One of the major pains for short-let landlords (a.k.a Airbnb hosts) is servicing the revolving door of constant incoming and outgoing guests! The turnaround is snappy and it can be exasperating!
So what’s the solution to this dilemma? Income “Airbnb & Guest Management Services (operating in London & other major UK cities)”!
In this blog post I cover what an Airbnb management service is, including how they can make your life hell of a lot easier, and a list of the best of ’em…
During one month a host can potentially go through several different guests of all shapes and sizes, which is particularly common during peak season in popular touristic destinations and metropolitan business hubs, like sunny London.
So what does that mean for the host?
- Each time a guest vacates, the property needs to be turned-around (i.e. thoroughly cleaned and reorganised) in preparation for the next arrivals.
- If the short-let is for an entire property, the host (or someone working on behalf of the host) is expected to meet, greet and check each guest into the property. ZzzzzzZzz!
- With so many guests walking in and out through the doors, maintenance is typically in greater demand compared to regular long-term lets. Guess who has to deal with that? Yup, you got it!
What is an Airbnb (short-let) management service?
An Airbnb management service is provided by companies that takeover the entire management of Airbnb/short-let rental properties on behalf of the owner/landlord, from finding guests to checkout and professional cleaning services.
Despite the service being called “Airbnb management”, it’s more accurate to call them a “short-let management service”, because for all intents and purposes, these companies manage any type of short-stay let. But due to the success and popularity of Airbnb’s platform, and the fact that their brand is so strong that it’s become a popular synonym for “short-let rentals”, management companies have taken advantage and marketed their management services around Airbnb.
Long story short, Airbnb Management Services aren’t owned by Airbnb or directly related to Airbnb. These management companies will simply market your short-let property on Airbnb to find guests, along with several other popular short-let/holiday platforms, like booking.com, Tripadviser, Expedia etc.
So why have they become so incredibly popular? Once the whole short-term lettings/Airbnb craze kicked off and became the coolest trend since chewing bubble-gum, there was a noticeable pile-up of dishevelled landlords that needed rescuing from all the laborious hard-work that comes with being a successful short-let host and making a shit-ton of money.
Fortunately, a bunch of humanitarians recognised the crisis our most privileged in society were facing; they pin-pointed the gaping hole in the market for a much-needed Airbnb/Short-let management services, which provides a complete takeover solution. These services typically include:
- Marketing and guest acquisition i.e. management of all advertising on holiday and short let marketplaces like Airbnb.com and Booking.com to fulfil guest bookings;
- Management of reservations, check-ins, check-outs, and everything in between 24/7, all year round;
- Professional cleaning services, some similar to “hotel” experiences e.g. thorough cleaning between stays, folded toilet paper on rolls, nice smelling aromas, fresh towels & sheets, and fully stocked soaps, shampoos and conditioners etc.
- Repairs & maintenance management;
- Buying and repairing broken items;
- Regular pricing review to maximise returns;
- Optional cost-effective in-house interior design makeovers, which drags properties to their full glory so they can achieve maximise returns.
The Airbnb management companies basically handle everything… in return for a fee, of course, but the profits generated from the average Airbnb / short-let typically cover the fees and still beats the ass off of traditional long-term tenancy returns.
Wait! Before you get too excited…
There are currently some major restrictions with using Airbnb Management Services, which may render this a non-starter for you. Yup, what I’m telling you is that your excitement may have been in complete vain.
The most popular and reputable management companies only facilitate major UK cities (e.g. London, Manchester, Edinburgh etc), and they only manage entire properties (i.e. they won’t work with live-in landlords looking to host spare rooms).
While I understand why that’s the case, it ultimately makes short-let management services suitable for only a puny portion of landlords with prime real estate in the UK’s [most expensive] cities! So if you’re a landlord with a studio apartment in the middle of Fanny Barks (in Durham), you’ll almost definitely be out of luck. Where? Exactly. And yes, “Fanny Barks” is a real place. Go ahead, laugh.
However, they are expanding into more and more cities as they grow in popularity, so keep your eyes peeled!
Compare the best UK Airbnb & Guest Management Services in London (and other major UK cities)
Below is a list of the best and most popular short-let / Airbnb management companies that service London, and a few other major UK cities.
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Pass the Keys||
Please note, I try my best to keep the information of each service up-to-date, but you should read the T&C’s from the service providers’ website for the most up-to-date information.
Yup, I know, I know, there’s a lot to take in, so before you drop 12% of your rental income on a Airbnb management service, you’ll most likely have a few pertinent questions swooshing around in that cranium of yours!
One disclaimer I do want to launch down your gullet before I start working through the FAQs is that I’m going to answer each question on a general basis. The answers I provide will apply to the services most Airbnb management companies at this current time, but not to all, and things may change, so it’s up to you to do your own due diligence!
1) Which is the best Airbnb management company?
