How to Manage a Short-term Rental (Without Losing Your Mind)

Caption: Running a short-term rental can be stressful without proper processes in place

Credit: Yan Krukov / Pexels

Running a short-term rental can be awesome. But sometimes the stress and logistics can make you feel like you’re totally losing your mind.

Yes, you get to offer guests a great stay, and make good money—but you also have to keep on top of constant guest inquiries, figure out the logistics of letting people in and out, keep the property well-maintained, safe, and secure, cleaned between rentals, figure out taxes…not to mention keeping your guests happy!

Luckily with a bit of effort, and the power of dedicated tools, you can make sure the pros outweigh the cons. With some digital wizardry and choice automation, you can run your short-term rental (or expand to more units) efficiently and easily, maximizing your profit without it taking over your whole life.

How? Keep reading. In this piece, we’ll cover:

  • The honest pros and cons of running a vacation rental so you can decide what’s right for you
  • Our recommended 7 steps to highly efficient short-term property management, including how to save hours of time and stress with features like:
    • a digital welcome guidebook
    • streamlined guest messaging
    • self-check-in and check-out
    • and outsourced cleaning services.

Let’s do this.

Save time, reduce repetitive guest questions and outsource the most complicated and stressful parts of running a short term rental with RueBaRue. Book a free 30-minute demo .

Short Term Rental Management: The honest pros and cons

You’re probably here because you’re either considering starting your own short-term rental business, considering whether you have time to expand, or trying to make your business as efficient as possible.

Make no mistake: running an STR is a commitment, so it makes sense to get a clear picture before jumping in. Here are some major pros and cons to consider.

Pro: Higher income

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Caption: Running short-term rentals can bring in more income than long-term rent

Credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

A major pro of running a short-term rental, as opposed to putting your investment property on the long-term real estate market, is the extra income you can make. Property owners can charge much more per night on the short-term rental market than for long-term tenants.

Of course, some cities have extra rules for short-term rentals (such as London, which has a 90-day limit) but as long as you work with these guidelines, a vacation rental property management agreement could make as much as double or triple compared to a long-term agreement.

Con: Lower occupancy rates

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Caption: Short-term rentals can make it more of a struggle to fill your calendar consistently

Credit: Windows / Unsplash

In contrast, long-term rentals typically offer much more security and stability than STR operations. While the income is less overall, there are fewer tenants and turnarounds to manage, fewer security risks or cleaning coordination needed, and your income is likely to be more stable and consistent.

In contrast, with short-term rentals there is always a risk that your occupancy may fluctuate, and your property may remain empty during low-season periods (although pricing your units properly can also mitigate these effects.

Pro: Can use it as your own vacation home

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Caption: One of the great things about renting out your space short-term is that you can use it yourself if you like

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

If you are considering renting out a second property as a short-term rental, you can use it for your own vacation home when it’s not booked.

This can be an attractive option in comparison to a long-term rental, where you are very unlikely to be able to access the property for your own use (as your tenant will likely be using the property as their full-time home).

This makes an STR ideal for making money when you’re not using it, while still ensuring you don’t miss out on the advantages of owning extra property when you need it.

Con: You have to keep it up to guests’ standards

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Caption: Renting out your place means you have to keep it well-maintained

Credit: Pixabay / Pexels

The property may be yours, but running it as a short-term rental means keeping it up to guests’ standards, especially if you want to offer them a great stay and exceed their expectations (for good reviews, consistent bookings, and strong revenue).

That means furnishing and decorating it attractively and adding features and amenities that you might not otherwise bother with if it were just for your own use.

For example, this might include using more neutral colors and decor than your usual taste, adding a coffee machine even though you only drink tea, adding more luxurious towels than you would usually, or installing a sofa bed for maximum capacity even if you personally would never use it.

Pro: Sharing your home with like-minded travelers

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Caption: Operating an STR can open your space to people from all over the world

Credit: Porapak Apichodilok / Pexels

While running a rental is ultimately a business operation that needs to make money, many homeowners take on the challenge because they like the idea of sharing their property with travelers. Many have a great property that would otherwise remain empty, which they know could be of real use to visitors.

Operating an STR can open your space to people from all over the world, and there can be real satisfaction in welcoming a wide variety of adventurous guests (especially if they share their locations and experiences in their messages with you or their reviews of your place).

This is especially true if your guests are discovering your beloved city for the first time, or if you personally have benefitted from the hospitality of excellent STRs while traveling and love the idea of offering a similar service to others.

Con: The logistics and stress of managing a property and the public

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Caption: Some guests may cause trouble and extra stress

Credit: Alex Green / Pexels

The vast majority of your guests will be friendly, polite, trustworthy, and considerate. However, as with any type of service open to the public, there is always a risk that you will have less-than-pleasant experiences with some guests or situations.

