How to Manage a Vacation Rental Remotely: The 2021 Guide

Remote work and telecommuting have been around for decades but it wasn’t until the COVID-19 outbreak that this practice became normalized in the vacation rental industry. Just a few years ago, the idea of a fully contactless check-in for vacation rentals would have been inconceivable.

While the pandemic may have prompted the sudden shift to remote work, many homeowners and property managers now find themselves wanting to permanently manage vacation rentals remotely for a number of reasons. These include the appeal of a location-independent lifestyle and being able to invest in properties around the country.

In this article, we’ll go over the pros and cons of managing a property remotely, how to decide between doing it yourself or hiring an external company, and six essential tips for getting the job done flawlessly.

RueBaRue is a guest communication and digital guidebook tool that makes it easy to manage your rentals remotely. Book a demo to see the platform in action.

What are the challenges of managing a vacation rental property remotely?

The difficulties you encounter during remote management depend on a variety of factors like the number of properties you’re overseeing, where they’re located, and your overall budget.

The most common hurdles you may experience are:

  1. Emergencies, if you don’t have a team of trustworthy contractors or cleaners on hand
  2. Poor communication, if you haven’t invested in the right guest communication tools
  3. Home security issues, if you’re lacking smart home technology

The best way to avoid these challenges is to prepare extensively, which is exactly what this article will help you do. The more detail you go into, the less room there will be for mistakes and catastrophes down the line.

Should I self-manage or hire a property management company?

There are two main routes that you can take for remote management: doing it yourself or hiring a property management company. Both options have their advantages and disadvantages—what works for you essentially comes down to how much time you have available.

The pros of remotely managing your own properties include:

Vacation rentals can be a full-time job so the main disadvantage that self-managing hosts face is an abundance of work and responsibility. However, there’s a variety of home automation systems available that can help minimize repetitive tasks significantly.

On the other hand, a vacation rental management company will free up your time but you’ll have to pay a substantial amount for the services that you’re receiving.

With this in mind, if you’re running just a handful of properties and have time to spare, opting for self-management is perfectly doable, as long as you have the right vacation rental tools and processes set up.

Image of man working from home

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Benefits of managing a vacation rental property remotely

Remote property management comes with countless benefits but a few of the most important ones are:

1. A flexible lifestyle

Once you’ve set up all of the processes that are needed to faultlessly manage your vacation rental from a distance, you’ll find yourself enjoying the increased flexibility and extra hours that were once used for manual tasks or lost in transit.

Working remotely means that you have the opportunity to travel and experience life in an unrestricted manner. Check off milestones that you’ve always wanted to achieve, visit countries on your bucket list, and spend time in vacation rentals that inspire you.

Not only can you use this flexibility and time for yourself on a personal level, but you can also dedicate it to improving and growing your business.

2. Minimizing the spread of COVID-19

Until more of the population is vaccinated, keeping physical interactions to a minimum is recommended.

Social distancing helps prevent the virus from spreading but also comforts travelers that are coming out of month-long lockdowns and isolation.

Image of tourists wearing masks

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3. More investment opportunities

Up until now, you may have lost vacation rental investment opportunities simply because the properties were located in another state.

Remote management opens countless doors for expanding your portfolio and broadening your general knowledge of the industry.

4. Reducing your energy consumption and carbon footprint

If you’re heading to a property to check in your guests, chances are you’re getting there by car.

Transitioning to a fully remote rental management reduces the number of trips to and from your properties and therefore minimizes CO2 emissions and air pollution.

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How to manage a vacation rental remotely: 6 steps to success

Now that we’ve covered all the bases, let’s get into the six steps required to successfully manage a vacation rental remotely.

Get a powerful guest communication tool

The vacation rental industry has always been driven by genuine exchanges between property owners and guests. Even if these exchanges are no longer in person, they still hold first place when it comes to managing properties remotely.

A powerful guest communication tool like RueBaRue is what will set you apart from competitors and incentivize five-star vacation rental reviews. Its features include:

Aside from saving time and effort, apps like RueBaRue can help you master remote property management and improve your guest experience.

