The online travel agencies (OTAs) are responding to industry demand for ‘Co-hosting’ for short term rental property owners. In the past this was hard, but the OTAs have made it easier.

What is Co-hosting?

The owner has set up their OTA account, but for some reason wants another party like a property manager to manage their account, while keeping ultimate control.

This can happen for a number of reasons.  It may be that the owner becomes time poor and finds the managing of users too demanding, so hands the management to a property manager. Alternatively the owner may see their role as setting up the rental and prefers to avoid the day to day management of guests. Or the owner may want to delegate some tasks to a manager like greeting and cleaning. Or the owner wants to delegate some tasks to family or a friend.

In my case, I’m experimenting with using a management company for cleaning and also giving them total guest control, so I can travel more.  I went down the rabbit burrow of co-hosting for the main OTAs – Airbnb, Booking and Homeaway.  This is what I found (Nov 2019). [click to continue…]


Short term rental owners often think they are locked in to the online travel agencies (OTAs)  like Airbnb for all their bookings.  They feel trapped, exploited and powerless.  Is that you?

What owners should realise that it is quite possible to get 50% or more bookings from your own direct booking sources.  This can save you around 15% in commission charges on those direct bookings.  More importantly it gives you extra bookings and it also gives you control.  Today’s article is a good case study from an owner who took direct bookings from 10% to 65%, and how she did it.

A few years ago, Pattianne from Mollymook in NSW Australia had a beautiful beachfront property with a somewhat forgettable name “140 Mitchell Mollymook”. It is a high end property averaging $900 per night, a lot more in the peak season.  She had a beautiful website and most bookings were through the Stayz OTA. She rarely sent news to past guests.  Increasing competition was slowing bookings. [click to continue…]


Continuing our series on outstanding performers in our industry.

Bryan James operates Points South, a group of 3 self-contained cottages at Wongarra on the Great Ocean Road Australia.  They point south to the sea, hence the name.  He achieves outstanding occupancy.

Bryan lives on site and greets most of his guests personally.  The site is rural, with the cottages overlooking the ocean below.

PS Aerial 900


He achieves the very high occupancy of around 91% of days of the year.  [click to continue…]


Yesterday a friend with a rental was shaking her head.  “You won’t believe it. They’ve put my stovetop coffee maker into the dishwasher and it’s ruined, it’s black!”

We have all had guests do strange things. Like:

  • putting an electric kettle on the stovetop, melting the base
  • standing on the toilet seat, and finding it broken
  • trying to light the small candle, using three matches, till they discovered it was battery operated and plastic
  • putting ten logs in the wood fire to get it red hot, then opening all the doors and windows
  • improvising a firelighter by saturating a full roll of kitchen paper with mineral turpentine and putting it in the wood fire – luckily it didn’t explode
  • running warm water into the spa for 4 hours, using half the water tank supply
  • using the bed linen to dry off the dog on a rainy day
  • putting large amounts of sink detergent in the dishwasher, and surprised when it overflows with bubbles
  • confusing the bidet with  the toilet ( a colleague removed his bidets after multiple problems)
  • and so many more

So what to do?  In some cases, the guest will be mortified and offer to pay for the damage.  In some cases, they will try and hide the evidence and hope you don’t find it, or even deny it ever happened.

For those who come clean and offer to pay, you are on the road to having a good repeat guest.  You can be generous and grateful, or even refuse the payment, giving a feeling of obligation by the guest.  They are likely to come back.

In some cases, you can put up a discreet label explaining how it works.  Like a label on the handle of the coffee maker saying ‘Not for dishwasher.’

The rest are problematic.

You probably have some conditions of booking that allow you to charge the guest.  I’ve learned from long experience that for small things, it isn’t worth the angst, even for some larger things.  In the battle of conflict, you might get some money, but one thing is guaranteed, the emotional turmoil will distract you from your main game for hours and even days.  Time you should be concentrating on better marketing and delighting those guests who will come back.  You might get some money on insurance, but policies are full of slippery exceptions and mind numbing form filling, also taking you from your main game.

I do two things.  If it isn’t too big and doesn’t happen often, I just write it off as a cost of doing business, balanced out by the majority of good guests who love the stay and look after everything beautifully.  I don’t lose any sleep over it.

I also have a blacklist.  These are for the few guests who I won’t have back, and who are excluded from my monthly newsletter.  It gives a great deal of satisfaction to put an errant guest on my blacklist without any conflict.  If the cleaner has been involved, as usually they will, it also gives them a sense of satisfaction knowing that the guest has unknowingly suffered a penalty of sorts for disrespecting the cleaner’s good work.

What kind of strange things have guests done in your rental?

Please mail me your examples to, and let me know if you’d prefer me to use just your initials when I publish the examples.



I have a tough ask of you, my readers.  I’d like to hear from you if you are doing some things that are special that help you stand out from your competitors.

I’d like to shift the emphasis of the blog a little to sharing practices from other vacation rental owners.

You don’t have to have won awards or be written up in magazines.  That special thing you do may be small but it helps you get ahead.  I’d love to hear from you.

As I speak with other VR owners, I see all sorts of things that folks are doing.

  • Amy from Adelaide who surprises her guests with a fabulous seafood platter, and wins them over for lots of repeat visits
  • Terry, the VR owner from Florida who has a newsletter and asks his readers to help him design the makeover of one of his rooms with amazing results – for the makeover, and for bookings to come see the makeover. He does a room a year.
  • Bryan my Great Ocean Road colleague who personally gives his overseas guests a local introduction, like seeing the local Koala up close.  The kids cry as they say goodbye, and the family tell their friends so he has an abnormally high number of overseas guests and high occupancy all year round
  • Barry who has a garden in gritty urban London that guests are astonished they can use to escape to their own oasis of green calm
  • Phoebe in my village who has a retro theme and guests love to use the vinyl record player to play old music albums, and they come back
  • Pattiane, who did her own website that has jaw dropping images of the sea from her fabulous house, and folks are happy to pay that little bit extra

What are the little things that you do?

Please don’t be shy, this can be your way of giving back for the value you have had from this newsletter.   Just send me a few paras on those little things YOU do to help you get ahead.  Please!