This might mean anything from rude or demanding messages, guests who cancel at the last minute, damage your property, expect you to wait on them hand and foot, disturb the neighbors, who find faults where there are none—or, worst case scenario, operate an illegal business from your rental.

Operating a rental means being prepared. This means making sure you have adequate insurance, have some kind of screening in place for guests, have consistent policies in place in case a guest breaks the house rules, and have contingency plans in case a guest gets locked out or worse.

There’s also the stress of coordinating cleaning and turnarounds, especially in the case of last-minute bookings or unexpected cancellations. All this is normal for a rental, but it’s important to be aware before going all in (and investigate tools that can help make everything a whole lot easier).

Pro: Tax benefits

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Caption: You can offset certain expenses when it comes to doing your taxes for your rental

Credit: Nataliya Vaitkevich / Pexels

Running a short-term rental can offer some advantageous tax benefits, and with the right set-up you can significantly reduce taxes on your STR income (or eliminate them altogether). In the US, you can avoid all taxes if you rent your space out for fewer than 14 days, and use the vacation home for 14 days during the year (or at least 10% of the time you rent it out to others).

You can also offset expenses that are considered “ordinary and necessary” to run your rental, like new linens for guests or a welcome box of chocolates. Keep clear records to prove your expenses when you come to report your income to the IRS. You can also deduct any OTA fees.

This should not be taken as legal, financial, or tax advice, and it’s important to make sure you are certain of the rules in your country or state to be certain of the tax laws wherever you (or your property) are located.

Con: Various expenses

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Caption: Running an STR incurs a certain number of unavoidable expenses

Credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Operating a short-term rental will necessarily incur more expenses than if you just lived in the property yourself, or rented it out long-term to a single tenant.

These include the cost of installing and maintaining the property, furnishings, and amenities; the price of monthly subscriptions (for smart lock systems, for example) short-term rental marketing strategies such as Airbnb, Vrbo, or Homeaway fees, and property management services such as professional cleaning or maintenance staff, or hiring assistants to welcome guests.

Running up too many expenses can make your business less profitable and less worth your while.

But, with the right type of STR management solution, you can cut back on these costs as much as possible, while still offering guests a great time, and running your units entirely remotely (meaning more profit, but less hassle for you!).

Save time, reduce repetitive guest questions and outsource the most complicated and stressful parts of running a short term rental with RueBaRue. Book a free 30-minute demo .

7 steps to efficient STR property management

Considered all the pros and cons and still convinced that STR property management is right for you? Excellent! Running a profitable business is within your reach (without sacrificing your sanity!)..

And the best part is that using a vacation rental automation tool such as RueBaRue can help you streamline the entire process, with happy guests and five-star reviews—but minimal stress or workload for you.

Powerful tools include:

Comprehensive digital guidebooks

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Caption: Digital guidebooks offer useful information and save you time on guest questions


Answering your guests’ questions before they ask them is one of the best ways to cut back on property management time, saving you hours compared to answering the same questions over and over. Digital guidebooks help you offer a great service consistently, without any extra work.

They can include everything from house rules to check-out policies, and details such as how to operate the hot tub or coffee machine. Offering guidebooks digitally also makes them accessible and portable, and you can even send them ahead of time to help guests plan and get excited about their trip, without requiring you to spend any extra time manually writing messages each time.

Seamless guest communication systems

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Caption: Using tools like RueBaRue can make guest communication friendly and fast

Credit: Monstera / Pexels

When you do have to communicate with guests, it should be as quick and easy as possible. Minimizing the time that you have to manually type messages, automating fast communication such as guest SMS messaging, and pre-written email templates all help to shave hours off the amount of time you need to spend attached to your phone or laptop to send welcome messages, important details, or thank you notes.

Tools like RueBaRue, which unify your inbox, also help corral all messages into a single place, so you can share communication among various members of your team, to save you even more time.

Self check-in and check-out

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Caption: Enabling self-check-in via smartphones or keypads makes arrival and departure much easier

Credit: Sebastian Scholz (Nuki) / Unsplash

This is key to not getting bogged down in short-term rental property management. Coordinating arrivals and departures can be one of the most frustrating parts of running a rental, especially if you’re still relying on physical keys (running the risk of lost, stolen, misplaced, or locked-in keys).

In contrast, using a short-term property management system that automates details such as contactless check-in using keypad codes for smart locks and lockboxes can enable guests to check in and out, and housekeeping staff to enter and leave, without requiring anyone to spend time meeting them or waiting around in the event of travel delays.

Sending codes and access details via automated messaging also saves time while ensuring guests have the details exactly when they need them. It also ensures security, without any extra time or stress for you.

Local area guides

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Caption: Local area guides can help guests feel at home and reduce repetitive questions


Similar to a guidebook but with extra recommendations and details on the local area, including insider tips on the best restaurants, attractions, and helpful services.

