Other information we collect may include marketing information, including both offline and online information, such as:
We may collect information from you in the following ways:
By Asking. We may collect some personal information from you by asking that you provide it to us. For instance, when you register on the Website, join Avada as a home owner, join Avada’s partner network or book travel online.
Web Beacons. A web beacon is an electronic file on a web page that allows us to count and recognize users who have visited that page. Among other things, a web beacon can be used in HTML-formatted email to determine responses to our communications and measure their effectiveness, for instance, if you get an email from us and click on a link in that email to go to the Website. You can generally avoid web beacons in email by turning off HTML display and displaying only the text portion of your email.
Web Server Logs. Web server logs are records of activity created by the computer that delivers the webpages you request to your browser. For example, a web server log may record the search term you entered or the link you clicked to bring you the webpage. The web server log also may record information about your browser, such as your IP address and the cookies set on your web browser by the server.
Geo-Location Technologies. We may collect information about the location of your device if you provide your consent. You may request at any time that we do not collect information about your location by contacting us at the address listed below under the Section titled “How We Communicate With You.”
Social Networking Sites. If you log into your user account through shared sign-in services (e.g., Facebook Connect), you provide Avada with permission to access certain information about you from that social networking site, such as your user profile, friend list, and profile picture.
Enhanced Information. We also may enhance the personal information we collect from visitors with other information from third party Data Sources, as defined below.
Third Party Data Sources. We may receive marketing information from third parties, such as our vendors, commercial partners, data providers, and data partners (“Data Sources”). We allow Data Sources to send us marketing information that they have collected from both online and offline sources. This may include information from customer lists, website memberships, or other information created from a third-party’s own technology (such as proprietary modeling or matching technology of other companies).
Our primary purpose in collecting personal information from our visitors is to provide visitors with products, services, and information that we think may be of interest. For example, we use your personal information to:
We may use your personal information to advertise and market our products and services (and those of our partners) to you, for example, to present targeted advertisements on the Website and other third party web sites, in email marketing, and in direct mail marketing. We also use your personal information to analyze the effectiveness of our advertisements, and to determine whether you would be interested in new products or services we may offer.
Data Access and Portability. In some jurisdictions, applicable law may entitle you to request copies of your personal information held by us. You may also be entitled to request copies of personal information that you have provided to us in a structured, commonly used, and machine-readable format and/or request us to transmit this information to another service provider (where technically feasible).
Data Retention and Erasure. We generally retain your personal information for as long as is necessary for the performance of the contracts between you and us, to fulfill your requests as a customer or potential customer, and to comply with our legal obligations. If you no longer want us to use your information, you can request that we erase it by contacting us at support@avadaproperties (dot) com. Please note that if you request the erasure of your personal information:
Withdrawing Consent and Restriction of Processing. Where you have provided your consent to the processing of your personal information by Avada, you may withdraw such consent at any time by sending a communication to Avada specifying which consent you are withdrawing. Please note that the withdrawal of your consent does not affect the lawfulness of any processing activities based on such consent before its withdrawal. Additionally, in some jurisdictions, applicable law may give you the right to limit the ways in which we use your personal information, in particular where (i) you contest the accuracy of your personal information; (ii) the processing is unlawful and you oppose the erasure of your personal information; (iii) we no longer need your personal information for the purposes of the processing, but you require the information for the establishment, exercise or defense of legal claims; or (iv) verification is pending as to whether Avada’s legitimate interests in processing your information override your own.
Opting Out of Email Communication. If you decide that you do not want to receive commercial emails from us, you can “opt-out” from receiving such emails by clicking on the “unsubscribe” link provided at the bottom of every commercial email. Please note that if you choose to opt-out, we will still send you email relating to specific products or services that you utilize, or email that we believe is pertinent to any communication that you have sent to us, or relationship that you may have with us. If you decide at a later time that you would like to receive commercial emails from us, you can re-add yourself to our communication list.
If we need, or are required, to contact you concerning any event that involves your personal information we may do so by email, telephone, or mail.
Under California Civil Code sections 1798.83-1798.84, California residents are entitled to ask us for a notice describing what categories of personal customer information we share with third parties or corporate affiliates for those third parties or corporate affiliates’ direct marketing purposes. That notice will identify the categories of information shared and will include a list of the third parties and affiliates with which it was shared, along with their names and addresses. If you are a California resident and would like a copy of this notice, please submit a written request to us at the addresses listed above under the Section titled “How We Communicate With You.”
Shared Accounts. If you limit your privacy settings on an account that you hold jointly with someone else, your privacy choices will apply to everyone on your account.
