Vacation Rental Management in Whistler BC

Own A Piece of Whistler & Generate Passive Income

Millions of visitors a year flock to Whistler, BC to partake in the skiing, sightseeing, nightlife, and cultural festivities this small town has to offer. These visitors must be staying somewhere, right? Historically, most visitors stay in hotels, but the travel and accommodation world has drastically changed in recent years. Far more people are utilizing Other Peoples Homes (OPH) then ever before. Online Travel Agencies (OTA) such as sites like Airbnb, VRBO, and HomeAway allow for “hosts” (landlords) to create semi-passive income by booking guests through their platform. The OTAs take care of the payment processing and provide $1,000,000 in insurance, in case anything goes wrong. These properties are referred to as “Vacation Rentals”, or “Short Term Rentals”.

By renting out your recreational property when you’re not using it allows for you to significantly offset the cost of ownership - often times you can generate substantial cash flow if the property is heavily rented. With the rise in real estate prices and property taxes it makes more sense than ever to create side money from sites like Airbnb.

Who Will Manage The Airbnb Property?

The increase of short term rental properties in Whistler has allowed for the rise of Airbnb property management companies that specialize in marketing and operating hotel-style accommodations. These companies provide full-service vacation rental management services in Whistler to out-of-town homeowners. They will provide the marketing, guest communication and support, photography, and professional cleaning services to ensure your property is maximizing revenue and offering a stellar guest experience. At the end of every month you should expect your share of the bookings (often 70% of the total bookings) and a report on the bookings that occurred in that month.

What is Full-Service Vacation Rental Management?

Full-service vacation rental management is a company that takes care of every aspect of your Airbnb, VRBO & Homeaway business.

Typical Services Include:

  • Guest Communication & Support
  • Guest Check In / Check Out
  • Professional Photography
  • Staging & Design Consultations
  • Hotel Quality Bed Linens & Towels
  • Professional Cleaning
  • General Property Upkeep & Light Maintenance
  • Accounting & Bookkeeping

How Much Does Full-Service Property Management Cost?

The great thing about most reputable property management companies are they charge based on commission. So you pay only when they get you a booking. These means the homeowner owes no overhead to the management company. Conventional management companies charge between 40 - 50%, but the new age of property managers charge between 30 - 35%. The sudden shift in pricing is a direct result of the “Cost of Acquisition” becoming much lower now that most marketing initiatives are done online. Lifty Life Hospitality provides vacation property management services for 25%.

How Much Revenue Do Vacation Rentals Generate?

Of course, every property is different. It tends on the type of property, number of bedrooms, the amenities, etc. But to give some ideas of what Whistler Airbnb properties are generating we have provided some estimates. These numbers are before management commission fees.

Property TypeAnnual Revenue
Studio Condo$35,000 - $45,000
One Bedroom Condo$40,000 - $55,000
Two Bedroom Condo$65,000 - $75,000
Three Bedroom Condo$75,000 - $100,000
Luxury Chalet$150,000 - $200,000

How Do I Acquire My First Vacation Rental Property?

Research and find a reputable realtor who understands the Whistler market, specifically the vacation rental business. We highly recommend Nick Swinburne from Engel & Völkers. He is one of Whistler’s top realtors and regularly helps people purchase Airbnb rentals. He has an in depth knowledge of the zoning bylaws and whether a Phase 1 or Phase 2 building will suit your needs.

Phase 1 Zoning: Phase 1 provides unlimited owner usage and allows the property to be self-managed or professionally managed with a property management company. Phase 1 is the most relaxed zoning in Whistler. This zoning therefore goes for a premium in the real estate market which is justified because of the higher earning potential and flexibility.

Phase 2 Zoning: Phase 2 has restricted usage of up to 28 days in the Summer and 28 days in the winter. Properties in this category must be property managed by a hotel manager and entered into the rental pool. Properties in this zoning are more restrictive, harder to finance, and often have higher monthly fees. Phase 2 is best avoided on an investment basis.

Each neighborhood and apartment building has unique ownership restrictions that potential homeowners should become similar with. Ownership styles include freehold, leasehold, strata, and cooperative. Beyond the ownership style and zoning there are buildings with strata bylaws that may impact the potential for short term rental such as buildings for resident use only. Contact a realtor or reach out to Lifty Life to get some insight into the housing market in Whistler.

Once you’ve found the right property and you know the zoning allows for nightly rentals, apply for your business license so you can legally operate in Whistler. Short term rental business licenses are only provided to homes zoned for such use. The process is pretty straightforward and should cost around $165 per year to maintain the license. If you choose to hire a property management company then this fee may be waived since you will act under their license.

What are the Whistler Neighbourhoods?

Whistler has a variety of unique neighbourhoods that make for excellent Airbnbs. The locations best for Airbnb are located near the ski lifts, restaurants, and shopping such as Whistler Village, Upper Village, and Creekside. Most of the remaining neighbourhoods require driving to the lifts and are dominated by detached luxury homes.

Long Term Rental vs Short Term Rental?

You may be wondering if instead of putting your property in the short term rental market you should put it in the long term market. The answer isn't so simply but either way we suggest protecting your investment and operating your rental using a professional rental property management company.

Long term rentals in Whistler are tricky because the population is so transient. Many renters will only stay the season or year which makes it hard to find reliable, steady renters. Furthermore the quality of tenants can often be poor. The majority of residents in Whistler are young and work in non-professional careers. Residents often need to sublet their rental to pay for rent which often happens without owner approval.

With short term you have much more visibility into who is in your unit, greater earning potential, and higher quality tenants. The challenge is it can often require more work. This work is removed when hiring a rental property management company.

Airbnb or VRBO, Which Is Better?

Neither option is bad, but our experience has shown the Whistler travellers prefer to book on the Airbnb platform. Airbnb is a very user friendly experience, they have done an excellent job building an easy-to-use app - compatible for both iOS and Android.

We highly recommend being on multiple OTAs; even if you prefer a certain platform. Increasing your digital distribution increases your visibility. The more people viewing your property the higher you can comfortably increase your nightly rates.

How Do I Setup An Airbnb?

Check out our full guide on setting up your listing! Lifty Lifes blog has tons of great resources to help you be successful on Airbnb, either with a property manager or by self-managing.

We encourage you to reach out to us to discuss the opportunities within Whistler for short term rentals or in the dozens of other great communities in British Columbia and Alberta. Lifty Life Hospitality will be happy to provide property management or consulting services to help you get started and earning!

Set up your airbnb today