Again, this cuts down on your need to manually send the same messages over and over, and digitizing it means you can keep it updated easily (rather than having to manually edit, print out, and recreate a new area guide each time something changes), saving even more time.

This enables you to build authority and trust with the guest, and give them a more memorable stay as soon as they arrive, without you having to make the same recommendations over and over, or spend any time showing them around personally with each new guest.

Automated upsells

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Caption: Automating upsells such as extended stays can fill awkward gaps in your calendar


Automated upsells enable you to make more money on your bookings without having to do any extra work. This can include discounts on local attractions or an agreement with a local restaurant in which you receive a cut for each guest you send their way. However, the most lucrative form of upsell is when guests extend their stays.

Tools such as RueBaRue enable you to give guests early check-in or late check-out at a discount on the normal nightly rate—if your calendar allows—giving them a great deal and enabling you to fill nights that would otherwise sit empty.

Awkward gaps in your calendar, which would be unlikely to get booked by new guests, can then boost revenue and occupancy and give guests a longer, more satisfying stay—without you having to check in any new renters or work hard to attract more bookings.

Automated guest reviews and surveys

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Caption: Automating requests for reviews and feedback can pay off

Credit: Andrea Piacquadio / Pexels

Great guest reviews are gold for short-term rental hosts, as they help sell your property to new guests convincingly, without you having to do anything more to convince them.

But if you don’t ask, you don’t get. The key to getting guest reviews is sending requests for them at exactly the right time (such as the day of check-out), and remembering to mention great features of your rentals that guests might want to write about in their reviews.

Rather than sitting by your phone waiting for guests to check out, automated messages can be set up to send on schedule, increasing the chance of a good review. With RueBaRue, you can also automate guest surveys, giving guests the chance to offer constructive feedback. This offers guests a welcome chance for them to have their say and enables you to continually improve your service.

Cleaning & maintenance outsourcing

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Caption: Outsourcing cleaning services and cleaner coordination can seriously ease stress

Credit: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

One of the most complicated parts of running a rental can be the coordination of cleaning and ensuring that your property is ready for new guests. A last-minute booking can be particularly stressful.

Many hosts try to save money by doing it themselves, but this can be extremely time-consuming and represent a false economy, especially if you’re not living in or next door to the property. Instead, outsourcing cleaning and maintenance, even to a few trusted assistants who are on hand, can save you a whole load of time and stress.

What’s more, using a tool like RueBaRue lets you give cleaners or maintenance staff access to your unified guest messaging inbox and calendar, so they can see when maintenance requests (such as a blown light bulb or request for extra clean) come through, and are also notified when a new booking comes in so they can prep the unit ahead of time.

Digitizing and centralizing the system means you don’t have to do everything yourself, and can outsource and delegate repetitive, time-consuming tasks to ease the strain.

A graphic showing 7 steps to efficient STR property management including 7 steps with icons summarizing the steps above

Managing a short-term rental the stress-free way

Running a short-term vacation rental can be a fantastic way to make money from your property, while sharing it with like-minded people and maintaining a modicum of flexibility when you need it.

However, operating a successful business in the rental industry necessarily requires a certain number of unavoidable tasks and responsibilities—such as furnishing, maintenance, cleaning, guest communication, and logistics—that can quickly pile up and become overwhelming.

That’s why harnessing the power of a digital tool like RueBaRue is such a game-changer.

Automating and outsourcing major tasks—from guest check-in and check-out to access, guest messaging and guidebook recommendations to cleaning and review requests—takes the time-consuming and stressful parts of running a vacation rental out of the equation, leaving you free to run your rentals seamlessly, offering guests great experiences and racking up five-star reviews.

Forget losing your mind—with a tool like RueBaRue your vacation rental will be a real winner.

Save time, reduce repetitive guest questions and outsource the most complicated and stressful parts of running a short term rental with RueBaRue. Book a free 30-minute demo .

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I manage a short term rental from afar?

Managing a short-term rental from afar is possible when you use digital tools to help outsource and automate tasks that you would otherwise do in person. This can include using guest messaging tools to send guests the information they need to check in automatically; using smart locks or keypads for digital check-in and access; and coordinating turnarounds, cleaning, and maintenance staff via digital messages and shared calendars.

Is owning a short term rental worth it?

Owning a short term rental can absolutely be worth it, if you’re able to reduce the amount of manual, stressful, and time-consuming elements (such as guest communication, maintenance, and cleaning) using digital, automated tools. This takes care of the mundane, stressful side of short term rental ownership and management, and leaves you free to collect higher profits and reap tax benefits.

Is it easy to rent a property short term?

Renting a property short term requires a certain number of tasks, such as furnishing, maintenance, cleaning, guest communication, and the logistics of access and security. These can quickly become overwhelming unless you outsource and automate them using a digital tool, which can help take the repetitive, stressful tasks off your hands, and make managing a short term rental much easier.

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