Requirements for short term rentals in Malaga

If you own, or plan to invest in, a short-term holiday rental property in Malaga, it is important that you fulfill legal requirements for short term rentals in Malaga including the holiday license issued by the local government, the Junta de Andalucía. These requirements are fairly simple; however, in case you do not meet them, you may be denied the holiday license. It is therefore important to understand what is required.


7 in 10 holiday home guests prefer a personal check-in over a self check-in

In recent years, the vacation rental industry has been one of the fastest growing sectors in   tourism worldwide. When presented with this new niche of opportunity, numerous tech companies jumped on the bandwagon and started to flood the market with technological solutions such as digital locks, also known as “smart locks”.  


7 reasons why smart locks are not a smart move

As a holiday rental management company with 15 years of experience in the city of Malaga, we’ve recently taken the decision to remove the smart locks previously installed in our apartments. 

In recent years, holiday rental management companies have been bombarded with so-called smart technology solutions that are supposedly designed to make our day-to-day life easier. Smart Locks are one of them; as a matter of fact, you can find numerous companies on the market that offer this type of technology.

Property Management software recommendations

Our property management software, Avantio, recommended a couple different options to us so we decided to try two different companies. While said companies offer different products, in essence, they have the same functionality and goal: to improve guest experience, safety and security, and of course, to make holiday property managers’ life easier. As we speak, Avantio has stopped recommending one of the aforementioned smart lock providers.

Smart locks technology

We have now been using one company for more than a year and the other one for 6 months. I can safely say that at no point did any of the above have been working perfectly. Pretty much from day one, we had issues with both softwares. As with everything new, we anticipated a few teething issues and decided to remain open-minded and give it some time. In hindsight, we should have ended our cooperation much before, but since our home owners paid a substantial amount for the locks and their installation, we made a conscious effort to give it a good try and try to make it work.

The main problem we experienced with smart locks

1. Poorly WiFi connection

Before installing the actual lock, a technician was sent to ensure the viability of the installation, either directly by cable or WiFi. Both methods were approved by the technician. However, it quickly became clear that the smart locks running on WiFi were simply too unstable which resulted in daily phone calls from guests complaining that they could not access their apartments. After some discussion with the smart-lock company, they offered to provide us with a 4G connection. Firstly, they insisted that we pay 3€ per month for the privilege, which needed to be added up to the 10€ monthly fee they already charge to run the system. Since we refused to pay any more money, the smart lock company decided to pay for the 4G connection themselves.

2. Inoperational locks due to power cuts

Sadly, the internet connection was not the only problem. In case of a power cut in a building or in the neighborhood, the internet connection becomes offline, and as a result, the smart locks simply become inoperational. As we are based in Malaga, power shortcuts are unfortunately not that unusual, which means that we often received phone calls late in the evening, or in the middle of the night, when guests were coming home from a night out. This resulted in waking up an employee to go to the apartment with a key in the middle of the night.

3. You should fix them manually

Another problem we experienced is that smart locks simply seem to go offline for no apparent reason. So again, this entailed a member of staff having to go to the apartment and reset the system manually by disconnecting all the fuses, wait a minute and connect the system again. This can result in being very inconvenient when again, you have to send a member of staff to an apartment at 1 am.

4. Smart Locks battery

Locks work with normal batteries and even though this is not a major problem in itself, you still need to make sure that the lock is charged at all times. If it isn’t, you again need to send an employee to charge the battery to avoid any potential problems with access.

5. Unnecesary communications with guests

Clearly, this electronic door solution was sold to us as a major benefit to our overall guest experience. Since we were connected to an API connection, the smart lock company had our guests' emails on file and they used it to send our guests lots of communication before arrival, some completely unrelated to the lock itself, which led to a high degree of confusion and misunderstanding. To put it simply, this turned into an overkill of communication which annoyed many of our guests before they even stepped foot in the apartment.

6. External providers cut downs

On a couple of occasions, we also experienced that the provider's external server was down. When that happens, guests simply lose access to the apartments. I’m sure that all of us have experienced at some point a server breaking down, but on this occasion, when this happens, the consequences are substantially more complicated as people can no longer access their apartment.

