Managing Airbnbs is one of the most flexible business models. There's no office space, no nine-to-five. Instead, Airbnb business owners find themselves in the enviable position of dictating when and where they work. Customer queries, booking calendars, and managing cleaning staff can be as easily completed in your local coffee shop as sitting at home.
That raises a popular question: Can you run an Airbnb remotely?
No attending the site. No face-to-face communication. Just you and an internet connection. So, is it possible? Could you travel the world while managing Airbnb remotely?
Yes! It's not easy; in fact, it's quite a challenge sometimes. But it is 100% possible – many hosts are doing just that.
If you've ever dreamed of being a digital nomad, or you've spotted an Airbnb opportunity half a continent away, we're exploring how to host Airbnb remotely below.
What are the advantages of running an Airbnb remotely?
Running an Airbnb remotely doesn't quite mean complete freedom. You've still got the stress of actually managing the property. However, it does have some substantial upsides:
1. Hands-off approach. By relying on vendors and automated systems, you reduce the hassle of managing an Airbnb rental. While you'll still need to take final responsibility, much of the day-to-day work is handled by your staff. That's especially true if you decide to hire a co-host or property manager.
2. Travel the world. With no reason to stay in one location, you can travel the world while still earning money. Known as a “digital nomad,” it's a lifestyle people can only dream of. You'll need to ensure you've always got an internet connection, but there's no better opportunity to travel while you work.
3. Choose the most lucrative destinations. If your local area isn't a hotspot for Airbnb, you can purchase a property in a more sought-after location. Nor do all your properties need to be in the same city – you can purchase them across the country or even abroad. Simply block off some time in one of your properties to ensure it's available when you want to visit.
Nothing is perfect. You should also expect a few downsides from this novel approach to property management, including:
1. Less reactive. If something goes wrong in your process, you won't be there to fix it. Be it a burst pipe or a cleaning issue; you can't rely on being there to rectify the problem – you're wholly reliant on 3rd parties. Some people work with property managers or vendors they trust 100%; others prefer to handle issues themselves.
2. Reliant on others. Managing an Airbnb from afar means trusting your vendors to do as promised. If a room is unclean, you won't be there to spot it before a guest arrives. If everything runs smoothly, it's a dream; if not, you have to fix the problem without seeing it yourself.
How to manage an Airbnb remotely
Running an Airbnb remotely means being organized – really organized! You'll need to double-check everything and develop a systematic pattern of managing the property. Thankfully, with the advent of automated Airbnb software, smart thermostats, smart locks, smart security cameras, and more, operating an Airbnb remotely has never been easier.
That's not to say it's simple, however.
Follow these tips to help manage an Airbnb remotely:
– Use automated Airbnb software
– Hire a professional cleaning service
– Pick a self-check-in solution
– Set up a recurring supplies order
– Contact a reliable handyman
– Select vendors, you can trust
– Consider hiring a property manager
– Add a guestbook and welcome table
Use automated Airbnb software
Managing an Airbnb without routinely speaking face-to-face with vendors and guests means staying super organized. That's where an automated Airbnb management system comes in.
Sometimes known as property management platforms (PMP), they're designed to take the headache out of running your vacation rental business. Whether you solely advertise on Airbnb or you use other vendors, your PMP will consolidate all your messages, bookings, and tasks into a single location.
Here are some of the tasks they can automate:
Answering customer inquiries
Organizing your calendar
Dynamic price optimization
Create invoices and receive payments
Send guests automated messages throughout the booking process
Manage your reservations
Dynamic pricing, in particular, ensures you optimize your price relative to the local market. Rather than selecting a price based on your observations, your PMP harnesses local data, using complex algorithms to establish pricing strategies that maximize your revenue.
Top examples of PMPs include Hostaway, Smoobu, Guesty, Beds24, and more.
Perhaps the greatest benefit of these platforms is keeping all your management issues in a single location. With no ability to go and sort out problems in person, PMPs create structure and routine when running an Airbnb remotely.
Hire a professional cleaning service
Cleaning is by far the biggest (and most routine) in-person job you'll need to manage remotely. There's an obvious solution: hire a cleaner! One of the most important issues for guests is the cleanliness of the accommodation. In fact, cleaners can make or break your business.
You want someone who's always ready to clear up the property ready for the next guests, who has impeccable standards, and who you can trust to manage the property in your absence. It's a big task!
There are two primary options:
1. Hire a local cleaner. Going with an individual cleaner may be suitable if you've only got one or two properties in the city. Through your automated management system, they can receive automatic messages and reminders when a guest checks out, and they can send you an update once the cleaning is completed.
2. Hire a professional cleaning company. For multiple properties or the highest quality services, choosing a professional cleaning company guarantees your Airbnb is thoroughly cleaned between guests. While cleaning companies are typically more expensive than a subcontractor, they also deliver the highest standards. It can be worth it to obtain a 5-star for cleanliness. Even better, because cleaning companies employ multiple staff, you'll always have a cleaner available – unlike subcontractors, who can be ill or unavailable.
As more and more people manage their properties remotely, several bespoke Airbnb cleaning services have arisen. Some PMPs have options for searching for local cleaners – and you'll be able to automate the process, with messages being sent after a booking and as a reminder nearer the time.
Pick a self-check-in solution
You've got to be there in person for check-in, right? Well, actually, no. There are tons of different options available. All guests need is a way to access the key.
-Lockbox. Lockboxes use a code to lock a key inside the box. Before your guest arrives, send them the code via email or text at a specific time (e.g., 24hrs before arrival), and they can let themselves into the property.
