Helping short-let landlords by combining digital technology with local customer service
- Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto
A new concept in property management is sweeping the country, yielding benefits to property owners in the short-term let and holiday let markets.
Megha Nagendra Wells and her husband David Wells, Directors of Pass the Keys in Canterbury and East Kent, explain how the ground-breaking service works:
Q: How does Pass the Keys differ from other property management companies?
A: Pass the Keys combines a local, very personal service with the huge infrastructure and digital technology of a national operation. We are from Kent and run the company locally, but we have the systems and support of Pass the Keys HQ and its 24-hour guest service behind us. People with properties they wish to make available for short-term lettings simply hand the keys over to us and we do the rest – it is an end-to-end short-let and Airbnb management service. We market the property across several short-let platforms and look after everything from listing and pricing to the cleaning and laundry service.
Q: How does the technology work?
A: We have a unique online portal (PTK Connect), which everyone involved can access via an app and log in. This enables us to manage the property; allows the owners to see what is happening; gives the guests the information they need and notifies the cleaners when they are required. The same platform is accessed by everyone, so there is no need for phone calls, emails or text messages – it is one cloud-based system and everything is at our fingertips. We also use a dynamic algorithm which calculates and optimises the pricing of the property based on factors such as demand and occupancy.
Q: How does the technology benefit property owners?
A: As well as ensuring the best pricing to maximise income, the technology takes away the pressure of hosts having to look after the property themselves as it manages emergencies and changeovers. Homeowners have a calendar where they can see every booking as it comes in and reserve days to occupy the property themselves if they wish. They can see reviews as well as the service log for cleaning and maintenance jobs. Our cleaners take pictures after each clean and upload them onto our platform. In the event a guest breaks something, we have photographic evidence of how the property was left before they entered and can thus charge them accordingly.
Q: What advantages are there to guests?
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A: We look after guests from the moment they enquire. Our guest services team helps identify which property is right for them. Once the booking is made, we send a confirmation email and then, 14 days before they travel, they receive the property details and manual. One day before the stay, they receive a code to access the key safe (all our properties provide flexible check-in and check-out using key safes). Once the guests arrive, they find the accommodation sparkling clean (we currently have an extended Covid-19 cleaning protocol and leave 24 hours between stays), together with hotel quality linen, towels and toiletries, which we provide. They have our direct contact number in case there is anything they need as we truly believe in giving the guests a personal, local service.
Q: What kind of properties are suitable?
A: We look after any complete properties in the areas of Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay. We have a huge variety in terms of the type of property we manage, from a lovely one-bedroom cottage which brings in around £100 a day, to a beautiful four-bedroom, sea-facing home, which generates around £300 a day. There is strong demand for holiday homes and Airbnb properties in East Kent because the area is so beautiful and has plenty of heritage sites, beaches and wonderful walks to offer. There is a good reason why it is known as the Garden of England.
Q: How much does the service cost?
A: Property owners pay a small, one-off joining or “onboarding” fee plus an initial cleaning fee, and from then on pay us a percentage of what they earn. Everything is included in that price, which means homeowners can be completely hands-off. We market the properties extensively across different hosting sites to ensure maximum occupancy because we only earn money when they do! We provide a rolling contract so property owners can end the service whenever they wish. If you’re interested in our short-let property management services, head to our website to see how much you could earn!