7. 4G connection problems

On another occasion, the smart lock provider forgot to inform us that their 4G agreement with the internet provided had been terminated. So, here we are, on a Friday afternoon, receiving calls from all our guests informing us that they could not access their property. 

After contacting the smart lock provider, they simply proceeded to inform us that they had ended the contract with their internet provider. As a result, we had to send all our employees to the rescue of our guests stuck outside of their apartment.


These smart lock companies often blame their shortcomings on third parties: the internet providers, e.g. for instance, Movistar did not provide a fast connection (even though we had a 600MB connection), guests did not know how to use the app correctly, the 4G provider was down and so was their server, but under any circumstance was it their fault. 

They may be right but it certainly does not help you at 01:00 in the morning when guests can’t access their apartment. But one thing is sure: guests will blame the property manager for these problems, not the smart lock company, and as a result you will receive negative reviews, even though none of this is directly your fault.

Finally, my personal opinion is that smart locks will never drive repeat business. A personalized check-in and greeting will. 

So if your strategy is to focus on securing more direct bookings, forget about smart locks and focus on your customer experience. 

These smart lock companies also charge a monthly fee for their services, which turns out to be very costly. Imagine paying an annual subscription of 120€ to end up having to send staff members at 3:00am to open doors with a good old key. 

Smart Locks - thanks but no thanks, not a smart move.

What to do in Malaga in one day: top things to see and enjoy!

Are you visiting Malaga but you don’t have much time to do it? Even though you would need some days to explore in detail all the hidden gems and spots of the city, if you organise yourself strategically, you can make the most of this coastal and incredible city! Below I’ll show you what to do in Malaga in one day: 24 hours full of fun, I promise you!

I know you can see more things in the city than the ones that I will mention later, but I chose the ones I think you can’t miss if you want to do sightseeing in Malaga just for one day.

Stop 1: Having an authentic Spanish breakfast: churros

Churros con chocolate (hot chocolate with churros) is one of the most famous breakfasts all over Spain. This delicious and simple food, made with flour, water and salt, is a tradition in this country. It’s very common to eat them in the morning as breakfast, in ferias (Spain festivities), or in, what they called, merienda (snack before dinner) 

The best places to eat churros in Malaga city centre are: 

However, if you are not a sweet person, you definitely have to taste a ‘mollete’. Mollete is a specific type of bread (originated in Antequera, Malaga) that malagueños are used to eating in the morning. The mollete usually comes with olive oil, jamon and pureed tomato. Tasty!

Churros with hot chocolate
mollete, typical spanish bread

Stop 2: Let’s do some sightseeing around Malaga city centre

Malaga is famous for being a very cultural city with many museums, exhibitions and monuments to enjoy. Because we only have one day, I have chosen the most important ones.

Malaga in one day route: monuments and places in the city centre

1. Mercado de Atarazanas

Atarazanas market in Malaga city centre

Atarazanas market opens from Monday to Saturday, from 8am to 3pm. There you’ll find dozens of stands that sell typical and fresh products of the region: fish, meat, vegetables and fruits. It’s one of the most traditional spots in Malaga city centre and you have the possibility to taste some spanish tapas there: you should give a try to boquerones en vinagre (anchovies marinated in vinegar) or lomo en manteca (pork loin in lard)

Also, its architecture is very beautiful and mixes arabian and christian styles.

2. Calle Larios

Larios street, Malaga

Calle Larios is the most famous street in the city. It’s located in the heart of Malaga old town and it’s very known for its shops and restaurants. From there, you will be able to walk around the tiny streets of the center and visit some famous squares like La Constitución square, Uncibay square or El Obizpo square (just in front of the cathedral)

3. Malaga's Cathedral

Malaga cathedral has a Renaissance style and is still unfinished, that’s why it’s well known as ‘La Manquita’ (the One-Armed Lady), because one of its towers is unbuilt. 
It has a museum and also You have the possibility to come into Malaga Cathedral decks and enjoy one of the most breathtaking views of Malaga city center. You can visit this rooftop at night and you will enjoy a sunset all over the city.

