Evolve.com or DIY?

Hi, Everyone.

I joined this forum last year when we purchased a property in Santa Fe, NM but have had a tenant with a lease since that time, so haven’t been very active here. My wife and I are making some improvements to the property and preparing it for short term rental starting in June.

It’s a pet-friendly property (more than half an acre of fenced property) so we’d like to invite people to bring their well-behaved, medium sized dogs. (Our two Cocker Spaniels do very well there. They’re both around 30 lbs.)

My wife and I both have very demanding jobs and the property is a 9 hour drive from our home, making direct day-to-day management impossible. I have sourced local cleaning, maintenance and repair professionals.

I have been courted by Evolve to help manage the property marketing. They offer great personal service and I’ve been chatting with them on an off for the past year.

They have been discussed in other posts but rather than send you searching, here are the highlights of their pitch (skip this part if you’re already familiar):

  • Listings on all the major STR platforms
  • Dynamic Pricing for the market
  • $3,000 Damage Protection for each stay
  • $1M in liability for each stay
  • Management and scheduling of a cleaning team that you select
  • Personal follow-ups with guests to encourage positive reviews and get feedback about the property
  • 24/7 Level 1 guest support
  • Professional Photography
  • 25 year age limit for guests (obviously excluding their children)
  • All guests for a booking must be listed and provide ID
  • No fees. There’s a 10% commission for each booking, inclusive of any commissions paid to the platforms

So far, I think it sounds great.

Like many of you, I’m concerned about unsanctioned parties, more guests than should be staying, unruly guests, unruly pets, property damage, etc.

Based on information shared in this community and others, I’ve noticed that some hosts have been able to identify some possible red flags. For instance, last-minute bookings, guests who treat the property like a quick hotel stay, guests new to the platforms and guests who are locals, to name a few.

Yesterday, during an onboarding call with Evolve, I was informed (for the first time) about a few of their policies:

  • They will only allow instant bookings - no host pre-approvals
  • There is no software in place to limit bookings based on local zip codes
  • I cannot limit the size of the dog (This is an AirBnB requirement that I did not know about. It’s my fault for not knowing this - I should have been paying closer attention.) and they won’t allow me to include our requirements in the description of the listing.

If you’ve read this far, thank you.

Here’s my dilemma:

Do I simply accept the terms I don’t like in exchange for the bundled service or should I manage the property using one of the major SaaS platforms? (Lodgify, iGMS, etc.)

I have significant experience as a business owner/operator and consider myself relatively competent in most facets of management (especially software and automation), but it would still be more work for me.

The damage protection and liability insurance are a huge added value and would protect me (somewhat) from the above issues, but I feel the odds of experiencing some of the issues noted above will be higher than if I could set some requirements.

Am I overthinking this?

I know you’re all busy and experienced hosts and I thank you in advance for your input.

Evolve have dreadful reviews……


On this forum? Elsewhere?


Google “Evolve Airbnb reviews”

Bottom line appears to be that they talk a good game, but are essentially shit at what they do.



Sorry - trying to show some reviews

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I don’t have any opinion about evolve but I do have one about dogs. I have a dog friendly airbnb in El Paso TX and I also board dogs in my home. I’ve cared for hundreds of dogs in a residential setting.

You can’t control if the dogs are well behaved. You have no way of knowing and owners won’t tell you so let that go. I also don’t see anything magic about “medium” dogs. My two dog truly are perfect but they are closer to 50 pounds. The worst dogs about marking inside in my experience are small males. But one of the worst was a 20 pound female bischon.

That said, the majority of dogs are not destructive. If you’re going to permit dogs I suggest no rugs anywhere in the home and reduce the number of textiles everywhere (cloth upholstery, throw pillows, drapes, etc.)


Thank you, @kkc.

Our property is loft style (with bedroom) and has stained concrete floors, but we do have a carpet in the living room to make it a bit cozier. Other than the sleeper sofa and an arm chair, there are no other textiles around. (Unless a dog gets into the linen closet, of course.)

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I feel so stupid. I’ve been so concerned with preparing the house for rental and creating a great experience that I just took them at their word.

Heck - I don’t even take a business meeting with someone unless I’ve looked at their LinkedIn profile, so why didn’t I Google Evolve? Embarrassing, but I’m not yet committed, so I can scramble to figure out another solution.

Thanks, @JohnF

I’ve got to notice and admire your extremely well written and organized post. Thank you.

If Evolve is hiring your cleaning team (your repair team too?) then how do they help when your cleaner cannot meet the schedule? Who looks to see how well the cleaner has done? Who directs the repairs? Finds those professionals? It seems to me that Evolve doesn’t do what is the hardest part of the job – being there. Making sure things get done.

You say you’ve sourced local professionals, but who is looking to see that they’re doing their job? Do you have backups? Maybe you have confidence that you have found a local person who can watch over them and the property and operation overall. THAT is what you need.

