How To Successfully Manage Your Holiday Let Remotely
Owning a holiday let can be very lucrative. However, managing a rental requires care and attention which can be difficult to execute, especially if you live miles away.
If you want to successfully run a holiday home you’ll have to ensure that your property is on point. By this we mean your property is spotless, all appliances are fully functioning and everything stated about the property is correct and readily available. All of which will need to be checked and cleaned before your next guests arrive.
Quite often, holiday homeowners don’t live within an easy commute to their property, which can make managing the property difficult. With that in mind, we’ve created a simple guide to managing your holiday let remotely.
The day has arrived and your guests are on their way but who will be meeting them? If you’re not in the vicinity a face to face meeting is unlikely. So, you may want to consider other options.
Before your guests arrive you should send a welcome email with all relevant details such as:
- A map and directions to the property
- Key collection details
To save time you may want to set-up an automated email with such details instead. This prevents you from constantly re-writing the same information. You can use Gmail canned responses or alternatively use rental management software that allows you to automate emails.
Meet and greet
On arrival, you could decide to have a trusted neighbour stop by, hand over the keys and do the initial meet and greet. However, this could be a big ask if you let all year round. Your neighbours could end up waiting until the early hours if your guest’s get lost or if their flight is delayed.
If an on-site representative isn’t an option for check-in then you’ll need an alternative method for handing the keys to your guests.
It’s also worth checking whether any local cafes hold keys for holiday rentals as some do. Your keys will be safe and it’s a convenient place in the area for people to locate. Keycafe is one solution, but at the moment it’s limited to London.
If someone isn’t available to meet guests in person, then the most common way of getting keys to guests is by using a combination Key Safe such as KeySafe™. They are essentially a lock box that is securely fitted to your property. All guests have to do is punch in a code or combination which opens a safe box with the keys inside.
However, there are drawbacks to some models as guests could still leave your property at risk. Guests may leave the combination key code displayed which could leave your property vulnerable to thieves as your ‘secure’ code is on full view.
Codes also have to be set manually and owners who don’t visit frequently probably won’t change it regularly, leaving them vulnerable to previous visitors returning in the hope the code hasn’t been reset since their last visit.
You will also need to check your insurance policy as to whether a key safe is acceptable. There may be specific warranties that you have to adhere to. Otherwise, your holiday home insurance could be invalidated.
Smart digital locks
Smart digital locks have become a popular choice to digitally transfer a key to your guests without any hassle. They allow you to unlock a door when it receives a wireless signal from an authorized smartphone. You are able to remotely allocate access to different smartphones for a set period of time. This way you can limit guests ability to unlock the door to the duration of their stay or allow staff into your property for however long they need access.
You will also get a notification when an authorised phone opens the door. This allows you to monitor who is in your house at all times.
The main issue with smart locks is if a guest’s phone runs out of battery. You would be able to open the door remotely, but how will they contact you? You could do it the old fashioned way with a key, but this could prove difficult if you live far away. Smart locks aren’t without their problems. A software update on one model mean’t guests and owners were unable to access their rental for several days!
Not only are smart locks quick and effective it also saves on any lost keys.
Hiding the door key
It’s not uncommon for hosts to simply hide their keys, after all, it’s an old method which works. But it’s not the most secure method.
By leaving a key under the doormat or flower pot you take the risk that anyone (even burglars) can locate the keys to your property and enter easily. It could also invalidate a theft claim.
Each option enables you to give your guests access to your property without having to physically be there. Just make sure to leave clear instructions so your guests know exactly what to do or where to go. That way you won’t be faced with any infuriated guests who are frantically trying to contact you for entry into the property.
When it comes to the day to day running of your business you might want to consider hiring a property manager who you can rely on.
Having someone there on a daily basis enables you to relax knowing everything is taken care of. A property manager will be responsible for:
- Meeting guests upon arrival
- The check-in & check-out process
- Maintenance and repairs
- Turnover and checking for damage
It’s a really easy way of monitoring your property without having to be there yourself.
Naturally, a property manager would be a costlier option compared to managing everything yourself. However, it might be a fruitful one that keeps your guests returning. If considering hiring a property manager search on LinkedIn for a professional. Ask on internet forums for recommendations and check the local press/directories who may advertise property managers.
Although a property manager is a sound idea, they aren’t always available to properties within rural areas. Luckily there are alternatives such as agencies.
Using a holiday cottage agency has many benefits, for instance:
- Hands over responsibility (reduces your time spent managing the property and bookings).
- Agencies can effectively promote the property to get bookings.
- All the bookings and customer queries are dealt with.
- All paperwork is done correctly &
- Ensuring your property meets holiday home legislation.
Although this sounds like a great deal there are some drawbacks. The entire process is in the agencies hands, which means you have little input into the renting price. Some agencies reduce the price to entice more guests.
