Ivy Vacations is a professional property management service, we make renting out your short-term Arkansas vacation rental easy – but we understand that homeowners have many questions. We try to be as clear and informative as possible, so we’ve put together a list of the most asked questions! If something was missed, just email us at email@example.com.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can you give us references from other vacation rental owners about your services?
Absolutely! In fact, we’ll give you all of them. We know they are all happy customers.
What does Ivy Vacations do for Vacation Rental Owners?
We manage every aspect of keeping your vacation rental booked and ready for guests and owners to enjoy. Our goal is to enable you to make the most revenue from your rental without having to do any of the busy work involved with managing it. That means we do everything from taking photos, writing descriptions, and marketing it to potential guests, as well as managing logistics like reservations, payments, check-in & check-out, housekeeping, light upkeep, and dispatching emergency maintenance. We can also manage handymen for regular maintenance, improvements, and emergencies. We make sure homeowners sleep well at night knowing their rental is being taken care of while generating the most revenue possible.
What do you charge for this service?
National commission rates for property management service average roughly 35% and we have seen them as high as 65% depending on the type of home and market. Ivy Vacations provides management – without cutting any corners – for 30-35% commission. Try it for a year, let us prove our value to you and we’re sure you’ll continue. If you decide not to, no strings attached!
How easy is it to get started?
Getting started is easy and risk-free. Activating a home that is an existing vacation rental, can be done in as quickly as a few weeks if everything is ready to go. We request a 6 month initial commitment to our property management service, but we do not require volume commitments, or start-up fees. Normal activation includes shooting new photos, putting together detailed listings, setting pricing, activating advertising on the main internet channels and beginning to take reservations – all in as little as a few weeks! This might take longer due to a homeowner’s schedule, or if the home needs to be converted from a residence or long-term rental. If you do not like the service at any point, you can terminate.
Can you help me convert to a vacation rental?
Yes, we will help in any way we can. Whether it’s helping you secure a short-term license (if necessary), to meeting movers, the cable company, etc. We can have an Ivy Vacations representative help you quickly, and smoothly get through the process.
What kind of contract do I need to sign?
Our contract is an open-book and we believe it should not have any onerous clauses. We believe it is straight forward. It includes a 30 day out clause for any reason (with a $400 penalty if cancelled before 6 month initial agreement period) – if you are not happy with the service you can leave with a month’s notice.
Do I have to commit to a certain amount of availability?
No, however we do require that all homes that wish to use Ivy Vacations are year-round rentals. There is no problem with an owner, friends, or family using a rental for weeks or even months at a time, however if you plan to only make it available occasionally then your home probably is not right for our program. We also reserve the right to cancel a homeowner agreement if the home is predominantly unavailable for bookings.
Does my home need to be of a certain quality or size?
To some degree, yes. We feel we have a good understanding of market demands and strive to create a particular brand through our inventory. “Cool factor”, amenities, natural features and appeal to professionals in transition are all taken into consideration. We will look at every home and let you know if we feel it will make a good rental. Contact us to see if your home qualifies.
Is there anything I am required to have at my home?
Yes, there is! Guests expect a fully-functioning home when they arrive – complete with furniture, appliances, cookware, glasses, flatware, internet, TV, etc. As well as a standard supply of bed linens, bath & hand towels, and typical consumables like light-bulbs, batteries, etc. We will work with you to make sure that you have everything in place. Internet connections are required at every home – TV can be optional in certain rural areas (with some exceptions). Nicely decorated homes tend to command higher rentals and we always encourage owners to have a home that shows well. A good test of whether or not you need to have something in your rental is to put yourself in a guest’s shoes…if you were staying somewhere for a week-long period of time, what would you expect to have in that rental home – that is what we aim to provide to guests for their stay.
Do I need to have a traditional phone line/land-line installed?
No, a landline is not necessary unless you wish to have one for your own personal stays. While we require wifi to be available, we do not require a landline. Virtually all guests come equipped with mobile phones and the expense of maintaining a landline just for guest use is not needed.
