This is a guide on how to manage Airbnb remotely.
But, the systems, skills and techniques you're about to learn are also perfect for property managers looking to scale up their operations, or any host that's looking to manage things in a more efficient, effectvie way.
It's all about working smart, not hard, right?
However, managing Airbnb in this way means you've got to get answers to these very important questions:
These are the major friction points that need to be solved in order to manage Airbnb remotely in an effective way.
In fact, I've been managing my Airbnb property remotely - seamlessly and cost effectively - for the past six years using the exact system that I'm about to share with you.
Removing YOU from the managment process!
First up, you've got to remove 'you' from the equation.
Let me explain.
The only way to free yourself from the day to day tasks of running and managing your Airbnb rental is to remove yourself from the process, and build a solid system to replace the work you do.
The biggest sticking points for most people at this point is their pride.
The argument that I hear most often against this is:
"Nobody would be able to run it like I do. The whole thing would fall apart!"
Ever the perfectionists...
"If you want a job done well, do it yourself!"
Well, if you want Airbnb to change the way you live your life, and you want to have the ability to manage your Airbnb in a remote way, then you will have to remove this way of thinking.
You must embrace the loss of control, and learn to welcome the freedom it gives you.
It all starts with a plan
The second key step to manage Airbnb in a remote way is to set up your house in a maintenance-friendly way.
Here's what I mean.
When you're managing things from a distance you need maintenance to be as minimal as possible. Not just because it'll be cheaper to operate - which it is - but because it'll save you a lot of headaches in the long run.
Here's a list the measures I took before becoming a full-time remote host:
These were the steps I took to make things run smoother whilst I was away for long periods of time.
Here's some other potential headaches to consider:
Basically, anything that can go wrong, probably will go wrong, so you need to prepare yourself as much as you possibly for worst case scenarios to minimise their impact.
Building The System
To make everything run like clockwork you need a solid system.
Your system must identify and delegate EVERY task that is currently carried out by you.
These tasks include the following:
The system I'm about to show you provides solutions to managing all of these major friction points no matter where you are in the world.
How To Manage Airbnb Remotely In Ten Steps
Step 1. How to check-in guests without being present.
A big-time burden and headache for Airbnb hosts is the check-in.
Waiting around all day for someone to arrive is no fun at all. It restricts your movement, it's super frustrating and it's very inefficient.
This is a process that has to be changed.
The way to solve this problem is to invest in a remote key system.
There are numerous options on the market, varying from simple secure coded lockboxes to digital locks with timed passcodes.
The choices are endless but the most important factor is that you have a method for your guests to gain access to your property, without the need for you being personally present.
Step 2. Drip-fed guest messaging sequence
Messaging and communication are the biggest time drains as an Airbnb host, and trying to manage them manually from the other side of the world will drive you insane (trust me, I've tried).
So how do you do it?
How can you message guests when you're in a different time zone, or maybe even off-grid with no internet?
Well, it's all made possible with the use of automated Airbnb messaging software, and for this task I use Smartbnb.
Smartbnb allows me to set up a messaging funnel that I lead ALL of my guests through. I have it set up so well that I literally only ever have to answer guest messages about once every two weeks.
If you want to learn more about exactly how I've structured my messaging funnel want copies of all of my messages word for word click here.
The main aim of your messaging funnel must be to answer all of your guests' questions before they ever have to ask for them. If you can do this then you will almost completely eradicate all manual guest messaging.
Once you have your automated messaging sequence set up you are well on your way to running a successful remote Airbnb operation.
Step 3. Cleaner - The vital piece of the puzzle
Hiring a top-class cleaner is paramount to ensure this system works smoothly.
The biggest qualities your cleaner must have are attention to detail - and most of all - flexibility.
Flexibility is the key component to keeping things running smoothly.
With Airbnb you have so many random check-in days and late bookings, you need someone who's flexible enough to manage it.
Hiring a flexible cleaner that's ok with last minute bookings will probably boost your end of year earnings by 10%+.
Also, as you won’t be present to double check your cleaners work, you must devise a system that rewards and motivates your cleaner to maintain your high standards.
A system I have used in the past to good effect is as follows:
I pay my cleaner a base fee for each clean of the property and reward a bonus for every 5 Star cleanliness review that I get.
I also make sure that all reviews - good and bad - are shared with my cleaner. This way, my cleaner has a vested interest in keeping the property immaculate.
Having a system like this in place gives me peace of mind knowing that my cleaners interests are aligned with mine, even when I'm on the other side of the world.