4. Roman Theatre and Alcazaba castle

Roman theatre Malaga

Two minutes walking from the Cathedral and Alcazaba castle, we find the Roman Theatre, located on the west slope of the Alcazaba castle. This fortress was built between the 11th and 14th centuries, was the palace-fortress of the Muslim governors and it was intended to protect the city of conquers, both by water or by land. 

You can’t buy online tickets to visit Alcazaba. If you want to come inside, you should go to Alcazabilla street and buy them in one machine you’ll find there.

5. Muelle Uno

Muelle uno, open shopping centre in malaga city centre

Muelle Uno is the port of Malaga and it has become one of the most famous places to eat, walk or shop in the city. It's an outdoor shopping center and it has a wide range of restaurants, shops and museums to visit. There, you can visit Pompidou Centre, or Malaga lighthouse, apart from enjoying an incredible views of Malaga city centre.

Stop 3: Eat in a chiringuito in Pedregalejo (Malaga neighborhood)

After a complete morning walking all around the centre, the best plan after that is to eat some fresh fish in front of the beach! Pedregalejo neighborhood has one of the most famous beaches in the city and there are plenty of restaurants and bars there to drink and eat while enjoying a great sea landscape. 

You can go there on foot, by taxi, or by renting a bike to do a little route for all the promenade. 
If you are wondering which restaurant or chiringuito you should go to, click here and I’ll show you the most famous and delicious ones!

Stop 4: Visit Castillo Gibralfaro and watch the sunset

romantic things to do in malaga - botanic garden

After spending a relaxing afternoon at the beach, now it’s time to see Malaga from the heights. 

This castle is located in Gibralfaro hill, and it has an incredible view all over Malaga. My advice is to wear comfortable shoes and go up to the Castle on foot. You will enjoy the route and your reward will be waiting for you at the top: an amazing and unforgettable sunset! 

You can start your journey directly from the city center, and it will take around 30 min on foot.

Stop 5: Go for some tapas in Malaga city centre

I know you were waiting for this moment! We cannot finish a Malaga day without going for some tapas, of course! You’re lucky because Malaga, as a vibrant and vivid city, has plenty of restaurants where to enjoy the real Mediterranean cuisine! 

Uncibay square or Carretería street are examples of spots where you will find these desirable tapas. 
If you are looking for some recommendations, just check this blog: best local tapas bar in Malaga city centre

Malaga in one day: best plan ever!

Now it's your turn! Go outside and explore this coastal and incredible city, and let yourself get lost in its streets!

Best plans in Malaga this June [for all budgets]

Summer is coming! June is the beginning of the best months of the year! On June 21th the summer starts officially in Spain, and with this, Malaga is filled up with many events and things to do. 

That’s why we have put together five incredible plans and events that you can enjoy this June in Malaga. And what’s better, they are for all the budgets and preferences!

1. Live concerts in Sohail Castle, Fuengirola

marenostrum outdoors event space in fuengirola
Live show in Fuengirola, Malaga

Fuengirola is a beautiful coastal city just 28 km away from Malaga city. It’s a town with many things to do and it has an incredible castle next to the beach where there are many live concerts during all the summer. 

It’s really a unique spot, as the castle is located at the top of a hill. The landscape is just breathtaking: the green of the grass, the mix of colors in the sky at sunset, the blue of the sea and the impressive fortress and the back. This outdoor space, called Marenostrum Fuengirola,  receives thousands of visitors during summer, and there, you can enjoy the most famous singers and artists worldwide while you drink a beer or eat in its food trucks. 

Best plan ever!

The concerts that will take place in June are:

2. Noche de San Juan (San Juan Night)

st john's bonfire, malaga, misericordia beach

Next June 23th night, thousands of malagueños of all ages celebrate ‘La Noche de San Juan’, also called St John’s Bonfires or Midsummer’s Eve. This special night is the shortest of all year and the beach becomes crowded with many people, fireworks, music and bonfires. 

Families and friends celebrate summer’s solstice with campfires and bonfires all the evening, dancing, eating and drinking during all night. It doesn’t matter where you want to go, this celebration is spread all over the coast and you will be in the middle of the festivity in every beach of La Costa del Sol. Also, after two years of pandemic, this year will be absolutely incredible! 

