The growing popularity of short-term rentals and home exchanges has created lots of business opportunities for people to provide services or products that make life easier for hosts. Here is a selection of host resources we’ve noticed recently. We’ll update this list from time to time, so please check back.
Note: We do not endorse any of these products or services – you’ll have to check them out for yourself. We also receive no compensation for these listings.
Host Resources: Home Setup and Management
TouchStay – It can be fun to create a home user guide or guest welcome book, but preparing it and keeping it up to date takes time and attention, both of which are in short supply for many of us. TouchStay helps you develop a Digital Welcome Book for your guests with such information as arrival and move-out instructions, insider tips, recommended grocery stores and restaurants, and a guide to local attractions. Guests can access their Welcome Book, which integrates with Google Places, from any device or print it as a PDF. $70 a year for individual property owners, with multi-unit pricing for property managers.
Properly – Cleaning your home “properly” can be a huge task, especially if you’re renting out a remote vacation home or have more than one set of guests while you’re traveling. Properly is a tool that helps you manage changeover cleanings. You can use it to make interactive checklists, schedule service providers, monitor job progress in realtime, and organize other changeover services.
An interface with your listing platform lets you schedule changeover cleanings directly from your bookings calendar. Properly sends your cleaning instructions directly to your service providers, and a photo feature lets them report to you on the condition of your home before and after guests. The cost ranges from free (up to 3 jobs/month) to $9/mo (unlimited jobs/month).
Pillow Homes – If you never seem to have enough hours in the day (or you’d rather use them for fun), Pillow Homes relieves you of the work involved in setting up and managing your short-term rental. Services include creating your listing and posting it on Airbnb, Homeaway, VRBO, and other short-term rental sites; handling guest pre- and post-booking communications; key exchange; and cleaning. The firm also uses “dynamic pricing” to automatically optimize your rental rates.
The cost: 15% of the rent for each reservation, plus an initial setup fee and a monthly service fee if your property is available for less than 15 days per month. The service is currently available only in the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Seattle.
Guest Hook – Guest Hook provides professional writing services for individual hosts as well as property managers. For example, Guest Hook will write your home listing description as well as content and blog posts for your own short-term rental site. The company’s writers will also respond to guest inquiries and produce an “insider guide” for your guests. Pricing appears to be on a per-case basis and is not revealed on their website.
Hostfully – Hostfully provides a Digital Guidebook that includes essential information about your home, including how to get there and how things work, along with recommendations for restaurants, shopping, entertainment, recreation, and more. Pricing ranges from free for one guidebook to $9.99 per month for hosts with multiple properties.
1 ChicRetreat – Few of us would pass muster as interior designers. We set up our homes so they are comfortable and attractive to us. And most short-term guests are perfectly fine with that. But if you’d like to improve the “look” of the place, 1 Chic Retreat offers free monthly posts that teach you how to use interior design strategies to “create jaw-dropping homes that people wait in line to book.”
Host Resources: Guest Access
Urban Bellhop – Urban Bellhop is a guest check-in service that handles the process of greeting guests and helping them get settled into your home. Someone meets guests when they arrive, gives them a tour, and reviews the essentials, such as garbage and laundry. Other services include replenishing toiletries and providing light or detailed cleaning services. The cost ranges from $50 – $135. Currently, Urban Bellhop is available only in San Francisco and certain other urban areas.
Keycafé – One of the few essentials for exchange partners and short-term rental hosts is making sure that guests can get in, while keeping their homes secure. Keycafe provides key storage locations in nearby cafes so you can leave keys for guests to pick up. The cost is $5.95 per year for “unlimited guests, unlimited storage, plus a $3.95 key pickup fee; it’s not clear whether the pickup fee is a one-time only fee or whether it’s charged each time a guest picks up a key. The Keycafe service is currently available only in certain major cities.
ResortLock – House keys get lost or guests make copies. ResortLock sells a door locking device with a keypad so you can provide each set of guests with a unique code that can be changed after they leave. You can manage the lock from any computer or device, no matter where you are in the world. The company’s parent, LockSafe also provides Wifi-controlled door locks, along with cabinet and wall safes to keep your valuables secure. Prices start at $299.
Host Resources: Products
Guest Outfitters – “Things that make your House, their Home.” Guest Outfitters is the Amazon of the short-term rental and home exchange world: one-stop shopping for everything you might need to make guests safe and comfortable, including soaps, towels, linens, bedding, mattress covers, robes, disposable slippers, charging devices, keyless door locks, solar lights, and even pet supplies.
Host Resources: Short-term Rental Insurance
Slice – Slice offers a unique product: on-demand, pay-per-use insurance, meaning that you pay only for the days you want coverage. The Slice policy is “primary and noncontributory”; according to their FAQs, Slice operates independently of your annual homeowner’s policy and will pay the entire claim, without first requiring another insurer to make payment. Currently offered in 21 states and counting (please check their website for the most up to date list of states). Backed by Great Lakes Insurance SE.
Proper – Many insurance companies will not cover homes that are used as short-term rentals. Proper offers a business policy that replaces your homeowner’s or landlord’s policy. It’s designed to give short-term rental owners comprehensive coverage for their building(s), contents, commercial business liability, and business income. If the short-term rental home is also your primary residence, Proper adds $1,000,000 in personal liability and $50,000 in loss of use to relocate in the event the property is being rebuilt. Underwritten by Lloyd’s of London.
Host Resources: Other
Lodgify.com – This company offers sophisticated software that allows any short-term rental owner to set up an attractive, functional web site for their listing(s). Selecting from a variety of templates, you can build custom pages, sync your calendar with your listings on sites, manage reservations, accept payments, accept guest reviews, and more. Prices start at $27 per month for one property and $56 per month for multiple properties, with discounts if you pay for a year or more.
If you’ve used any of these host resources or have others to recommend, please let us know. Leave a comment below or visit our Facebook page. And if you think these resources are useful, please share them!