However, more guests doesn’t necessarily mean more profit. More guests lead to higher energy costs and an increase in turnover costs. Plus in their eagerness to rent the property, they may not vet guests as thoroughly as a property owner would. Meaning there is a higher risk of damages. Damages that might not be covered by the agency.
Your revenue could also be hit by the agency fee. Agencies charge between 15 – 40% which is a huge chunk out of your profit. The final issue which may be the straw that breaks the camel’s back is…your restrictions. The agency could prohibit you from self-marketing your property and restrict when you can holiday in your own property.
Going with an agency does have its benefits. You will have access to professionals who can effectively manage your property. If considering an agency ensure that you fully vet the business. Look at reviews, grill them for all the facts and establish how you can use the property.
Here are some tips on how to choose a holiday cottage letting agent.
After each guest has stayed in your holiday home it’s imperative that you conduct a thorough clean of your property. If you don’t use a management agent then you have to ensure certain tasks are undertaken such as:
- Changing the bed linen and towels
- Emptying the fridge
- Cleaning the bathrooms
- Refilling soap dispensers
- Replacing supplies (sponges, soap, air fresheners etc.)
With that in mind, you may want to consider hiring a cleaner. Ideally, you want the same clearer(s) for each changeover rather than using an agency that uses different cleaners. What you might want to consider is the smart cleaning app: Properly which enables you to give visual instructions to your cleaner.
It allows you to show the specific rooms with photos of items or areas you want cleaning. Once completed they can be checked off. It also gives you the opportunity to monitor their progress and ensure the cleaning is to your satisfaction. Plus you could get your cleaner to report any damages. These can then be fixed and any charges can be deducted from your guest’s security deposits. You can also report if any toiletries, linen or supplies need replacing.
It’s also useful for those with properties overseas as the app comes with a translator. Not to mention the app is far more intuitive than email.
Additionally, you can also find and hire experienced cleaners using Properly! They’re called Community Service Providers and they have used Properly with other clients in your area.
To find a cleaner you may want to use a site like Molly Maid or search for local services via Google, Facebook, local directories or recommendation.
The outside of your holiday home is arguably just as important as the inside. If your exterior is untidy or overgrown your guests are going to be disappointed. Let’s not forget their eyes will first lie on the outside of your property and first impressions mean a lot.
Again you can outsource to a gardener who will come weekly or fortnightly to keep everything looking fresh. Hiring a gardener can be a fruitful option, especially as guests will be planning to enjoy relaxing outside or having a BBQ.
It could also be worthwhile installing smart irrigation systems in order to maintain the watering of your garden. Whilst this means you have an initial upfront payment it could be cost effective. The system allows you to set a timer for the watering of your garden. If your holiday home is in a hot climate your garden will need watering daily, whilst other properties may need watering every other day. An irrigation system means you don’t have to employ someone to water your plants every day. Therefore saving your cash and increase your profit margin.
Owning a holiday home does come with its drawbacks which can be quite costly. For instance, if something was to break you’ll need someone to come out and fix it. Preferably within the same day if guests are staying there or due to arrive.
Ideally, you will have a maintenance team you can rely on. Alternatively, there are various sites at your disposal to find local tradesmen. Trust A Trader enables you to book tradesmen online that can take care of just about anything. Simply type in the tradesman required and your postcode to find local services that you can outsource. The site includes full company disclosure of each trader as well as reviews from previous customers. Making it simple to get the help you need quickly.
Smart Home Monitoring
Owning a holiday home does come with costs and risks. However, they can be minimised with various smart systems and gadgets to monitor your property remotely. You may want to consider installing:
Smart Thermostat to manage and monitor your heating. This can be particularly useful when the property is unoccupied. Especially during the winter months when damp or freezing can occur. You may want to look into services such as Nest, Honeywell or Hive.
Party Squasher enables you to monitor the number of mobile devices at your property. It then alerts you if the number goes above your limit. Useful if guests are using your property for a party or large gathering without your permission – put a stop to it before they break something!
Noise Monitoring allows you to detect the level of noise guests are making whilst staying at your holiday home. The last thing you want is complaints from angry neighbours or a visit from the police due to rowdy guests.
Security cameras and smart lighting can be a deterrent to potential thieves when your holiday property is unoccupied. Along with Amazon Echo, a Nest camera was successfully used to catch home intruders. Personally, I wouldn’t install a camera if you holiday let due to privacy. Only install them if your holiday home is just used by you and your family.
As technology advances, there will be an increasing number of solutions to remotely monitor CO2, smoke, motion and floods at your home such as Fibaro.
Although these gadgets are costly to install, they will help reduce risks, improve security and reduce your costs in the long term.
Coordinating turnovers, repairs and check-in without the safety net of using an agent or being on-site can be stressful and demanding.
Your guests expect a certain level of cleanliness and quality. As a host, you have a responsibility to provide an experience that makes your guests happy. Not only does this prevent bad reviews which can be damaging to future bookings but it can also encourage them to return.
With the right attitude, technology and systems in place, you can be confident that your guests and your property are taken care of.