40% increase in www.bestapartments.ee website traffic compared to the same day last year and as you can see from the chart February is traditionally the lowest demand month during the whole year
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Best Apartments, Tallinn website visitors on the rise due to SEO and good deals
Recent customer review:
“The location is superb, cant beat that. Very reasonable for the price as well, one of the best deals I found in Tallinn. Walking distance to all the shops, restaurants, old town and if you wanna go anywhere further in the city, all the bus and tram stops are near by as well. …”
One more reason to us Best Apartments as a property manager in Estonia is our YouTube channel with 5100 users per month who make 15 200 views per month. Our videos are useful and provide value for anyone who plans to visit Tallinn and other Estonian cities.
Despite the housing market remaining strong, many Estonians still opt to rent their apartments. While many rentals are either new or newly-renovated, there are also a lot that could do with a healthy dose of TLC. As a renter, you are, however, often very limited to what extent you can renovate your dwelling. Many landlords will not approve major renovations that include new paint jobs or a kitchen remodel, even if it is at your own expense. Thankfully there are a number of ways, such as the following, that you can transform your apartment to a certain extent without upsetting your landlord.
Upgrade the lighting
Doing small upgrades to the lighting in your rental can boost the overall ambiance tremendously. Most rental apartments in Estonia boast ceiling-mounted light fixtures that can easily be replaced without having to do any sort of rewiring. Once you have found new fixtures that you like, simply unscrew the old ones and replace with the new. If you don’t want to change the entire fixture, opt for new light globes that will enable you to change the temperature and brightness in the room easily and affordably. Always shut off the electricity supply to the lights you are busy with to prevent yourself from being shocked and keep the old fittings in case you need to put them back upon your next move.
Change the outlet and light switch covers
Some rentals sport old, dated outlet and switch covers that can give even the most modern of rooms an antiquated appearance. Switch plates are easy to replace and will not set you back more than a couple of Euros. Apart from replacing the covers, you can also give them a makeover with a simple coat of paint or a piece of contact paper which will allow you to get very creative with both color and design. Once again, keep the old covers as you will probably want to replace them if you ever move out of your apartment.
Change the faucets
Swapping your faucets out for shiny new ones is a lot easier than it may sound. As long as the new faucet fittings match those of the old one, you have complete freedom as far as your choices are concerned. Once you have your new faucets, turn off your water supply, take off the old fittings and replace with the new. You may be surprised at what a big difference such a small change can make to both your bathroom and kitchen. Also, remember to keep the old faucets in a safe place so that you can put them back before you move or in case the landlord wants them.
Refresh the grout
A common problem with older apartments, in particular, is that they never quite look and feel clean. The grout in the bathroom is one area that typically fails to look fresh regardless of how much you try to scrub it clean. Thankfully there are a number of products on the market that can make your dull grout bright white once again. You can also make your own very effective grout cleaner by mixing together 1/2 cup of baking soda, 1/4 cup of hydrogen peroxide, and 1 teaspoon of dish soap. Simply apply the cleaning mixture onto grout, and wait for approximately 10 minutes before giving it a scrub and rinsing it.
Replace the toilet seat
Nothing screams old and dilapidated like a stained and worn-out toilet seat. A new toilet seat is easy to replace, doesn’t cost much, and will instantly make your bathroom appear a lot less weather-beaten. In some cases, the entire toilet may need to be replaced in which case it is best to discuss your intentions with your landlord first and even try to convince him to do the upgrade at his expense instead of yours.
Making small changes to the interior of your rental can undoubtedly make your stay a lot more enjoyable. As long as you don’t go overboard with the upgrades, your landlord will probably be only too happy to let you spruce your accommodations up a bit.
1.Does your property manager offer the full-service property management?
This is an important question because there are a lot of services to consider:
- Key delivery to the client which can have several options; meet and greet, self-check-in option, transfer from the airport and key delivery
- Cleaning service (inside or outside company, checklist and quality control)
- Property inspection and maintenance
- Advertising and which channels your manager is using to promote your property
- How many employees there are and is there 24/7 emergency support for the clients?
- Is there any working system set up to discover high noise levels or water damage or smoke and fire hazards?
- How are towels and linen washed and who has to provide them? Can the linen and towels be rented?