– Keypads. Keypads function the same as a lockbox; only the code gives access to the property itself. The downside of this approach is that anyone can enter the property if they get the PIN code. For best practices, change the code between guests.
– Smart locks. This solution allows guests to access the property using their smartphones. Through your PMP, you can integrate your smart locks, generating a PIN code valid for your guest's stay. The obvious downside is that your guest needs a smartphone and sufficient charge – otherwise, they're locked out. Examples of smart locks include Everydoor.io and Keycafe.
There's also a check-out to consider. Self-check-out could involve sending a guest an automated reminder, including the details of what they need to do. In the case of a lockbox, guests can place the key back and shut the lock. You'll also want them to send you a message (e.g., email, SMS, or Airbnb message), so you can inform the cleaner to get started – this could all be automated.
Set up a recurring supplies order
Supplies are essential for all types of Airbnb properties, from palatial mansions to studio apartments. Ensuring your cleaners (or property managers) have enough supplies means setting up a recurring order. Doing so is also likely to save you money, as you can order the supplies in bulk – either from the supplier, Amazon, or another vendor.
Here are some of the key items you'll need to order:
– Toilet paper
– Toiletries, e.g., shower gel, soap, shampoo, conditioner, toothpaste
– Hand sanitizer
– Dishwashing liquid
– Tea and coffee
– Salt, pepper, sugar, and other spices
– Garbage bags
– Cleaning products, e.g., bleach, detergent, cleaning sponges
– Welcome gifts, e.g., chocolates, wine, cookies
Some of these items can be ordered on a recurring basis; others, the on-site staff will need to inform you about. For example, if there are breakages, you'll need to order replacements. In addition, schedule the deliveries for when the cleaners are at the property.
Amazon is a popular online store for Airbnb property supplies. However, you should also check out online stores, like aBundle and Freshbnb, that cater to Airbnb hosts specifically. These suppliers can offer free shipping and significant discounts when you buy in bulk.
Other potential supplies include tissues, cooking oil, sweetener, paper towels, disposable razors, a sewing kit, a notepad and pen, and books and magazines.
Contact a reliable handyman
Finding a reliable handyman will solve most major disasters befalling your property. Burst pipes, leaks, clogged toilets, damaged HVAC systems, and more can all cause significant issues with your Airbnb. Whether you need a trustworthy electrician, plumber, HVAC repairman, or another manual service, it's better to look for long-term connections.
It can be worth paying for routine inspections if you've got some money to spare. Checking the electrics, plumbing, and other systems ensures everything is in working order. It'll reduce the risk of major breakage when a guest is staying – and keeps your business running smoothly.
Ultimately, your Airbnb is still a real estate asset. In the long run, you'll want to keep the property in top condition, so you can sell up if you so choose.
Select trustworthy vendors
Electricians, plumbers, HVAC repair, and handymen aren't the only vendors you'll need for your property. Like for these manual services, forming long-term business connections with dependable local vendors is your best option.
You'll want all these vendors ready on speed dial:
– Backup cleaning
– Landscaping services
– Pool cleaning service
– Pest control
Some of the services may not be relevant to your property. However, others, like pest control, are essential. Considering maintenance issues have a habit of occurring at the worst possible moment, you want someone you can trust to resolve the issue efficiently and effectively.
After all, while most guests will forgive some minor inconvenience, an ongoing urgent situation will likely result in a bad review.
Search for trusted companies and stellar reviews when searching for the right vendor. You need 24/7 service from a company that knows what they're doing. If in doubt, speak to other Airbnb hosts in the area.
Consider hiring a property manager
Learning how to host Airbnb remotely may seem more hassle than it's worth. If that's the case, before dismissing the idea completely, consider hiring a property manager. A property manager will take over the responsibility for the daily running of your properties. Ideally, these properties should all be located in the same city.
Property managers can handle the following tasks:
– Answering guest messages
– Coordinating check-ins and check-outs
– Contacting the cleaning service
– Handling routine maintenance
– Speaking to guests about any problems
Property managers are even available through Airbnb – see their local partner scheme. As Airbnb explains:
“Local partners, who are amongst the top-rated Hosts on Airbnb, are ready to jump in at any step of the hosting process with which you need help. You can now share your space and get extra income effortlessly.”
Speak to your local property managers to see what they can offer your business. The more services you hire, the more it costs – but it also reduces your workload. If you're truly asking yourself, “can you run an Airbnb remotely?” the answer is likely to be yes (but with the help of a co-host).
You don't need to battle alone. If you need help, ask!
Add a guestbook and welcome table
Without face-to-face interactions, it's essential not to forget about adding a personal touch. Guests shouldn't feel completely marooned in your property. That's where a guestbook and welcome table can help.
On your welcome table, you can provide a gift, like chocolates or cookies, an overview of the property (e.g., working the shower, managing the heating, and other essential information), Wi-Fi information, recommendations for local restaurants and attractions, public transport schedules, local restaurant menus, and any other information you think is important.
You can include all this information in a guestbook.
If you don't have a welcome table, put the guestbook in another highly visible location – think kitchen countertop or coffee table. Remember to let your guests know about the guestbook.
No office time. No being tied to one spot. Complete freedom most of the time. It sounds like a dream to some, but it's a real possibility. It's not all plain sailing, though. You'll need to implement a fool-proof system for managing guests, from check-in to completed cleaning. And you'll need a reliable, trustworthy cadre of vendors and maintenance people to ensure no emergency derails a guest's stay.
Consider hiring a property manager (or co-host) for complete peace of mind. They'll take full responsibility for managing the property in your stead. Alongside automated Airbnb platforms, it should substantially reduce the time you spend managing the business.