Step 4. House Manual - How to make sure your guests actually read it
As you're now a remote Airbnb host, you'll no longer be present to show your guests around at check-in, explaining to them in person all the little bits they need to know.
Instead, you will need to build a robust house manual and a welcome book that will answer all of your guests’ questions to make sure their stay runs as smoothly as possible.
With this, your guests will have access to all of the information they need, without ever having to reach out to you directly.
A couple of things to consider when writing your house manual:
Remember, you really want your guests to actually read it, so make it as easy to palate as possible.
Also, it's good practice to have a hard copy for your guests present in the property, so before you head off on your travels, get a few copies laminated to leave in the property.
*Bonus Tip: Timing is key when sending guests your house manual. Too early and they won't bother reading it. Too late and you'll end up getting heaps of questions. I like to send it on the morning of arrival (it works!).
*Bonus, Bonus Tip: Why not go the extra mile and provide a personalised welcome letter too!
Step 5. Welcome Pack - Keeping it simple
Guests arriving at your place will expect a few essentials like Tea, Coffee, soap, toilet roll, washing up liquid, etc. These essentials will need to be replenished for each new guest arrival.
This is something that can be arranged with your cleaner.
I suggest creating a checklist of exactly what needs to be present for every check-in so that your cleaner can easily follow along.
I would recommend isolating a cupboard or storage box to use as storage for all replenishments. This way you can buy in bulk and stay stocked up.
These essentials will need to be replenished from time to time, so arrange in advance for your cleaner to carry out this task, and get them to send you a photo of any receipts to keep track of all expenses.
Step 6. Check-Out Time - Here's what to do
For each guest Check-out, there must be a set criterion.
It's super important that your guests leave on time for your cleaner to get your place prepared for your next guests.
A good way to encourage timely departures is to politely notify them of their check-out time (I have this message automated to send out the day before departure using Smartbnb).
I also remind my guests to make sure that the key is safely put back into the secure lock box ready for the next arrival.
This is all done with a polite reminder prior to check-out, as well as an overpriced replacement fee should the key get lost.
This has worked 100% of the time for me so far, and I’m sure it will be the same for you.
Step 7. Laundry - Rinse and repeat
The laundry may well be something that your cleaner will organize. If not, you will have to outsource this work to a laundry service.
To ensure that your cleaner never has to wait for fresh linen from the laundry service, I suggest having multiple linen sets.
Whilst one set is in use, the other is getting cleaned.
Rinse and repeat!
Step 8. Reminders - and how to automate them
Co-ordinating everyone in your team manually is complicated and time consuming for every Airbnb host. But it gets a whole new level of complexity and stress when you're in a totally different time zone.
Reminders (especially as a remote host) make you sleep well at night, safe in the knowledge that everyone in your team knows exactly what's going on.
But, doing this all remotely gets crazy complicated very quickly.
Let me explain.
The whole reason that a reminder is effective is that it's sent at the right time.
Too early and it's get ignored, too late renders it pointless.
So, how is it possible to organise cleaner and team reminders as a remote host?
Again I rely on Smartbnb to do this for me 🙂
I have my account set up to fire reminder emails to my team at certain points during a guests stay, plus SMS reminders at crucial points.
This whole process is automated, and it's never failed me once.
Step 9. Reviews - the automated way
Writing reviews is not the biggest task in the world and doesn’t take too much of a time investment.
However, if you are like me, it is often one of those things that you always put off until the very last minute, and is a constant nagging stress.
Again, Smartbnb (alongside these guest review templates) can be used to automate this process.
Once set up correctly, you’ll never have to write another review again!
Step 10. Maintenance - Preparation is key
From time to time it’s inevitable that there will be issues that crop up with your property that need to be fixed.
This can be very stressful, especially when guests are in the property.
Time invested in organizing tradespeople before any problems arise will pay off handsomely. It will minimize the stress caused for everyone involved.
Depending on your cleaner, they may also be happy to help organize tradespeople on your behalf.
The key here is to take preventative measures to avoid any emergencies down the track
Wrapping it up
There you have it.
That's the nuts and bolts of a solid system to manage Airbnb as a remote host successfully.
As you can see, there is a lot that goes into creating this system like this, and you'll need a few tools to help you on your way too.
And, as with everything in life, from time to time problems will arise and they’ll need to be tackled head-on, but don’t let this deter you from pushing through and building your passive income pipeline.
The beauty with this whole system is once it’s established - and any kinks have been ironed out - your pipeline will flow for as long as you want it.