Children. We do not intentionally collect information from, and do not tailor any marketing efforts to, children under 18 years of age.
LAST UPDATED: 7/7/2020
As you can expect, a contract is needed before we start to manage your cabin and our contract is pretty simple. We ask that you stay with us for the first 90 days, after which you can cancel at any time. We need to earn your business every month and don’t feel that locking you into a long-term agreement is the way to be a good partner.
If this is a new cabin you’re purchasing, often there are existing reservations from the seller. Handling the existing reservations when you transition is never a perfectly smooth process. There are a few items needing consideration.
If there is a cabin manager in place, the transition can be smoother. Just set a “stop date” with them and have a “start date” with us a day afterwards. Unless it’s written into the purchase agreement, you as the buyer have no obligation to honor any old reservations. Most of the time we have our start date be the day of closing, but it also sometimes happens that the transition happens 30 days later. The old property manager will either move bookings into other cabins or cancel them.
If the owner manages bookings, then things will need to have a little more coordination. Most typically all the bookings will be canceled on the day of closing, at which point your listing goes live. We’ll give the seller a message to send the canceled guests, inviting them to rebook the cabin.
Most of the time new owners will honor pricing for the next 30 days, at which point any rebooking guests will have to pay the higher rates. Occasionally a different structure is done, such as honoring more bookings or honoring none at all.
As you would expect, many guests get upset that they have to wait for a refund from the seller and then re-book with your new listing, but that comes with the territory. We do our best to position it in a positive way to smooth things over.
While going live is different for every cabin, here is a typical timeline.
|Day 1||You close on the cabin and get keys|
|Day 2||We go inspect and “onboard” the cabin|
|Day 3-4||We deep clean the cabin|
|Day 5||Assuming the cabin is in good shape, take photographs and present you with inspection findings.|
|Day 6||You approve some of the suggested repairs, we purchase replacements for missing/damaged objects.|
|Day 7||We receive photos back and create the listing. You’re now live and able to take bookings!|
Of course, if décor changes are required, that needs to be done first. Repairs and maintenance tasks can often be done while we wait for photos to come back. And around half the time a deep clean will be needed before the first guest arrives. Expect quite a bit of kitchen and home items that need to be added. We will check everything from crock pots to baby gates and wine glasses and purchase it on your behalf. If you wish, just ask and we can provide you with our shopping checklist for you to buy your own items.
As part of our marketing efforts, we will list your cabin on Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, Orbitz and several other sites. While each of these sites is an opportunity for guests to book your cabin, in our area most of our bookings will come from Airbnb and Vrbo. The exact percentage of bookings per channel will vary based on cabin size and location, with most bookings coming from Airbnb.
Each site will have its own rules with regards to which cabins it shows in searches. Price and availability are two huge factors, and people can also search on things like indoor pools and being pet friendly to find a cabin they want. There are some “SEO” things we do to rank better in searches. That includes things that aren’t obvious like having a work area or hangars in the closets.
That said, our goal isn’t to rank super high on the search results page – it’s to make the most money possible. We need to strike a perfect balance between ranking (and getting views) to booking guests. If we find you’re booking too quickly, we raise the rates to slow down that pace to where it needs to be. Both of the main platforms also randomize results to find the best performers, so that also plays a factor.
Bottom line — Don’t worry about showing up high in search results as that’s not what’s important.
It’s important to remember that the cabins are tools for you to make money as well as a place for you to vacation and enjoy. Many owners put their hearts into making a place THEY want to stay, which is admirable. Just know that some guests won’t treat things nearly as nice as you’d want. On occasion they’ll move furniture, smoke indoors, break dishes, stain sheets, bring a pet, break a chair, rip a comforter… You name it.
Wear and tear is a normal part of your rental cabin, in much the same way it’s the same as a traditional long term rental. If you can detach yourself emotionally and recognize you’re making profit that you can improve your property, it makes it a lot easier to handle the inevitable bumps along the way.
(And yes, I know this is hard to do but do your best to try!)
As property managers we have a bit of control when getting bookings. We work hard to make sure we are getting the best guests possible, while at the same time staying within the guidelines of the law. Here are a few of things we do that help:
It is inevitable that some guests will break the rules and choosing how to handle it is really important. We choose to follow the hotel model which is generally ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ and only addresses the rule break directly if the guest forces our hand. The booking platforms are very guest-friendly, which means we aren’t left with any great options when this happens.
Here is an example of our options for a guest that brings too many people on their stay:
I agree it is wrong of the guest to bring more people or a pet. And as an owner it is frustrating to have to allow rule breaks to get off without consequences. But in this case, enforcing the rules very much is a case of it hurting you/us more than the guest.
