As a short-term rental manager, time is your biggest asset. That’s why you need to start automating your Airbnb business.
Do you find yourself spending hours:
Sending the same messages to guests
Researching and updating your prices across platforms
Communicating with cleaners and sending last-minute cleaning requests
Running from one key handover to the next
Writing reviews for all your guests?
If you do, you’re wasting time on repetitive tasks, which can prevent you from growing your business and increasing your profits.
Luckily, there’s a way to stop the manual tinkering and cut costs on day-to-day tasks. It’s called automation.
With the help of Airbnb automation tools, you can automate repetitive operational tasks like adjusting prices and communicating with guests. You can put your business on auto-pilot and watch as your occupancy rates, bookings and revenue go up.
To help you get the most out of your efforts to automate your Airbnb, we’ve compiled a complete guide. It’s full of actionable tips to manage your rental business more efficiently.
Here’s how to automate your workflows, streamline your operations, and save time on routine tasks. All to help you turn your side hustle into a lucrative business.
Calculate your Airbnb profit
Before you start automating your rental business, take a look at your numbers. How much are you making with the time you’re putting in?
To be able to track your progress, you need to know your starting point. The goal of automating repetitive tasks is to free up as much of your time as possible so you can focus on other aspects of your business. Like adding new properties to your portfolio!
More efficiency will ultimately lead to increased profit. But you can only measure the success of your automation efforts if you know how much you’re making to begin with.
Here’s how to figure it out:
1. Calculate how many hours you spend managing your Airbnb business in a month. Don’t forget to take into account every task, from optimizing Airbnb listings to managing properties and communicating with guests.
2. Calculate your total Airbnb revenue for that month, deduct your costs, and divide it by the hours you put in. This will tell you how much profit you made per hour that month.
3. Do the same calculation for at least 6 months. Add up the results and divide them by 6. This will tell you your average hourly profit for 6 months.
As you automate your Airbnb, your average profit per hour should go up over time.
Now let’s get into the Airbnb automation strategies that will help you save a lot of hassle and increase your profit.
Automate your Airbnb guest communication
Guest communication is one of the most time-consuming tasks that property managers deal with on a daily basis. At the same time, it’s extremely important for providing a good guest experience.
Sending messages to your guests before, during, and after their stay is a great way to make them feel taken care of. But if you skimp on answering guest queries, you risk getting penalized by Airbnb and losing your chance to become a Superhost.
So, how do you keep your response rate high and your guests happy? It may seem impossible if you’re trying to reply to every single message and inquiry manually. However, there are a few tricks you can try and Airbnb automation tools you can use to help keep the time you spend on guest communication to a minimum.
Use email templates
You don’t have to copy and paste messages every time you want to communicate with your guests. Airbnb automation tools like Host Tools have fully customizable message templates for each stage of the booking process. You can use one of the ready-made templates, modify it, or create your own from scratch.
Here are some examples of templates you might need for a standard Airbnb message flow:
Booking confirmation message: Thank your guest for booking your Airbnb property and tell them you’re excited to host them.
Booking inquiry message: Send a guest more information about your rental before they send a booking request.
Booking request message: Accept or decline a booking request.
Check-in message: Send your guest check-in information (check-in time, directions to your rental, key handover instructions, parking info, wifi password, etc).
Check-up message: Touch base with your guest to make sure they have everything they need.
Check-out message: Send your guest check-out instructions (check-out time, reminder to take out the trash and wash the dishes, etc).
Review message: Tell your guest you’ve left them a 5-star review and ask them for a review in return.
Don’t worry, using templates won’t make your messages sound impersonal. You can add tags that pull information from the booking to include the guest’s name, the check-in date and time, and other unique details.
What’s more, Host Tools lets you send messages in your guest’s preferred language. It’s a nice touch that your guests will appreciate.
This is what a message template looks like on Host Tools:
Send automated messages
Once you’ve set up your message templates, it’s time to make sure they go out at the right time.
Airbnb automation tools like Host Tools let you send automated messages to your guests. You can create a sequence of messages, with one for every stage of the booking process, and pick a send time.
For example, you should send your check-in message 1-2 days before check-in, your check-up message the morning after check-in, and your check-out message a day before check-out.
Of course, if you want to send a message on a specific day of the week (for example, a reminder to take out the trash on Thursday), you can do that, too.
Messaging automation can save you a lot of time. Once you’ve set up a sequence, you never have to think about it again! And, staying in touch with your guests throughout their stay will show them how attentive and professional you are.
You can also set up automatic replies to your guests’ most frequently asked questions.
And, you can choose to send your message as an email or an SMS instead of a message through Airbnb. Some guests don’t have their Airbnb notifications turned on, so your message may reach them quicker this way.
Get an Airbnb welcome app
A welcome app is a digital version of a traditional welcome book that guests can download on their smartphones. Investing in one is a great way to cut down on check-in times. If you’re using automated check-in, there’s really no way around it.