Preview of RueBaRue’s Scheduler

Create a digital welcome book

Although we’ve already mentioned it in the previous point, a digital vacation rental welcome book is so valuable that it deserves a section of its own.

A welcome book, also known as a guidebook, is a resource that provides guests with essential information regarding the property they are renting so that they don’t have to call or message hosts with endless questions.

Digital guidebooks typically include:

  1. Arrival and departure information
  2. An “About our home” section with instructions on how to use appliances
  3. A list of vacation rental house rules
  4. Safety information
  5. Re-booking options

With RueBaRue, there’s no need to start from scratch. Instead, you can customize a Master Guide template with all of the above-mentioned categories and import details from popular vacation rental software.

Preview of RueBaRue’s Master Property Guide

Automate your check-in process

The check-in experience is one that heavily determines whether guests will start their trip in a good mood or not.

With an automated check-in/check-out process, travelers don’t need to put in any additional effort to start their holiday and hosts can feel confident knowing that their property is safe. All that’s needed is a smart lock or lockbox that guests can open using their mobile phones.

Automation doesn’t end there. You can install a variety of smart home systems that allow you to control settings within the property no matter where you are. Some of the most popular ones include:

Find a reliable cleaner

When managing properties remotely, it’s crucial to set up strict sanitation measures with a professional cleaning service or individual that you trust.

In their 2021 Trend Report , AirDNA anticipated that high occupancy rates would continue to correlate with high cleanliness rates. The report adds that property managers and hosts should “expect hotel-like cleaning standards to be the future norm of successful vacation rentals.”

Building a relationship with your vacation rental cleaner is extremely important as they’ll most likely be the only in-person staff at the property. You might need to rely on them for tasks such as opening the door for maintenance workers when something needs to be fixed or receiving deliveries for new supplies and amenities.

As much of your success will depend on your cleaner, take your time doing research and ask fellow vacation rental hosts for recommendations. You can also find reliable cleaners through platforms likeProperly, MaidThis, and Facebook groups.

Plan ahead

The same goes for handymen and contractors. Things break and sometimes it’s completely out of our control.

To avoid phone calls from irritated renters because the fridge stopped working or there was a leak in the bathroom, create a list of professionals that you can turn to for emergency maintenance and repairs. We recommend looking through vacation rental Facebook groups, asking friends and acquaintances for referrals, and trying out platforms like Mendbnb.

image of a repairman fixing a window

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Establish a marketing strategy

While listing your properties on accommodation platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo may be enough in normal circumstances, a vacation rental website adds a lot of additional value when managing a property remotely.

Having your own website gives you full control over your business and the data that you receive from guests. You can increase direct bookings by uploading content that will help potential clients envision what their holiday will be like and link to social media accounts to boost your reputation.

Although the transition may seem intimidating at first, once you’ve implemented all of these steps into your vacation rental business, you’ll soon learn that managing properties remotely is a lot easier than it seems.

Frequently asked questions on how to manage a vacation rental remotely

How do I manage a vacation rental property from afar?

There are several things you can do to manage a vacation rental property from afar such as automating your check-in process, creating a digital guidebook, using guest communication apps, finding reliable cleaners, and enhancing your marketing strategy.

Do I need to hire a property manager?

Not necessarily. If you’re managing just a few properties, you can invest in guest communication tools and home automation devices to stay on top of things. However, if you’re juggling more than 10 vacation rentals, you may want to look into hiring a property manager in order to provide the best service to your guests.

Don’t vacation rental guests want to meet the host?

Not always! Since the start of the pandemic, there has been more demand for contactless check-ins. Although the main reason is to minimize the spread of COVID-19, travelers have actually started to prefer no-contact vacations simply because they’re more convenient and comfortable.

What happens if there is an emergency in the vacation rental?

This is where extensive preparation comes into play. Before managing your vacation rental remotely, make sure that you have a reliable list of contractors and professionals that you can turn to in the case of an emergency.

RueBaRue is a guest communication and digital guidebook tool that makes it easy to manage your rentals remotely. Book a demo to see the platform in action.

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