ABOUT KAUAI VACATION RENTALS
Kauai vacation rentals are big business. As explained in the article, Transient Vacation Rentals (TVR’s): What You Need to Know, if a condominium or home on Kauai is a designated and legal TVR, then the property owner may choose to rent out the property on a short-term basis to vacationers visiting Kauai. While the income benefits of Kauai vacation rentals can be substantial, the prospect of renting out your property to a high volume of short-term renters also imposes a fair amount of obligations, including the County of Kauai requirement to have a registered management agent on-island, and the need to coordinate check-ins, check-outs, cleanings, repairs, etc. The way in which most owners of Kauai vacation rentals choose to address all of these needs is to hire a local, full-service vacation rental management company.
MANAGEMENT OF KAUAI VACATION RENTALS
As you might expect, since Kauai vacation rentals are such big business, there are a significant number of vacation rental management companies vying for the opportunity manage your property. Management companies typically charge anywhere from 25% – 50% of gross rental income receipts, which is a significant amount of your income, so it is important to know what exactly you are getting for your money, and to make sure that you choose to work with the right company for you, based upon your personal needs and interests.
So, how does one go about comparing the services of one management company to another? Use the following Vacation Rental Management Questionnaire to help you obtain the detailed information you need to make a decision:
VACATION RENTAL MANAGEMENT QUESTIONNAIRE
1. How long have you been servicing Kauai vacation rentals in the area? In addition to telling you how long the company has been in business, have them demonstrate their familiarity with the market by explaining market characteristics such as seasonality, rental rate trends, occupancy rate trends, comments regarding current supply & demand, etc.
2. What is the size of your staff?
3. Where are your offices located?
4. How many Kauai vacation rentals do you manage in total? How many in the immediate area?
5. Do you manage any Kauai vacation rentals considered to be in direct competition with my property?
6. How much attention/priority would my property receive among the properties you currently manage? Why?
7. What fees are charged directly to guests at the time of booking? Here on Kauai, it is customary for the Rental Fee, Transient Accommodation Tax (TAT), General Excise Tax (GET) and Out-cleaning Fee to be charged at the time of booking. Are any additional fees being charged? Why?
8. What are your management fees and contract terms? Is the fee calculated as % of Gross Rental Income? Are TAT & GET tax income, cleaning fee income or other types of income included in the income consideration for the management fee? How long of a contract is required? Do you agree to an “out clause” that allows for cancellation if a certain performance level is not maintained?
9. What services are included in your management fees? Never assume that a property manager will take care of everything. Get a detailed list of what services the management fees cover. Inquire about:
10. Marketing and advertising? Via what means?
- Company website? Is it responsive / mobile friendly? Can it accommodate online bookings via credit card?
- Syndication of rental listing to other online booking sites? How many? Which ones? Also on VRBO, Homeaway, AirBnB & Craigslist? Pay third-party travel agents out of agreed-to management fee? If not, third-party travel agents will have to advertise higher rates in order to get paid.
- 24-7 availability to respond to potential guest inquiries? Management of bookings and real-time calendar management?
- Coordination of check-ins & check-outs?
- Coordination of cleaning between guests?
- Welcome gift basket & card for all renters?
- Walkthrough after every guest departure?
- 24-7 availability to respond to guest questions/concerns?
- General household supplies for renters (toilet paper, paper towels, etc.)?
- Minor household repairs/replacements (glasses, plates, etc.)?
- Coordination of major household repairs/replacements? (Furniture, appliances, new bedding, etc.)
- Quarterly/Bi-annual inspection & maintenance recommendations?
- Accounting & administrative services?
- Historical & Year-to-Date revenue reports readily available?
- Coordination and management of capital improvements/construction (if necessary)?
11. How proactive are you in working to maximize occupancy? How determine rental rates? Do you use a yield-management program aimed at maximizing occupancy by automatically adjusting pricing depending on supply & demand levels in the market (Escapia software by Homeaway, for example)? What other means?
12. Do you obtain and promote ratings & reviews from renters? How so? There are a large number of Kauai vacation rentals, and positive online reviews will help your property stand out among the competition.
13. How often do you communicate updates regarding my property’s condition? It is important that a management company works to keep your property in excellent condition. Ask if they perform walkthroughs after every guest departure, and try to get a good understanding for how issues like damages and missing items are handled.
14. If I wish to handle all marketing, bookings and calendar management myself, are you willing to assist only with local “on-the-ground” management tasks? If so, what fee do you charge? All off-island owners of operating Kauai vacation rentals are required to have a registered management agent on-island, but that doesn’t mean they necessarily need to pay for full-service property management. If an owner is interested in handling marketing, booking and calendar management themselves, and wish to hire a management agent only to help with local “on-the-ground” tasks such as coordination of cleanings, walkthroughs, repairs/maintenance, etc., certain companies may be willing to accommodate that request for a reduced fee.
15. Can you provide me with a list of 3-5 existing clients who I may speak with regarding your services? Always ask to speak with a few existing clients prior to signing a contract. Talking to other homeowners will confirm if you’re dealing with a solid property manager, and you’re likely to pick up some helpful tips for navigating the local market.