I did not decide actively and say „I want to start a Short Term Rental Business“ when I started to rent out a room in year 2015 and then later my whole apartment on AirBnB. It somehow happened that I started this side gig and it was quite a journey to get my AirBnB automated.
2015 I was mainly working on my bootstrapped startup TaskTillDone. My Co-founder Michael and I were working from my apartment. TaskTillDone is a platform that makes working together remotely easier. We also implemented the whole project with having our team spread around the world, means that we did not need a big office space in Vienna. Having my lovely daughter Julia just every second week with me, made me decide to rent out her room when she was staying with her mother.
The goals were clear:
- Reduce the fix costs
- Making my apartment a bit more lively
- Having nice company in the apartment
- Make this new experience
I have to admit I love to explore, try things and make new experiences. T his was definitely something I wanted to try. I started with one room, but soon noticed that renting the whole apartment is more interesting for my “potential” guests. Shortly after starting with this new income source, “of course” I rented another small flat, that was our TaskTillDone HQ from now on. The new „Office“ had also a bedroom, so that I could sleep there every second week. My friends were more on the sceptic side that I let „strangers“ live in my private space and that I am ready to hustle like this, but I did not care or better I just loved my new side hustle.
Five years later this side gig developed more in the direction of a serious business. We have more than one apartment Maja, Maja we still love it. Maja (my girlfriend) and I will definitely expand our AirBnB Short Term Rental Business 2020 and make a “Lifestyle Business” out of it. It is the perfect combination of creating another source of “semi passive” income, our passion for travelling and working from other places around the globe.
I hope this background story did not bore you too much. Now let’s jump to the really valuable stuff on AirBnB automation. I am not only an exploring entrepreneur I also like to automate and optimize whatever possible. In this kind of business lies definitely a huge potential in many areas to automate and outsource almost the whole business and even manage your properties even fully remote.
If I refer to AirBnB here most of the time I am talking about Short Term Rental (STR) in general. Most of the tricks and tactics also work for other platforms like Booking.com, Homeaway, etc.
I will explain how to do it, what to consider and give some AirBnB Host Tips as well.
AirBnB automated: Self Check in
The check in procedure is maybe the most time-consuming task if done manually. As most of the new hosts, I started with handing over the keys personally, not only because I did not have an idea how to do it another way but to meet my guests personally. This can get annoying because of the waiting time, especially if this is not your main focus, and you have stuff to do.
There are many reasons why guests are arriving late. Some of them are:
- Flight delays
- Traffic Jam
- Connection from Bus Station or Airport takes longer than expected
You name it. It’s also not fun for the guests being stressed because of somebody is waiting for them.
But luckily, you are not alone in this, there are solutions to solve this pain. The following AirBnB host tips will help to bring you closer to a fully automated AirBnB Business 2020.
AirBnB automated: Smart Lock
A smart lock is an electromechanical lock which can lock and unlock your door. The advantage is that you do not need a physical key to open the door, depending on the solution you can use a mobile application, a code, fingerprint (not so interesting short term rental) to open the door.
There are many solutions out there to tackle this problem, all of them have advantages and disadvantages. After a longer research, we decided for the Smart Lock solution from Nuki. Nuki’s (new key) is an Austrian Startup and was named Noki in the beginning. To avoid trademark battles with Nokia they changed their name.
Airbnb automated: Smart Lock NUKI
This is just an example setup, of course automations are possible with other smart locks, which we will also test in the future.
Nuki has different components, we are using the NUKI SMART LOCK 2.0, NUKI BRIDGE, the NUKI KEYPAD and the NUKI OPENER.
The main element is the NUKI smart lock, which is super easy to install and can be basically attached to any already installed door lock. The lock can be still opened with a key, via mobile application, keypad or blue tooth fob.
The NUKI BRIDGE connects your smart lock with the Internet which makes it possible to manage and control it with the Nuki App anytime and from anywhere.
Another add-on to your Smart Lock is the NUKI Keypad, which gives you access with a six-digit access code. The really cool thing with the NUKI access control is that you can open the door remotely or give your AirBnB guests a temporary, personalized code that is only valid for the duration of their stay. Furthermore, for your AirBnB cleaning team, you can restrict access, e.g. from 11am to 3 pm for on days when a CHECKOUT happens. Besides that you as well have a full Access Log to see who is entering your property.
The last and one of the most stunning gadgets from NUKI for me is the NUKI Opener. The Nuki Opener turns your existing intercom into a smart door opener. It is not as easy to install as the lock, but is also designed for DIY installation and comes with a great manual. A little rewiring of your intercom is needed, but this is not a big thing.
Installing smart locks is definitely a great investment to bring your AirBnB automation to the next level. This gadget will save you a lot of time, increases the security and safety through access control in minute detail.
There are different ways how you can outsource or automate the handover of the key.
Key lock box
The option of placing a key trezor or lock box next to your apartment is a nice way to make your check-in’s smoother if you do not want to invest in a smart lock yet. Even if you have a smart lock it can be good idea to place a key lock box as a backup near the flat to be able to access the it in case of emergency or if the technology is not working. Nuki is very stable we never needed this, but better safer than sorry.
Nearby café or shop
There are already services available for finding cafés or local shops nearby where you can place your key. If the guest wants to check in, he just has to go there a pick up the key. Voilà. Just take care the opening hours of the shops are long enough if you offer late check-in. You can also make your own agreement with your local shop, if it makes sense or the services are not available at your place.
