New websites are emerging that cater to the more than 500,000 Airbnb hosts looking to improve the management of their short-term rentals. Vacation property management, which is estimated as a $69 billion dollar industry, has struggled to keep pace with the trends in the industry. Property managers once supported their high cost, often 30% of total revenue, by flouting their marketing and pricing capabilities. But sites, like Airbnb, have created one-stop shopping platforms that streamline the rental process. Filling in the gaps in service that Airbnb has not addressed, new specialized companies have emerged to help hosts with everything from key exchanges to predictive pricing.
As Airbnb matures, so do it’s hosts, many of whom have seen 100+ guests come and go. These ‘Superhosts’ are continually looking for ways to improve their guest experience, while at the same time preserving their sanity. The drudgery of making beds and responding to the same “is your place available?” email for the thousandth time can drive anyone mad. At some point, many Airbnb hosts ask themselves: “is this something I’m able to manage full-time, oversee part-time, or do I need to completely outsource?”
This decision is often about balancing your instinct for control and the desire for more freedom. Every host understands that it only takes one miserable review to sink their fledgling Airbnb enterprise. This fear often drives people to hold on to managing a place long after the excitement of hosting fellow travelers subsides. Although the majority of Airbnb hosts have never worked in hospitality, they know what good service looks like. Trusting that a third party service provider won’t drop the ball on their 5-star reputation isn’t easy.
There is no doubt that the service quality expectations of Airbnb guests are on the rise too. The days of supplying a blowup mattress and a bowl of Cheerios and calling it hospitality are long gone. Most guests are now expecting a pleasant smile to meet them at the door, impeccably clean bathrooms, pressed linens, and something fresh to nibble on in the fridge. Achieving a consistent level of service around the year can be a difficult task for even the most dedicated host.
A new type of property manager has arrived to offer Airbnb hosts a hand for a fraction of the cost. For fees ranging from 3% – 13% of total revenue (compared to 20% – 30%, for traditional property managers) hosts can select from a menu of services. By being able to pick and choose services, hosts are able to get the exact type of support they desire.
A group of smart new companies have arrived to help Airbnb hosts. From key exchange to predictive price modeling, here are some of the top dogs in the new Airbnb ecosystem:
- Guest Communications: Responding quickly to every reservation request can be a challenge. Guests often contact multiple hosts and the first to respond is most likely to get the business. Responsiveness is critical and Guesty makes sure you are quickest on the draw. For a fee of 3% of rental revenue, they will rapidly deal with all of your guest communications.
- Key Exchanges: KeyCafe converts nearby cafes into key storage locations. With a fob attached to your keys you can be notified when they have been picked up and dropped off. For only $4 a month and a $2 per pick-up fee, it’s a convenient solution for those unable to personally greet their guests. Keycafe is available in New York, Vancouver, San Francisco, and expanding quickly.
- Cleaning and Supplies: Need to get a hotel style cleaning service with new towels, fresh toiletries, and a mint for the bed? A group of companies have emerged that will service your home like a hotel. From greeting guests at arrival, providing fresh linens and towels, to re-stocking shampoo and paper towels, these companies understand the importance of providing a top-notch experience at a reasonable cost. Local providers are emerging in most major metropolitan areas. New York: Proprly, San Francisco: Pillow & Guesthop.
- Advice and Analytics: Targeted toward the DIY host, Rentingyourplace.com provides advice and insights that help hosts improve their Airbnb IQ. The site contains numerous tips on furnishing, listing, and pricing an Airbnb property. In addition to tips and best practices, Rentingyourplace.com provides competitive intelligence reports for every city in the US. The product, named AirDnA, provides analytics on pricing, occupancy rates and other data, giving hosts a competitive edge.
- Dynamic Pricing: Bringing dynamic pricing models of the big hotel chains to the little guy, Beyondpricing can automatically adjust nightly rates using their advanced algorithm. By analyzing conventions, seasonality, and availability, Beyondpricing will dynamically change prices based on the good old principles of supply and demand. Smarthost, Everbooked and Pricelabs, are others that are competing in this increasingly crowded space.
No matter how big or small the need, there are dozens of start-ups offering a helping hand in the shared economy.