Also, to help make you feel just a little bit better, we average around 1,000 stays per damage claim. Guests may leave the house messy or break some wine glasses, but in general your cabin will be left in acceptable shape.
Every now and then, the worst happens — a guest breaks something in your cabin. Bum bum bummmmm. Unless the damage is significant, we generally just repair/replace it and pass that cost through to you on your statement. Why don’t we attempt to collect from the guest? Let me explain with a real-life example…
It only takes a couple of these guys before we see a real impact on nightly rates. And, even if we do happen to win, in the end the guest can issue a credit card chargeback and we still lose.
Said another way, as our review scores slip below the average, we have to lower rates $10 or $20 or $30/night. If you’re booked 250 nights a year, that’s a $2500 swing. Definitely not worth doing for a $100 dining chair.
To avoid this entire scenario, we recommend you plan on applying 5% of your gross income towards repairs and maintenance. That 5% will cover wear and tear for everything from torn comforters to the pot and pans sets and silverware that are needed twice a year — it’s just a cost of doing business. We agree a guest *should* pay if they break something. But it just isn’t best for your long-term success to chase a $100 item and lose $1000 in yearly revenue.
We handle repairs in a similar fashion to how a hospital triages a patient.
First, we assess the issue. Is it impacting a guest? Can it be handled during a turn? Will waiting cause extra issues/damage? Then we address the issue as appropriate.
Let’s look at a few examples:
We address issues with common sense. Health or safety concerns result in the cabin being blocked until repairs are made. Inconveniences like an appliance being out result in a credit. Minor maintenance items are handled during turns.
Lower priority maintenance items like installing a Ring camera or taking out a new bath mat may take a week or three so we can group up more than one task and save you on service call fees.
We also will encourage you to farm out larger more general contractor style work. That’d include jobs like installing a new deck, installing a new AC, tiling a bathroom or other larger projects.
As a rule, we are fairly liberal with guest credits. $50 or $100 goes a long way towards keeping that good will when there is an issue.
As a general rule of thumb, we’ll encourage you to find an outside vendor to work with if a project is going to take longer than a day to complete. While we may be technically capable of rebuilding a deck or replacing a roof, that’s not our core competency and we’re not set up to handle big ‘general contracting’ projects.
We’re happy to provide a list of vendors that we’ve used (or our owners have used) so you can pick the one you like. We’ll be able to work directly with them to get them door codes and schedule a post-construction clean.
Some examples of projects that’ll probably fall into this area:
Projects that we can typically handle:
It is always a bummer when a cancellation comes in, but don’t worry because they’re very much expected. Here are the guidelines for how most cancellations are processed:
Rarely, we will bend the rules around cancels due to weather, personal issues or the like. But as a rule, we don’t mind playing the bad guy and denying refund requests. (Guests that cancel can’t leave a review.)
Guests do have a ‘get out of jail free’ card they can play to get around this policy. Airbnb has a policy called ‘extenuating circumstances’ that allows guests to cancel at any time up until check-in if certain criteria are met. A guest can claim covid exposure or a regional travel ban impacts them and cancel for no penalty. We do our best to fight these as well, but generally are at the mercy of the Airbnb representative we deal with.
Any funds that we are able to collect are passed through to you just like a normal booking and will show up on your monthly owner statement.
Around 15% of bookings will cancel over a given year and around 80-90% of those vacancies will rebook, typically at a lower rate. Averaged over a year, you’re more likely to come out slightly ahead due to the cancellation penalties guests pay.
Depending on your cabin’s size, we’ll typically see around 80% to 90% occupancy for the year. Our “inventory” is perishable and if a day passes vacant, we’ll never capture those lost earnings.
That said, we will never sacrifice guest quality just to get someone staying in the cabin. We should almost always stay above hotel rates (after cleaning is figured in) and build a connection with guests.
The industry average for Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge ranges between 51% occupancy (1 bedroom) and 43% occupancy (5+ bedrooms) and you will almost always be above that. So don’t worry when we have some mid-week vacancies sprinkled randomly throughout the year!
It’s important to know where gaps are in coverage for your cabin. Here is a quick run down of issues that may arise and where insurance kicks in.
Airbnb: They have a $1,000,000 damage policy that we’re able to make claims against for any major damage. If a guest does major damage to your cabin, we’re able to file a claim with supporting proof and estimates and attempt to collect. Like an insurance adjuster, they may adjust the payout based upon the useful life of an item. For example, a couch that is worth $1000 but is 10 years old may only get you $300 on the claim. That said, across the past 6,000 stays we’ve only made around 6 damage claims, so true damage really is a rare occurrence.