How do you set pricing for my rental?
Owners often ask how pricing is set for each rental, and why the “Total Rent” amount on booking notification emails sometimes looks a little strange. First, we set an initial price for each unit for each day of week. Mid-week days might get set at one price, weekends at another. We set these initial prices based on several factors like input from each owner, characteristics of the home (size, amenities, location, recent remodels, etc.), comparable home prices in the area, and guidance from our local GMs.
Once we agree on the initial prices with you, the owner, we ask you if you want to be included in our dynamic pricing program. Over 90% of all owners decide to participate. Once in the program, we watch the performance of your unit and make frequent pricing adjustments. No pricing is ever set perfectly the first time – the key is to monitor and adjust pricing up or down based on actual market demand. This is where Ivy Vacations excels – we monitor conversion rates of your rental at initial pricing and adjust up or down according to how well the rental is booking. It is an ongoing process that is always a top priority. The more money our owners make, the more we make – so we try and do everything we can to maximize the revenue.
Here are just a few examples of the many ways we adjust your pricing to make you more rental income:
– If your home is booking more quickly for comparable times of year than other homes in your area – this may be an indicator we set your price too low, and we may adjust the price up.
– If your unit has last minute availability, and has openings within the next two weeks, we may apply different levels of discounts to try and get that last-minute traveler who is used to getting a last minute discount deal.
– If we notice large periods of time that are farther in advance that have lower than expected occupancy, we may adjust the price down. As occupancy fills in, we may adjust the price back up.
There are several other ways we make changes, and a lot of different places we look for data. At Ivy Vacations we monitor the market availability calendars on sites like VRBO and HomeAway, we use pricing reports from AirDNA and benchmark every home’s inquiry and reservation volumes against historical numbers and comparable homes. All of these changes can result in the “Total Rent” number being different than the initial pricing set for your rental. Our founder was a business analyst at a corporate travel agency that grosses 1 billion in sales and has experience in dynamic pricing always associated with the travel industry.
How do you advertise my rental and do I need to pay for this?
We list your home everywhere we think guests are looking for rentals! We start by putting you on the Ivy Vacations Vacation Rentals website, but we know that most consumers shop on the big consumer travel sites. In addition to our own site, we automatically get your property onto the major HomeAway sites (Homeaway.com, VRBO, and Vacationrentals.com to name a few), and we list your property on roughly 14 other optional sites like Tripadvisor, Flipkey, Airbnb.com, and Booking.com.
We also synchronize your availability calendar so every site shows the right rates and availability all of the time. We believe no other property manager markets more than Ivy Vacations – after all if we do not book up your home we do not make any money on it either! Each site has a slightly different business model, but in general most have a combination of a small commission to the owner/ PM and a fee that gets charged to the guest.
Do I need to provide you with photographs?
If you have them, great! If you don’t, we’ll handle it. Even if you do, we will likely come and shoot some more. The fact is that guests want to see great photos and we want to make sure your home looks fantastic online!
How do guests pay you?
Travelers overwhelmingly prefer to pay with credit cards for transactions rather than send cash – it is safer, easier, and more secure. Credit card companies do charge for their service, we deduct a typical fee of 3% for Visa/Mastercard from the gross rent to cover their fees.
How do guests interact with Ivy Vacations?
Our favorite part of what we do is interacting with guests. Hospitality is why we’re here. We have several ways for guests to communicate with us. First is our website and email, second we have people ready to answer the phone around the clock. All guests are given a personal telephone call on the day of their arrival from the PM’s personal cell phone. Interaction is what we’re all about. We are delivering a vacation experience through our “Locals’ Guide” that is delivered upon booking and personalized interaction to insure guests feel like they have a friend nearby. In fact, we are told just that most often in our reviews; “we now have a friend in Mountain View”. The greatest moment of our day is when we’re asked “do you have any tips about fishing, eating, canoeing, or hiking?.”
Can guests book my property online?
