Ever wonder how you can manage a vacation rental remotely? I frequently receive questions on this topic, and I want you to know it is not as hard as you think. With a bit of technological help, you can make the remote management of your VR easy! Below, I offer you five ways to remotely manage your vacation rental. After implementing these strategies, I’m able to limit my management time of day-to-day operations to as little as an hour per week.
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1) Manage Your Vacation Rental with a Booking Agency
Using an agency is not for everyone, but I recommend a front-end booking/advertising company like Evolve Vacation Rental for my one-stop shop with regards to booking, payments and calendar tracking. They provide tremendous value when it comes to advertising and booking management – the 10% service fee (plus 2.5% transaction fee) is absolutely worth it!
2) Take Advantage of a Free Shared Calendar for VR Services
Creating a shared calendar for your vacation rental does not have to be an expensive endeavor. Once you receive the (all so glorious) email that states, “Congratulations, you have a new booking!” it only takes a couple of minutes to complete the process up until the guest arrives. You can create a shared Google calendar with your service providers, like housekeeping and hot tub service, as soon as you get the booking email. You simply go in and put in a clone booking entry into the Google calendar, and your vendors are instantly notified and add it to their schedule to clean or service! Easy peasy!
3) Automate Your Vacation Rental Security
If you need to manage a vacation rental remotely, I highly recommend you utilize automated security and door locks. Once I enter my booking dates into my shared calendar, I access my digital door locks and enter my guest’s code – it takes less than minute! You can coordinate with your booking agency to share the code along with their welcome email and instructions. Once I set the code, I also set start and expiration dates and the lock does the rest! You can also use automated door locks to set permanent codes for your service providers like maintenance and housekeeping. The best part, these locks can notify you via email when someone accesses your property.
Here is the current lock system I utilize in the VR’s I manage. You need some type of a Home Automation Bridge to connect all the devices usually. Just make sure they are all running the same communication setup (e.g. Z-Wave technology). Contact me directly if you have more technical questions.
This is my personal choice for WiFi Router as well, it has very simple setup, guest WiFi ability and remote access:
4) Keep Watch with IP Cameras
You do not need a lot of security cameras, but is helpful to have cameras that monitor the exterior of the home for security. These also serve as an additional accountability layer to ensure that your service providers and management company are reporting for cleaning and services as they are supposed to. You would be surprised how often a vendor will bill you without doing the work. I was when I cross-referenced an invoice and security feed – a job I was charged for was never done! Another benefit is to check in on the property after a weather event. Check to see if the property needs a snow plow or cleaned up from a storm.
If you do choose to use security cameras on your property, make sure that your guests are aware of their presence. You could potentially give them the option to turn them off during their stay.
Here is a system I have used in the past that is reasonably priced and good quality with an app for mobile phone viewing, even in snowy areas:
–I also leverage a Nest thermostat at our cabin, which works great once you get the settings the way you want them. However, a more reasonably priced option is this one from Honeywell which I use at my permanent residence:
5) Know your neighbors
If you want to remotely manage a vacation rental, you must meet and know your neighbors. This is critical, especially if you are in a remote area like a lake or mountain house. When you acquire your property, create some type of way to interact with your neighbors immediately (dinner, drinks, bake them a cake, any social activity). If you are one of few rentals on the street, assure them that you plan on making sure the house and neighborhood are going to be treated well and you will have strict policies on excessive noise and parking.
Invite the neighbors over as you are working on setting up your new place so they can see what the inside looks like and get to know what the status quo of the property should be so they will know when something isn’t right! Be sure to trade email, phone number and even follow one another on social media. They will be your free “private security” going forward and let you know if anything looks amiss on your property. You may want to send them a small gift each year to show your gratitude for their help!
Low-Maintenance Vacation Rental Management is Possible
In the end, you want to do anything you can to make sure your guests and your home are kept safe and secure while you are not there to look after it. If you have the means from a cash flow perspective, I suggest spending the extra money for a full-service management whenever possible. They offer before and after inspections, 24-hour on call service, and more. You will sleep better at night, but full-service management generally has a higher fee at 20% of your rental income. No matter if you decide to use your own remote management efforts or a full-service option, vacation rental management that is low-maintenance is possible.
Have other great tips for managing a vacation rental remotely? Share them with me on social media or in the comments below.