We’ve all heard that dreaded question… “So what do you do for a living?”, “Oh, I´m a Property Manager…” you reply, but before you’ve even finished your sentence, the other person has already decided you do holiday rentals, cleaning and that´s about it! Now, probably when you hear this, your first thought is to explain that actually Property Management involves a lot more than this, but it becomes clear soon enough that, any attempt at this would be a lost cause because the other person has already stopped listening…
Anyway, we’re going to leave the “just cleaning” part aside, because anyone who manages holiday properties knows there is nothing “just” about cleaning. Sadly, it shouldn’t really come as a surprise that these are the conclusions people jump to, when all that anyone ever talks about when it comes to Property Management are holiday rental channels, advertising and little else.
Of course, rentals can be a very important element for some Holiday Property Management companies. None of us would want to arrive at a holiday property of any kind (rented or otherwise) that hasn’t been cleaned. But is that all there is to Holiday Property Management? Unless you are a Holiday Property Manager, you probably wouldn’t stop to think about what happens to all those properties for the eight or more months of the year when they are unoccupied? How are these properties managed and organised when changes to plans, bookings and weather, or issues with maintenance and installations along with other complexities, can throw everything on its head without any notice? We all know that the Holiday Property Management market is viewed as “fragmented” and “disorganised”. But the professional Holiday Property Manager has to juggle a vast range of suppliers, expectations and unknowns during the peak seasons and the off-peak seasons, and pulling all of this off with a smile on your face is anything but fragmented, disorganised or easy!
So, where is the voice of the Holiday Property Manager? Our Property Owners know, value and appreciate what we do, but why does the industry not even know we are here? Maybe because we are just heads down, firefighting and dealing with the latest crises to come out of the blue, that we just don´t have time to make ourselves heard.
To help clarify things a little, we asked Property Manager, Clare Westwood of WCS Bespoke and founder of Propierge Limited to put into perspective some (not all) of the different types of services that Holiday Property Managers/Holiday Rental Managers and others that are associated with this area of the industry can provide, and just to be clear, we are specifically referring to properties found in holiday locations.
Clare broke this down as follows:
“There are of course a variety of services, but typically we have:
- The Holiday Rental Manager: This is what most people think you are even when you say that you are a Property Manager in a Holiday location. However, the reality is, a holiday rental manager provides a service that focuses almost entirely on the holiday rentals, advertising, check in and check out, inventories, tenant issues and bookings/reservations during their stay along with reactive maintenance issues and other rental based requirements. These companies do a great job and provide a valuable service to rental holiday makers, but generally speaking, they do not manage the property between occupancy cycles when the property is empty.
- Holiday Rental Managers plus Real Estate Sales: This is a combination of the above plus a service offering a book of properties that are available for sale.
- Long Term Residential Letting Agents/Management: These are agents involved in finding long term residential lets and/or managing these, dealing with utilities changeovers and inventory management, with possible ongoing maintenance issues and pre-tenancy license/regulatory assistance and management;In addition, there are those who are engaged in business that focus principally on Key Holding or Cleaning Only services.
Holiday Property Management provides a combination of the following services and more…:
- Property Inspections: Checking the property regularly when empty and actually doing this as agreed, along with any additional bad weather checks that are required; getting the properties ready for arrivals, ensuring that everything is checked and working before the arrival and dealing with turnaround for the next visit; closing down post departure and reinstating or implementing the regular/periodic inspection schedule again.
- Maintenance Supplier Management: This involves providing the most trusted and reliable tradespeople 12 months of the year to deal with any proactive, (not just reactive) maintenance issues. To be clear, this means trades that you would happily allow to carry out works in your own home, not just anyone who is available.
- Annual Maintenance and Servicing of Installations: For example air conditioning, boilers etc.
- Sourcing and Management of Regular Maintenance Suppliers: Such as gardeners and pool maintenance
- Arrival and Departure Bookings: Handling the processes for all types of holiday makers (owners, friends, family and holiday rental tenants)
- Cleaning Services: Generally these are provided by in house/employed or subcontracted suppliers for pre/post occupation, mid-occupation, specialist and other types of cleaning
- Reservations and Concierge Services: These types of service range from car rental, airport transfers, baby equipment, restaurants, golf, taxis, shopping on arrival, local activities, parties and events – the list may go on and on (such services can often be provided by Rental Property Managers too)
- Administration Assistance: Providing support with matters relating to local regulations, laws and taxes by recommending trusted and qualified experts to deal with this. This can be a very daunting matter for property owners to handle alone, particularly if the holiday home is situated in a country in which the owner cannot even speak the language
- Financial/Client Accounts Management: This includes, but is not limited to payment of suppliers, local taxes, rates and community fees.
- Building Projects and Refurbs: Utilising appropriate local contacts to make sure all licenses are obtained and works are completed to the right standard.
- Client Management: A well known and trusted relationship built over many years to give friendly guidance and local knowledge to deal with general queries and to provide a helping hand when more significant problems arise at any time.
- Local Assistance: Ability to translate and explain between different languages and cultures across all services that a Property Owner and their guests require, in addition to knowing where the best restaurants are, when the local ferias are on, public holidays, shops, pharmacies, doctors etc…
In addition, Holiday Property Managers may also look after a varying amount of long term residential lets, sales and holiday rentals including organising the various licenses and permissions required for the properties to be rented (residential and holiday) and sold. They may also just provide key-holding and/or cleaning services to some of their clients too. All of this will depend on the specific Property Owners they look after at the time, what their Property Owners want to do with their properties at any given time (this can change year on year), as all services provided by Holiday Property Managers and therefore this market, is driven by the requirements of their specific Holiday Property Owners.” Having given us this great insight we asked Clare for her advice on how Property Managers should answer the question “So, what do you do for a living?” Clare advised you should respond by saying… “you are a Holiday Property Manager and yes this does sometimes include Rentals and Cleaning, but that is just the start of it…”
“In addition to founding Propierge Limited in 2015, I still have an active role in WCS Bespoke, one of the leading professional Holiday Property Management companies in Sotogrande, Southern Spain since 2006. I believe that Holiday Property Managers are the unsung heroes of the Holiday/Second Home Property Management world, silently smoothing out issues behind the scenes and making holidays happen no matter what is thrown at us! I also believe that even though not much is written or known about this area of the industry, it is vitally important and valued by the people that matter the most – our Property Owners. If this was not the case, why did a lot of Rental Managers and Real Estate Sales companies turn to provide Holiday Property Management services to survive throughout the financial crisis of 2008-2014, if we were not critical to this market? Propierge was founded to not only provide the much needed operational software tools that are needed to ease some of the day to day organisational issues and burdens that come with Holiday Property Management, but to help provide a voice to the Holiday Property Manager. So I encourage you to get in touch, tell us what topics are important to you? Let´s all make ourselves heard!”
Founder & CEO – Propierge Limited
Founder & Director – WCS Bespoke Management SL