Vrbo: They do not have an insurance policy similar to Airbnb so instead we require a $250 damage deposit. If the guest causes damage, we’re able to take that deposit money and apply it to repairs.
For both scenarios, any amount that is not collected from insurance can be requested from the guest. Guests rarely pay what is asked so at that point there are two options:
So far, we’ve never had an issue go this far, but that is what would play out. As of the date this was written, we’ve had only one homeowner have to make an insurance damage claim and it was due to a tree falling into the house after a big storm.
If you want additional insurance, a third party can offer guest insurance that covers this gap. It’s generally $60 or $70 for an extra $3000 coverage per guest.
Financially, it makes more sense to self-insure and not get this policy. If you have 100 stays in a given year, that could be $6000 directly out of your pocket. The likelihood of there being 2 large claims in a year like this is very small. But, if it gives you peace of mind then just let us know and we can discuss specifics.
Setting nightly rates properly is the single biggest factor in your revenue success. The best way to tell if your prices are set correctly is if you’re booking on pace.
We closely monitor area occupancy so that when cabins are 50% booked, your cabin occupancy is in that same ballpark. If your prices are set too low, your occupancy will be too high. And the inverse is also true – if you’re not getting bookings on par with the market, prices need to be lowered.
Of course, there are other factors that play into bookings – photo quality, reviews, etc. – but for a given cabin and listing we need to make sure your pace is appropriate.
When you hear from owners that proudly talk about how their cabin is booked up solid for the next 6 months, know that they may be leaving 50% of their income on the table.
To give you a ballpark, depending on the time of year, we’ll shoot for:
In other words, we don’t want to see many bookings 2 or 3 or 4 months out at all. An exception to this rule would be larger cabins in the 6+ bedroom size where people tend to plan further out.
We list your cabin on over a dozen rental sites including Airbnb, VRBO, Kayak, Expedia and others. We know that having a good vacation experience directly impacts the reviews, so the messages we send before their stay go a long way to building goodwill when inevitable issues pop up.
We immediately begin communicating with a guest after they reserve a booking, giving answers to common questions, sharing a local guide book, a coupon book and otherwise building rapport.
We check on guests during their stay and send them a reminder message about checkout. Finally, we thank them for their visit and ask for a good review.
In other words, we do our best to control their entire experience so that we can address any immediate issues as well as be tipped off to maintenance that may be needed after checkout.
As guests leave reviews, we display them in your owner dashboard so you can learn how your cabin is doing. All reviews are displayed to you — they aren’t filtered in any way.
There are a few important things to note:
First, we almost always recommend you don’t allow pets. While people do search for cabins that allow pets, it isn’t in the top 5 search criteria so you’re not losing out on a lot of bookings. When you allow pets, you open up the possibility of damage due to separation anxiety, irritable bowels and just plain bad animals.
The cleaners will also curse because dog hair gets everywhere – from under the bed to the window blinds. A cabin that allows dogs should plan on getting an extra deep clean or two a year, just to avoid cleanliness complaints.
It is important to note that there are special cases carved out for ESAs (emotional support animals) and SAs (service animals). Legally ESAs are not required to be accommodated.
Service animals, on the other hand, ARE legally required to be accommodated. They are to be treated as any other person, which means you can’t even ask for a pet fee. When presented with a service animal, you are allowed to ask two questions: is this animal needed for a medical condition and what specific task is this animal trained to perform. Guests almost always back down when asked these questions, presumably because it’s not actually a service animal.
When asked for permission, we will always try to avoid allowing pets due to “allergies.” It’s an easy answer that is acceptable for most reasonable guests.
Sometimes guests aren’t reasonable and will sneak a pet into the cabin. Typically, we aren’t aware when this happens and only find out when cleaning up a bit of pet hair or food. In that case we just bite the bullet and accept it. If major damage occurs, we’ll attempt to make a claim for a rules violation.
Owners of 1 and 2 bedroom cabins can see a boost of around 10% in income when becoming pet friendly. We won’t charge a specific pet fee to these bookings which makes them feel like they’re getting a great deal. BUT we will be able to raise nightly rates which is what enables you to get more money. None of our owners of larger cabins allow pets so I don’t have hard data to give revenue numbers.
Avada charges a flat 20% management fee on all bookings. We do not charge a monthly fee, hot tub fee, supply fee or any other fees that are commonly charged to owners by local managers. Guests will cover all the ancillary fees that are required including local taxes (approx. 12.9%), credit card processing fees, and cleaning fees (which includes consumable supplies).
