property management onboarding

Property Management Onboarding Checklist: How to Onboard a Vacation Rental

In the dynamic world of vacation rentals, where every detail matters, the significance of a well-structured property management onboarding checklist cannot be overstated. The journey of introducing a new vacation rental property to a property management company’s portfolio is a critical juncture that demands precision, organization, and a strategic approach.

Having an effective onboarding process ensures a smooth transition and sets the stage for a successful partnership between the property management company and the vacation rental owner.

To help with the process, we’ve created a downloadable property management onboarding checklist that is designed for all property managers, whether you’re a seasoned property management company or an individual property owner just starting out.

We’ll also use this article to discuss the key components and benefits of a checklist, from legal and tax compliance to guest experience enhancement, and how a well-crafted checklist can elevate your property management strategy and unlock the full potential of your vacation rental business. Let’s go!

Don’t see the form to download the Property Management Onboarding Checklist? Click here.

Who needs a PM onboarding checklist?

A property management onboarding checklist serves as an indispensable tool for all vacation rental owners and property managers in the vacation rental industry, ensuring a seamless and efficient transition when bringing a new property under management.

onboarding checklist

For property management companies, it provides a comprehensive roadmap to navigate the onboarding process, guiding them through critical steps, such as property setup and marketing.

Property owners gain clarity on the expectations and responsibilities of both parties while also gaining insights into how to optimize their property’s performance, including revamping amenities or targeting specific niches.

Guests indirectly benefit from a well-executed onboarding checklist, as it facilitates an exceptional and consistent vacation experience right from the moment they book.

In essence, the property management onboarding checklist is a unifying resource that aligns the efforts of all involved parties.

The importance of onboarding: Why you need a checklist

Property management companies play a pivotal role in the vacation rental industry, bridging property owners and travelers seeking a comfortable and memorable stay. Efficiently onboarding new vacation rentals can significantly impact a property management company’s success.

From ensuring guest satisfaction to adapting to market trends, there are numerous reasons why property management companies need to be meticulous during the onboarding process. Let’s check them out:

Maximizing revenue

Thoughtfully onboarded properties are more likely to attract bookings and generate revenue. Pricing, availability, and marketing strategies can be optimized during onboarding, ensuring that the property is positioned competitively in the market and achieves its revenue potential.

Operational efficiency

Property managers who follow a well-defined checklist for each new vacation rental can guarantee that all necessary tasks, from setting up utilities to scheduling cleanings, are completed promptly and accurately.

Legal and regulatory compliance

Onboarding a new vacation rental involves understanding and adhering to local regulations and laws. Property management companies need to be aware of zoning laws, permit requirements, and tax obligations related to short-term rentals, as failing to comply can lead to legal troubles and financial penalties. A checklist makes sure no stone is unturned.

Inventory management

Accurate tracking of inventory is crucial for ensuring that each vacation rental is properly equipped and maintained. Property management companies need to make sure that essential items are available in each rental unit and that any damages or losses are promptly addressed.

kitchen inventory

Quick issue resolution

Thorough onboarding includes identifying potential issues before guests arrive. This proactive approach allows property managers to address any maintenance or technical problems in advance, minimizing guest inconveniences and negative experiences.

Consistent branding and standards

A property management company often handles multiple vacation rentals across different locations. Consistent onboarding processes help to meet the company’s branding and quality standards. This consistency builds trust among guests, as they know they can expect a certain level of service and comfort, regardless of the property’s location.

First impressions matter

When a guest books a vacation rental, their first impression is formed long before they step foot on the property. A well-executed onboarding process ensures that the property is presented accurately through high-quality photos, detailed descriptions, and accurate amenities listings. This initial impression can significantly impact booking conversion rates and guest satisfaction.

Guest satisfaction and reviews

Satisfied guests are more likely to leave positive reviews and return for future stays. An effective onboarding process helps to make sure that vacation rentals are well-prepared, clean, and equipped with all necessary amenities. This leads to positive guest experiences, which in turn generate glowing reviews and positive word-of-mouth referrals.

Effective communication

During onboarding, property management companies establish clear communication channels with property owners. This sets expectations and helps prevent misunderstandings down the line. Clear communication also allows property owners to provide valuable insights about the property.

Adaptation to market trends

The vacation rental market is dynamic, with trends and guest preferences evolving over time. The onboarding process provides an opportunity for property management companies to assess and adapt to changing market demands, ensuring that their offerings remain relevant and attractive to potential guests.

How to prepare for property management onboarding

Before jumping head-first into the deep end of the onboarding process, getting started on the following tasks prior to ticking off your checklist will help you achieve a higher rate of successful onboardings.

Owner orientation and review of property management agreement

Schedule a meeting with the vacation rental owner to introduce the property management team. Discuss the roles, responsibilities, and expectations of both parties. Present the property management company agreement for review and approval.

owner meeting

Engage with property owners well in advance to gather all necessary details and documentation. This proactive approach sets the tone for a smooth onboarding process. Learn as much as possible about the property owner’s goals and tailor all services accordingly, as this will foster trust and enhance long-term relationships.