Yes they can, although virtually all guests begin with an email or phone call we do allow them to view a property online, and to book it and pay for it online.
How do you coordinate bookings and sync calendars and keep up with everything?
We employ BookingSync.com. It is a professional software as a service package that is based in France. We shopped long and hard for our Booking software provider and are thrilled with this product. It will also allow portal access for owners and cleaning crew to view bookings and block off dates.
How do you deal with advanced deposits?
We accept all major credit cards, and charge a deposit of 50% of the total rental upon booking, with the full payment due 14 days prior to check-in. All reservations which are made more than 14 days in advance of check-in are fully refundable. After this cancellation period expires, all payments are non-refundable. The guest who books the property must be 25 years or older unless otherwise noted.
When do I get paid for reservations?
We currently pay owners once a month and we hope to move that to a more frequent schedule. Expect to receive an owner statement and an ACH deposit to your bank account within about seven business days after the end each month. This statement and deposit will cover all guests that check-out during that month. If you have a guest crossing over one month to the next, the payment for that reservation falls in the month they check-out.
Why do you do commission-based pricing?
Commission-based pricing is the industry-standard for vacation rental property management firms. That does not necessarily mean it is the only answer – but we believe that it perfectly aligns our incentives with our homeowners. We only make money when our owners make money, and the only way to increase our revenue is to help owners increase theirs. We believe this is why the commission model has worked and is so well established in the industry.
What kind of reporting do I get on my unit?
Initially you will get a monthly statement from us that details out how much rental revenue you earned, includes details on how much tax we collected and will pay on your behalf, as well as any charges that you have incurred during the month (for example if you want it cleaned for your own stay, or if you had us install a new TV, etc.)
Do I have to handle paying any lodging taxes?
No, Ivy Vacations handles that for you. We collect the taxes, put them into our owner escrow-style account, and remit on your behalf. Each reservation has taxes added to the amount of the rental – so when you see a rental dollar amount, you can rest assured that we have collected and will remit tax on top of that – you do not need to send us extra money to pay taxes nor do you need to file with your lodging authority.
What about cleaning fees?
Guests pay us directly for cleaning fees, and we pay the cleaners. There is nothing you need to do to schedule them or pay for them. If you wish to have your home cleaned while you, a family member, or friend are using it, just let us know – we will clean it and bill you for it as part of your monthly statement.
Do I need to do my own laundry?
No, our cleaning fees cover laundry service for linens with every clean. Our cleaners will either do it on-site if time permits or bring it to a laundry facility as a back-up.
Do I need to provide all the amenities every time a guest stays like soap, paper towels, toilet paper?
No, you don’t need to worry about it, Ivy Vacations makes sure homes remained stocked. We require our vacation rental homes come with an initial set of amenities so when guests arrive, they don’t need to head straight to a market. That set includes a couple rolls of toilet paper per bathroom, a roll of paper towels, small sizes of soap, shampoo, and conditioner, and dish soap in the kitchen. Ivy Vacations buys hotel amenities in bulk and restocks these for every stay. Rather than have an owner manage and maintain, Ivy Vacations bills owners only $7 per stay to completely restock.
What if I want to do some decorating on my own?
We love it when owners stay involved with decorating and improving their home. Just check that the home is available and you can easily access it whenever you want!
What happens if there is an emergency? Who does the guest call?
The guest always calls Ivy Vacations. The guest actually never knows the name of the homeowner for privacy reasons (unless you really want us to tell them). We take the call and dispatch the appropriate handyman. We pay the handyman and then put the bill onto your homeowner statement taking out of the revenue owed to you during the month – that way you don’t have to worry about paying out-of-pocket for anything unless it happens to be a major repair. Ivy Vacations does not charge any additional fees for these types of emergencies jobs.
How do you deal with noisy guests?
