Vacation rental property manager tips – finding the best homeowners

One of the biggest challenges a vacation rental property manager faces is choosing which homeowners to work with – particularly when they’re new to the vacation rental management game.

In this post, Superhog Co-founder and CEO Humphrey Bowles shares his best advice for taking this strategic business decision as a vacation rental manager, including one we’re pretty sure you have never heard before, namely: Get a dog to quite literally help you sniff out better owners for your vacation rental management business!

Homeowners – the holy grail of managing vacation rental property

“Strategically selecting owners who align with your business values, mission, and capabilities contributes to sustained success. On the other hand, overlooking these factors leads to many challenges, frustrations, and even potential failure. Your choice of owners influences various aspects of your business operations, from financial stability to the quality of working relationships,” says Humphrey.

What a short term rental property manager needs in a homeowner

Shared values

Something to bear in mind when starting your own property management business is this: If you don’t work with owners whose values and mission sit alongside yours, you can look forward to conflicts, misunderstandings, and a lack of cohesion – never a good recipe for success.


Even more important, according to Humphrey, is to find owners who value and respect your expertise and services. If an owner dismisses you or thinks they always know best, the relationship will be thorny from the start.

Clear Communication

If you can’t talk to the owner – or he or she expects you to read their mind, be prepared to walk away from the deal. Like in marriage and relationships, clear and honest communication is the path to vacation property management matches made in heaven. You need to know where you stand, what is expected of you, and how your partner feels about the relationship at all times.

How to choose the right homeowner?

Sadly, you can’t just swipe right. In the absence of an app that matches vacation rental property managers with suitable homeowners, you need to find a candidate who matches your criteria the old-fashioned way.

Get a dog…

This is not flippant advice.

For Humphrey, who prior to taking over the reins at Superhog grew a vacation rental property portfolio from 50 to 1,250 properties in one year, this tactic worked like a charm.

“I worked out that how the owners reacted to me when I turned up with a dog, gave me invaluable insight into how complex our working relationship was likely to be. And let me tell you, there was a strong correlation: When the dog was clearly unwelcome, I took this as a sign that this was the type of owner who would be stressed out by having guests in their properties. It would be a painful experience for them and would probably result in weird and over-protective behaviour. I also knew this type of awkward behaviour would damage the guest experience. So I learned to say no to owners who didn’t welcome my dog.”


Learn to say no

Settling for second best is never a good idea when it comes to finding a love match, and the same goes for finding an owner who makes your vacation rental property manager heart beat faster.

A sexy property portfolio is not enough to build a joint future on.

“You need profitable efficient growth rather than growth at any cost,” says Humphrey.

Get comfortable with saying no and trust your gut when something does not feel right. Compromising on any of the above criteria because you’re blinded by a bling-bling portfolio is guaranteed to backfire in the future.

There is also a lot of power in saying no. The psychology behind saying no and creating a sense of exclusivity or desirability will increase your appeal to owners.

Keep your vacation rental owner happy

Owner retention is even more important than finding the right owner, according to Humphrey.

Keeping an owner is way easier than finding a new one. A happy existing owner is worth not just one great owner, it’s probably worth one new great owner a month!

How do you do this? It’s simple – surprise and delight.

This could be anything from picking up the phone and saying hi, to organising a catch up coffee, Humphrey’s favourite… asking if you could send round a decorator to touch up their property. Why a decorator? As damage happens with every booking, over time even the most pristine property starts to look a bit tired. By paying for a decorator, you not only improve the guest experience, but also make an owner so loyal to you that he or she will tell all their friends about your amazing services.

Every time you surprise and delight, owners will talk about you and what great work you do. Cash might be king, but referrals are the kingdom’s most valuable treasure.

What if you’re not a dog person?

Of course, getting a dog and sending a decorator to the owner’s property may not be your thing, but the principle is the same – trust your instincts to identify the right owner match and keep them on your side by exceeding their wildest expectations. Soon your reputation as a vacation rental property manager who gets results and is a pleasure to work with will see homeowners lining up to work with you!

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