We asked our friends at CoHostMarket what considerations homeowners should make when deciding on a Property Manager and whether using a Virtual Assistant was an acceptable substitute. Here’s what they said:
Read this short guide to find a Property Manager or Virtual Assistant for your Vacation Rental
Every homeowner reaches that point where they need an extra pair of hands to assist them in running their vacation rental business. Reaching that point will be different for each host. Some hosts are overwhelmed by too many listings, have no one to leave in charge when they, themselves, are on vacation and sometimes, hosts are simply tired of dealing with guests.
These are the 3 most important considerations before you hire a Property Manager or Virtual Assistant for your Short Term Rental Business.
- Virtual Assistant or Local Co-Host?
The primary reason to hire a Virtual Assistant (VA) is cost, as they are self-employed. Depending on the country they are working from, the hourly rates can begin as low as $8.
Many VA’s have experience with listings in different cities and countries. Therefore, they can recommend new ideas that are working in other locations and deliver a different approach to the marketing side of your company. This will help you correct those small mistakes on your listing that you aren’t able to see, potentially drawing more traffic to your listings and website.
On the other hand, It's difficult to hire someone who you don't know well and someone who has perhaps never been to your city. One tool that can help you during this journey is CoHostMarket. CoHostMarket will connect you with manually verified property managers in more than 190 countries. If you can be on top of your new Property Manager for the first couple of reservations, they will get to know your space and the usual problems that can occur.
Before taking additional steps towards hiring a virtual assistant, we recommend that you check off the items on the following list:
- Provide self-check-in
- Have your cleaner or a friend available for any emergencies your VA can’t handle
- Have an App on your phone for ordering any supplies or broken items your guest may need during their stay and provide this information to your VA
In contrast, a local Property Manager will provide a different type of service than a Virtual Assistant:
- They have experience hosting in your area, and therefore, if something goes wrong, they can review the damage and make a decision based on facts and established guidelines
- In the event that house rules are not followed, the local property manager can make their presence known
- Local Property Managers can provide valuable input on your listing: including restaurant recommendations, excursions and points of interest
- Property Managers work and live in the same time zone, making it easy to contact them during their working hours for anything you need from them
Do I need my Property Manager to work Fixed Hours or “On Call’’?
For hosts in need of assistance with organizing cleaning schedules, working on pricing and listings, bookkeeping, and scheduling maintenance on your properties, it is best practice to have your manager working fixed hours. It’s very important that these fixed hours are during working hours in your city, as they will need to be in constant contact with cleaners, vendors, and most importantly, you.
During these hours, they should also keep an eye on guest communications to ensure everything is running smoothly and guests are having a 5-star experience.
Property managers that work “on-call’’ will typically charge more, given the flexible hours. This flexibility can be a game-changer if you’re able to justify the expense. Being available 24/7 is something you and your guest will really appreciate when, for example, the power goes off at 10 PM or a new coffee pot needs to be delivered in the morning because yours is broken. Remember: when guests are posting their reviews, they will include how quickly you solved their problem and if it was solved at all.
You can also establish a working calendar so that your property manager works fixed hours on certain days and “on-call’’ for a couple of hours on different days. For example, if your property is mainly rented throughout the weekend, you will need your PM to work on-call during the weekend and fixed hours on Mondays when guests check out, and the cleaning and maintenance crew are doing their job.
Commission Per Reservation vs. Fixed Rate
If you have several listings and want your property manager to work on a regular schedule, we recommend paying a fixed fee. The rate of this fee can change depending on your occupancy rate. For example, if you have more than 75% of the days booked throughout one month, you will pay them X amount of money. But if you get less than 50% occupancy, you will pay X minus 20%. Many owners consider paying a flat rate regardless of occupancy, but this can result in lost income during the low season months.
Paying commission per booking gives your manager extra motivation. It will keep them aware of how they can improve your listing and guest experience, even when they are not on the clock. If you are paying a commission per reservation, we recommend having them work “on-call’’. They will have to make themselves available after the guest confirms the booking, prior to check-in, during their stay, and when they check out.
The commission-based model will work best for hosts with few listings, as they won't have a monthly cost and the Co-Host’s salary will come directly from revenue.
Set your Own Rules
There are a number of professional Co-Hosts available on the market - therefore - you have the flexibility to set your own terms. Decide how much commission you want to pay, which services you need them to provide, and what kind of availability you will need from them. These are the most important questions you will need to consider in your search for the perfect Property Manager or Virtual Assistant.
About Morgan Akchehirlian
After many years of hosting Short Term Rentals, Morgan took his vacation rental experience and combined it with his SEO expertise to create CoHostMarket - a platform that connects Homeowners with Property Managers in more than 190 countries.