Become a DIY Airbnb Host, or Hire a Property Manager? – Which is Right for You?

airbnb diy host

By Smartbnb team

Airbnb hosting involves a lot of work, more than new hosts typically anticipate.

Tasks include:

  • Turnovers (cleaning the space, placing the right amount of towels, snacks, drinks)
  • Listing management (keeping the calendar up to date, changing prices, adding new photos)
  • Communications (messaging guests, answering questions, sending out information)
  • Inventory management (replacing broken and/or damaged items such as light bulbs and glasses, stocking items like toilet paper, coffee, tea, and other useables)
  • Check-ins and checkouts (welcoming guests or changing smart-lock codes)
  • Maintenance (replacing furniture, painting)

If you manage multiple units, this quickly turns into a full-time job. That’s why many hosts choose to outsource some or all of these tasks.

But how do you decide which tasks to outsource? That’s an important decision every host has to make. It depends on four factors:

  • Do you enjoy the work?
  • Do you have enough time to be an Airbnb host?
  • Are you comfortable giving a third party control over your listing?
  • Are you happy with the results as a DIY host?

So let’s go through these four factors one by one.

Do you enjoy the work?

This is the most important factor.

Answer these questions:

  • Do you enjoy being an Airbnb host?
  • Do you enjoy the work?
  • Are you passionate about hospitality?
  • Are you excited to meet your guests?
  • Are you excited to answer their questions?

If the answer to all of these questions isn’t a resounding yes, then you should consider outsourcing at least some of the tasks.

If you’re not enjoying the work as an Airbnb host, then there’s a good chance you’re going to either burn out, or you won’t deliver a great guest experience. The guests can sense your energy. If you’re not enjoying it, it will affect their experience.

We’ve all stayed at hotels and Airbnbs. Think back to all your stays. Remember that one time you arrived at the hotel and the manager/owner of the hotel welcomed you?

Couldn’t you sense they were super excited to host you, chat with you, and show you around? When you meet a passionate host with positive energy, your guest experience is amazing.

Even through communications, even through your messages, you can tell if somebody’s excited to host you or if they’re doing it just to get money in their pocket.

Do you have enough time to be a great host?

If you want to be successful on Airbnb or other short-term rentals platform, you need to do an outstanding job. You have to put in the hours. If you’re running a full-time listing and you’re looking to maximize your profit, that means you will be occupied somewhere between 70% and 100%.

You’re looking at somewhere between 30 to 40 hours a month if you’re doing everything yourself. Now, of course, you can outsource parts of the work. You can hire a cleaner, a checking person, or even use automated Airbnb pricing tools or automated messaging tools such as Beyond Pricing and Smartbnb, which will save you time.

But even if you’re outsourcing and using technology, you’re still looking at around 10 hours a month for the tasks that you can’t automate.

It’s important to ask yourself: Do you realistically have time to do all this work?

Spoiler alert!

There's a way to automate the routine without any compromise on the guest experience.
I warned you. Discover the time-saving goodies.

A lot of people start with Airbnb hosting while working a full-time job. They think it’s a little side-kick and that it’s going to take an hour or two a week. Soon enough, they will realize that it’s too much.

It’s either eating too much into their free and social time, or it’s causing too much stress. They’re trying to combine their full-time job with Airbnb hosting. It’s not just the amount of time you need to consider.

You also need to consider the fact that, as an Airbnb host, you need to be available for your guests pretty much 24/7. Even before your guests arrive, if they have a question, they expect a quick response. And if you don’t respond right away, that hurts the guests’ experience. This will be reflected in your ratings and reviews and leads to fewer bookings. That’s a road you don’t want to take. You have to be responsive, even if you’re in a meeting at work.

One of the time-saving exercises is to check if you haven’t done any of the popular hosting mistakes. If you did, get ready to spend time on resolving conflicts and answering additional questions.

During the guests’ stay, somebody has to be an on-call 24/7. There could be an emergency, or a guest might have some issues that need to be solved.

For example, I’ve had guests that locked themselves out in the middle of the night. I’ve also had guests who got a little bit drunk, and they didn’t manage to open the door.

Are you comfortable giving a third party control over your home?

The third factor you want to consider is, are you comfortable giving a third party control over your home and your listing? Because not everybody is. And if you’re not comfortable handing the remote control to a property management company, then it will not lead to a very pleasant experience for you and your property manager.

What happens is, the property management company is a professional company, and they know how to get the most profit from your listing. They know how to manage it, so they don’t need your help as a host. If you find a professional property management company, then you want to give them the remote control, and you let them do their job.

Let them set the prices, let them decide who they are going to host, let them decide what and when they are going to message your guest. They’ll choose what to provide in terms of the amenities and may even change your interior design. Trust your property management company because they’re professionals. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, you’re better off doing everything yourself.

Because if you’re going to look over the shoulder of your property manager and challenge every action that they take, then it’s going to be stressful for you. And it will be annoying for the property manager. In short, it’s not a good match. It will lead to a bad experience for both parties.

So, be honest asking yourself: Are you okay giving full control of a listing in your home to a third party? If not, then you should consider hosting yourself and hire a cleaner or a checking person if you don’t have time to do those tasks.

But if it’s a yes, and you trust a third party and give them the benefit of the doubt, then let them do it for a couple of months or half a year and see what the results are.

Are you happy with the current results?

If you are already hosting on Airbnb, you want to look at your performance. If you’re just starting out, then, of course, you don’t know what your performance is yet.

But, if you’ve been hosting for a while, you need to ask the question: Are you happy with the results?

If you’re not, there’s a chance that a property management company can actually get better results than you. They are professionals, after all. And they have managed a lot of listings, they have hospitality expertise, they have expertise when it comes to getting your listing higher in the search results and setting optimal prices.

They also have economies of scale. As they manage a lot of listings, they have a full-time cleaning staff, a communication team, and someone checking in their guests. Which means, if the guests have questions or issues, there’s someone who’s always available to help them. And that’s much harder to achieve when you’re a DIY host.

A property management company might be able to get a better result than you. If you are a DIY host and the cleaner you have is not available, or if you have no time to do the cleaning yourself, that might mean that you can’t accept back-to-back bookings. So you might have some gaps in your calendar. But the property management company has a full-time team, so there will always going to be able to turn over your unit within the 3 or 4 hours, and that means they’re more efficient and can get better results from your property.

To summarize, the three things you want to ask yourself when deciding to be a DIY host or not:

Do you enjoy the work?

Do you have enough time to be an Airbnb host?

Are you happy with the results as a DIY host?

If the answer isn’t a resounding YES to these three questions, then being a DIY host is for you!

If the answer to any of these questions is a clear NO, then you should ask yourself one more question:

Are you comfortable giving a third party control over your listing?

If the answer is YES (and be honest!) then go find the best property management company in your area.

I hope you answered NO

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If the answer is NO, then your best bet is to manage your Airbnb yourself and outsource the tasks that you don’t enjoy or don’t have time for.

Get started with a free, no-commitment 14 day trial of Smartbnb to fully automate your guest communications inside of Airbnb and Vrbo!

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