What they’re providing, seems to me, is what is easiest for you to do or someone else remotely. The ONE thing I see of value is the $3,000 damage protection for each stay (we get that from VRBO where the guest pays the premium and that is handled fairly in my experience). But HOW that insurance protection is handled with Evolve is an unknown to me, and that’s the real issue. In our experience VRBO does an excellent job; not so much for Airbnb. So it’s not the words on a page that counts but how the plan is truly administered.

Have you looked into Proper commercial insurance? I recommend you do so.

I might get in trouble for saying what I am about to say but I would not allow pets. I love cats and dogs but they can cause damage that cannot in many situations be easily compensated. What if the dog gnaws on the legs of the dining room table? Are you entitled to a new table (no)? Just some kind of repair that will not truly restore it. Or, at best, you get actual cash value (depreciated value) of the table if you can provide documentation of cost. There was just a study. Take a look at this: Airbnb Value Rating: How Guests Define Value - BnB Facts

The study says: “The output of this model also sheds light on whether hosts should allow pets or not. The model tells us allowing pets results in a 19% decline in the probability the listing will score 4.8 or higher on value. To understand why this is, consider only guests who want to bring pets will perceive value in this features. All other guests that don’t want to bring pets will perceive no value in this feature.”

Cleaning is harder with animals, more expensive. Better vacuums needed. Often they just can’t get all the hair out. A well informed guest might find reduced value in a pet-friendly listing because they know that the likelihood of a clean place is less than that of a place that does not permit guests.

I assume you will have outside video surveillance to know how many people are coming into/out of property. This is a must.

I think the 10% is fair. But the real issue is whether you’ve sourced someone local who truly will be on the scene with each turnover, evaluate the cleaning work, identify and hire people to make repairs and what if any improvements should be made (we’re always identifying small upgrades that we think make a difference).

I’m also curious on why you’re going the STR route. Presumably it’s because it is projected to earn more money. But in my experience it requires hands-on local management, which Evolve does not provide.

Some say here that Evolve-managed properties don’t get good reviews. My guess is that is because truly Evolve is not managing what most needs to be managed: your cleaner, repair team and someone on the spot with each turnover. These are remotely-owned properties, which are often the worse because they don’t have hands-on on-the-scene each-turnover management, which is what makes or breaks an STR.


I am writing to add an amendment to my advice not to have a pet friendly listing.

Everything I wrote is accurate and for us it is the right decision because we have some expensive furniture, wood floors that are easily scratched by nails and just want a super-clean and pristine place.

BUT, if I went strictly by dollars and cents I might well consider a pet-friendly place IF I could get a hefty premium in the nightly rate. I am aware of a listing on our area that is not nearly as big or nice as our place but gets a nightly rate 50% more than ours. I assume it is because they are pet friendly AND child friendly (we are neither).

They do get some reviews complaining about the hair and dog leftovers strewn throughout the yard (which we would have a fit about if that were our listing), but mostly very good reviews and that high nightly rate.

So, in retrospect, if you’ve furnished with pet-friendly in mind, bought the better vacuums, have the appropriate cleaning protocols in place inside/outside, it could be a smart business decision to have pet friendly and child friendly (childproof please for safety). [I still think a local hands-on person at every turnover is a must.]

So on this pet friendly issue I think I was projecting my situation inadvertently.

There’s still that study I cited, which makes sense. Yet I see the prices this other listing is getting. I wonder what others here think about pet friendly. Are they also seeing properties get a much higher nightly rate that seem to be explained by the fact that they are pet-friendly and child-friendly ?


A few quotes from other sites; I cannot vouch for their accuracy:

“One thing you should remember is that since Evolve pays for the advertisements they own them. If you sign up with them and then ever leave their service you’ll have to start from scratch with new listings and new reviews. Your Evolve listing cannot be transferred to you” Anyone use Evolve Vacation Management Co.?

At the same URL another said:

“The pros that I found were their photopraphs are amazing. I thought the first ones I had taken were pretty incredibe but they do some editing and seem to enhance them. Next, the description of my cabin is quite professional and inviiting. . . Also, you can charge extra fort extra guests when you list on your own. With Evolve, you cannot. It cost more and takes more time for housekeeping to clean when there are extra people.” That same person said that the booking process with Evolve is somewhat cumbersome.

Another says: "Own a number of properties and tried to use Evolve to market and manage them. Very disorganized, Terrible Service and very unprofessional. Specifically told them via email multiple times do not book stays less than 3 days they could never get it right after multiple emails. My onboarding manager Hailey insisted on “chatting” whenever there was an issue because I am assuming they never wanted to put anything in writing. They are like the gang that can’t shoot straight. "

A few other negative reviews of Evolve there, some citing the lack hands-on management.

On Yelp, 57 reviews, 1-1/2 stars. Yikes! Though again I wonder how much of this truly reflects on Evolve or the fact that these properties are not managed with a person on the scene. But it does reflect on their business model if you don’t have that on-the-scene managing. https://www.yelp.com/biz/evolve-property-management-washington

But look here, almost 1900 reviews and a 4.6 on Google. I found this through an ad site. Google Maps

Take a look here, claims in 2020 that Evolve changed service terms and does not take customer questions after booking. Could that be accurate?

