Help going solo
I hope this post finds you all well. I have been pondering a transition from using vacation rental management (Evolve) to independently managing my vacation rentals. While Evolve has been pretty reliable in terms of handling bookings and guest communication, I feel like I'm losing out on the potential benefits of having more control over my own management process. I feel like most of the guest queries they pass onto me anyway! The reason I started with them in the first place is that I have a full time job and needed someone else to take some of the heat. Looking now to leave my W2 income and manage our portfolio full time this seems like the obvious next step. I have been all over Bigger Pockets and am a regular listener to Short Term Rental Nation podcast.
One major concern I have is that by leaving Evolve, I would essentially be starting over. They own all of my guest reviews and rental history, making it challenging to establish my reputation elsewhere. This aspect has me feeling a bit hesitant about pulling the trigger on this change.
Therefore, I wanted to reach out to the blogging community here and hear your experiences with a similar transition. Have any of you left vacation rental management services like Evolve to go solo and utilize a platform like Guesty? If so, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the process and if you encountered any hurdles with rebuilding your reputation.
Here are a few questions that come to mind:
1. How did you handle the transition of reviews and rental history from the management service to your new platform?
2. Did utilizing a platform like Guesty help you gain more control over your vacation rentals, or did you face any unexpected challenges?
3. Were there any significant benefits or disadvantages you experienced by leaving a management service and going independent?
I greatly appreciate any insights, advice, or personal anecdotes you can share! This community has always been incredibly helpful, and I value your expertise in navigating the world of vacation rental management.
after switching from Evolve, I didn't bother to buy or transfer reviews from them. felt like more of a hassle doing it. They do sell photos/descriptions after your 90 days time with them.
I have used Guesty for hosts, since I currently only manage one property(I have mixed opinions on this, few things to note are that VRBO integration can be an absolute pain, scheduled messages can be a hit-and-miss (you will have to disconnect and reconnect at times), you could potentially choose hospitable/hostaway/guesty for pros if you need more robust PMS.
One thing to note is you will have to learn a little bit of dynamic pricing( pick and choose your favourite and try them out before settling) pricelabs/wheelhouse/guesty price optimizer
Once you start managing yourself, you will thank yourself later for the money that you will end up saving. The only thing to keep in mind is finding a reliable cleaner(make sure you have good communication/backup plans), and a good handyman.
understand your market and do the switch in a slow period, that way you can get experience and not lose a lot trying to figure it out.
I have learnt a great deal from bigger pockets, and lots of helpful people here. when in doubt ask and be specific to get the quickest answer :)
Evolve and Vacasa are management companies in name only. They are basically slick marketing companies that will charge you upwards of 40 percent to "manage" your property. Either find someone local that can truly manage it, or self-manage. Evolve and Vacasa offer you the worst of both worlds, and a cursory review of either will tell you this.
Thank you so much for taking the time to respond to me. I totally agree about Evolve. More and more of the hard work I feel like I am doing myself and they are taking 10% for this which adds up even with a smaller 6 property portfolio over the course of a year. I am 100% in agreement that I should make the switch. It is more the how to go about it because they have all of my reviews, photos, previous guests which goes back nearly 5 years across multiple platforms. I didn't know you could buy the photos and the reviews though. This is good to know as it was my main hesitation. I guess this would be the first step.
In terms of a management platform, people often say its personal preference, but do you recommend guesty / hostaway? I am looking for something that would be a 'one stop shop' with a dynamic pricing tool included if possible.
In terms of knowing my market, I am lucky there as I have been operating there for several years and have a great team of cleaners, handymen etc.
It sounds like you have all your ducks in a row @Phil Wrigley. You just need to rip the bandaid off and get a move on.
You can't do much about the AirBNB listing, but I have heard that VRBO will transfer the listing, but I think the PM has to be in agreement. I am guessing they will not.
I would do some spruce up of each place and get new photos and create new listings. I am betting that you won't see too much of a drop as it will be obvious that it is the same place with new management.
I can't really help with the PMS but if you search, there are a ton of threads on the various products out there and there is a lot.
With one property it is pretty easy to self manage with the built in tools provided by Vrbo and Airbnb. These will synchronize calenders with each other too.
I'd copy your descriptions from Evolve.
I wonder if you could do a screenshot of some of your best reviews so that is doesn't show anything from Evolve and make these pictures? Just thinking outloud on this.
This can be so hard to switch from Evolve or Vacasa, but the best way is just to give them your notice and jump into self-managing. There are so many tools to help you and I'm sure you'll be able to get bookings so long as you have good design and professional photos. Plus, you'll probably get better reviews and give guests a lovely experience.
If you need a one-stop shop, then go with "Guesty for pro" https://www.guesty.com/pricing/ since you have more properties to manage.
If you know what and how to set up your messaging and cleaner schedule then this should be fairly simple. Otherwise, it's a little bit of trial and error.
Once you have the subscription you should be able to get the smart pricing from guesty turned on which will sync across calendars. One thing to note is that they charge a percentage commission for each booking (like 1%), if you want to pay flat/monthly go with pricelabs.
Get started somewhere, things will eventually fall in place.
Great advice here, but on @John Underwood's idea, the text written for the ad could be under some kind of copywrite restriction.
I don't think they actually filed for copywrite protection, but there could be wording in your contract. Same with the reviews.
I like the idea of posting the reviews as pics, just be careful you don't get sued.
Quote from @Phil Wrigley:That might be a good idea! Get your feet wet, instead of going under water trying to do all of them at the same time! :)
@Sarah Kensinger I guess it’s a now or never situation and best to jump right in! I was thinking perhaps move the properties over gradually? Start with the smallest one?
Quote from @Phil Wrigley:I'll DM you....
@Sarah Kensinger Looking at your page, where did you get started? I love hearing other people’s stories and would love to get into co hosting in my market….
If you're willing to put the work in, operating your STR independently and as it's own experience can be extremely advantageous. I know at the STR wealth conference Bill Faeth and other speakers were preaching of the potential value of this. I'd think there's plenty of guidance on this in the "Build Short Term Rental Wealth" FB group.
Check out the Short Term Rental Management Show podcast that Luke Carl does. It's your go-to source.
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