Any extra income that is received (such as canceled bookings penalties) or monies returned (due to an issue with a stay) get shared proportionally between both owners and Avada in proportion to your management fee rate.
Here is an example of a booking and the corresponding payout:
|Nightly Rental Revenue||$1,000||(Nightly rate)|
|Taxes (12.9%)||$129||(City, state, occupancy/lodging taxes)|
|Platform Booking Fee||$100||(Vrbo/airbnb’s internal fees which are paid by the guest)|
|Professional Housekeeping||$100||(Cleaning and “on the ground” guest support)|
|Total Paid By Guest||$1,329|
|Nightly Rental Revenue||$1,000|
|Avada Management Fee||($200)|
|Online Agency and Credit Card Fees||$0||(No extra mark ups. Passed through if it exists.)|
|Avada Inspections||$0||(At cost with no extra mark ups.)|
|Guest Amenity Fee||$0||(No charge for consumables like soap, paper towels, etc.)|
|Total Paid to Owner||$800||Net Rental Revenue|
When we set a minimum nightly rate, we do so based on four main factors:
When averaged across the year, we’ll almost always beat the average nightly rate for a cabin your size while crushing the occupancy percentages. You’ll find that there are big swings in rates both during the time of year and day of the week.
For example, a mid-week stay in February may be $70/night while a holiday weekend in November can be $500/night. When you average that out across the year, your cabin will be $150/night.
When setting a floor nightly rate for your cabin, we do it based on the factors bulleted above. We never want to have a stay below hotel prices, especially when figuring in the taxes and cleaning fees our guests will pay. This assures we keep out the “riff raff” while keeping “heads in beds” and making you money.
To share specifics, as of this writing, minimum prices are around:
– $70-80 night for 1 and 2 BR
– $100-120 for 3 and 4 BR
– $200+ for 5+ bedrooms
For some owners it can be hard to come to grips that a cabin that rents for $500/night the last week of December may be $70/night the very next week. Just know this is totally market and data driven on our side. If that happens to be an area of concern, be sure to check out the “Myth of guest wear and tear” section where I drill into the financial repercussions of lower nightly rates.
Having 80+% occupancy year-round is a huge draw for owners in our area and something most other vacation spots can’t claim. However, there definitely is a slow season both in occupancy and nightly rates.
You can see the average area occupancy across thousands of cabins for the year in the gray lines in the chart below.
We’ll definitely do much better than the average and that is achieved through lowering nightly rates to an appropriate level. We will charge more than a comparable hotel but it’ll be much less than during peak season.
You can see what revenues will average on a month-by-month basis here. Obviously not every cabin is the same, but this will give you a rough ballpark of how earnings will change.
In a nutshell, January to March will bring in half of what October to December will earn. It can be an unwelcome surprise the first time you experience low season – both with the lower earnings and the lower nightly rates. But it’s nothing to worry about, as things will pick up again in March/April.
THIS is one of the main reasons why we believe you’ll have more success with Avada than other managers and why we’ve yet to find anyone outperforming our numbers. (The other reasons being our great guest support and cabin maintenance team)
Avada’s founder Justin hails from back in the dot com days and ran a tech consultancy for 15 years before starting this company. We’ve written a pricing engine that is specific to our market. We constantly monitor Airbnb, Vrbo, and two large local cabin companies to watch availability and pricing. At a glance we know your occupancy and the area occupancy and adjust pricing to make sure our booking pace is where it needs to be.
We’re happy to geek out about the tech details, but here is the approach in layman’s terms…
We’ll have your payment scheduled for direct deposit on or before the 14th of every month for all of your bookings the previous month. Payment will be for all of your bookings in the past month, less the Avada fee and any repairs or maintenance that have been completed.
Payments are based on the amounts and dates of when our bank receives the deposits from Airbnb, Vrbo, etc., so if a booking begins on Jan 30th it may be possible payment is not received until Feb 1. In that case, the booking’s payment will be included in the next month.
The numbers reflected in your dashboard may differ slightly from your bank deposit. This is because the dashboard numbers are based on the booking sites’ programming while the final payout is based on the actual monies received. Discrepancies are rare and are typically not more than $50.
When we first launch your listing, we need to get momentum. Just like a snowball at the top of the hill, we need to start slow and get bigger as we go.
To do this, we’ll be aggressive with pricing to improve our ‘look to book’ ratio. The listing sites see your listing convert guests at a higher-than-average rate and will feature it more prominently. This results in more eyeballs and more bookings. After each booking, we’ll adjust our base pricing upwards a bit, enabling us to get more money. This cycle repeats for 2 or 3 months until we’ve dialed in your ideal pricing strategy.