This is interesting. Is there a relationship between VRBO and Evolve?

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That’s good news.

Another one to avoid is Vacasa. In some cases the reviews by home owners and guests are even worse than Evolve, but don’t just take my word, do a few searches yourself.

Easy money this STR gig, eh?



Aren’t those just channel managers and being 9 hours away wouldn’t you still need a local property manager?

Note that just because they offer insurance doesn’t mean you’re covered nor does it mean you don’t need dedicated short-term rental insurance for your property. If you don’t have short term rental insurance, read your current policy carefully. You were previously doing long-term rental, so I assume you have appropriate insurance for that, but does it cover short-term rentals? It’s unlikely.

Yes, I remember looking at Airbnb listings managed by Evolve and the reviews weren’t good, and this really holds true for ALL of the big property management companies. However, are reviews even relevant to you as long as they generate income and keep your property maintained?

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I think the issue Brian is that many of the bad reviews are from the property owners, not guests.

I’m sure there are many folks that are happy to sit back and let one of these companies deal with their property, and they actually do turn a profit, and they do get their properties looked after. So, from the OP’s perspective, it’s a bit of a gamble. Will it work out OK, or six/nine months down the line will he join the queue of hosts who wish they’d never heard of Evolve, Vacasa et al?



Town I formally hosted in in AZ had a great casita and a tiny apartment above a garage. When it was run by the couple that started it, it had great reviews and was constantly booked in winter.

The couple sold (hosting was not their thing) After I moved I noticed it was managed by Evolve. First time I’d heard of them. They don’t get good reviews and the property is sporadically booked in winter which was unheard of in this town.


Yeah, that’s a much bigger problem, especially if they lock you into a contract for more than 2 or 3 months.


@gadgetboy Go to the Airbnb Community forum and type Evolve into the search bar there.

There are at least a couple of multi page long threads full of complaints about Evolve, from both hosts and guests.

And as was mentioned upthread, bad rep on Vacasa as well, and another with the absurd name of Plushyhost.

I’d say it’s best to stay away from these big property management companies that operate across the country or in many countries, and use a small, independent local property management outfit or an experienced private co-host.

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Local co-host all the way. I’ve never come across a management service that does the job properly. I’m not saying that there are none but in my experience they must be few and far between.

You can’t manage remotely without a co-host. What will the management company do if the washing machine floods? Or if the rental is broken into at one in the morning? Or a guest is taken ill? Or a window is broken and there’s heavy rain? Or one of hundreds of different things that can happen.

You’ll need full STR insurance anyway, regardless of what the company claims to have.


I want to thank everyone on this thread for your input. Here’s where I’ve ended up:

  • To clarify, I never expected this to be easy. My wife and I purchased this property for myriad reasons. We’re just hoping to offset some costs by renting the most modern and newly renovated dwelling on the property.

  • In my 30 years of experience, a vendor, contractor or consultant does not become the brand of your company. This concept of my property (my business) being listed under a management company account is ludicrous. Barring any new developments in this space, I won’t be working with any of them.

  • Dogs: I’ve decided to run some A/B tests to better understand the response to allowing pets. I can always change the listing one way or the other

  • Most importantly, as @HostAirbnbVRBO @Brian_R170 @jaquo and others have pointed out, a local co-host or property manager is a necessity. It was always my intention to have a co-host: my son lives in another dwelling on the property from August through May and will be my co-host during those months, but June, July and August are considered the high season so I need to find an interim solution - or work remotely from Santa Fe in the Summer. It certainly doesn’t suck. :wink:


Open Items

  • How should I search for a local co-host? Does anyone have experience with this? How would you compensate them? Retainer, hourly or a percentage of bookings? Something else? Would a management company be better?

  • I need to find the right SaaS solution for managing bookings across the STR sites. I’ve found lots of reviews, good and bad. Does anyone have personal experience with this? I’ll continue to search the forum for opinions.

Once again, thanks to all.


We live on-site, but, when we started, I wanted a co-host to help get everything set up properly and avoid issues.

We located a co-host simply by searching local AirBnB listings and looked for hosts that managed a couple of properties, similar to ours, that had very high ratings. I excluded any management companies. Then I contacted them and asked if they would be willing to help get us set up.

I started out with a 30% per stay as they were getting everything set up and helping to stage the property. We have since reduced it to 20 and now 15% as I have gotten more comfortable with doing more of the work myself.

Note: getting a co-host that manages similar listings has worked out great. The other similar listings could be “competition”, but, in reality it has helped with bookings as the co-host is able to refer bookings between the similar properties. And, has been able to accommodate some guests by splitting their stays over multiple properties when none of the individual properties had vacancies to cover the entire desired stay.

To manage calendars across platforms, I am looking at RentalBell. It is not a full rental management system. But, looks like it will do the job of coordinating calendars for an affordable price. Someone else on this forum recommended it.