Starting a Holiday Rental Business: Chapter 4B

This chapter will introduce you to setting jobs and responsibilities, staffing and emergency planning.


Welcome to Chapter 4B of our new ebook series on how to set up your own holiday rental. This chapter will introduce you to setting jobs and responsibilities, staffing and emergency planning. This chapter will explain how to assign jobs and responsibilities to your staff, general information on staffing, as well as how you should plan for emergencies.

Emergency Planning

This section will introduce you to planning for emergencies and includes examples of emergency situations, who should be your emergency contact, as well as looking at risk assessments.

Examples of Emergency Plans (FIRE):

  • Marking the fire exits clearly
  • Numbers to call
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Designated meeting/check points

Emergency Contacts

If your property is close by, you will be the emergency contact and so you only need to consider who will be the emergency contact for times when you are away.

However, you might live far away or be too busy to deal with urgent situations and so you need a good and trusted person on hand to step up.

Make sure whoever is staying with you, or whatever staff you have on shift, always know who to contact in an emergency.

Think about:

  • What could happen and what happens when things go wrong? Everything goes wrong in time, which means you need to plan for this so you don’t ruin someone’s holiday. Consider things such as leaving toilet plungers and spare light bulbs
  • Try and get a local or neighbour to act as an emergency contact
  • Consider what can go wrong and what your guests will do about it. It is important to put a plan into place

Jobs and Responsibilities

This section will introduce you to the tasks and responsibilities you should assign to people working for you, from gardening to accounts.


Jobs are often split into soft and hard skills.

Soft Skills Examples: Interior design and marketing.

Hard Skills Examples: Maintenance and tax returns

Table of Jobs:

For each job, you need to define who is responsible for it and who is going to be carrying it out: You, Partner, Outside staff (Name) or a company or agency.

Here are some examples of the jobs you should be considering and how you should plan out assigning them:

  • Renovation, maintenance and gardening
  • Marketing (split this into sections)
  • Customer Support / Bookings
  • Cleaning and washing
  • Check in / Check out
  • Accounts / Book Keeping
  • Legal, Admin & Tax

Agency or Self Managed?

Traditional agencies:

  • A traditional agency (e.g. is a smaller team where you’d have personal & direct contact with them.
  • Reach can be smaller than an OTA but then the management process is often more personal.
  • If you feel you need a hand, talk to at least one agency. They often have extensive knowledge of the local area and holiday rentals. Get a list from other owners nearby, either directly or through a search engine

OTA (Online Travel Agents):

  • An OTA, like, or AirBnB is a website with a much larger reach
  • The holiday maker has little or no personal contact with the agency. This DIY approach is carried across to the property owners.
  • Won’t insist on an exclusivity deal, so it’s possible to have a mix of solutions / agencies to market your property.
Traditional Agency OTA
Fees 20% – 30% 3% – 20%
Personal contact Depends on the size of the agency but generally higher Email only. Contact via a team
Marketing reach Variable but as a whole tends to be more local.  Some OTA’s are worth billions and this is reflected in their marketing spend
Risk Agency going out of business. Biased treatment of other clients, Smaller reach. Some agencies focus on selling the easy dates but don’t have a strategy for the more difficult periods of rental.  They set the rules for us to follow. For example, started at a 5% commission and now charge 20%.
An over-reliance of 1 particular OTA is a large risk as they will be setting the terms of your business.



  • You do everything from marketing, customer service through to tax returns.
  • You do everything operational and but use a combo of advertising and OTAs to market your property.
  • You hand over everything to an agency.


This section will introduce you to some key points on staffing that you should consider, such as making sure that you hire a good cleaner to keep your B&B looking at its best. Consider the following:

  • A good cleaner / turnover staff

i) It depends on your personal situation as you might want to take this on yourself but you can always choose to hire someone

  • Take photographs and written descriptions of the key interiors

i) E.g. how you would like a bed to be made up

  • Booking and customer service support

i) Consider how you want them to appear to the guest. Guests often like a personal connection to the owners as it gives it a more special and unique feel.

  1. Bed and Breakfast Coach Advice

i) Yvonne Halling, Bed and Breakfast Coach, believes that removing the owners faces/story from the website makes it more professional.

ii) However, this would depend on your business and audience. Sometimes the story and faces of the owners is a unique selling point and can help make a guest’s stay more homely and personal.

iii) There are many training programmes and businesses coaches for you to look into

Wow Factor / Guest Journey

Our final section will explain exactly what you should consider to add to the ‘wow factor’ of stays at your Bed and Breakfast, that will make guests want to come back.

What is a ‘guest journey’?

Putting yourself in the place of a customer and following their journey through the stay. It’s a well-known and common tool used by marketers to iron out any issues.

  • One owner used to work her way through the guest experience and go from parking her car, picking up keys and following all the steps a customer would take when entering the property.
  • At each stage, she asked, “Are there any demons?” and “What improvements could we make here?”
  • Examples could include a welcome pack here, a plant there, wood for the fire that’s easy to fetch.

What is a ‘WOW factor’?

Your wow factor will depend on you and your property. You can use anything that is slightly unique or personal to you and your story or the story of the business.

  • One owner described the wow factor she wanted to create, similar to putting on a performance at a theatre when the curtains go back.
  • Monkstadt 1745 is a B&B on the Isle of Skye which heavily emphasises their ties to the history of their building and location. One (of many) of the things they do is they have a piece of original stonework in one of their main doorways. This has a big chunk in it and was originally used to sharpen knives/swords.

Summary of 4B

That brings this chapter to an end, which introduced you to the jobs and responsibilities you should assign, information on staff, emergency planning and the wow factor/guest journey.

The next chapter (5A) will introduce you to information on income/outgoings, configuration/capacity, the market/competition, finance, property, renovations, storage and furnishings.


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About Dominic Johnson 388 Articles
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