If we start the price too high, this virtuous circle will never kick off and our little snowball will never grow. (Without cutting the nightly rates drastically for a couple of months which nobody wants!) It’s also worth noting that the main listing sites allow us to offer 20% off to the first 3 booking guests. We definitely include this into our pricing strategy as it accelerates the process.
Depending on the timing of your cabin launch/cutover, we may have ‘last minute’ bookings that happen in the next 30 days. Those by their nature can be 20-30% below what we’ll normally get, so don’t be alarmed. Just figure it into your budget as the first month or two will have a bit lower earnings and some amount of startup expenses as discussed herein.
Your cabin has all the regular maintenance items that you have at home now: water heater, AC, plumbing, electric, etc. You’ll also have a hot tub, which tends to not break often but when it does it can run between $200-$1000 to repair. Expect to spend several thousands every 5 or 6 years to stain any decking or siding that may have aged.
At the same time, guests can be hard on our cabins. We keep an eye out for items that need to be replaced and take care of them as proactively as possible. This includes obvious things like cups and silverware, comforters, pots and pans, hot tub floaters, etc. And rarely we’ll have something like a broken chair, lamp, TV. (I’ll talk about how we handle damage claims in a different FAQ)
If vendors are used for repairs or maintenance, we’ll typically provide their invoice with your statement so you have it for your records. We don’t mark up any vendor invoices. When possible/appropriate, we’ll send our internal team to handle maintenance issues. That allows a service call to be $50 instead of $200.
When you make your budget, plan for 5% of your gross income to be held back for R&M. Then, as issues are dealt with, you can handle it without worry.
As a general rule, we will handle all minor R&M without contacting you. However, for any repairs over $500 we’ll be sure to first get your approval. We won’t contact you for smaller items or regular maintenance
As a policy we can handle most projects that take under one day to perform. This ranges from installing a hot tub to hanging a ceiling fan. You’ll need to work with external vendors for larger maintenance projects.
Generally speaking, plan to expect your cabin getting 2 to 4 service calls a month. Most often these service calls are minor and due to guests simply not knowing how your house works. Some of the more common calls we get are:
When a call comes in, we do our best to walk the guest through it remotely. This allows everyone to be happier sooner – the guest is up and running right away and we don’t have to juggle schedules and make phone calls to get help out there.
If that fails, we then will dispatch either a handyman or a 3rd party vendor based on the issue and availability. Where possible, we will attempt to fulfill it with our team because the speed and cost will be much lower. Avada labor charges down to the quarter hour and varies based on the person on the call – a trash pickup may be $25 while repairing a hot tub may be $60 to go fix a hot tub or troubleshoot a breaker issue. Note that drive time is included in all service calls by all vendors and our maintenance crew.
We recognize that this is a service business and that our goal is to help the guests have a memorable getaway. If there is an inconvenience – like issues with the wifi or hot tub – we hop on it right away. If it ends up bothering them, we’ll often treat them to dinner to show that we care AND to buy us time to address the issue. A little bit of love up front like this goes a long way when it comes time to get a review.
It’s also worth noting that Airbnb has a policy that very much favors guests. Their policies have always stated that if a guest is missing a major amenity, they’re eligible for a full refund. That would include everything from an AC to hot water to a hot tub or wifi, if it’s in the listing. As of 2022, they expanded the policy to include ANY item that isn’t to the guests’ liking. This could be a handful of acorns on a deck, a single hair under the couch or a hot tub that won’t get up to a hot enough temp. The guest has 72 hours to lodge a complaint and we don’t necessarily get an opportunity to address it or respond. Thankfully this hasn’t been abused, but because of this it serves us well to refund a few pennies to save a lot of dollars.
We have thousands of guests that stay in our cabins every year so we’ve seen pretty much anything you can imagine. Some funny – like a guest jumping out of a second story window on purpose – to scary; like the guest that lit the fireplace with gasoline and turned himself into a fireball.
The simple fact is guests will use the cabin and things will get worn. But there is little correlation between nightly rate and damage that may occur. As long as we keep the nightly rates above the area hotels, we’ll do just fine. Someone sleeping in a bed and watching TV from the couch doesn’t harm your cabin.
Malicious damage such as a bathtub that gets cracked or an oven door that gets ripped off will often be covered by Airbnb insurance. That’s true for guests that pay $100/night or $1000/night.
