Is my airbnb property manager doing it right?

Hi fellow hosts,

I am completely new to Airbnb hosting although i’ve stayed in several Airbnbs and have not booked a hotel in what must be years. I recently acquired a 2 bedroom 1 bath room apartment in an inner part of melbourne in an entirely new complex, though admittedly not in the most popular area (i.e. sparsely populated, but has direct transport links to CBD and is right beside the subway. The CBD is less than 5 km away and even accessible by foot if you don’t mind a bit of walking. Only downside is grocerties and amenities are not at doorstep. The nearest supermarket and cafes are almost 900 metres away in a busy tourist street.

As I’m based out in another part of Australia, I had to engage an Airbnb property manager. My listing (whole apartment) was up yesterday and i’ve yet to secure any bookings - i was told winter would be slow and I have accepted that.

The initial impressions were great (helpful manager, helped to set up the place and run errands etc), and it’s perhaps too early to consider this an issue, but i did notice a few things I’m uncomfortable with. Any thoughts appreciated.

  1. The profile is actually created under the management company. Should I decide to switch to self-hosting, what would become of my listing? Would the reviews (good or bad) carry over? Does Airbnb allow us to startover?

  2. I don’t think I got a boost since the listing was created under a host who already has several listings.

  3. The cleaning fee charged with each booking is almost twice the price of one night (AUD130) - when I questioned whether this makes sense she replied that other operators who charge lower cleaning fees either underpay their cleaners or are self-hosts and they claim they don’t make a single cent. I obviously wouldn’t want to underpay, but at the same time felt really uncomfortable about the price of the cleaning. The cleaning fee really only makes sense if someone were to book 5 nights in a row which spreads out the $130. She did mention it includes $15 key exchange services. Other professional bnb operators are charging $69 - $85.

  4. The “professional” photography hired by the manager failed to emphasize some of the more unique aspects of the house (this of course has got nothing to do with the manager). I was quite surprised the photographer didn’t bother with the twin balinese mirrors that dominates our decor wall, or even the direct view of the melbourne ferris wheel. The manager made some claims about why the ferris wheel wasn’t included because the shot would also have captured some negatives about the area. I couldn’t accept it entirely as similar listings in the same building complex had everything in full view, including the good and the bad, and these listings had 5 star reviews.

To be fair, the rest of the shots were good, but the colors looked a bit washed out.

  1. The company is not a superhost with 30 over listings, albeit a “highly rated host”. For a professional airbnb manager I would have thought “superhost” is a minimum requirement. I admit should have done a bit more due diligence before contracting, but am glad I had the foresight to go with only a three month trial. I checked out similar listings in the same building complex and there are already 2-3 listings. One particular listing already had 6 reviews and only charges a $69 cleaning fee - all 6 reviews were 5 star reviews. The apartment furnishings and decor are in every way inferior to mine. It will really be annoying if I went through all that trouble to dress up the place and just get priced out by the cleaning fee.

All in all, I felt a lot of things were not helping my listings and the company is really just trying to push out an assembly line product. I want to hear fellow host’s thoughts so as to give the manager a fairer verdict. Any thoughts or suggestions/tips appreciated. Thanks.

The current fees don’t seem like a sustainable model at all. There is also a list of issues which is a red flag. Try another manager. It might be best to buy somewhere you can manage yourself.

Agree Jess. I’m locked in for 3 months and hope this period doesn’t bleed me dry.

My personal opinion is that AirBnB should ban these hosting services a.s.a.p. they are the root of all problems for AirBnB worldwide. Unfortunately they make a lot of money for AirBnB, and keep the flow of fresh naive and money drawn hosts coming for AirBnB.

No, the reviews do not carry over.
Yes, AirBnB allows you to list again under your own name.

You will get the boost as it is a new listing, but you started at the wrong time. Having a boost during low season, gives you very little advantage. What is the use of being on top of a search page if nobody is looking.

I do not know the hourly rates of the cleaners, and the size of the place.
So for me it is impossible to judge.

With AirBnB it is important to also capture the negatives.
This company only wants booking, and does not care about the guests expectations.

Like I said, I do not like these companies.
But if I needed to hire one, it should at least be a superhost.

This is a double-edged sword. On one hand, you wouldn’t retain the reviews if you re-listed under your own name, but if they host badly you won’t carry any bad reviews. Also, hosting under their name gives them full financial control over the listing. I’d prefer to host under my own business name with them attached as “co-hosts” in the Airbnb system.

People use the cleaning fees in different ways. Many hosts don’t even see it as a cleaning fee, but as a “supplement” to make 1-night stays profitable. (e.g. most of the work in hosting is prepping the place for guests. It’s not worth it to me to do all the cleaning for a single night’s income, so I have a 2-night minimum. Some hosts will allow a 1-night booking, but charge a substantial cleaning fee to make up for it.) Some hosts don’t do a cleaning fee at all because they don’t want extra fees added to the nightly price. It matters less how you structure your prices and more that they’re competitive overall.

“Washed out” photos are the thing right now. Looking at the featured properties on the site, most of them are overexposed. Without seeing the photos and listing itself it’s hard to say if they did justice in capturing your place. Keep a close eye on your accuracy ratings. If they didn’t show enough of the ugly parts of your location guests will tell you they expected more.

As to their host ratings, if their reviews are great, I wouldn’t worry too much about SuperHost. A single cancellation that Airbnb deems “on them” will knock them out of SH consideration for one year. If they’re managing 30 properties with as many property owners’ and calendars it’s not unreasonable to think this could’ve happened.