La Noche de San Juan is a very magical night, and, of course, it has its own ceremony. You should get a bath at midnight and write a desire on a piece of paper and burn it out in one of the bonfires. It’s a sign of good luck!

Where to celebrate the night of San Juan (St John's bonfire in Malaga)?

As I said, there are parties all over the coast, but the most famous beaches to do it are:

3. Enjoy a relaxing sunday at the beach

Pedregalejo beach Malaga

Spending Sundays at the beach is almost a tradition in Andusia. Many families prepare their picnics (with tortilla de patatas and croquetas, of course), sunbathing and beach umbrellas and go to their favorite beach to have a relaxing day in the sun. 

El Palo and Predegalejo beach are the most popular beaches in Malaga city. Also, if you don’t want to prepare anything to eat, there are 

plenty of restaurants where to have brunch or a drink. My favorite is La Galerna.

4. Boat trip and dinner at Muelle Uno

Now that the weather is perfect, you can enjoy a boat trip through the Bay of Malaga and the incredible views of the city from the sea! There are trips every hour starting at 12:0 and, inside the boat, you can have drinks and snacks while you are sunbathing in one of its nets. 

After that, you can have lunch in one of the many restaurants that Muelle Uno (an outdoor shopping center) offers you. My recommendation is to go to Cambara, a very sophisticated place with delicious cocktails! 
If you want to know more restaurants in Malaga city centre, don’t forget to have a look at this article!

5. Celebrate pride in Torremolinos

Pride Torremolinos 2022

Torremolinos is famous for its open mind and a safe space for all the LGTBI+ community. That’s why Pride celebrations are very important in this city. 

Everybody is welcome and there are shows, activities, conferences and parties during all the week! 

You can check the programme here

Holiday property investment in Andalusia: what do you need to rent your apartment out

If you are planning to invest in a property in Andalusia, I’m sure you will have tons of questions regarding what documents or steps you have to take in order to get your apartment ready in this highly profitable area. 

In Solaga, we help people from all over the world to get their homes ready for rental rent and we advise them during all the procedures.

Thinking about buying property in Andalusia to rent it out as a holiday home? In this article you will find what you need to do once you have your apartment ready to rent it out!

Register a holiday home in Andalusia

Junta de Andalusia (Andalusia government), since 2016, has had certain requirements that all the vocational apartments should fulfill in order to get the proper license. This is due to the fact that there has been a significant increase in these types of properties in the last few years, and, therefore, the need to regulate them. 

In fact, according to the, there are in Andalusia more than 80,000 properties that have a holiday home license.

What do we understand as Holiday Home? Vacational apartment definition

We can define Holiday Homes (it has the Spanish abbreviation VFT (Vivienda con Fines Turísticos - Property with Touristic Purposes) as a property that is rented out for a short period of time, regularly and when this property is advertised on touristic offer channels. 

What documents do I need?

To start the activity of renting your flat as a holiday home, you have to fulfill and present an affidavit where you declare that you have all the requirements for pursuing the activity in question. For doing this, you have to have a digital certificate (that you can get from the public institution of La Fábrica Nacional de Moneda y Timbre

Apartments with no affidavit will be sanctioned with a fine of 2,001 to 18,000 euros, as it’s considered a clandestine realization or provision of tourist service.

Next to the affidavit document, you will need to present: 

The declaration of the affidavit will allow you to carry out the activity for an indefinite period of time, from the day of its presentation.

Register as property owner in the 'Registro de Turismo de Anducía'

Once you have presented the affidavit, the territorial delegation, where your apartment is located, will add your property to the ‘Register of Tourism of Andalusia’, and you will receive a document that proves this. 

You will get a code similar to this: 


Register your holiday property with the Spanish National Police or Guardia Civil

The property manager, or owner, must identify all the guests over 16 years old, fulfill a hospitality document, have a guest registration book and communicate the guests’ check-in to the National Police within 24 hours of arrival. 