We require renters to be at least 25 years old, and we have a strict policy of evicting them upon any sign of noise, partying, or over-occupancy. Parties do happen and we want people to enjoy themselves, however we do not tolerate abuse at the properties and contractually have heavy measures in place to evict and charge additional fees. If we receive multiple noise complaints about a guest, we will send over the police and attempt to remove the guest from the property for the remainder of the stay.
Do owners have to allow pets?
No, that is up to each individual owner. In general we encourage it as homes simply get more demand if they allow pets, but we understand many owners do not want to allow them and that is fine. We charge guests an additional non-refundable $45-$120 rent per stay for dogs to ensure that an owner’s home is fully cleaned. Any damage caused by the pet will be billed to the guest. This fee is paid as additional rent, so the majority goes to the owner.
What about regular maintenance?
Ivy Vacations provides guest servicing and management, and property management to owners, but Ivy Vacations is not a maintenance company. Our employees are not trained contractors or repair people. We handle a 24/7 call center, reservations management, guest support, regular housekeeping scheduling and inspections, dispatch of qualified maintenance personnel, monitor internet up-time, indoor temperature when equipped, pool temps when equipped, maintain electronic locks, etc. During inspections we will restock consumable items like soap, toilet paper, shampoo, and even perform simple maintenance like changing remote control batteries or light bulbs for lamp fixtures or ceilings 8’ or lower in height if spares are available on site.
Are there any other regular services I should have scheduled?
Ivy Vacations recommends having a local, licensed HVAC service plan in place that regularly services your air conditioning and heating appliances as well as changes your air filters. Plans run anywhere from $15/month on up depending on how often you need your filters changed and how large your home is. We also require a regular pest-control service in southern markets, and we strongly recommend gutter cleaning in heavy leaf areas, and twice-yearly window washing. If you would like us to set these up for you, no problem. The bills for the service are set up in your name and are sent directly to you.
What about garbage collection? Who handles this?
Stick with your regular provider – if guests are in the home on pick-up days we ask them to take out the trash. If no one is there, Ivy Vacations visits and puts out the trash with no charge to you. If you are there on regular days, then please put it out yourself.
How do you handle security deposits and damage?
A standard in the property management industry is to withhold 4% of gross rents to cover the costs of small items, however Ivy Vacations does not do this. Owners should expect every now and then they might have to replace a fork or knife, do some touch-up painting, replace a sink or shower fixture, etc. All homes experience periodic maintenance. Guests do sign a contract committing to paying for damage via their credit card on file, and there are strict policies when additional cleaning is needed as well. This is withheld from the $150 damage Deposit.
Often we are asked what types of things are replaced under this policy. Generally a good rule of thumb is that well-maintained, durable items in good working condition, that are damaged as a result of a guest’s actions are covered. The damage waiver is not a guarantee that nothing will ever be broken or stop working in your home. It is intended to replace broken or damaged items that resulted from a guest making a mistake.
Everything from small appliances, to plumbing fixtures, furniture and electronics eventually wear-out. If a guest drops a blender and it smashes on the floor, the damage protection kicks in! But if a guest is using a blender that is several years old and it just stops working, it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. Rug is dirty from regular foot traffic: it is not replaced as part of the damage waiver. Guest spills an entire bottle of red wine on a rug: the damage waiver kicks in. Guest sits down on an inexpensive couch and a leg breaks off: it is generally not their fault. If a guest spills pasta sauce all over the couch: damage waiver applies.
The damage waiver applies to most furniture as well, however it does not apply to things like fragile antique seating or dining tables, inexpensive plastic seating, furniture that is clearly old, worn, visibly weak or rusted. These are all items we highly recommend removing from a home for safety purposes. And while we love inexpensive furniture from Ikea or other discount stores, it is known not to be very durable. The damage waiver does not apply to furniture that is not designed to hold up to regular guest use, particularly MDF or plastic.
What if I want to stay there, how do I book for myself, friends or family?
You can just call us and we will book the unit for you, or you can view your availability and book online through our Owner portal. There is obviously no charge for this and we even schedule cleaning when you leave so it is ready for the next guest. We bill you on your owner statement for the cleaning.