A Guide to Optimizing Vacation Rental Staffing for Smooth Operations and Loyal Employees

Learn how to increase productivity with a smaller team

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Travel is finally back on the rise following the pandemic, so you may be seeing more reservations rolling in from and Vrbo. And perhaps an increasing number of vacation rental owners are reaching out to you about your property management services.

While these are certainly good things for your business, you need the right staff in order to maintain progress. And with a recession looming and hospitality labor shortages creating challenges across the industry, optimizing the staffing of your vacation rentals is rightly a priority. 


When you rely on manual processes that aren’t scalable and are susceptible to human error, you’re setting yourself up for failure should a key member of staff leave your team. But with the right vacation rental software solutions and hiring practices in place, you can get more out of your team and reduce your staff-to-unit ratio. 


In this article, you’ll find 


  • Practical insights into hiring and managing vacation rental employees
  • Information on standard operating procedures and how they can help your business
  • The types of software tools you can use to create scalable processes
  • How a platform that centralizes your operations can drastically improve efficiency

Read other chapters in The Reservation Recession.

Want to cut back on errors while taking pressure off your staff?

With Operto Teams, you can see all your bookings, cleans, and pending issues, all in one place. It’s time to make everyone’s job easier.

Improve your systems 

To make your staff more efficient, you need to provide them with systems that run smoothly and minimize the possibility of any error. A failing system is one that’s unable to correct its mistakes, and when those errors repeat, you can see negative impacts on both your staff and guests. 


Additionally, without efficient ops, you’ll be hard-pressed to scale, as much of your energy will be directed towards the overwhelm of your daily operations and away from higher-level business management. 


Spreadsheets and wall calendars no longer cut it—these systems leave room for last-minute booking changes to fall through the cracks, are challenging to track, and can mean missed cleanings, unhappy guests, and general chaos. Take a look at how you can improve your systems with automation, hospitality software, and standard operating procedures. 


Automate processes

Simply put, you should automate processes wherever possible. By automating your processes, you make them more scalable, limit human error, reduce stress, and get back valuable time in your day. Take a look at an example of where automating processes can help your staff and keep guests happy.


If your employees are responsible for scheduling pre-check-in cleanings, a last-minute booking for a busy holiday weekend may mean that clean slips through the cracks. The outcome isn’t pretty: Your guest shows up to a messy room, complains to management, and your already short-staffed team has to find and send a cleaner over to address the issue ASAP. 


But if you automate your housekeeping scheduling, cleans don’t get missed, and your guests will arrive to a unit that meets their high expectations. Automation not only cuts down on mistakes but also lightens your employees’ workload so they can focus on their tasks without being pulled in to put out fires.

Screenshot of Operto Teams Master Calendar.
Operto Teams allows for easy organization of tasks.

Get the right software

Automating your processes and taking pressure off your staff is effortless with the right software. Use guest engagement and housekeeping software that integrates with your property management system so you know the status of all your units is correct and up-to-date. 


You should look for vacation rental software that offers the following features: 


  • Automated booking updates linked directly to your PMS
  • Auto-generated tasks that are triggered with every booking
  • A platform that lets your team share updated information on unit status
  • Route optimization that schedules cleans according to their location to save staff time
  • Additional features that offer solutions to common problems like linen packing, time tracking, and billing

To find the right solution, you need to first identify the problems that cause you the most trouble. Do your staff forget to schedule cleaning and maintenance tasks? Are they stretched thin because of long distances between properties? Does your team suffer from internal communication issues?


Find a software solution that solves all your problems, all in one place, so you can streamline your operations and take pressure off your staff. 

Simplify and centralize your operations with Operto Teams. Discover features like:

– Auto-generated tasks for seamless scheduling
– Internal messaging capabilities
– Route optimization
– Linen packing reports
– Time tracking
– Billing and invoicing
– PMS integration

Establish standard operating procedures

To keep your staff happy and productive, it’s essential to have standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place. Not only will these SOPs lay the groundwork for smooth operations, but they’re also critical in emergency situations. 


If one of your key team members is out sick on a busy Friday afternoon, an SOP detailing your property management checklist will help other staff members who aren’t as familiar with these procedures get guests into their units with ease. 


Your SOPs should be detailed and consistent, and you should create them with the ultimate goal of being scalable and applicable to your business at whatever size it reaches. Remember that SOPs are flexible and should evolve to fit your team’s needs at any given time. 


Centralize management systems for a complete picture in one place

Optimizing staffing isn’t just about your ground staff: You need to think of your management staff as well. To optimize management, you need to find a way for your employees to get an overview of all your operations, all in one place, without having to switch between multiple tabs and platforms. 


By centralizing your operations, you give your management staff a 30,000-foot view of everything, from booking calendars to noise status at your units, so they can have constant access to accurate information and make informed decisions.