AirBnB automated: Self Check in Guides
AirBnB Self Checkin Guides are maybe also one of the most important things to help the guest to check in smoothly and have a nice stay. There is an initial effort to create this kind of guides, some tweaking is needed over time as well, but it is totally worth it. Over short time, you will notice that there is way fewer problems during the check-in process and also fewer questions during the stay. This can reduce the communication effort and the occurrence of potential fuck-ups a lot.
A good self-check-in guide should be delivered on time and also contain pictures and maybe video for easier orientation. If you have guests from around the world, think about translation into different languages. There are many outsourcing platforms out there that can help with the translation task for a good price.
AirBnB automated guest messages
There are a couple of messages that can be prepared and automated in the booking process.
Automated Airbnb Messages could include:
- Booking Inquiry
- Booking confirmation
- Checkin instructions
- Checkup Messages (e.g First morning)
- Checkout instruction
- Review Request
- Replys to Reviews
This can save a lot of time, level up your business and give the guest a more personal feeling.
AirBnB Automated: Smart Pricing
Your pricing strategy obviously has a great impact on the financial success for your AirBnB business and should consider many different factors.
Some of them are
- Your location
- other local data like events in your area
- occupancy and the prices of your competitors
- temporary events & public holidays
- day of the week
- time left to book
- and many more
All those variables can have an influence on your price.
Services like Pricelabs, Beyondprincing, Wheelhouse, Tokeet Pricing claim that they choose and update the best price for you daily. Depending on your property location it makes sense to consider one of those solutions to get the most out of your Airbnb properties. This can save you a lot of time and boost your revenue.
AirBnB Property Management
When you start you to rent out one or more rooms or apartments you can easily take care of managing the properties yourself (if you want to and have the time). Most people will change bulbs, fix minor issues or even clean the flats themselves.
After growing your business or even add remote location you need help and people who take care of this for you. Here a few AirBnB Host Tips and Insights.
AirBnB automated: Cleaning
It is not easy to find a cleaning company that is offering or can do Airbnb property cleaning. Most cleaning companies are specialized to clean office space which is a different thing. Of course, there are different ways to find a company or somebody who can help you with the cleaning of your Airbnb properties.
AirBnB Management Service Companies (not only for cleaning)
Over the last years, many companies are offering to take care of your apartment, including cleaning, communication, profile creation, price optimization, key hand over with the guests and more. Just research for your city and see if this kind of service is available in your area. Normally those kinds of companies take around 20 % of the revenue you generate, with no upfront fixed costs. If you do not want to deal with your properties at all and just receive a payment every month this solution could be for you. If you need help with your property write me an email.
Hire and train cleaning staff
Another way is to hire and train your cleaning personal yourself. This is an extra effort can be worth it, especially if you have more than one property in your city. Depending on your pricing strategy, kind of property and area (longer stays, versus a lot of one day stays, last-minute bookings) you need some kind of flexibility of your staff.
AirBnB Concierge and Maintenance Services
Sometimes you need to do some smaller repairs and maintenance work to be done. Guest should be able to reach somebody that can help if something happens and they need some help. For those tasks, you need some person or company that can help with this kind of activity.
AirBnB automated: Vacation Rental Software
If you have multiple listings on different platforms then a good vacation rental software can sve you a lot of time with different tasks.
A good property management software should offer at least some of the following features
- Central calendar (to synchronize your listings on different platforms, if you are not only offering on Airbnb)
- manage your team
- guest messaging via email and text message
- pricing management
- creation your website, where guests can book directly
- reporting on how your properties are doing
There are multiple property management software solutions out there that help you with the above-mentioned tasks. The pricing model can vary a lot. We use booth Tooket and Smoobu for our Airbnb properties. I will write about it.
Beyond AirBnB: Multichannel Marketing
If you do not want to fully rely on Airbnb or want to increase the chance that you get an occupancy that is over 90 % you might consider offering your vacation properties on different platforms. There are many places out there where you can put your listings, each of them with advantages and disadvantages of course. If you have property management software in place, of course, you can also offer your rental properties on more than one platform. Here a quick introduction to the most important ones. You can download your Platform Comparison Cheatsheet here for free. (Coming soon)
Launched already 1996, 14.5 billion USD revenue in 2018 does not have to say more. Definitely one of the big players which can drive a lot of bookings and push your revenue. The customer support is good and reachable around the clock. The commission fee of 15 % for the host per booking is high and should be calculated when you price your property on booking, but as said before, booking.com will bring you a lot of guests.
Booking.com is longer on the market then AirBnB, which you also can see with their software solution, which is definitely mighty but also a bit cumbersome here and there. Sometimes you feel this for example with the guest’s communication. The guests are not always receiving the messages, or they are not as prominent displayed (email, push notification and text message on Airbnb) as on Airbnb. This can be an issue or more effort if you have a self-check-in based system and you depend on that guests are received your information on time. All in all, Booking.com doing a great job.
Expedia exists since 2001, had a revenue of about 11 billion USD 2018 and acquired a couple of other vacation rental platforms like homeaway, hotels.com, vrbo.com, trivago.com.
More know for the community feedback, trip advisor also offers a booking services. Host fees are around 3% per booking, guest fees around 8 – 12 %.
Local Rental platforms
Depending on the kind of your properties it also can make sense to use local platforms.
Helping you to get started and grow!
I hope the article gave you a first overview of what you need to consider when you want to start and grow your automated Airbnb Short Term Rental Business. We are just scratching the surface and I will provide further free information here in the future. If you have any questions you can contact me via Email or on social media. If you need help with your Airbnb Automation, Management, “How to pitch landlords on Airbnb”, Automation of Guest Communication or other areas of your Airbnb Business you can schedule a consulting call with my team here.