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Bookings, Marketing, VA’s, and Landlords in the Short Term Rental Business Q&A

Cashflow Diary™

Release Date: 12/27/2019

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More Episodes

Robert Vocolla guest hosts the Q&A show with J today and they’re talking about some very important short term rental business questions. Find out about security processes, managing VA’s, marketing your business, getting out of problematic leases, and more.

Questions and Answers


  • A question about processes around security technology 


Rob uses a simple analog process to make sure his guests don’t run into issues with the security system in his units. He uses sticky labels on each panel that warns the guest not to tamper with it and has a basic template in Smartbnb that gets sent out that lets the guest know how to interact with the security system. This has drastically reduced the number of false alarms.


  • I’ve got three VA’s covering 18 hours a day, seven days a week and they’re great at following SOPs but not so good at doing customer service work?


Hiring is always a major challenge, if you want to find someone that can handle managerial level tasks it’s going to take a lot of searching. You may have to review, hire, and fire a number of people before you will find that gem of a person that checks off all the boxes. For this particular caller, they have multiple units in multiple cities and that’s adding to the stress of working with his team.

A good rule of thumb is to be prepared to train someone for 30 hours for every hour a task would take you to do. A quick tip for your customer service manager is to look at what time of day your business is getting the most messages because that will inform what hours you should assign your team.


  • What are the most important marketing KPIs to track?


There is a whole set of metrics around leads, around customer conversion, and average order and frequency. All of them should be measured and tracked and each one can have a compounding impact on the growth potential of your business.

Another thing to keep in mind is that a lot of your marketing on Airbnb is about working with the algorithm correctly. Make sure you have the right pictures with good descriptions because your search position in the rankings will determine your success on that platform. 

Tools like Smartbnb are crucial to understanding the most important metrics in your business. The only way to have metrics to look at and measure is to gather data.


  • What is the difference between Basic and Pro in Lodgify and Smartbnb?


The biggest difference between the two is one uses and API to communicate with other apps and the other uses the older iCal method. Since the caller is using Smartbnb, they should just stick with basic because they already have a built in sync feature that makes Pro unnecessary.


  • What are you guys doing to get more bookings from booking.com?


Getting guests on booking.com is similar to the other channels even if it feels like it’s more work. One of the secrets is to have every single field filled out for your listing and setting your prices correctly with Lodgify. Keep in mind that guests from booking.com may be more seasonal as well.

Mirror the same types of policies on booking.com that you have on other channels to keep everything consistently.


  • How do you guys do your messaging for booking.com?


No one is currently satisfied with the messaging situation of booking.com. It’s a very manual process but J is actively looking to create a better system. 


  • A question about a six month reservation opportunity


The caller feels like the guest may be trying to pull something over on him. Since that’s the case the question is around the tactical implementation of the reservation. The caller needs to be able to collect in cash and upfront 60 days worth of reservation while also implementing a 30 minimum notification in anything changes. 

Give the guests multiple plans and ways to pay. Under no circumstances should the caller accept less than their target profit numbers for that unit.


  • Are there any resources I can use to explain the short term rental business to financial institutions?


The risk of real estate and the risk of hospitality are different but all the literature and strategies that J uses are meant for landlords, not financial institutions. The majority of lending institutions are still putting together the underwriting model for the short term rental business and they’re not quite ready yet.

You can find some resources that will help you tell the story of your business to prospective partners within the Mastermind product. 


  • I have a potential situation where I may have to get out of a lease. How do I get out?


If you want to get out of your lease, and keep in mind this is not legal advice, you need to be able to document the incidents that come up. One of the promises that the landlord makes with you is called Quiet Enjoyment of the unit, and if they are failing to follow up on that promise you may have something to work with. 

Talk to a landlord attorney to learn what you need to prove that the landlord has broken the contract that will let you out of the lease.

In this case, the landlord has a problem and it shouldn’t be the caller’s problem. Whichever path the caller takes, he needs to document everything.


  • How much do we pay for a manager? What basic rules does a manager follow? What calendar platforms does Lodgify sync with?


Check out module 4 and 5 of the Mastermind product. 


  • What would be the best way to approach an owner about Airbnb?


Rule #1 to keep in mind is that this is not an Airbnb business, this is a short term rental hospitality business. Airbnb is just one channel where you get your customers. If you use the terminology “Airbnb business” you won’t even get your foot in the door with most landlords. Go to cashflowdiary.com/star to learn how to present the business to property owners and to get a deeper understanding of the methodology of the business.

Setting up the business the right way at the front end is what will allow you to scale.


  • Hawaii is a 30 day market and I’ve got a 25 day vacancy in between reservations. What can I do about it?


What can you sell either the previous guest or future guest to cover the revenue you would need for that vacancy period? Being creative is what is going to bridge that gap and once you create these offers you can use them for any number of guests in the future as well.