A large-scale survey by Rentals United found that 18% of short-term rental managers with 1-99 properties have digital welcome books.
We wrote a post where we cover what a house manual is, what it should contain, and give you a full Airbnb house manual template that you can customize to your needs.
If guests can find all this information at their fingertips, you won’t have to answer the same questions over and over again. And, they’ll be more likely to leave positive reviews.
Some welcome apps even have digital concierge services to provide your guests with 24/7 customer support when you’re not available.
Automate your Airbnb check-in and check-out
Running from one meet-and-greet to another takes a lot of time and messes with your productivity.
That’s why most Airbnb hosts outsource key exchange to a property management company. But did you know that you can also automate your check-ins and check-outs?
Installing a smart lock on your rental’s door can get you out of in-person check-ins once and for all. This keyless entry solution is both convenient and secure: each guest gets a unique access code that expires after their stay.
The best smart locks like RemoteLock come with an easy-to-use access management dashboard to give you total control. This way, you won’t have to replace lost keys, rekey doors, or rescue locked out guests ever again.
If smart locks are not your thing, you can also get a key safe or lock box where your guests can pick up and drop off their keys.
According to the Global Short-Term Rental Tech Report 2020 by Rentals United, 24% of property managers with 1-99 rentals use keyless entry solutions, and 19% use key safes and dropboxes.
Whichever solution you choose, it’s bound to save you a lot of time and increase your efficiency as a host.
Automate your Airbnb pricing
Getting your Airbnb pricing strategies right takes a lot of practice.
There are so many factors to take into account. Your pricing will be different in low season than in high season. You’ll price higher on weekends than on weekdays. And you might want to give discounts on longer stays.
The stakes are high: if you set your rates too high or too low, you could miss out on bookings and revenue.
Luckily, Airbnb automation tools can help you make smart pricing decisions.
The Host Tools rule-based pricing engine lets you create a pricing plan that’s specific to your listing. It builds on Airbnb’s Smart Pricing data to make sure you don’t over or underprice your rental.
You can also put intelligent controls in place. For example, there’s a setting that’ll automatically raise prices over the weekend. Another setting will drop prices when there’s a gap between bookings.
Of course, you want to make sure that your rates sync with Airbnb. Host Tools keeps your prices up-to-date by automatically updating your calendar every 6 hours.
Airbnb hosts who use automatic pricing tools to adjust their rates tend to see an increase in revenue. If you haven’t automated your Airbnb pricing yet, you’re probably leaving money on the table!
Sync your Airbnb calendars
As an Airbnb host, preventing double bookings should be at the top of your list. Having to cancel a booking because of an oversight can seriously damage your reputation and your Airbnb rankings.
If you have multiple listings on Airbnb, make sure you link their calendars on the Airbnb platform. Do this when you’re advertising an entire apartment and a room inside that apartment as separate listings.
Just go to Listings > Availability > Linked Airbnb calendars.
The same goes for listing your properties on various channels. You need to avoid multiple guests booking the same dates. You can do this by importing an external calendar into Airbnb.
Check out our complete guide to syncing your calendars as well as a step-by-step explanation on how to export your airbnb calendar.
Any calendar works, as long as it supports the iCalendar (iCal) format. For example, you can import your Google calendar, the VRBO/Homeaway calendar, or calendars from other OTAs. This will sync your calendars and keep them up-to-date.
To import a calendar, go to Airbnb, then select Host > Calendar > Availability settings > sync calendars > import calendar.
You can also use a Property Management System (PMS) to keep track of your listings across multiple platforms. These software solutions integrate directly with OTAs and have a centralized calendar where you can see all your listings.
Automate your Airbnb cleaning
Cleanliness is one of the top factors that influence your ratings and determine whether the next guest will book your rental. It’s non-negotiable. Your place must be perfectly clean every time a new guest arrives.
As a professional property manager, you won’t have time to mop floors and scrub windows yourself. You need to find a reliable cleaning provider to work with.
If you only have one or two properties, you can hire an individual cleaner. It’s the most affordable option, but it’s quite risky. What happens if your cleaner can’t make it?
In most cases, it’s better to hire a professional Airbnb cleaning service. Housekeeping apps like Properly can connect you with providers in your area. Since these companies have teams of professional cleaners, your rental’s cleanliness won’t hinge on one person. This is a costlier option, but remember, you can always increase your cleaning fee on Airbnb.
Once you have your cleaning team, you can use Airbnb automation software to manage cleaning tasks in a completely hands-off way. For example, Host Tools lets you send automatic messages to your cleaners every time you get a new booking, and another one to remind them on the morning of the cleaning day.
This way, you can automate your Airbnb cleaning schedule and won’t have to spend time organizing it. What’s more, Host Tools has a Turnover Calendar that shows exactly when cleanings are scheduled and if there are same-day check-ins.
