Scaling Your Short-Term Rental Business: 6 Strategies to Grow Your Portfolio
See what tools to use, how to understand STR markets & how to make your brand memorable so you can scale operations & win more guests & homeowners.
December 6, 2023
Your hospitality can be second to none, your guests may consistently give you five-star reviews, and your homeowner clients might recommend you to all their friends.
But you’ll still find it impossible to scale your short-term rental business if you rely on manual processes, you’re overwhelmed with guests messaging and calls every weekend, and you’re continually ringing around cleaners to check who’s available.
Scaling your business requires you to be highly efficient across all your operations. But even with fully streamlined processes, there are still other areas you’ll need to address so you can grow your portfolio.
How should you use branding to communicate your values and unique value proposition?
How can you protect your properties from the risk of parties, loud noise, and smoking when you’re managing them remotely?
How can you know which areas to invest in, the property types with the most earning potential, or which amenities to offer your guests?
In this article, we discuss all these key issues. You’ll find out about the importance of messaging and tying that messaging with your brand, you’ll learn about what tools to use to automate essential tasks, and you’ll see how to maintain visibility across your entire portfolio—so you can continue to deliver for your guests and property owners as you scale.
6 strategies for scaling your short-term rental business
Here we look at some of the most important strategies to consider when scaling your short-term rental (STR) business.
We include recommendations on what STR technology to use so you can automate processes to operate more efficiently, remotely protect your properties from parties and smoking, synchronize listings, and gain data-driven insights into local vacation rental markets.
1. Build your brand
Rental property managers have two customers: The guest and the homeowner. With strong branding, you can speak to both those groups and define what’s special about your services. You can also develop greater customer loyalty, improve retention among your homeowners, and increase your direct bookings.
Here are some of the areas where your target audience can experience your brand:
The layout of your website, listings, emails, and posts
Your property names, business name, and logo
Your tone of voice (TOV)
Photography of your properties and surrounding areas
Your values and messaging
Your property decor and care, amenities, use of technology, and services
By establishing a strong identity throughout all these key areas, you make your vacation rental business more instantly recognizable and memorable, and you can communicate important ideas about who your target audience is, your guest experience, and your unique value proposition.
For example, if you operate in areas where guests look to experience the outdoors, be active, and go hiking, your business logo, TOV, and imagery can reflect an interest in nature and the wilderness, making you relatable and engaging to that audience.
We look at two examples of powerful strategic branding below.
Nature House: Caring for the environment
As you can immediately see in the image below, Nature House—a Dutch rental property management company—uses strong branding to target nature lovers.
Nature House’s logo cleverly combines the image of a leaf with a cabin, the website pictures a guest enjoying the outdoors in an idyllic setting, and the messaging is always on point for both types of customer: “Contribute to nature conservation,” “Welcome guests who respect nature and [the] environment,” “A holiday in the midst of nature.”
Bob W: Streamlined and sustainable
Another example of strong branding is Minut’s partner, Bob W—a European vacation rental management business specializing in aparthotels—whose branding focuses on tech-enabled stays and sustainability. Bob W is urban, modern, and streamlined.
Here are some examples of the language you’ll find on the Bob W website: “Interiors created by the coolest local designers and artists,” “Every stay is climate neutral and fully carbon offset,” “Fully equipped kitchens, contactless access, fast WiFi, 24/7 support, regular professional cleaning, local gym passes and more.”
The messaging is consistent throughout, as is Bob W’s use of technology to enhance its services, the guest experience, and operational efficiency.
“We were looking for hardware that could help with party prevention, climate monitoring and potential reduction of electricity/heating bills. We chose Minut, because they offer one simple device which includes all the necessary sensors and a rechargeable battery. This means we just need to install one sensor per apartment with no cabling required [giving] us the advantage of low-cost maintenance.”
The Bob W team.
You can discover more about how Bob W uses Minut to prevent neighbor complaints and reduce their carbon footprint in our three-minute case study.
Pro tip: If you’d like to learn more about vacation rental sustainability, see our Host Happy site for STR professionals, with articles from experts like Bob Garner, Vanessa De Souza Lage, and Nikki Mattei.
The most common barrier to scaling any business is your manual processes. When you rely on individuals to perform repetitive tasks like sending out messages, scheduling work, or reviewing and updating pricing, it becomes increasingly difficult to manage as you add units to your portfolio.
When you automate these processes, though, you can grow your portfolio without it increasing your workload or affecting the quality of your service. In fact, using software to automate work coordination, schedule guest messages, and run dynamic pricing optimizes your operations so you’re more efficient, communicative, and competitive.
Here are some key areas where automated processes improve your business performance and ability to scale:
Auto-scheduling cleaning and maintenance Connect tools like Minut partner Breezeway with your property management system (PMS) to automate cleaning schedules. No more hours spent on coordinating cleaners and no more missed cleans—even when there’s a last-minute booking change.