- What languages do they speak and are those the same languages used by the biggest client groups you would expect in the area?
- Does your property manager offer any unique services that might differentiate your property from the rest?
2. Property management fee and the terms of the payment?
Ask how many properties the company manages and how many properties they manage so you can make a rough estimate if they have a sustainable business.
3. Look into the company history: where are they registered for how long have they operated do they pay their taxes, read client reviews
4. Terms of the contract and the most important cancellation costs?
Because short term apartment rental clients tend to book their holidays well in advance beware of property managers who offer too soft cancellation terms with very short notices for your property management contract.This might mean that they can not take advance bookings and you will be loosing out on many potential clients.
5. What happens if there are damages to the property and up until which amount are your managers responsible in case the damages are bigger than the deposit provided by the client ?
Best Apartments is a professional property management company which currently manages multitude of short term rental properties in Estonia.
If you are a property manager and if you manage multiple short term rentals you need to be very organized as the main challenges come with day to day operations and you will need the following tools and systems to be effective:
- Property management software and or a booking system to keep track of your bookings and messaging with your clients and property owners. Functionalities to consider:
- automatic messaging to clients which are triggered by special conditions as check-in date, payment of the booking etc.
- unified inbox where you have all the communication with the client so whoever is on shift would have all the information and wouldn’t need to dig through different e-mail boxes or booking apps.
- property management module where you keep track of different property related repair and maintenance issues
- Channel manager. Software to synchronize the pricing and availability between the different sales channels as booking.com, Airbnb, TripAdvisor etc.
- Software to keep track and distribute tasks to your cleaning and maintenance crews. This software has to be easy to use on mobile devices and includes scheduling and task checklists
- Software to control the entry to the properties if you use electronic locks or special key terminals. Functionalities to consider: cleaning crew codes, codes for clients which are valid only during the booking period, keeping track of who and when has had access to your properties. Additional functionality for key terminals might be payment terminal, recording camera devices, QR code, and document scanning.
- Good e-mail provider so you and your colleagues can have quick and efficient communication with clients and owners as e-mails are still the backbone of the communication.
- Telephone communication provider. Might be a mobile communication provider but also could be IP based phone communication provider with different options to consider: conversation recording, phone number saving and pulling client data based on the incoming phone number, internet-based phone communication.
- Home automation and smart home features. Sensors (temperature, CO2, smoke, fire), heating/cooling, temperature control and electricity usage. This will save you a lot of money in the long term and you can make sure no energy is wasted (aircon is on while there are no clients ?)
- Password manager. An essential tool to keep your passwords complicated enough, different and safely stored.
There are many vendors nowadays and many of the functionalities get intertwined but as of today, it is not possible to get all the functionalities from a single vendor. And here are the general questions you should ask your providers:
- Do you provide a reliable API with the software? This is important as it would give you an option to further integrate your systems and automate your processes.
- How reliable is their product support?
- What happens if one of the services does not work and what are the chances of that happening?
Best Apartments is a professional and innovative property management company based in Tallinn which manages multiple properties in Estonia.
The communication layer depends a little bit on the size of the company and is very important.
1 Family business size where you manage 5-10 apartments and work together with your spouse/partner/friend etc. If you discuss all the matters that happened during the day in the evening most likely all are in the loop so no need to worry.
2 Any operation which involves more than 2 workers and 10 apartments. You have to ensure that all have the information and whenever another shift comes to work they have all the information concerning promises given to clients, and issues in the apartments which come through the cleaning personnel and client information. The ideal situation is when both client information and cleaning feedback from the cleaning checklists comes to one place and can be reacted upon swiftly.
The must haves:
Cleaners check-lists in real time and with multimedia
Central communication platform which brings together all the information from different channels in one place.
Communication with property owners. If you manage properties for owners you have to keep them in the loop both about the sales and what happens within the apartment (things that need fixing or upgrade etc.)
Public relations within your community and neighbors (be friendly and react swiftly to misbehaving clients who do not respect silent hours in the evening) this is important both for your business and the image of the apartment rental industry globally.