We put together a guide on how to automate your Airbnb cleaning, including sharing your calendar and setting up reminders.
Automate your Airbnb reviews
Good reviews are key to ranking higher and getting more bookings on Airbnb. When a potential guest likes your rental based on your photos and description, a single review could decide whether or not they will end up booking your property.
The easiest way to get good reviews is to review your guests. But doing it manually is a waste of time.
Airbnb automation tools can review your guest for you. They can also send your guest a message letting them know that you’ve given them 5 stars and asking them to leave a review in return.
With Host Tools, you can set up automated review messages and review reminders in case your guest ignores the first prompt. We recommend sending the review message a day after check-out and the reminder message a week later.
You may be wondering why a guest would make the effort to leave you a review. Well, if they don’t write a review within 14 days of check-out, they won’t get to see what you wrote about them! Curiosity coupled with a time limit is a more powerful incentive than you’d think.
Buy Airbnb supplies in bulk
No Airbnb can function without the essential supplies that guests expect to find in a vacation rental. If you want to improve your efficiency, you should consider purchasing supplies in bulk.
This way, you won’t have to worry about running out of supplies for weeks or months, and you get access to wholesale prices.
If you shop online, you can even set up recurring orders and have your supplies shipped automatically. For example, Amazon lets you manage your delivery schedule and frequency, so you always get your products exactly when you need them.
Here is a non-exhaustive list of supplies that you’ll need to refill on a regular basis:
Guest toiletries (hand soap, shampoo, conditioner, body wash, etc)
Toilet paper and tissues
Tea and coffee
Salt, sugar, and spices
The type of supplies that your vacation rental needs will depend on the traveler profile that you’re trying to attract. Is your property for couples, families, or business travelers?
No matter which traveler type you’re targeting, websites like aBundle and Freshbnb have plenty of high-quality products to choose from. You can get everything delivered, from basic cleaning supplies to hotel-style mini shampoo bottles that come in bundles.
And, if saving on amenities is your highest priority, you can always go the Costco/Target/Walmart way!
Optimize your Airbnb maintenance
All Airbnb hosts need to deal with maintenance issues. Sometimes things break and they need to be fixed – it’s inevitable.
But there are things you can do to minimize your property’s maintenance needs and save yourself from future headaches.
First off, make sure that your rental has a minimal amount of things that can break (because if it can, it will). Prevention is key. Buy high-quality furniture, coat the walls in washable paint, and have your kitchen appliances cleaned regularly to extend their lives.
Secondly, plan ahead and get a maintenance team on board before anything happens. This way, you won’t have to go scrambling for a reliable repairman when the AC in your rental decides to throw in the towel. Discuss prices and response times in advance so you won’t have to worry about them later.
You can also hire a property management company to handle your rental’s day-to-day affairs, including repairs and maintenance.
Hire staff for your Airbnb business
As your business grows, managing your rental all on your own will get harder and harder.
Automation tools can help you save a lot of time and boost your efficiency, but there will come a time when you’ll need more hands on deck.
So when should you start thinking about hiring staff for your Airbnb business? And what roles should you hire first?
Most property managers start by working with independent contractors or service providers. In this blog post, we’ve talked about hiring a cleaner and a repairman, or companies offering professional cleaning and maintenance services. Depending on your needs, you may also want to work with other contractors like accountants or web developers.
If you prefer a more hands-off approach, there’s the option to outsource all your day-to-day operations to a property management company. But once you’re managing more than a couple of rentals and your business has a steady cash flow, you can start thinking about building your own team.
What profiles you hire will depend on what you like doing and what you don’t, what you’re good at and what you need help with.
It will also depend on what direction you want to take your business. For example, if you want to focus on getting more direct bookings, a social media expert could be just the person you need.
Here are some roles you might consider for your first hire:
Customer service manager
Social media manager
Airbnb SEO Manager
Email marketing specialist
Hiring part-time or full-time staff is a big step for any business. And finding the right people is crucial for success. So make sure you vet your candidates carefully!
Automate your channel distribution
This step is for property managers who want to take their distribution beyond Airbnb.
If you want to get listed on more than a couple of channels, syncing your calendars won’t be enough to keep you sane.
You’re going to need a vacation rental software to manage all your listings from one place.
Otherwise, you risk getting double bookings. And, you’ll waste crazy amounts of time updating your listings manually every time you make a change.
There are two ways to automate your channel distribution with vacation rental software. You can either use a property management software with a channel management feature like Guesty or a specialized channel manager like BookingPal.
These powerful platforms let you update your pricing, availability and content automatically across every channel you’re listed on. They’re huge time-savers, and they can help you get your listings in front of millions of travelers.
Do you know any Airbnb automation hacks we forgot to mention? Let us know!