Guest messaging Use an all-in-one solution like Minut to schedule templated messages to guests based on their check-in and check-out times. Minut connects with your PMS to auto-personalize your message templates. Guests get all the information they need, and you’re no longer a slave to your phone.
Smart locks Use tools like Minut partners Igloohome and Nukki so guests can access the property using an auto-shared code or a mobile key. Even with a growing portfolio, you can easily manage guest access—better for guests, and less work for you and your team.
Dynamic pricing Tools like PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, and Beyond Pricing use live data from thousands of sources to optimize your rates for factors like sudden demand fluctuations, competitor rates, seasonality, and property-specific amenities. This saves you from developing in-house expertise and allows you to improve occupancy and average daily rate (ADR).
3. Implement scalable home protection solutions
Scaling your STR business could mean managing properties in varied locations, which can affect your ability to perform what most homeowners consider your most important task—protecting their property.
With the reduced visibility that comes with remotely managing a large vacation rental portfolio, you might not know for hours if there’s been an unauthorized gathering or party, excessive noise, or even property and contents damage.
The solution is to use a standalone privacy-safe sensor to gain visibility, protect homes from party damage, stop cigarette smoke, and save neighbors from disturbances.
The Minut sensor does all this and more:
Here are some of the top features of the Minut sensor, designed to safeguard your units, elevate the guest experience, and minimize your workload—which it does without recording your guests or compromising sensitive data:
Window break, motion, alarm, and device tamper detection
Temperature and humidity monitoring with mold risk analysis
Automated alerts and guest communication
Scheduled template messaging with shortcodes for auto-personalization
User-friendly app and dashboard
To make your operations even more scalable, you can use Minut’s Call Assist and Guard Assist so trained operators and security experts handle any issues as they arise.
That way, if the Minut sensor picks up excessive noise from one of your units in the middle of the night, there’s a team on hand to check in with your guests and, if necessary, visit the property in person.
”I love it. I don’t have to worry about the noise in the apartments. Whenever something’s up, I just get a notification on my iPhone and I can check it out...The peace of mind it offers during the weekends is priceless. Especially if you have multiple properties.”
Terry, Co-Founder, Antwerp Apartments
4. Diversify with multi-channel distribution
One of the first metrics property owners want to see is your occupancy rates, but relying on just one or two online travel agencies (OTAs) to keep those rates up is high risk. To mitigate that risk and help your properties continue to appear in front of prospective guests, list across multiple channels.
With specialist channel management tools like Rentals United, Tokeet, and Nextpax, you can synchronize your listing availability and information across major channels like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. These tools also enable appearances on niche listing sites, such as Kid & Coe, Glamping Hub, and Whimstay.
As well as increasing your online presence, a channel manager streamlines updates to your property listings. You can manage all your updates in a single location, ensuring your pricing and availability are always accurate. This not only saves time but also reduces the risk of double bookings, a common issue in an uncoordinated channel distribution strategy.
Minut integrates with dozens of STR platforms and tools so you can consolidate your tech stack and streamline processes like guest messaging and access management, and reduce costs.
As you begin to accept a larger number of bookings from multiple OTAs, as well as your own direct booking site, it becomes increasingly important to protect your business from the risk of fraud (such as chargeback fraud) and risky guests.
You can do this with automated guest screening (which uses non-discriminatory background checks to assess the risk of each guest) and insurance for STR businesses.
For example, Minut’s insurance partners include Pikl, Proper Insurance, SUPERHOG, and Trustiway.
These platforms have a range of products for property managers. As well as guest screening and building and contents coverage, you can find solutions like:
Damage waivers and deposits
Bed bug protection
6. Perform ongoing competitive analysis and market research
When you take on new properties you run the risk of entering a local short-term rental market disadvantaged—for example, other property managers may have a stronger grasp of seasonal fluctuations, typical occupancy rates, and the normal range in nightly rates.
You could also struggle to understand which properties or localized areas offer the highest revenue potential, which guest types to target, or what amenities and services to offer.
With a lack of knowledge in these areas, you could struggle to formulate a successful business plan, you could invest in the wrong area or property type, or you could lose out to local competitors who better understand the market—all of which harm your ability to sustainably scale your business.
With property management software like AirDNA, you can gain precisely these kinds of insights, including data about highly localized markets, specific properties, and potential earnings, and make better decisions about how to strategize your business growth.
Sustainable business growth
You can’t effectively scale your STR business if you fail to meet the expectations of your guests and homeowners. And taking on an increasing number of properties places your operations under stress as you manage more guests, more neighbors, more cleaners, and more information.
So it’s only possible to grow your business with the implementation of tools for automation. Key areas of your operations that you can automate include:
Cleaning and maintenance
Home monitoring and protection
By combining automated processes with strong branding and data-driven insights into STR markets, you bring together operational efficiency with powerful messaging and strategic decision-making.
Minut helps vacation rental businesses scale by protecting properties from parties, noise, and smoke, as well as security and environmental risks. With automated solutions like Minut, you can exceed your customers’ expectations and sustainably grow your business.