Worldwide: In this guest feature, the team behind intelligent guest-screening software Autohost explain how short-term rental hosts can save money by being proactive in protecting their property and the welfare of guests to ensure they achieve more bookings.
“The days of quick payouts from hastily-created Airbnb listings are long gone. With over six million listings worldwide, competition is at an all-time high. Add another heap of listings on sites such as Booking.com, Expedia and TripAdvisor, and it becomes nearly impossible to stand out.
“It takes much more than a beautiful property listing to fill your booking calendar. To maximise revenue, short-term rental operators need to stay ahead of the curve with memorable experiences and legitimate operations. Whether you manage one property or 100, you need to optimise your business for longevity by setting yourself apart—but what does this mean?
“A property manager’s long-term success is guaranteed when they do everything in their power to safeguard their operations. In other words, learn how to host responsibly.
“Operators in the short-term rental space have a duty to protect their properties, clients and community from bad reservations. Beyond the social and environmental obligations, responsible hosting is the best way to differentiate yourself from amateur listers and establish your company as legitimate and professional.”
Being proactive instead of reactive
“Misconceptions surrounding higher overhead costs hold some companies back from committing to responsible hosting. This is especially true with small-scale hosts who don’t have big budgets to play around with. In reality, being proactive instead of reactive will help you cut costs. Assuming you plan to be in the business long-term, it’s best to prepare for all circumstances. High upfront expenses will save you from even higher unplanned expenses later on.
“Property managers need to be proactive by putting in the work ahead of time to shield themselves from the unpredictable. For example, equipping every suite with a fire extinguisher is a major investment, but having one on site can prevent irreversible damage caused by a small kitchen fire. Without one, you expose your business and guests to harmful risks.
“In-suite safety features allow you to protect your properties from substantial damage and thousands of dollars in repairs. But as a professional operator, safety should be your number one priority. In the case of an emergency, make sure you are ready with an evacuation plan for guests.
“For non-emergencies like parties, you can set up noise sensors inside your suites. By monitoring volume, property managers can proactively address issues as they arise. If a reservation gets out of hand, you can quickly dispatch your security team to de-escalate the situation. Though costly to install these devices, the ability to prevent detrimental situations is invaluable.”
Invest in a screening process
“Dealing with rotten guests is a major drain on time and resources. Partiers, fraudsters and criminals, though difficult to identify, can pose serious risks to your properties, neighbours and reputation.
“Before accepting reservations, develop a process to screen every guest who enters your suite. If you manage only a few properties, take the time to have conversations with your guest to learn more about them and their plans in the city. Having a handle on who you are hosting will safeguard your operations.
“Once you start managing more than ten properties, reaching out to each guest becomes too time-consuming. That is when you need to develop a thorough and comprehensive screening process. Set expectations to ensure guests follow house rules, then confirm IDs and trip details. Before sending check-in instructions, collect security deposits and get a guarantee of good behaviour through a signed, legally-binding rental agreement. This will protect you against unnecessary costs down the line.
“The short-term rental industry is fast-paced and unfortunately, guest screening can be challenging and tedious. There are hundreds of things to consider and even the most diligent property managers can make mistakes.”
Work with building management
“A successful short-term rental company is clear in its intentions—to provide quality service, while hosting responsibly. By owning your operations, you can make allies out of your neighbours and building managers. Prove to them that you respect their property, space and quality of life. As a result, your guests will feel more comfortable and welcome during their stay.
“Don’t make your guests feel like criminals by telling them to “leave the concierge alone” or “go through the back door.” Strengthen your relationships with building management, so you don’t feel obligated to skirt around your operations. By building a rapport with the employees of the building, they’ll be more inclined to help with your guests, whether it be at check-in, checkout or anything in between.
“Responsible hosting requires property managers to operate legally and pay the necessary hospitality taxes, while abiding by building rules and policies. If you go behind management’s back, you could end up with a major fine or an eviction notice.”
Make connections, get referrals
“Doing everything in your power to safeguard your operations will set you apart from the competition. By setting high standards for responsible hosting, you’ll be respected and appreciated among your neighbours and in the community.
“As an upstanding business, you will be the go-to recommendation when someone is in the market for a short-term rental property management company. With good referrals in the sales cycle, conversion becomes that much easier.”
Autohost’s software flags high-risk guests, verifies IDs and collects security deposits, while aiming to ensure a seamless guest experience.
For more information, visit the Autohost website here.