Short Term Rental Property Management: Ultimate Guide

Jul 01, 2024, written by Dennis Shirshikov

Short term rental property management can easily turn into a full-time job, especially if you own a number of properties. Many investors turn to professional short term rental property managers who make real estate investing a passive strategy and allow for investing out of state, and may also boost the performance of the property and increase revenue.

This guide covers everything that investors need to know about short term rental property management, from what it is and how it works, all the way to how much it costs and what the best companies in the industry are.

What Short Term Rental Property Management Is

Short term rental property management comprises all the tasks and responsibilities that an owner, a host, or a professional need to complete in order to operate a successful Airbnb business. Short term rental properties - or vacation rental properties and Airbnb properties - are homes that are rented out on a nightly or sometimes weekly basis. They are different from long term rental properties that are rented out on a monthly or annual basis.

Managing a vacation rental starts with getting the property ready for listing and welcoming guests, which includes designing and furnishing the space, securing a smart and secure home, getting all required licenses and permits, and purchasing a short term rental insurance. 

It continues with listing the rental, marketing it to the widest audience possible, managing pricing and revenue, supporting guests, inspecting the property, and maintaining it. Finally, it also covers collecting and remitting taxes, analyzing performance, and always looking for ways to make management more efficient and performance better.

This list of tasks is quite different from the work of long term rental property managers. Being a short term rental property manager is a very dynamic job that requires daily interventions and coordination of the work of multiple team members to achieve guest satisfaction, to reach the results that hosts expect, and to maximize your own commission.

There are two broad types of short term rental property management: half-service and full-service. Following are the main differences between them.

Full-Service Short Term Rental Property Managers

Full-service short term rental property management is the more popular option. This refers to the end-to-end management of a vacation rental property by a professional so that the owner does not have to interfere. In a way, a full-service Airbnb manager acts as the owner representative in front of guests, authorities, and contractors and as the connection between guests and hosts.

This solution allows investors to invest passively in real estate, without having previous experience, while retaining a full-time job, and choosing profitable locations away from home. Moreover, with the help of full-service management, investors can grow their portfolios without being overwhelmed with day-to-day tasks.

Popular names in the full-service short term rental property management industry include Summer, Vacasa, Casago, Air Concierge, and SkyRun Vacation Rentals.

Half-Service Short Term Rental Property Managers

Half-service short term rental property management is an alternative to the full-service option that helps owners streamline and automate their work without giving up control over their vacation rental business. This approach focuses on putting the most time-consuming property management tasks, such as marketing and guest communication, on auto-pilot.

Typically, half-service vacation rental management works best for investors who own a property close to home, have free time, and have some experience in hospitality.

The best-known half-service short term rental property managers are Evolve and RedAwning.

Common Short Term Rental Management Services

First, we start with the services that are covered by the vast majority of full-service property managers and by many half-service Airbnb managers. They form the core of the vacation rental property management business, and no short term rental can operate without them.

The most common services provided by short term rental property managers:

On the Ground Services Provided by Airbnb Property Managers

Behind the Scenes Services Provided by Airbnb Property Managers

Guest Experience Services Provided by Airbnb Property Managers

Additional Short Term Rental Management Services

Besides the core services listed above, many short term rental property management companies offer extra services. In some cases, these are included in the standard package, while in other cases they are selected and paid separately.

Such additional services provided by short term rental property managers include:

Services Not Covered by Short Term Rental Property Managers

Finally, there are certain tasks that are not performed even by the top names in the industry, so they remain the responsibility of the owner.

Services not covered by STR property managers include:

How Much Short Term Rental Property Management Costs

Most property managers run a commission-based pricing model, meaning that they charge a percentage of the monthly income. The standard range of short term rental property management fees is between 25% and 40% of monthly revenue, including cleaning fees and other extra fees. However, there are sizable variations that depend on multiple factors.

The main determinants of the total cost include:

In most cases, property managers charge a monthly fee as a share of revenue and additional fees for extra services that might be a set amount or a percentage.

Monthly Fees

The monthly Airbnb management fee covers the day-to-day responsibilities of the manager that are needed to run the business. The specific tasks vary from one company to another, which drives different rates too.

Most full-service short term rental property managers charge 25-40% of monthly income, with some exceptions. For example, Summer fees start at only 20% of revenue excluding cleaning fees for comprehensive services. Meanwhile, hosts report that Vacasa fees exceed 40% in some locations.

At the same time, half-service property managers, such as Evolve and RedAwning, charge an average of 10% of revenue though variations are possible to account for differences in services.

Additional Short Term Rental Property Manager Costs

In addition to monthly fees, many vacation rental management companies charge extra fees for optional, yet important services.

The most common additional fees include:

Before deciding to work with a certain short term rental property manager, an owner needs to understand what services are included in the standard package and what services are offered additionally as well as the exact fees associated with both. It’s a must to have this information in writing to avoid unpleasant surprises.

In terms of fee payment, typically property managers collect booking revenue and other fees from guests on behalf of hosts. At the end of the month, they calculate and withhold their fees and transfer the owner payout to the host.

Short Term Rental Property Management Restrictions

While using a professional short term rental property manager makes things easier for hosts, it also brings a number of restrictions and limitations that owners need to comply with.

The most common short term rental property management restrictions include:

Pros and Cons of Short Term Rental Property Management

Having a professional manage your Airbnb rental property is very different from managing it yourself. There are major advantages and disadvantages to be considered when choosing the right short term rental management solution.