Use a hospitality operating system that connects all your tools in one place

By working with a hospitality operating system that centralizes all your tools and systems, you make things easier for your staff while cutting back on errors. But what might this look like for your team? You should look for a system that combines and displays: 


  • Remote access logs for all your units
  • Bookings through your PMS
  • Internal and guest communication
  • Real-time issue alerts
  • Housekeeping scheduling
  • Maintenance task tracking
  • Noise monitoring
  • Energy control

Give your management staff the ability to see all the information they need to stay ahead of everything in one place to increase efficiency and reduce stress. 

Operto Connect notifications
With Operto Connect, centralize every aspect of your operations management and communication.

Incorporate tech solutions into your operating system that boost efficiency 

Once you find an operating system that centralizes your tasks, find ways to make your processes even more efficient. Automation, as we mentioned above, can help you maximize productivity, but there are other tech solutions you can turn to as well. 


For example, with contactless access, you no longer have to send staff out to let guests into their units: Your guests can enjoy the convenience of digital check-in and you can free up time for your employees to focus on other tasks. 


And if you send a digital guidebook to your guests as soon as they make their reservation on a booking engine or your direct booking site, you can cut back on guest questions that eat up your employees’ workdays. 


Manage all these solutions in your all-in-one dashboard, where you also have an overview of scheduling, occupancy status, and issue reports, for optimal operations.

With Operto, see your bookings, cleaning calendar, maintenance tasks, unit occupancy, and much more, all on one convenient platform.

Hiring and managing your team

Finally, the best way to optimize vacation rental staffing is by being strategic about the people you hire and how you treat them. Property management companies can’t afford to fall victim to the hospitality industry’s notoriously high turnover rates, which is why you need to take the right approach to hiring your employees.


And while it’s important to hire the right people, it’s even more important to treat your existing employees well, as Julie George, a leading Airbnb expert and author of the book Million Dollar Host, explains:


“Value and respect your existing team. It’s costly and time-consuming to recruit and train a new team member, so be sure to utilize strategies to empower your existing staff, help lift their spirits, and incentivize them to remain loyal to you.”


Hire former hospitality industry employees

People who have experience in hospitality, specifically in the hotel or accommodation industry, are already familiar with the types of processes that are required to run a short-term rental business and know what it takes to meet guest expectations. 


But while hiring former hospitality workers is ideal, it may not be possible if you find yourself in a time crunch. However, you can also hire individuals coming from fields like customer support, or other customer-facing roles, if you’re looking to fill a position that deals closely with guests. 


And when it comes to your management staff, it could be a good idea to hire someone from a start-up or another fast-paced work environment, as they will be equipped with rapid and innovative problem-solving skills. 


Have a stellar onboarding process

What’s the best way to make your employees happy from the get-go? Give them a seamless onboarding experience. According to a Brandon Hall Group report, “organizations with a strong onboarding process improve new hire retention by 82% and productivity by over 70%.” 


When you clearly define each hire’s role, outline your company’s processes, and provide answers to your new employees’ questions, your staff are more likely to stick around and become more efficient. Learn from each new employee’s onboarding, sending out a survey afterward, so you can constantly make improvements to the process. 


Develop team skills 

You know how the saying goes: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. The same goes for your short-term rental property staff. It’s inevitable that at some point, an employee will go on leave, quit, or be fired. And you don’t want to be put in a bind if that individual was a critical member of your staff. 


One of the main reasons short-term rental companies should train their staff frequently is to prevent a situation where only one person on the team can complete a task or solve a problem. Regular trainings and workshops, as well as updated SOPs, are all great ways to keep employees at the top of their game. 


Pro tip: Aside from making employee training a part of your regular business practices, encourage management staff to continue their professional development by taking courses and attending seminars on short-term rental operations and marketing.


Foster internal growth 

An employee who sees a future at their workplace is much more likely to be invested in improving that workplace. That’s why you should make internal growth an essential part of your employee retention strategy. 


Rather than turning outwards for new hires, focus on training and encouraging your employees from day one so they see a future at your business. Not only will your employees be more motivated to learn and improve, but you’ll also create a well-established management team that is deeply familiar with your operations. 


Optimize staffing for smoother vacation rental operations

Your property management software can only do so much for you. In order to truly optimize your staffing, and in turn your operations, you need to:


  • Hire the right people
  • Create a workplace that fosters growth and retention
  • Implement systems that make your employees’ jobs easier
  • Centralize your operations to improve efficiency and cut down on mistakes
  • Use vacation rental software to streamline your processes

With the right tools, you can automate repetitive tasks and reduce the workload for your staff so they can focus on growing professionally and scaling your business.

Harness the power of automation and centralization for optimized staffing. 

With Operto Teams, your cleans will always reflect the latest booking information, you can easily see which tasks need to be prioritized, and even the distance between properties will be factored into staff scheduling.