Running an Airbnb business is the perfect amalgamation of running an online business with physical assets. You don’t just need to be able to find great properties and negotiate deals, but you also need to create great photos and write captivating headlines.
My opinion is that any technology or resources that can help simplify and streamline this process is worth the cost. This is a list of some of my favorite tools for running a successful Airbnb business, whether you’re just getting started with market research or looking to automate and scale your existing portfolio.
So let’s jump into it!
Helpful Tech Tools for Running a Short-Term Rental
Before you spend your money on fancy software, don’t forget to utilize the free Airbnb app or website. You have no-cost access to a ton of information—you just have to know what you’re looking for.
If you’re starting your Airbnb business on a budget, then this is one of the first places you want to go to do your market research. The Airbnb website is also one of the first places you should go when looking for a new property, whether you’re experienced or just getting started.
On the site, you can research which property types are doing the best in your area. It won’t be as detailed as some of the paid services, but if you scroll through the listings, you will start to learn what’s working and what’s not.
AirDNA is a paid software program specifically designed for investors in the short-term rental and Airbnb space. If you’ve ever dealt with the commercial property software known as CoStar, then think of this as the equivalent—but for Airbnbs instead.
AirDNA will be your secret weapon when it comes to conducting thorough and effective market research. It allows you to peer into the matrix and obtain access to all of the backend financial data related to your market. You will be able to find out which exact zip codes produce the most income, what seasons are most profitable, what property types are most successful, and much more.
AirDNA is a paid service that provides access to market data only for specific regions that you unlock as you pay for them. It’s not too much for one region, but if you’re looking to expand to multiple cities and states, it can add up.
3. Smart Locks
When it comes to automating your Airbnb business, smart locks will play a key role in your strategy. In order for your guests to properly check-in themselves, they will need to be able to access the property without relying on you or someone else to help them. When you start to scale past three properties, the self-check-in option will become essential to successfully operate your business.
Smart locks are a technology that allows you to control access to your property by using an app on your smartphone. Most smart locks will allow you to do various actions, such as monitor who is entering your property, provide temporary passwords, and grant remote access.
There are many brands of smart locks currently on the market that you can choose from. August Smart Locks is an excellent brand that many people swear by; however, there are other great ones, too, such as Kwikset, Samsung, and Yale.
4. Google Calendar
If you currently use Gmail, then you already have access to all the other apps on Google, like Drive, Trips, and Docs. Google Calendar is great, because it easily blends with your email use. So when you set appointments, it will automatically sync with your calendar and send you a reminder. This ease of automation will become essential once you have a lot of things going on each day.
The main benefit to using Google Calendar is that you can share your listing schedule with your other business partners. For example, by syncing your calendar with Airbnb, you can send your booking schedule to your cleaning crew so they will know exactly when they need to show up and clean.
Then later on if you need to let someone go, you can simply revoke their shared status so they will no longer have access. This is a great feature since business doesn’t always go as planned.
Once you’ve done extensive market research on your target area, you will want to start searching for properties to invest in. One of the best free resources you can use for this is Zillow. Zillow offers numerous filtering options to narrow down your search, such as number of bedrooms, a specific zip code, and keyword searches (for words such as “furnished”).
Once you conduct your market research, you will have a ton of data to work with. You will know exactly which areas are most profitable, which size of properties make the most money, and which amenities people want the most. This information is useless if you can’t apply it to your property search.
Zillow will allow you to hone in on exactly what you’re looking for, which will save you a lot of time, effort, and money. There are other platforms that offer similar services that you should supplement your property search with, as well, such as Apartments.com, HotPads, and Trulia.
6. Legal Zoom
When it’s time to choose your legal entity (such as a LLC, corporation, or limited partnership), Legal Zoom is the place to go for people who are on a budget. The days of having to spend thousands of dollars to pay an attorney to form a company are long gone.
Thanks to the advent of this resource and others like it, you can choose from all of the common business types and have your company formed in a week or two. All of the essential documents will be mailed to your doorstep in a neatly packaged binder. Legal Zoom will also walk you through any further steps you need to take to set up your business, such as additional licensing, registered agents, and foreign qualification.
Docracy is a free open source platform that allows users to upload and download business and legal documents online. You can find everything you need on the site—i.e., lease agreements, purchase and sales agreements, and letters of intent.