That said, our definition of consumables is definitely broader than what a typical person may consider. THIS is where wear and tear will occur. We plan to regularly replace items including, but not limited to, pots and pans, bath mats, pool cues, silverware, wine glasses, etc. While none of these items are expensive, we will replace them regularly to maintain guest satisfaction.
Your personal home can look just as good as when you moved in because you take care of it. When you have 75 groups a year going through your place, each of them is pulling and prodding on switches and appliances and dressers trying to figure them out. So your place will look different as you come for your yearly visit. Just remember it needs regular care just like a pet or your car would.
On the whole we like to proactively maintain your cabin so that it’s properly taken care of. Just like every other home, it’ll have everything from AC units to exterior stain to bugs that need to be kept in line. I like to say cabins are our “Goose that lays the golden eggs… But we have to keep it fed so it keeps laying those eggs!”
Here are some examples of preventative/regular maintenance that we do on your behalf. Of course, prices will vary a bit based on the company used and cabin size.
When making a residential purchase, it’s common to receive a one year home warranty policy from a company like American Home Shield. The warranty is supposed to cover mechanical items that break – air conditioners, plumbing issues, etc.
In reality, attempting to get warranty service can take days, if not weeks. And when the service is performed, the fee is often the same as if you called someone out of Yelp or Yellow Pages.
In our universe, we need to respond to guest issues in hours, not days. A dishwasher or hot tub being out will easily result in at least a 1 night refund until it gets addressed. You can imagine the cost should we have to refund several nights or a couple of guests while we wait for a home warranty service. It is not practical in this service environment.
Critters are always present in the mountains and we do our best to keep them at bay. Here are a few of the ways we address it:
When you ship cabin supplies to our office for your cabin, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, be sure to address it to your cabin’s name first and then your name. For example: Lazy Bear (Justin). That way we know exactly where it goes.
Next, take a screenshot of the order and a photo of the item and add it as a Task in your owner portal. That way we know to expect it.
Finally, be prepared for shipments to get lost or delayed. Our USPS is notorious for losing packages so keep your expectations low.
After all your shipments arrive, we’ll then arrange delivery to your cabin. We like to bundle items together with repairs to cut down on service call charges, so it may be a week or two until it gets completed (unless it’s urgent of course).
Items can be shipped to:
[your cabin name]
2850 Parkway, #20
Pigeon Forge, TN 37863
If you plan on shipping a lot of items, please call and discuss. We’re not really equipped to house and deploy massive order shipments so we’ll want to talk through it first.
We use universal linens across all of our properties which helps us assure quality results for all guests. As part of that we charge a replacement linen fee twice a year to replace the stained/damaged linens. Price-wise this runs around $25-30 for a set of sheets to $25 for a set of towels.
Comforters are removed and washed during deep cleaning as well as when they get soiled or stained. It’s suggested to keep an extra blanket/comforter at the property so we can swap those out as needed.
Having a reliable and high quality cleaning service is critical for success in this business. We heavily lean on our cleaners to report damages and maintenance issues, going so far as to give them direct access to our ticketing system to view and comment on open tasks.
It’s important to recognize that we straddle a line with cleaning, doing our best to deliver a service that is “good enough” for guests while at the same time costing as little as possible. We could do a ‘deep clean’ every turn, but that’d likely cost more than you earn every month. Instead we focus on what’s important – bathrooms, kitchen, hot tub, floors – and get a bit more lax with lower importance items like dusting blinds or cleaning under appliances.
We ALWAYS want to do a good job, but it’s important to realize that this is a balancing act. Given we’ve averaged 4.85 stars over years and thousands of guest visits, I’d say we have this dialed in.
The cleaners will haul away any trash to the dump that the guests leave behind as part of their cleaning fee. You shouldn’t need to pay for any garbage services. Note that oversized items you leave behind (boxes, old furniture, etc) may require a special trip.
The cleaners also provide supplies as part of their cleaning fee. This includes all starter consumables for guests – soap, shampoo, tide pod, dish pod, sponge, garbage bags. The cleaners will also provide hot tub chemicals so you don’t need to worry about that either.
These bad boys are the single most popular amenity that guests look for, so it’s important to do them right. As a policy, we drain, wipe down, and refill the hot tub after every guest. The tubs are treated after every guest with bromine, which is like chlorine but without the harsh smell. The hot tub filters are also washed out every turn and you should expect to spend $50 a couple of times a year to replace those if you have a bad water supply. Every year or two you should expect to flush the tubs with acid to clean out the pipes and every year or three you can expect to spend $500+ to replace a hot tub pack, motor and/or topside control panel. I know this sounds like a lot, but it really isn’t so bad in the grand scheme of things.