Pros of Hiring a Short Term Rental Property Manager

The most important benefits of professional property management include:

Cons of Working with a Short Term Rental Property Manager

The most considerable drawbacks of hiring an Airbnb manager comprise:

Finding a Short Term Rental Manager

With so many options out there, finding the right short term rental property management company is not easy. Unfortunately, many industry actors promise the moon only to fall short of their promises as soon as they onboard a property.

That’s why hosts need to put extra care in selecting the best Airbnb manager for their property and their needs.  

You can usually find the right STR manger in the following ways:

Once you’ve done proper research, you should shortlist 2-3 companies that seem to be the best short term rental property managers in your location. As a second step, you should study them in more detail to identify the one that best matches the needs of your property and yourself as an owner.

How to Choose a Short Term Rental Manager

You should try to set up an in-person interview with a representative of each company. Alternatively, aim to speak on the phone or have a video call, at the very least. That’s much more efficient than chatting online or exchanging emails. 

In addition, you must insist on obtaining a copy of the short term rental property management contract which you can review carefully before formally hiring the company and signing the agreement.

The main aspects of the STR property management process to keep an eye on include:

Best Short Term Rental Management Companies

Managing short term rental properties requires keeping track of many complex tasks and duties that are executed best when managed by a professional. We’ve compiled this list of the best Airbnb property management companies based on, among other factors, operational excellence, services offered, and value for money.

The best Airbnb property management companies in the US market include:

Summer

Summer is the top-ranked short term rental property management company across the US market as it delivers truly full-service management at fees that start at only 20% of booking revenue, exclusive of cleaning fees. As a result of its thorough operations, Summer-managed properties perform better than 95% or more of comps in each market.

Summer services include everything from interior design and furnishing, through listing and revenue management, to specialized insurance and maintenance. The cost of design and furnishing - headed by a New York-based interior designer with 10+ years in residential and commercial design - starts at $10,000 and is determined by the property size, the number of rooms, the quality of furniture, and the level of service.

Summer has the capacity to operate short term rentals nationwide, and the company selects locations where it can guarantee the expected excellence. Moreover, the property manager has strict selection criteria so that it works only with rentals where it can consistently exceed guest and host expectations. Only short term rentals that generate a minimum of $50,000 in annual revenue might qualify.

Vacasa

Vacasa is the largest short term rental property manager in North America. While it’s known for its full-service management, the company offers partial services too. It also works with long term rentals, but Airbnb management remains at the core of its operations.

Vacasa does most of the tasks needed to run a vacation rental business, but some services - such as the linen program and property protection - are charged additionally. Vacasa does not help with design, furnishing, and amenity installation.

Vacasa property management fees depend on the market and the property and are not disclosed on the company website. Reviews by owners reveal that they are generally between 30% and 40% but sometimes even higher.

Awning

Awning is another short term rental property management company that also works with some long term rentals. The company has the capacity to offer generally comprehensive services.

Awning property management covers diverse services, including design, furnishing, and insurance. One red flag though is the small number of online reviews by customers to double check the company reputation.

In terms of cost, Awning fees start at 10% of revenue, but this covers only partial services.

Evolve

Evolve is the best-known half-service vacation rental manager in the US. They help hosts who want to remain engaged in the management of their short term rentals automate tasks in order to save time and improve performance.

Evolve focuses on things like listing, marketing, dynamic pricing, guest support, managing reviews, and collecting and remitting taxes. The company can connect hosts with local small businesses that offer additional services, such housekeeping and maintenance.

Evolve charges a universal fee of 12.5% of monthly income.

Short Term Rental Management FAQs

What do short term rental property managers do?

Short term rental property managers take care of vacation rentals instead of owners. They perform all day-to-day tasks that are needed to operate an Airbnb business. These include but are not limited to listing, daily pricing, marketing, supporting guests, cleaning, restocking, and maintaining the home.

What is full-service short term rental property management?

Full-service short term rental property management refers to an Airbnb management model that provides all the services that such a property requires. It allows owners to sit back, relax, and enjoy passive income.

What are the best short term rental property management companies?

The best short term rental property management companies are those that offer the best value for money. Summer is the top Airbnb manager in the US market as it provides full-service management at industry-low rates.

How much are short term rental property management fees?

Full-service fees typically range between 25% and 40%, while half-services fees are around 10% of monthly revenue, on average. Rates might differ based on location, property size, rental income, and scope of services. Additionally, some property managers impose extra fees for additional services.

Should I hire a short term rental property manager?

Whether you should hire a professional manager or manage your property yourself depends on a few factors that include the location of your investment compared to where you live, your time availability, experience, skills, and preferences. If you invest close to home and have a part-time job, you can consider being a DIY Airbnb host. If, alternatively, you invest remotely or have a 9-to-5 job, you should probably work with a property management company.

How do I find the best short term rental property management company?

Finding the top property manager is a multiple-step process that requires diligent research and detailed analysis. You should look for a company that is reliable, has a strong reputation, offers the services you need, and charges reasonable fees.

Bottom Line

Professional short term rental property management came about for a reason: It allows investors to seek after profitable opportunities in remote markets, to keep their full-time job, and to make money from real estate with no previous experience and skills. 

However, the industry is as diverse as it gets, and not all Airbnb managers are the same. When selecting the best company to hire, property owners should focus on the provided services, the associated fees, the performance of properties managed by the firm, and the reviews of existing and past customers.

This article was written by
Dennis Shirshikov

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