When you’re just starting out with very little capital, you probably won’t be able to hire a full-time attorney to draft up documents for you. This resource allows you to do it yourself for free. My advice, though, is to read each document you download to make sure it doesn’t have anything in it you will regret later on.
Tracking your financial data might not be something you’re used to doing in your daily life, but it’s absolutely essential once you get into business. Each dollar of revenue you make must be accounted for and it must be given a task—whether it’s for expenses or for expanding the business.
A great tool that I’ve used for years for personal and business use is QuickBooks. You can access everything you need from your phone, and the operating system is easy to learn. You are able to scan receipts, track your mileage, estimate taxes, and much more. The app for business costs between $5 and $10 per month, so anyone can afford it.
Later on when you get to 10 properties or more, you may want to hire a professional bookkeeper, who will do all of this for you.
9. Beyond Pricing
Beyond Pricing is a dynamic pricing tool that automatically adjusts your daily booking rate to increase sales by up to 40 percent on average. The software adjusts your rates depending on seasonality, day of the week, and special events. For example, you may be able to charge more in a certain season or when there is a huge event in your city.
You can definitely do this task manually, but it will be a pain-staking process—especially once you have more than three properties in your portfolio. Beyond Pricing is a tool for people who are looking to expand their business and automate it in the process. This tool and others like it are essential if you want to maximize the earning potential of your properties.
If you’ve been in real estate longer than a minute, then you are well aware of the fact that properties sometimes have problems. Whether the task is too complex for your skillset or you just don’t have the time, Handy will help solve that problem for you.
Handy is a full-service handyman business that offers professional workers for lawn care, furniture assembly, home renovations, plumbing, and much more. If you’ve got handy work that needs to be done, then you can easily find someone here to get it done for a great price.
The amazing thing is that Handy is available all over the United States, so if you have multiple properties in multiple states, you can quickly find someone to get the job done without having to physically be there to work out the deal.
Upwork is a freelancing platform, where businesses and individuals can hire out professional jobs to virtual contractors all across the world. When you post a job, you will receive several offers from seasoned experts in your target category. You can clearly see their credentials and past jobs, which gives you more certainty in picking who you want to work with.
Upwork is the place to go for all of your digital and internet-based jobs that you need to have completed, such as marketing, website design, and admin support. You can even hire people to do physical things—i.e., customer service, answer phone calls, send emails, accounting, and more.
Learning how to automate and outsource highly specialized tasks without hiring new employees is essential when you begin to grow your business, and Upwork will make that process much more streamlined.
Most people have probably seen HGTV shows at one point or another, but not many people know that there is also a website with all kinds of valuable resources for decorating your properties. If you’re not very creative or don’t exactly have an eye for design (like myself), then you need inspiration and successful ideas that you can model.
The HGTV website has tons of decorating ideas and remodeling examples, but my favorite aspect of the site is the section called photo inspiration. You can find this section in the menu bar at the top of the site. When you click it you will have the option to choose which aspect of the home you are searching for, like kitchen, bedroom, or patio. From there, you can choose your color and specific style (e.g., modern, contemporary, southwestern, etc.).
These resources, along with Instagram, Pinterest, and Google Images, will help you design the perfect property.
13, 14, & 15. Pixlr, GIMP, & Canva
When it comes to optimizing your Airbnb properties to be as successful as possible, quality photos are an absolute must. If you can hire an interior designer and a professional photographer to work together to get the best display photos of your listing, then go for it. But in the beginning, most people can’t afford to dish out $1,000 or more to do this. So instead you’ll have to be resourceful.
These days, most people have a smartphone that shoots in 1080p, which is more than enough to make great photos if you know what you’re doing. With a little bit of reading online, you can learn the basics of photography, such as lighting, angles, and editing.
Once you have your photos taken, you can make them look fantastic with free photo editing software online. Pixlr, GIMP, and Canva are great free resources for photo editing that are easy to use and will make your photos look fantastic.
There are many more free and paid tools out on the market that I haven’t experimented with yet, but these are my favorites. I’m confident you’ll find them useful, too!
Are there other helpful tech tools I’ve missed here? Do you have any additional short-term rental issues you think technology could solve, but you aren’t sure where to find the appropriate tool?
Let’s talk in the comment section below!