• Vacation rentals can be a life-changing business. But due to a surge in popularity, the requirements of the job are more challenging than ever. VRMB Communities helps vacation rental owners and managers automate and delegate tasks, so you can focus on the activities that matter for guests.

What Makes A Vacation Rental Professional?

Toby

Counselor
Inner Circle
I might be oversimplifying it but isn’t a professional someone who does something at a level high enough to support himself from the proceeds…
 

MichelleR

Counselor
Inner Circle
What I tell everyone we work/are in contact with from landscaper to our cleaners to the neighboring businesses is to think that this trip is the guests only trip this year. Use the lens of what you can do to make it incredible. How would you feel if the bed wasn't made perfectly? If there was litter in front of the house? How amazing would it be if you walked into the local business and they greeted you as a friend?

In a nut shell how personable, warm and "as you would want a rental to be", can we, as a team, be?

We see that care reflected back to us in guests reviews and happiness levels!
 

Catherine

Envoy
Inner Circle
Also, I think professionals continually sharpen their sword through VRMB and all manner of education and cooperating/learning from other professionals - the rising tide carries all the boats!
Yes, you are willing to continually educate yourself on how to improve your business and Guest experience. You are open to receiving advice and critique from other successful professionals. This is not a hobby- it's a job and a commitment.
You understand the value of technology ( software tools), and learn when to delegate.
You treat your support staff with respect knowing that it takes a well-integrated team to provide the best guest experience.
You think of problems as challenges, and remain guest-centric always.
My fave: you find a fabulous cleaner! Lol! 👍🌷
 
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ShariT

Manager
Inner Circle
Our industry is at a pivotal juncture.
  • Vacation rental demand at all-time high means...
  • New owners & managers need guidance and...
  • Guests need training or else...
  • Unrealistic expectations produce...
  • Bad actors who...
  • Tarnish the craft and contribute to unfair regulation in your region
Until our diverse community can agree on a common definition of "what makes us professional" -- our independence resembles not a blessing but a curse.

But we can reverse this vicious cycle into a virtuous cycle!

So what makes a vacation rental operation professional?

Together with my swimming buddy Gary, last night we put down some thoughts to get us started (with theme in parenthesis). I will edit this list based on comments in the thread below...

1. You do vacation rentals full-time OR have done vacation rentals part-time for 2+ years (take it seriously)
2. Your reviews demonstrate you are guest focused (hospitality)
3. You generate a profit (business)
4. You create and adhere to safety and cleanliness SOPs or standard operating procedures (standards)
5. You have a physical presence in the community (local)
6. You strive for industry improvement (activist)

Is any vacation rental entrepreneur, large or small, that possesses most or all of these factors a vacation rental professional?

What are we missing?
What can be improved?


If we as a community can all agree on the factors that make us professional, we can distance ourselves from unprofessionals AND ensure more guests get consistent experiences, which in turn bring the professionals many benefits for a long time.



Running List of "How to do this" for each factor above (in italics below)...

1. You do vacation rentals full-time OR have done vacation rentals part-time for 2+ years
2. Your reviews demonstrate you are guest focused (hospitality)
- Communication with the guest is paramount (proactive is best) but answering questions via text, email or answering the phone in a very timely manner is vital. If issues arise with clients they are attended to as soon as possible
- Be transparent: don't make false comparisons or unverified claims,
3. You generate a profit (business)
- Understand why people want to go to your location, Who your ideal guests are and what they want, Which amenities will satisfy their ideal guests' search filters, How to price their property, How to differentiate and market their property to appeal to their ideal guests (branding, photography, video, copy, reviews, publicity), How to manage guest expectations, Which expenses make money and which don't
4. You create and adhere to safety and cleanliness SOPs or standard operating procedures (standards)
5. You have a physical presence in the community (local)
- Add value to both the community (new jobs, philanthropy, etc) and help guests have a "time of their life."
- If you do not have a physical presence there, find someone to be your physical presence there
6. You strive for industry improvement (activist)
- Stay informed on trends, best practices, and local and state regulations, set process improvement goals
- You act like an activist or a evangelist on behalf of the professional industry any chance you get
I would add that they manage more than say 5 and not just one, even though they can run it professionally. But when I think that someone is a professional vacation rental company, that they have a portfolio of several rentals. Also, in North Carolina, you must be a licensed real estate agent to be a property manager, so ensuring you have the correct licenses. Also, ensuring you have a proper trust/escrow account and a professional accounting system to manage the funds as opposed to comingling funds for future reservations in the operating account and keeping up with items on a spreadsheet. I think a website and brand marketing are also important for a professional image.

Shari
 

BobG

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
I would add that a professional in our industry is also mindful of three elements - People, Place and Planet.

People - you are respectful, supportive and attentive to your guests, staff and suppliers.
Place - you care about your community and you do the right thing for your neighbourhood
Planet - you acknowledge the impact your business has on the environment and take steps to offer eco-friendly accommodation
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
Fantastic discussion. I love the comments above! I would say that PROFESSIONAL by definition is anyone who is accepting money in exchange for hospitality. It is a monetary transaction. Our industry is filled with "amateur" or "not full time" folks but do their guests know that? If you search for a vacation rental on Airbnb, do you search "professional" or "something I'm doing in my spare time"? No, and I think this is a big problem for the reputation and standards of our industry.

What defines a competent professional is first, the ability to make PROFIT from the vacation rental. Not revenue but profit.

Next, I could not say it better than @BobG : People, Place, Planet.

I believe a professional puts guest satisfaction at the core of the mission AND meets the challenges and needs of all other constituents (neighbours, home owners, etc.)