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Cleaning fee should be market what it would cost to get the place cleaned if you called up a cleaning service. You will be miss-priced if it is designed to capture other fees. Are you paying a property MGT fee?

Thanks for all the comments and balanced view points. I still quite don’t figure how cleaning fee can be $115 (after deducting $15 key exchange fee) and as many of u pointed out, there may be more than just cleaning fee hidden in there. Assuming cleaners are paid $20 an hour, there’s enough for at least 5 man hours. Even with two cleaners we are looking at 2.5 man hours each. I’ve stayed in long term airbnb townhouses before and have seen 2-person cleaning teams come and go every few days . Pretty sure none has stayed beyond 1.5 hours. And many cleaners spent half the time chatting with each other. I’m guessing the rest of the cost goes towards renting their towels and linen.

I’ve just secured a 9-day booking and I’m effectively only earning $50 a night after all expenses and management fees. If I count in mortgage and capital gains tax, I’m pretty sure I’m making massive losses.

This is truly a trial period for me and I’m not sure it will be more profitable than an annual lease in the long run. I worked out the math, for it to be more profitable than a traditional lease I would need 80% occupancy at $138 a night on average. Not likely to achieve that sort of numbers with West Melbourne. Docklands will be a breeze though. If I did away with the manager I’ll only need $100-$110 a night which seems more realistic. And if I were to be totally honest I’ll probably extract the most value by living in it myself (saves my rent) and renting out the spare room for $65-$70 a night. No matter how I calculate, the numbers just don’t add up.

If it doesn’t add up to do this as a whole listing through an airbnb management company then why did you decide to do it?

Personally I would never have a management company set up the listing under their profile, they get to keep all the reviews and control all the finances.

Even if you didn’t use an airbnb management company you would still need to pay for a cleaner and a co-host or similar to be on hand to manage check in’s/problems.

I must admit I bought into a poor rental area at a ridiculous price point and was trying to use airbnb to salvage the situation after buying into the overpromises of these management companies touting above market returns.

I think the moral of the lesson is location always comes first.

Do not mix up the hourly wage with the actual cost of a cleaner.

I pay my cleaner about €15 but the actual cost (taxes, social fees, vacation days etc.) is nearly double that amount, and do not forget the consumables.

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It tales me 4 - 5 hours to properly prepare our just-under 500 sq.ft. apartment. This includes thorough cleaning (way beyond what the average non-Airbnb cleaner does), laundering of everything,windows, immediate external area, flower arrangement, snacks, welcome items etc. etc. etc.

It all adds up to be way beyond what most people change as a cleaning fee.


I think it comes down to what people are willing to pay for. Frankly speaking I could pay a $1,000 and if no one books the room, nobody is going to pay for an immaculately maintained apartment. Many of the superhosts I’ve seen are single listings and i doubt they are professional cleaners. There has to be a more sustainable solution?

Realistically, it has nothing to do with how much the market will bear or even what the cost of the cleaning/laundry/consumables are - the only question is whether the host is making money out of his/her business.

Hosts do so for various reasons. For some it is a full time job and their sole income. Others host to pay their mortgage and property expenses. But whatever the reason, the host has to be making money.

I manage 4 - 2 x 2 bed duplex, 3 bed house and a 5 bedroom Victorian catastrophe of my own and I do the cleaning!

I’ll have to politely disagree. It’s got everything to do with what the market is willing to bear, as cleaning fee is factored into booking prices which directly drives whether the host makes money from the business. I suspect most guests will be willing to pay a daily $10-$15 cleaning fee on average, which means most guests who stay 3-5 nights generally have fewer issues with a $60-$99 cleaning fee. A $130 cleaning fee would only make sense if the guest is staying 5 nights and above, which explains why my only single booking to date is a discounted 9 nights stay which frankly is a massive loss I’m taking just to generate a guest review. And when i try booking 30 nights in a row, its also $130, which doesn’t make sense because guests will expect at least one clean each week. $130 is not going to cover 4 cleans.

Airbnb’s cleaning pricing should allow hosts to charge cleaning rates on a daily basis. Something like $minimum cleaning fee + $variable per additional night.

How did you do it! Did you use professional cleaning equipment? I would love to see your listings!

We have 5 properties, I self manage 4 and have Evolve Management starting on the newest one. However, I have found all my own cleaners and handy people bc the Evolve people were insanely over priced.

We have been lucky to find good point people in each location that we pay to let people in, wrangle cleaners (if needed), or just cleaners. It’s worked out very well for us.

I would recommend dropping the management company ASAP. What’s the worst thing if you break the contract? Find a good reliable cleaning crew, self manage emails and issues, and get a keyless door lock so keys are not an issue

Thanks Azreala. I do have plans to drop the company - but I’m not able to move over to Melb to manage on my own for various family reasons. Shuttling between 2 states is not likely to work well unless I get a reliable co-host. I think a more realistic option may to hire another management company.

I do not have a cleaning fee but agree there are a variety of reasons for using one, overall costs of running the business have to be taken into account, my costs are part of my nightly rate.

If you use a company to manage remotely then by definition you are unlikely to be looking at very short stays, usually the cost per booking will be too high to make financial sense.

They way you have described your situation long term renting makes more sense.

All management companies will want to take a fat slice of your money for doing all the work. Are you sure you can’t just rent it out yourself, long term rather than holiday lets?