Vacation Rental Management Business Development 101

The world is your oyster when it comes to vacation rental management these days.  Everyone is looking to cash-in on an AirBnB whether renting a spare bedroom in a house, an owner using a second home for an investment property until retiring, a real estate professional managing a buyer’s new property to make extra money, or a full blown vacation rental management company; everyone wants a piece of this hot industry.  But where do you start?  How do you get properties?  There are a number of things that need to be determined before you can just hop right in, but that’s for another day.  This guide will teach you where to get leads, how to market your services, and how to build your rental portfolio empire.



No, I’m not talking about planting crops and plowing fields, but I am talking about determining where you want to manage your properties and what kind of properties you want to manage.  You will need to become an expert in a specific geographic region, a neighborhood, and property type.  To keep things simple, I like to split properties into two categories; homes and condos.  Homes will cover all stand-alone individual properties not connected to anything else.  Condos are units connected to another property.  Determine what type of properties will be your specialty and choose a 5-mile radius to focus on a handful of neighborhoods and/or condo complexes.  

Property Size

It also helps to determine the size of properties you will be focusing on – knowing that most people like to travel in groups or multi-family, larger properties will net you more money because you can charge more.  Depending on your location though and what brings travelers to your area, there may be more one- and two-bedroom properties that focus on couples or small families.  Depending on your motivation and goals for your company, you can focus on particular sizes or offer a wide array of property sizes to appeal to multiple demographics.  One thing to keep in mind is, the larger the property, the more people it can sleep, and the higher your rates can be.

Amenities and Local Attractions

When determining which area, neighborhood, resort, or condo complex to focus on – think about the draw for guests to come and stay in that area.  Ensure you choose an area that has local attractions, tours, experiences available.  Don’t get me wrong, there are plenty of scenic areas that are secluded from attractions and restaurants that have a large draw in themselves but depending on how large of a portfolio you want to build, this will be important when attracting guests.

Lead Generation

Property Appraiser

Once you determine which geographical area, neighborhood, or condo complex you would like to target – research the address or zip code and go to the county’s property appraiser website.  This is a great tool to find owner information (mailing address) in order to get in contact with them.  Since most counties have a website with a public information directory, this is the best way to gather owner addresses to send marketing material promoting your management services.  When using these searches, you will need the street address at the least but some counties will also give you the option to search the name of a subdivision too.  When the search results appear, you can usually export them into an Excel spreadsheet to filter the data such as property owner mailing address for non-homestead owners.  


Once you have researched owner information from public records, you can use that information to search for owners via LinkedIn.  If you upgrade your subscription to the Premium level, it will give you the ability to send InMessages (messages to non-connections), a great way to strike up conversations with potential owners.  You can also add them to your network and if accepted, strike up a conversation about their rental property and how they are currently managing it.  If they do not respond to your InMessage and will not connect with you, fret not, there are great tools out there that will help you identify their email address without being connected. is a Chrome extension you can download for free, and it will find the email address of most people on LinkedIn. 


With book direct campaigns growing in popularity, Facebook is a great resource to use for lead generation.  There are thousands of niche listing sites for owners managing their own property and listing it on Vrbo, AirBnB, and many other regional direct booking sites.  By joining these groups, you will be able to see owners promoting their properties when guests are asking for available properties for specific dates.  When the owner posts their listing, they typically post a link to the management company website or they use the third-party OTA listing site.  You now have the ability to connect with that owner via Facebook to build that relationship and find out what is working and not working with their current manager or self-managing.  

Niche Listing Sites

There are many niche listings sites out there that allow owners to list their property by paying an annual fee vs the pay per booking model.  Typically, on these websites, they allow the owner to put their personal contact information (phone number) directly on the listing for prospective guests to call and speak with the owner directly before booking.  In this case, you can now call the owner directly and speak with them about your management services.  It always helps when you can view their property’s calendar to see if it is wide open or fully booked.  Depending on the average booking window for properties in your region, this can work to your advantage if booked solid far in advance (they’re leaving money on the table) or very few bookings within 30-days (they are lacking in the marketing department and need more bookings).


When HomeAway, now Vrbo made the big switch from the subscription style listing to pay-per-booking model, they angered a lot of property owners.  Through this, tools were made to make it easier for guests to connect with the owner directly, instead of booking on the Vrbo platform.  This saves the owner from paying a commission and saves the guest from paying for fees.  StaySavr is a browser extension that can be used to browse Vrbo, Booking, Hotels, Orbitz, and a handful of other listing sites and so long as the owner has entered their contact details into the StaySavr database, it will show their name and phone number to be contacted directly instead of inquiring to book through the listing platform website.

