Seasonality is inevitable in the hospitality business and can be particularly challenging in the vacation rental industry. In many of the markets where property managers operate successful businesses, frantic high-season is followed by a shoulder season where occupancy and bookings dip.
The off-season may see even lower occupancy, as bookings start to build and then another shoulder season where occupancy and bookings gain momentum before the high season appears, occupancy soars and suddenly there is just not enough staff to go around.
Not every market is like this but it is a common pattern in the vacation rental industry. Successful property managers need to be savvy business operators who manage their staffing appropriately for maximum efficiency and productivity.
Overcoming Seasonal Staffing Challenges
As it has become more and more challenging to maintain a long-term local staff all year round, outsourced staffing has been instrumental in filling roles that can be performed remotely.
The right staffing partner will be able to help property managers recruit and manage a staff who can be valuable team members year round, not just during the high season.
Successful property managers know that when they have strong players on their teams, keeping them productive and engaged year round produces far better results than a hire and furlough cycle. This is especially effective when remote staff is affordable and already well-trained.
How Remote Staffing Can Improve Productivity
Remote team members can fill many roles, such as marketing specialists, bookkeepers & accountants, and revenue managers, and have proven especially valuable in guest service and reservation sales. So as the high season fades and the lull between seasons makes managers feel as though they need to manage their remote staff toward productivity, best practice points toward an expanded view of your team’s abilities.
Consider some vacation rental-specific tasks and projects that you can introduce to your remote staff:
1. Updating property listings
Auditing and refining listings based on a unit’s current state can be extremely valuable. Make sure amenities are up to date. Rotate photos for seasonality or suggest new photos based on current amenities. Accurate listings book better and lead to better reviews.
2. Reviewing website and providing suggestions
Websites get dated without even trying. Your remote team can provide a fresh set of eyes who sees the website content from a prospective guest’s perspective.
3. Reviewing guest reviews and providing suggestions
Gathering review notes and building data around past guest feedback can offer valuable insights into what improvements to invest in or which features to market. One person hated the mattress but no one else commented? Probably not essential to get a new bed. Everyone commented on the awesome rainmaker showerhead? Consider mentioning it in the unit description.
4. Housekeeping & maintenance coordination
Did you know that with proper training Extenteam team members can coordinate maintenance tasks to W2 employees or third-party vendors, and utilize your PMS or operations software to schedule housekeeping tasks for housekeepers?
5. Additional admin tasks
Cleaning up your digital file index will save time when high season hits and you need to produce the insurance docs that you swore were stored somewhere. Let your well-organized staff create structure for your systems.
6. Trained staff in new areas of the operation
Developing and updating training will save time and resources in the future. When your team is well-trained, they are going to be able to share their knowledge with others.
7. Data entry tasks
While data entry is never fun, building on important resources like repeat guest mailing lists will always add value.
What Should Be Considered During Seasonal Hiring Processes
It is also important to factor in the hiring and training costs of a seasonal team member. Consider that you may be better off financially to have a lower cost team member included in your budget who is working during the shoulder season as opposed to having to spend time and money on training someone new in a few months.