When running a business, automation and delegation can make your life easier and amplify your success. This is even truer for the real estate industry. If you’re in the short-term rental (STR) business, you might have realized by now that STRs are one of the most management-intensive real estate classes.
This, of course, is because of the high volume of people coming in and out of your property. But even though STRs require more time and resources to manage, that doesn’t mean you or even someone else needs to be completing those tasks.
As my business grew, I wanted to see which pieces I could start delegating to other people as most other entrepreneurs would do.
But, instead of finding the right people for tasks, what if I could find the software or tools that can take over these time-consuming jobs without hiring people?
After all, I wanted to delegate three things:
- Guest Services
All of these can be covered by automated software. In this article, we’ll discuss those applications.
When it comes to any online travel agency (OTA) like Airbnb or VRBO, at the end of the day, they are a search engine, and outside of keywords, their algorithm rewards specific behaviors.
One of those behaviors is how quickly you respond to your guests. The quicker you respond to a guest, the higher your account is placed in the search results.
So, the first thing I wanted to do was automate the messaging for my business.
Before automating, I would manually send booking confirmations, check-in instructions, a check-up message once the guest checks in, a pre-check-out message, and a review request message. That’s a lot for one property, let alone managing others.
To make my life easier, the first tool I found was Hospitable. For a starting price of $25 per month for up to two properties, this tool allows you to integrate with Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com, and it can handle all of your messages automatically for you. They also provide excellent messaging templates, so you don’t have to worry about the specifics of your writing.
The automated messages through Hospitable auto-fill the guest’s name, date of check-in, and date of check-out. When you are away from work, you can set up an automated message saying you’re not available, which comes in handy at night when you are sleeping.
Another exciting tool they provide is automated reviews. This allows you to automate all of the review requests to guests. Then, the software will read through the reviews and determine which ones should display first on your listings, which can become very time-consuming after you start managing more properties.
After messaging, the next step is to automate the pricing.
When I first started listing properties on Airbnb, I would sit down once every week, pull up my calendar, and assess the pricing of each listing. I would slash prices for dates that had not been booked and increase prices for weekends that I thought would do better. There was a lot of guesswork, and it simply wasn’t scalable.
Cut to today, and I firmly believe that your property is at a disadvantage if you are not using a dynamic pricing tool for your STR. Automated pricing apps will track the local market’s rental demand and adjust prices based on it, making your listing much more competitive. Another great benefit of automated pricing is that it helps your properties rank better on the OTA search results.
The dynamic pricing tool I currently use is PriceLabs.
My wife and I recently took a trip to Tulum Beach, Mexico. When we checked into the resort, the front desk agent sent us a link to 4 days worth of activities. We absolutely loved this, and I wanted to see how I could apply that to the STR business. I asked myself, “How can I become my guest’s travel agent without spending too much money, and can I automate the whole process?”
That’s where a digital guidebook came in.
A digital guidebook is a link you can send your guest that provides information and a short itinerary of things to do in your market. I suggest finding 3-4 attractions and making a daily schedule around them. When your guest checks in, you can have this sent automatically.
For instance, Asheville, North Carolina, is known for breweries, hiking trails, and restaurants. I have three separate days that are planned around those things.
The digital guidebook I use is Hostfully, but there are a ton of other platforms you can use. I recommend having a digital book compared to a printed one you leave at the property for many reasons, including easier access for a guest, ease of updating, and the ability to keep it all automated.
These are the three tools I’ve implemented over the last two years to completely automate the vast majority of my business. Even better, applying all three of these tools to your rental will only cost you an extra $60 or so per month, more or less depending on the number of properties you hold. Regardless, the costs are a drop in the bucket to how much money and time these tools will give you back!
Find long-term wealth with short-term rentals
From analyzing potential properties to effectively managing your listings, this book is your one-stop resource for making a profit with short-term rentals! Whether you’re new to real estate investing or you want to add a new strategy to your growing portfolio, vacation rentals can be an extremely lucrative way to add an extra income stream—but only if you acquire and manage your properties correctly.