Finally, a professional works on professional development: Joins Inner Circle! Follows news and developments in the space. Investigates and implements technology AND no- to low-tech to make maximum profit while maximising guest satisfaction.
 

Robin

Counselor
Inner Circle
Vintory
- You are profitable, but you are not just here for the money
- Guest satisfaction is not something you compromise on
- You appreciate your homeowners. Without them you have nothing
- Integrity is non-negotiable
- technology is your friend, but relationships conquer all so you are still a people business
- You pay attention to what is going on in your industry
- You give back to your community
- You love your employees - all of them. You can't do this without them
- You lose sleep occasionally because you care
 

Craig

Envoy
Inner Circle
Accelerator


This harkens back to my earlier posts/threads talking about doing things for guests in vacation rentals that simply can't be done in a vacation rental.

Do you take vacations at home? Does anyone? A stay-cation is not the same thing as traveling someplace other than where you normally live.

I have noticed with a combination of frustration and amusement all of the repeated posts about involvement with the local community in this forum over the past few years, and resisted the urge to respond (again) pointing out that this doesn't make a lot of sense. A vacation rental is a vacation home that others may rent for their vacation. Just how many vacation homes are located where their owner lives? As opposed to where they vacation?

As I described earlier, a 'vacation rental' local to the owner is only a rental used by others on vacation. Or a BnB without the B. It is simply not the same thing as a true vacation rental. Does this matter? Well, I would propose that an owner's not being local to the area where their vacation rental is, is going to give them an understanding and empathy for their guests that no one else is going to have. You have to be away from home and out of your normal element to truly appreciate what it's like for others experiencing that. It has lead us to do things with our vacation homes, and providing things for our guests, that the locals don't want or care to do. And boy do our guests appreciate and notice those differences.

So what would 'being local' mean to a definition of a vacation rental professional? Are we saying that only local property managers can be professional, but owners can't be? Unless they're local too?

A physical local presence in the community? How can that possibly be a prerequisite for one being 'professional'?

It seems to me that the fundamental issue in being professional is how one takes care of their guests, above all else. Other things do matter too of course.

I'm absolutely not local to the community where my properties are located, and I know it to be a fact that personally I take better care of my guests, and my properties, than many (dare I say it... most?) local property managers do with their portfolios.

Nobody is going to suggest that for this reason I'm 'not professional' without a huge pushback.
My first holiday rentals I ran remotely for 7 years. I don't think that made me any less of a professional, so I agree with Rob here.
 

Craig

Envoy
Inner Circle
Accelerator
I'd say what differentiates a professional is standards and quality. i.e. higher standards of performance and customer care / experience than the average operator. I called my company professional holiday homes as we do everything to a higher standard than our competitors and keep striving continuously for improvements.
 

RuthM

Envoy
Inner Circle
- You are profitable, but you are not just here for the money
- Guest satisfaction is not something you compromise on
- You appreciate your homeowners. Without them you have nothing
- Integrity is non-negotiable
- technology is your friend, but relationships conquer all so you are still a people business
- You pay attention to what is going on in your industry
- You give back to your community
- You love your employees - all of them. You can't do this without them
- You lose sleep occasionally because you care
THIS. Thank you @Robin!
 

Debi

Ambassador
Inner Circle
Wing Fighter
I think being a professional is also a mindset. If you consider yourself 'just an Airbnb host' you cannot be a professional. Unfortunately, there are many like this. I would add that the mindset is important, the desire to continually educate oneself by networking, joining associations like the Inner Circle and Host2Host, attending conferences, knowing your geographical requirements re taxes and regulations, and being willing to gently educate new travelers in 'good guest behavior' are also important factors.
 

ToonTownRob

Envoy
Inner Circle
Thank you @Debi! Great point!

How about the desire to differentiate oneself and create a brand independent of listing sites? So it’s not just a VRBO or AirBnB that we offer. Instead, we run a vacation rental business called XXXXXXXX (fill in the blank here).

We have a name, a brand, an identity and a reputation, built up over years of work. After a decade in this business I’m beginning to feel it… we have hundreds of guests we’ve served. If just 10% of them all rebook in a year one of my properties would be full.

I’ve quoted over 6,000 times. How valuable is an email list of 5000 names, of people interested enough to remain on your list? What is the value of a website with 150+ 5-Star reviews gathered over ten years?

When we started, I immediately began creating a brand for ourselves. As a designer and consultant I had done it for others and my own companies for decades. So it was just second nature. But I also knew it would differentiate us, make us more professional. With one property, we still called our company X villaS, because we knew there would be more to come. Do professionals aspire to greater things? I think so!

The desire to be something else, and to define what that is for yourself, also makes you professional.
 

EBadia

Envoy
Inner Circle
Ahh to be a "professional" in any industry..

I remember when I started renting a bedroom in my own private apartment back in 2010. Frown upon by many, because how do you live with guests... and how I was NOT considered professional. And maybe I'm still not.

But like @Sallie said those hosts that have an "easier" life are they professional?

Is this a way of saying 'us" vs "them"? We are better because I do all the right things? I wonder.
 

Matt Landau

Ambassador
Staff member
Ahh to be a "professional" in any industry..

I remember when I started renting a bedroom in my own private apartment back in 2010. Frown upon by many, because how do you live with guests... and how I was NOT considered professional. And maybe I'm still not.

But like @Sallie said those hosts that have an "easier" life are they professional?

Is this a way of saying 'us" vs "them"? We are better because I do all the right things? I wonder.
Based on the original specs, you are super professional.
 
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