Quality control communication layer. Congregate feedback from client feedback about cleaning and appliances. You have to have a system to check the cleaning quality in real time and give instant feedback to the cleaning personnel before the client arrives, this will ensure high satisfaction rate both with your clients and your cleaning people and you will have a mechanism to filter out the “bad apples”. The most useful feedback for the cleaning is straight after the cleaner has finished where he/she can see the areas which need to be improved. Be friendly, do not attack the person explain then improve then forget and go forward.
1 Cleaning. (this will make or break your vacation rental management company)
Think about logistics of people and supply in a realistic way as it is very easy to schedule and an impossible amount of cleanings per person and unrealistic delivery schedules for the towels and linen.
Real-time checklist which cleaning ladies have to fill and notify about broken or missing items (look for smartphone-based software solutions).
You have to have a quality control system and check the cleaning quality as without that mechanism the quality will inevitably go down. The cleaning ladies are your front line personnel and you have to have a direct contact and confidence in them.
2 Repairs and reacting to events within the apartments.
Think how you will prioritise the events which will occur as you will have limited resources also who pays for what (Example: If a 10-year-old washing machine breaks should your rental customer pay or the owner ? ). Have a system how to determine the responsible party for each event, which events need immediate attention and which ones can be scheduled. Try avoiding young local crowd who stay for 1 night and most likely will arrange a “social event”. There are different property management software and better use one to stay organised.
3 Manuals and information for your customers
Try to make the experience as easy for your customers as possible and think about:
Internet access, washing machine instructions, tv instructions, heating, check in check out, terms etc. The more information you have the better. More photos and videos the better as people don’t read nowadays. Videos don’t have to be fancy but useful take a peek at Best Apartments YouTube channel
4 Public relations with your neighbours and community.
Try not to upset your neighbours and have a system to detect a noise and disturbances within the properties BEFORE your neighbours. Think of ways how not attract the wrong customers which will save you a lot of hassle later on.
5 Check-in and check-out procedures and key delivery
Key management system to track and deliver keys the following questions need to be answered:
- How you deliver keys? Do you meet at the apartments or at your office? Can you deliver keys at night? Do you have a self-check-in option as key terminal, lockbox or electronic locks? Check in and check out times and policies for late check-outs?
For every starting business, this is the area where most companies fail and it translates into NOT ENOUGH SALES. The good news is that you can do a lot yourself and the only cost is your time.
1 Social media Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Google maps listings – my advice would be to make separate listings for all your vacation rental properties where you can and be responsive whenever a review comes in. DO NOT INVEST TOO MUCH TIME LOOKING FOR LIKES AND RETWEETS as the users of the social networks are not in a BUYING MOOD whenever the use them. It is more of a proof of life and additional push for a client who has already made up his mind to rent and an SEO tool for your own direct bookings. YouTube also falls into the social media category and is becoming increasingly important – use it to make videos of your area and also to make video instructions for your clients (How to enter/exit, tricky equipment etc)
2 Own website.
Even if there is a single website which you use and it brings you a lot of bookings you still have to make your own as you will save on commissions and also the markets change very quickly nowadays and you will be prepared for whatever lies ahead like commission increase, some channels have even closed over time, changed and bought by the competition.
CAUTION: before you start with the website you will have to figure out first which Property management software or Channel Manager you will use as they will provide you with the online booking capability. There are a lot of free platforms you can use but Wordpress has the most options and different plugins you can use. Think about who is your client and in which languages you have to make the website. Make news sections where you can post news of your area and of your properties.
3 Channel manager
As you will want to have a reach on different platforms as AirBnB, Booking,com, Agoda, Hotels.com and etc. you will need to have a tool which will sync the availability of your vacation rental properties on all of them simultaneously so you wouldn’t have overbookings. Some of the vendors provide 2 in 1 solutions as they also serve as Property management software. Do your own research on this one as this is a very extensive topic and I will feature it in a separate blog post.
4 Mailing list
An important tool which is easy to implement. Set up a form on your website to help you collect email addresses of potential clients and ask your existing clients to enroll too. MailChimp and CampaignMonitor are one of the biggest and easiest to use
5 It is last on this list but the most important. Photos of the property. Don’t waste your time and order a professional real estate photographer who works in your area. It would take you way more time and money to learn this craft yourself. 80% of the decision is made based on the photo of your vacation rental.