How To Manage Your Airbnb Property Remotely The Right Way

How To Manage Your Airbnb Property Remotely (Overseas)

First and foremost, let me just throw it out there: personally, I think the best way to manage an Airbnb rental property from afar (in terms of ease and efficiency) is by using an actual short-let Airbnb management company. They’ll pretty much take over the reigns and make your life a breeze (at least, they’re meant to), from marketing to checking guests in and out. They’ll even take care of all the house-keeping duties.

However, that’s not a solution available to everyone, because Airbnb management services are currently only available to properties in high-yielding metropolitan cities, like London & Manchester. So it’s a non-starter for most mere mortal landlords.

So that means there’s a buttload of long-distant landlords that have to manage their own Airbnbs, often from the other side of the world. Yes, it can be challenging, but it can also be extremely do’able, and more importantly, thoroughly profitable if done right. Moreover, once a reliable and proven system is in place, it really can be a great business.

So yes, here’s a couple of useful tips that will help you manage your Airbnb/short-let business remotely, whether you’re already in the game, or looking to get started…

1) Self-check-in / Key management

Obviously the ideal scenario is to have someone reliable and trustworthy to meet your guests at the property and check them in (a ‘check-in helper’, if you will), preferably a friend or family member. However, this is tall ask of anyone that isn’t on the payroll, because the very nature of Airbnb often includes a rotating door of incoming and outgoing guests, and that entails a lot of work to manage. But if you’re fortunate enough to have someone suitable and willing, amazing. If not, the go-to solution for most Airbnb landlords is to use ‘smart locks’, so guests can access the property without someone having to meet them at the property. There are two types of ‘smart’ solutions commonly used:

  • Smart Door Lock – this is a pin pad lock, which can be attached to the front-door to replace regular locks. It’s accessible by an app, so landlords can create a new pin code for each guest. Here’s a popular smart door lock by Yale on Amazon.
  • Smart Key Safe – similarly to a smart door lock, it functions by a pin pad, and is controlled by an app. It’s not a lock itself, it’s a safe that contains the keys to a traditional lock on the front door, and it’s screwed to an outside wall. Here’s a popular smart key safe on Amazon.

2) Airbnb/Short-let management software

This is a must for anyone that wants to remain organised (and sane) while managing Airbnb rentals, whether you’re local or remote self-managing host.

A good Airbnb/Short-let management software will include the following:

  • Desktop & mobile app support
  • Guest communication
  • Availability calendar
  • Reservation & Property Management
  • Online payments and financial records
  • Centralised listing management (i.e. so you can easily sync, export and manage your listings to multiple advertising platforms like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia etc and manage them from one place)
  • Dynamic Pricing

There are a bunch to choose from, but here are my favs (and generally the most popular among hosts):

  • Lodgify – this is the only UK based provider I know of. If that’s important to you, you need look no further. Prices start from 11€ per month, and they’re currently running a promo through August 2020: 40% off on their yearly or bi-yearly subscription plans using the coupon code: summer2020
  • Tokeet – Prices start from $9.99 per month.
  • Your Porter – Prices start from $5 per month.
  • Hosty app – Basic version is free to use.

3) Professional Airbnb/Short-let Cleaning Service

Providing professionally cleaned accommodation is essential for maximising the success of your Airbnb. Negative reviews for uncleanliness have sunk many Airbnb ships, because they have a genuine impact on bookings.

A professional landlord cleaning service can handle routine tasks after a guest leaves, such as disinfecting, cleaning and refilling dispensers.

It’s also important to use a cleaning service that specialises in Airbnb/Short-let rentals, because they know exactly how to prepare a house for new guests.

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4) 24/7 Repairs & Maintenance providers

It’s inevitable that any property that is used and lived in will eventually require some level of maintenance, it could be as simple as a leaking tap or a matter more concerning like a broken boiler.

Whatever the problem, it’s your responsibility as a landlord to ensure matters are resolved efficiently and in ample time, and your guests will expect nothing less. Similarly with the issue of cleanliness, matters of disrepair which aren’t handle efficiently will almost certainly result in negative reviews and impact future bookings.

You should have a list of trustworthy maintenance professionals that are able to respond to any issue that may occur in your property, at any day or time of the week. Your list should include:

  • Electrician
  • Gas man/Plumber
  • Handyman
  • Cleaning Service
  • Pest control service

Needless to say, it’s worth having backups for each service provider!

Another option is to get landlord maintenance & emergency insurance cover, which includes a 24/7 call out service, and typically includes most (not all) of the coverage you will need:

  • Boiler Breakdown
  • Nationwide Coverage
  • Central Heating System
  • Parts & Labour
  • Annual Boiler Service
  • Electrical Emergency
  • Home Security
  • 24 Hour Call Outs
  • 24 Hour UK Helpline
  • Unlimited Call Outs
  • Unlimited Claims

As an example, a company called 24/7 Home Rescue provide all the above for £32.99 per month.

5) CCTV

Just to clarify, Airbnb’s rules about security cameras are quite clear.

If you’re a host and you have any type of security camera or other recording device in or around a listing, even if it’s not turned on or hooked up, we require that you indicate its presence in your House Rules. We also require you to disclose if an active recording is taking place. If a host discloses the device after booking, Airbnb will allow the guest to cancel the reservation and receive a refund. Host cancellation penalties may apply.

That said, hooking up CCTV in order to monitor incoming and outgoing guests can be useful for remote landlords. CCTV have improved leaps and bounds over recent years – they’re dirt cheap, easy to setup and many of them are accessible from a mobile app. Here’s one for a mere £49.99 on Amazon, as an example.

6) Provide a ‘Guest Welcome Pack’

Actually, providing your guests with a welcome pack should be standard in every Airbnb/Short-let property regardless of whether you’re a local or remote landlord, but I ‘pose it is more important for the latter.

The welcome pack should provide your guests with essential and important information, and it should be as comprehensive as possible, so they have very little reason to contact you with any questions.

  • The house rules
  • Rubbish removal instructions
  • Your welcome pack should contain information about local places to visit, public transportation, local amenities etc.
  • Make it easy to read and easily digestible, broken down into suitable categories.
  • Present your welcome pack neatly and laminate necessary pages so they’re well protected.
  • Keep plenty of spare copies of your welcome pack.
  • Place it in a highly visible place, where your guests are most likely to see it, like on the kitchen table.
  • Include any necessary details about the property, such as how the boiler/hot water operates, WiFi passwords and troubleshooting tips etc.
  • Cover your check-in and check-out procedures (which should also be in your Airbnb listing).
  • Emergency contact numbers
  • Learn from your experiences and continually improve your guestbook!

7) Always be available

Airbnb hosts should be available around the clock for their guests – or at least, an appointed contact – so there’s always someone available if any issues arise.

If you’re the key contact, be prepared to take calls in the middle of the night, respond to emails after-hours, and have your phone with you at all times.

During the times you won’t be available for an extended period of time, it’s important to make provisional plans for someone else will be available in your place.

Conclusion

I feel I need to circle back to my opening sentiment, which is that using an Airbnb management company (if available to you) will probably always be the easiest solution, unless you know someone reliable and trustworthy that is prepared to take on the challenge.

If neither of those options are available to you (for whatever reason), it’s critical to create a complete system to manage your Airbnb remotely. Yup, it can be a pain in the ass, and you’ll probably experience many teething problems at first, but once you’ve refined the process through experience, there’s no reason why you can’t be running a well-oiled and profitable machine from the other side of the world.

By running a smooth and organised ship, you will gain positive reviews and in turn attract more lovely bookings.

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