Realtor Referrals

Building relationships with local real estate brokerages is key.  Beyond building a relationship with the brokerage, you need to have a realtor referral program in place that will pay a realtor a commission for any leads they bring you for a property owner that signs an agreement to have your company manage their property.  There are many different models out there that can entice a realtor to bring you an owner referral.  The oldest and most common model is a set amount based on bedroom count on a sliding scale, the more bedrooms the property, the higher the commission. Over the years, companies have gotten more creative with this offering everything from a percentage of the rental projection to a percentage of the gross annual income.  Whatever commission program you come up with, ensure it’s competitive within your market.  Realtors tend to refer business to the management company that gives them the largest referral commission and also to the managers that send them listing referrals; it’s a two-way street.  If your properties have a YourWelcome tablet in them, an additional value add for the realtor is including a Banner Ad with the realtor’s contact information and link out to their website on that specific property tablet for as long as that property remains on your rental program.

Real Estate Rental Projections

To piggyback on the previous Lead Gen strategy of Realtor Referrals, proactively providing realtors with rental projections for their listings is also a great technique to winning new business.  Realtors can add attachments to their MLS listings and show rental projections from multiple management companies.  This not only helps get the word out about your management services but may also help them sell that property.  A rental projection should include the total number of weeks the property is projected to be rented.  The projected gross annual income as well as the projected net annual income. If you need assistance with determining how much a property could potentially generate in gross rental revenue, using a tool like AirDNA will give you solid projections based on comparable properties for rent in the general vicinity of the property you are building the projection for.  It’s always a good idea to include information about housekeeping, maintenance, commission level, guaranteed revenue options, and any other housewares or minor maintenance plans you offer on the projection document provided, and of course, your contact information.  If you find out a property that is currently on your rental management program is for sale, reach out to the listing agent to introduce yourself and inform them about your realtor referral program, rental revenue history, and a projection.  Losing properties to sales is the number one reason properties will churn from your portfolio.

Current Owner Referrals

The easiest way to gain more properties is by having your current owners refer you to their friends that also have vacation rental properties.  There’s a good chance that your current owners are actively involved with the HOA of their neighborhood or complex and can introduce you to other owners.  You can incentivize them to refer their friends by giving them a free deep clean, minor maintenance plan, or even a credit toward upgrading their furniture.  

Guest Referrals

Your management services are always on display, especially with current guests staying in your property.  They may not have a property for you to manage but they may have a friend or family member that has properties you could potentially manage.  Incentivize your guests to refer their friends to your management company by offering a drawing for a free vacation or gift card.

Vendor Referrals

I’m sure you have a list of preferred vendors (and if you don’t, you should) when it comes to plumbers, electricians, HVAC repair, carpet cleaning, housekeeping, lawn care, landscaping, pool service, garbage pickup, painters, and handyman services – all of these companies/people are most likely working for your competitors or other individual owners.  They have established relationships with these owners and are an excellent source for referral business.  

Annual HOA Meetings

Everyone knows that HOA’s have an annual meeting, typically in the Fall.  This is a great time to get in front of the HOA Board of Directors but also all of the owners.  If you haven’t reached out to build a relationship with the HOA Board prior to the annual meeting, I highly recommend you do so.  During the week of the Annual Meeting, most owners come to town.  This is a great opportunity for you to sponsor a breakfast, lunch, or happy hour.  Cater the food and beverages and offer food/drink tickets in exchange for their contact information.  It’s also a great time to have a giveaway of sorts that entices owners to show up and shake your hand, learn about your management services, and for you to gain more owners.

Custom Landing Pages

People are very much accustomed to doing their own research when it comes to anything these days and they are used to receiving that information immediately.  It makes sense to be as transparent as possible when it comes to explaining all of the details about your vacation rental management services and processes.  Using Vacation Rental CRM, you can create a dedicated landing page for community specific properties that speak to all of the amenities, offerings, and special procedures taken to ensure the best guest experience for properties managed in that community.  It also makes sense to have a rental projection calculator on that page that can only be accessed by entering contact information.  This gives you the ability to follow-up with that owner and have a 1-on-1 conversation about any special needs for the property they own.

These methods are tried and true and if used correctly give you the ability to grow your property portfolio by 50+ properties in less than a year!