Assign responsibilities

Designate team members responsible for each step of the onboarding process. This ensures accountability and streamlines the transition of the property into your management portfolio.

Create a timeline

Divide the onboarding process into manageable stages, setting deadlines for each task. A timeline helps prevent overwhelm and ensures a consistent, efficient onboarding process.

Define clear objectives

For each stage of onboarding, outline the goals you aim to achieve. Clear objectives keep the team focused and aligned throughout the process.

Use an effective PMS and channel manager

By implementing a robust property management software, PMs can centralize operations, from reservation management to maintenance requests, ensuring a smooth transition for both guests and staff.

What should you include in a PM onboarding checklist?

As you now know, a detailed onboarding checklist makes sure that all necessary tasks are completed systematically, minimizing the chances of oversight and guaranteeing a smooth transition into managing a new property.

Let’s take a look at the must-haves for your list and what they may involve.

Owner communication and property management agreement

A vital part of the onboarding process is to arrange a meeting with the property owner to introduce yourself, discuss their expectations, and outline your property management services. Furthermore, this is the perfect opportunity to present the property management contract detailing responsibilities, fees, and terms. Ensure both of you are aligned before proceeding.

Initial assessment and documentation

It’s essential that you conduct an initial property inspection to understand its unique features, amenities, and condition. Within this step, you should also collect all necessary property documentation, including ownership proof, insurance certificates, and any relevant permits or licenses.

It may seem obvious, but make sure you don’t forget the property address, including GPS coordinates, and property access instructions, for example, lockbox codes, smart locks, etc.

Safety compliance and regulations

You’ll then need to ensure the property meets safety standards by installing smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and emergency contact information.

Bonus tip: Speak to your local council and find out exactly what your short-term rental needs to comply with local and national regulations.

Interior design and refurbishment

Based on your initial assessment, you should collaborate with the owner to furnish and decorate the property in a style that appeals to the target audience.

living room refurbishment

Deep cleaning

One of the most important items on your checklist is coordinating professional cleaning and maintenance. This needs to be done before any kind of advertising, as you want the property to look pristine before marketing it to the world.

Inventory management

It’s starting to look the part, and you’re getting through that list nicely. But you don’t want all that hard work to go to waste. Create a detailed inventory list of all items in the property, from furniture to kitchen utensils, to track any potential damages or losses.

Installing utilities and organizing payment

Additionally, you’ll need to arrange for utility services like electricity, water, gas, and internet to be activated and functional, including organizing and setting up payment. It’s possible that the property already has these utilities installed, so you’ll need to consider how to manage them, from who pays the bills to whose name they’re under.


This is probably the stage when everything starts to feel real, and you can sense it’s almost ready. Make sure you capture high-quality photos of the property for marketing purposes, either by yourself or by hiring a professional photographer, as images are key to attracting bookings.

Direct booking website, OTAs, and PMS

Now that your new property is looking exactly how you’d want your guests to find it, it’s time to implement a booking system to manage reservations and availability. You can integrate the rental to a pre-existing website using a booking widget or build a brand new direct booking website using an effective website builder.

Additionally, you can create new listings for the property on various OTAs (online travel agencies, such as Airbnb and Vrbo) using compelling listing descriptions highlighting unique features and displaying quality photos.

Once these are live and ready to take bookings, you can synchronize all of your booking websites using a Property Management System (PMS), so you can manage all of your bookings, availability, and rates from one centralized platform.

Guest experience enhancements

So, how do you ensure the longevity and sustainability of your property? Happy guests! Create a thoughtful guest welcome package with property and local area information, including restaurant recommendations and things to do, as well as clear check-in/check-out instructions, house rules, and emergency contact details.

guest experience

Bonus tip: Try establishing partnerships with local businesses so you can provide additional guest services with an authentic, local flavor.

Performance analysis and reporting

To make sure you stay on the right lines and ahead of the competition in a crowded market, it’s essential that you regularly review occupancy rates, revenue, and expenses. This data will be vital when analyzing the competition and adapting to market trends.

Key takeaways

As a property manager, regardless of your portfolio size, it’s important to have an efficient, transparent, and robust onboarding process. It lays the foundation for a solid business plan and gives the property owner confidence in your strategy.

Of course, depending on your specific business needs, you can add or omit certain steps to your checklist; however, we hope you find our free checklist helpful and that it inspires you to optimize your onboarding process.

If you’re looking for vacation rental software to help scale your business and are yet to try Lodgify, why not sign up for a commitment-free 7-day trial? Alternatively, you can register for a personalized product demo call with one of our agents or try our features with a demo account.

Still unsure? Check out what our customers are saying about us!

Don’t see the form to download the Property Management Onboarding Checklist? Click here.

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