Well, shiiiit. Straight for the jugular, huh? I knew you’d ask.
Honestly, I don’t know. The one’s I’ve listed above, in my opinion, are the most popular and reputable UK management companies, and their TrustPilot scores seem to verify that. So in theory, just go with the one that makes most sense, which could entail a process of elimination:
- If price is your biggest concern you can immediately eliminate the most expensive options.
- The location of your property may be the deciding factor. For example, Pass the Keys is the only management company that services York, so that may limit your options straight off the bat.
- Cityrelay offer a monthly fixed rate package, which may suit you better than paying a 12% commission of the rental income.
- From what I’ve seen, they all mostly offer the same level of service, but there are slight differences between them. So look through the offerings because maybe a ‘slight difference’ is all it takes to win over your confused little melon!
2) How much do Airbnb management companies charge?
The starting price for a Airbnb management service is around the 12%-15% of your rental income, but some charge up to 20% for more premium services. For example, Smarthost’s premium package includes “personal welcome for each guest”, but that will set you back 15% compared to their 12% standard package.
As mentioned, Cityrelay is somewhat unique, because they also offer a fixed monthly rate payment option. They don’t specify how much that is on their website, but I’m guessing it varies depending on the property.
They say it’s the package that provides “ultimate peace of mind with a standard set rate each month” But bear in mind you’re hedging your bets with a fixed rate package, because you have to pay every month even if your property is vacant. Of course, you could be quids in if you have a high occupancy rate.
3) Do I need an Airbnb management service?
No, of course not. Just like regular BTL landlords don’t need a letting agent for fully managed letting services.
However, they are a super convenient solution for landlords that don’t want to deal with any of the headaches that notoriously come with managing rentals, especially if:
- You have no or little time to spend on the business
- You live faraway from the property
Funny thing is, I normally tell regular long-let landlords not to bother with management services (because it’s usually a massive waste of money), but I have a completely different opinion when it comes to landlords that short-let, because they, by definition, have a much higher tenant-turnover, which means there’s a lot more work involved e.g. servicing, cleaning etc. So it generally makes much more sense for Airbnb landlords to use management services. Ya’ dig?
4) Will Airbnb management companies earn me more money/rent?
Potentially, yes. In fact, most likely they will, and for a couple of reasons:
- They work with you to agree a minimum price per night and then adjust that figure in line with demand to maximise monthly occupancy rates.
- It’s in their best interest to achieve the highest rent possible and minimise void periods, because that ultimately means they will earn more commission from you. They are constantly monitoring the market rates to ensure maximum returns.
- They specialise in making compelling adverts to maximise enquiries i.e. they will use professional photos, optimise descriptions etc.
- As mentioned, some of the management companies offer guaranteed monthly revenue regardless of void periods.
- One of my friend’s used a ‘interior design’ service by one of the management companies; he paid approx £6,000 to have his entire apartment furnished and styled. Here’s a peak of the end result:
Not too shabby, right?
While the initial outlay for the fabulous makeover may seem gut-wrenching, it was actually an effortless and cost-effective way of transforming his property into a much more appealing proposition (so my friend tells me!). The makeover resulted in a massive boost in interest and consequently a boost in his rental income to match, so the ROI was positive.
- They will syndicate your property advert across several marketplaces like Airbnb and manage all the listings and enquiries. Most people just use Airbnb, but there are several other alternatives to Airbnb which can massively enhance bookings and rates.
5) Will an Airbnb management company achieve a better occupancy rate than me?
Probably. Mostly for the same reasons I mentioned for why they’re likely to make you more cheese!
6) What happens if your guests cause damage?
Ahh, that dreaded fear!
Airbnb management companies should check the property before and after each guest, so they will notify you if there any damages. They also have their own maintenance team that can quickly resolve issues if needed.
Are you still thirsty for knowledge? Do have anymore questions about Short-let/Airbnb management services? Pick up the mic via the comment box and I’ll see what I can do…
The following tips are based on feedback I have received from other landlords that either currently or previously used a short-let/Airbnb management company…
- Carefully review your online statements – make sure all costs are properly itemised and charged for correctly (e.g. fees associated with repairs and maintenance).
- Minimum rates per night – ensure you are comfortable with the rates they set! For example, they may maximise opportunity by letting the nightly rate fall lower than you would like, so you should use your own intuition as a landlord on whether you want to “risk” setting a higher minimum.
- Maintenance & repairs – don’t blindly agree to any maintenance work fulfilled by their team without getting a full assessment of the problem, and an estimate of how much it will cost.
Disclaimer: I'm just a landlord blogger; I'm 100% not qualified to give legal or financial advice. I'm a doofus. Any information I share is my unqualified opinion, and should never be construed as professional legal or financial advice. You should definitely get advice from a qualified professional for any legal or financial matters. For more information, please read my full disclaimer.