put your property ahead of the strong competition in the vacation rental market.
9. Look at Their Properties
It’s important to check out a few rentals managed by the company with your own eyes. The saying A picture is worth a thousand words is not always true in the short-term rental industry. Too frequently listings use photos from a few years ago when the property was still new. That’s why it is better to tour a few active rentals yourself.
10. Meet the Local Team
Before signing a contract, ask to meet the local team that will be directly responsible for the management of your Airbnb property. If you go for a nationwide property management company, chances are that until this point you have been communicating with someone from the corporate office. Now it’s time to get to know the on-the-ground managers who will do all the day-to-day tasks related to your property. Make sure they are knowledgeable, enthusiastic, devoted, and pleasant to work with.
11. Review the Management Agreement
Last but not least, ask to see a copy of the Airbnb property management agreement or contract that you are expected to sign. Make sure that it includes a list of the precise services that you will receive from the company and the exact fees that you will be expected to pay them.
Review the method of booking fee collection (do they go to you or the manager) and payment to the owner (in case the Airbnb manager collects revenue).
Check if the agreement includes a clause that discusses how you can cancel the rental property management services. You want to choose an Airbnb manager who’s not implementing unethical practices (like humongous early-termination fees) to keep you on board.
Sign the contract only once you ensure that every single detail is included and you feel comfortable signing it.
Your Airbnb manager will be your partner in running and optimizing your short-term rental business. That’s why it’s important to set up exact criteria and processes for finding someone to manage your Airbnb.