Most cabins have a septic system for sewer needs. You can watch a YouTube video to get a good handle on how a system works, but beware because it’s a “dirty job”!
We like to pump the septic tank once a year to remove all of the waste that wasn’t able to be leached into the septic field. This includes all the gunk and wet wipes and plastic toys that get flushed down toilets throughout guests’ stays.
The cost of pumping a septic tank runs about $350-$400 per visit. The price may go up or down based on the volume of material pumped as well as any digging that was necessary to reach the tank.
If a septic tank gets full, toilets and showers tend to drain slowly. That’s the warning sign that something needs to be taken care of urgently. We don’t always get that warning and without regular pumping toilets don’t flush and showers start backing up with gunk. As you can expect, when guests have that happen, they aren’t happy.
If you don’t know the last time your tank was pumped, we recommend getting it serviced to start with a clean slate. We’ll then set it up on a yearly pumping schedule. If your tank doesn’t have a riser installed, we’ll also recommend this one time expense of around $150 as it allows for easier/cheaper access for future pumps.
Once you’ve signed an agreement and are ready to set up your listing, we’ll make you an Avada Portal account. This account will be your gateway to monitor and maintain your cabin. You’ll be able to:
Just like our pricing engine, our software is written in house so if you have a feature request, just ask.
When you first log in, you’re presented with the dashboard. This lets you see your year’s bookings at a glance. Bookings where we’ve already received payment are one color, while future bookings are shaded another.
One thing you need to really take a minute to analyze and understand is the performance metrics at the bottom of the page. Here we compare your cabin to other cabins in our area that are the same size.
This tab shows what the average occupancy is of a cabin for that particular month. We always shoot to be about 70%, even in Q1 (slow season). Notice we plot both the 50% (dead average) and 75% (well above) lines so you can see how booked those cabins stay. Almost all of our cabins will fall into the ‘average’ category visually/amenity-wise, as our area is very homogeneous. We achieve higher occupancy through correct pricing that is updated daily, good reviews, and great photographs.
The information shown on this tab compares your nightly rate with the typical cabin size and shows you a “bottom line” on your occupancy and overall earnings.
Whenever you’re wondering how your cabin is performing, this is where you want to go. On this page, you’ll be able to see all of your bookings and the corresponding amounts for the period of time we’ve managed your cabin.
You’ll also notice the nightly prices that we use and can see how we approach that VERY important aspect of the business. (More on how our pricing system operates is detailed in the Finances section)
We fully encourage you to use your cabin as much as you’d like! If you ever want to make an owner block, just log into your portal account and click the ‘Create Owner Stay’ button. You’ll be prompted to select the days you want to block and add a note for a description that we’ll both see.
We’ll automatically schedule a regular cleaning after your stay and that’ll get billed to your account at the posted rate. If for whatever reason you don’t need a clean (Ie – furniture delivery), just create a Task asking us to remove that clean.
Upon successfully making an owner block, you’ll receive a confirmation email with the dates and a door code for your visit.
While we will take great care of your cabin, when you come to stay, you’ll see and address things that we may not. Your critical set of eyes while actually staying in the property is invaluable for us maintaining it.
Since we are using primarily 3rd party sites (Airbnb, Vrbo, Expedia, etc.) to book, it’ll take a couple of steps:
We list your cabin for rent on over a dozen listing sites including Airbnb, VRBO, Kayak, Expedia and others. We immediately begin communicating with a guest after booking, giving answers to common questions, sharing a local guide book, etc.
We check on guests during their stay and send them a reminder message about checkout. And finally, we thank them for their visit and ask for the review.
In other words, we do our best to control their entire experience so that we can address any immediate issues as well as be tipped off to maintenance that may be needed after checkout.
As guests leave reviews, we display them in your owner dashboard so you can learn how your cabin is doing. All reviews are displayed to you — they aren’t filtered in any way.
There are a few important things to note:
As you have maintenance needs or ship items to the cabin, you’ll want to submit a Task here. Doing that enters it directly into our internal ticketing system where it can be reviewed and scheduled for completion. This allows us to group together your service calls (which saves you money) and schedule tasks in the same area at the same time to reduce handyman/runner drive time (which also saves you money).
We’re busy folks on this side and you can imagine how easy it is for something to be lost if we get requests through email, text, voicemail and phone calls. By adding it here, you can follow task progression as we ask questions, schedule, and complete your requests.
Task requests can also simply be questions or items meant for clarification as well.
Every month, on or before the 14th, we’ll post your account statement for the previous month here in your portal. Your bank transfer will be initiated the next day as well. Your 1099 for the year will also be available here at the end of January.