November 9, 2023

Can you really make money with short-term rentals? Part II

How to Scale Your Business Without Losing Profitability

Welcome back, savvy entrepreneurs and aspiring property owners! Now that you have mastered the short-term rental business fundamentals of increasing revenue and reducing costs, it's time to roll up your sleeves and dive into the exciting world of scaling up. You asked, "Can I really make a profit with short-term rentals?" The answer is still a definite "Yes! But the real power lies in growing your business smartly. This is your Part II guide to expanding your short-term rental business without thinning your wallet.

Data: Your Compass for Expansion

Before we set sail for expansion, let's talk about navigation. Think of data as your compass in the vast sea of the rental business. Before you can scale your business, you need to learn how to collect data. Without data, you can't predict risk. Find the pain points that require manual work and automate processes without adding cost. Are you still checking in guests with pen and paper? Are your cleaning staff synchronised by a flow of texts and calls? It's time for a change. Start with property management system (PMS) automation and then move on to other business processes.

  • The Bulk Effect: Try to find ways to service apartments in bulk rather than individually. Now imagine being able to service a fleet of apartments with the same effort as managing one. This is not merely a wishful dream. By servicing apartments in bulk while precisely projecting expenses, your profit margin will not simply withstand expansion; instead, it will thrive.
  • Pay great attention to staff selection: Your staff are the heroes of the business narrative. A team with hotel experience is not just an extra benefit; it's your frontline in maintaining quality and avoiding costly mistakes. Take the time to hire wisely - your brand's reputation hangs in balance.
  • Create your signature offer and brand reputation: What makes your rental stand out? Is it the local artisan coffee on the counter, the hand-picked decor or the seamless check-in process? Establish your competitive differentiation in the marketplace. It's not just about having a place to stay, it's about creating an experience that resonates with your guests.

The main risk is the mismatch between income and expenses. There are cases in the market where short-term rental companies went bankrupt because they overestimated their resources. They lacked a systematic approach to scaling and their management model was based on owning a large pool of properties, which ultimately led to their collapse. Keep your ambitions in line with your capabilities.

Less Obvious Ways to Increasing Income

Now, let's talk about the roads less travelled that can lead you to pots of gold:

  • Reputation Management: Your reputation is the lifeline of your business. Neglect it, and you risk it all. But who has the time? You do, with the right tools and strategy in place.
  • Guest Service Automation: An integration of the guest service management tool, such as XAAN, can infuse your business with services that improve your guest experience and secure repeat bookings. With automation you save your time and resources, and with a network of trusted service providers you can 100% outsource this task track.
  • Diversification: Why cater to one when you can cater to many? Diversify apartments, cover different customer segments, and work on your product mix, paying attention to infrastructure and apartment specifics.
  • Strategic Collaborations: No business is an island. Collaborate with other market players to make wholesale purchases, which can lower operating costs.
  • Think global, act local: Don't limit yourself geographically and forecast expenses for textiles, hygiene products, etc. , to build a solid supply chain for your supplies.

Staying Ahead: Surfing the Wave of Market Trends in STR

The short-term rental market is constantly evolving. To stay ahead, you need to ride the wave, not just watch it. Here’s how:

  • Foster Community Connections: Isolation is a business killer. Engage with the community of market players. Share your numbers, your failures, and your wins. In return, you'll gain insights that can drive your business forward.
  • Continuous Learning: Never stop learning. Keep an eye on the events calendar. Attend seminars and workshops. Dive into different areas of knowledge: digital marketing, hospitality trends, property management technology, AI tools. You might just stumble across your next big innovation.
  • Subscribe to Industry Newsletters: Last but not least, keep up to date with market news and trends. For example, read the monthly XAAN newsletter to find out the top news and events of the month. Think of newsletters as a fast track to the latest industry trends, tips and success stories from the world of short-term rental.

Scaling a business isn't about spreading yourself thin across the map, adding more properties; it's about deepening your roots and branching out with purpose. Build a solid foundation, innovate and continually improve. By focusing on automation, smart staffing, unique offerings and operational efficiencies, while building your brand reputation and staying on top of industry trends.

So as we close this chapter, remember that scaling your short-term rental business is a marathon, not a sprint.