Should You Manage Your Own Vacation Rental? Pros & Cons

The vacation rental train is going full speed ahead and there’s lots of people jumping on.  It can be a lucrative business and a great way to have other people pay your mortgage.  But when it comes to vacation rental management, it can also be a lot of work.  Many people brush that aspect of the business off, electing to use vacation rental management companies to handle the day to day.  Today, we’re going to look at the pros and cons of whether you should use a vacation rental management company to manage your vacation rental.  BONUS – A new hybrid approach with a local co-manager.  More on that below.

Pros to Using A Vacation Rental Management Company

Vacation rental management companies are growing in popularity.  That may be because they’re getting better at mass management or it may be because of the sheer number of vacation rentals somewhat caused by extremely low interest rates of the last few years.  There are a lot of pros to using a vacation rental management company including:

  • Handing off communication – Day to day communication with your vacation rental hosts can be extremely time consuming.  Pre-booking questions as well as questions during the trip.  Being able to pass this task on to a management company frees up your time.
  • Handling maintenance – There’s two kinds of maintenance to most vacation rentals: 1. Typical maintenance that can be done without extreme rush. 2. Maintenance calls in the middle of a stay that must be dealt with instantly.  These may include an A/C breaking or keyless entry lock batteries running out.
  • Helping With Taxes & Local Ordinances – It can be confusing between federal, state and local taxes and ordinances.  Having a local company that knows the codes can help setting up your vacation rental easier.
  • Their reputation/reviews on AirBNB, VRBO, etc.. – When you use a vacation rental management company, you instantly inherit their profile on popular sites.  This can be helpful in establishing your listing but as we’ll learn below, can also be a big con.


Cons to Using A Vacation Rental Management Company

Now let’s look a the cons to using a vacation rental company:

  • Nobody Will Care More Than You – First and foremost, it’s important to mention that nobody is going to care for your property more than you will.  While there are great vacation rental management companies out there, they still will likely never give you or your home as much attention as you desire.
  • Management Companies are often not SuperHosts/Premier Hosts – Surprising as it may seem, large vacation rental management companies typically don’t have the SuperHost/Premier Profile certifications that are popular with individual hosts on AirBNB and VRBO.  Reason being is you must maintain a certain star rating across all your listings to get these accolades which these companies struggle to obtain.  The lack of this accolade limits your view in search results.
  • You Don’t Own Your Reviews – When a vacation rental management company runs your listing, the reviews they received are THEIRS.. Meaning, if at some point you decide you wish to take over your vacation rental, the reviews are erased and you start fresh with zero.  This is because vacation rental websites believe you are reviewing the host, not the property.
  • You lose what AirBNB & VRBO was created for – This may be a personal feeling but dating back to the foundation of these platforms, they were designed for individuals to rent out their unused homes, or portions of homes, to guests.  That’s what the experience was supposed to be all about.  Since it started to be big business for vacation rental management, we’ve lost that personal touch.  I believe that many guests want to rent from hosts that manage their own property as they know they will get a more personalized experience.


Hybrid Vacation Rental Management

Is there a third option?  A hybrid approach has been popping up lately where you see property owners wanting to remotely manage the online side of the business while having a ‘boots on the ground’ co-host managing maintenance, repairs and general in-person checks on the house.  This can be a great set up if you’re able to find somebody you trust that is local to the area with handman skills to complete minor fixes that often come up.  These small tasks often are expensive and difficult to schedule with full contractors since they must be completed between checkout/checkin guests.


Which Should You Choose?

You’ll need to weigh the pros and cons and make a decision for yourself.  There are some ways you can help automate some items on the ‘pros’ list to make self-management easier.  One would include setting up a digital guide for your vacation rental to help reduce guest questions and improve their experience.  Another would be utilizing a vacation rental friendly cleaning company that could automatically access your bookings and schedule cleanings for you.  The good thing is a decision one way or the other doesn’t have to be permanent.  You can switch between self-management and property management fairly easily.  The one big downside, as mentioned above, is you will lose reviews generated by the property management company when you switch.