To register your holiday home you have to make an appointment with the National Police office in the city your apartment is located and present these documents:

Do you need help?

In Solaga we are holiday property managers and we have been more than fifteen years helping owners to prepare their flats for rent them out. We are familiar with all the requirements that the Junta de Andalucía has in order to legalize an apartment for vacation rental purposes. 

If you are looking at investing in Andalusia or you own an apartment and you’re thinking about renting it out for touristic purposes, you can contact us and we will look forward to talking to you without any obligation on your part. 

11 fashionable restaurants in Malaga - where to eat in the city centre

Eating is always the best plan! But, you know, there are places, and places. I love when, visiting a new city, locals recommend to me the best places to enjoy a good dinner. At the end, you always look for the same things: reasonable price, good customer service, a vivid (that not loudly) atmosphere, and, of course, tasty dishes! 

Well, most of our team in Solaga are from Malaga, or, we have been living in this city for years. We have put together some of the best restaurants in Malaga city centre. We’re sure you will love it! 

We have already mentioned different places in the city to enjoy different types of food. If you want to keep on the loop, you can check this articles too: 

Restaurants in Malaga city centre

1. Gusto

Gusto is an italian restaurant in Malaga city centre where you will be able to taste delicious pizzas ‘napolitanas’, pasta, carpaccio and other italian recipes. The pizzas are baked in a stone oven and the dough is incredible!

Also, their desserts are made with the traditional italian recipe.  

2. Fiel de fechos

fies de fechos restaurant in malaga city centre

Coming inside Fiel de Fechos restaurant is like coming to a circus. This thematic restaurant is originally decorated with circus elements and colors. There are colorful wallpapers all over the place and many masks and beautiful decorations but the best part is absolutely the plating. Food is served in original platas. 

The best dish there, in my opinion, is the potato omelet (tortilla de patatas) that comes inside a huge egg!

3. Sibuya

If you want a sushi restaurant in Malaga, Sibuya is a great option for you! It’s located in Calle Granada and its sushi is delicious! They also have noodles and other typical asian dishes like noodles or tartar. 

You can order take away too! 

4. Mesón de Cervantes

Mesón de Cervantes is a classic among classics. Spanish tapas, Mediterranean cuisines and a wide menu with delicious dishes (if you don’t want what food order in Spain, check this post when I show you the most popular recipes).

If you want to feel like a local, you should go there.

5. Batik

A sophisticated atmosphere with stunning views all over the Alcazaba (Malaga’s castle). That’s what you’ll find in Batik restaurant, the Hotel Alcazaba Premium’s gastronomy place. It’s located on the last floor of this beautiful hotel and, from its open terrace, you will be able to enjoy an unique view of Malaga’s castle. 

My recommendation: leave room for the dessert: the cheesecake here is insane! 

6. Bodeguita El Gallo

This hidden bar reminds of a typical Andalusian patio, with flowers and ceramic tiles in their interior terrace. Their cuisine is one hundred percent Mediterranean, and you can taste typical Spanish dishes here: ensaladilla rusa, tortilla de patatas, flamenquin… 

7. María Tertulia

Do you like pink? Well, you just found your spot! Maria Tertulia is a gastrobar located in Malaga city centre where every little detail is pink: from the cutlery to the wall colors. There are a very young vibrant atmosphere there and it’s one the most trendy places of the city.

8. Taberna Uvedoble

This tavern is located next to Roman Theatre in Malaga and its speciality is the fish. They have also cook a stunning ‘arroz negro’ (black rice).

9. Doña Inés

Doña Inés is another sophisticated restaurant in Malaga center. It’s next to La Marina square and they have incredible paellas and fideuá. Also, you can taste delicious pieces of meat (pork and beef), steak tartar, or gourmet burgers. 

10. Cambara

This restaurant is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful and well-decorated ones of the city. Also, its location is absolutely stunning, in the middle of Muelle Uno (port of Malaga).

Apart from their food menu, they have a wide variety of cocktail that are simply delicious!

11. Beluga

For paella lovers, Beluga restaurant is for you! This ‘cuisine d’auteur’ restaurant in Malaga old town is the best place to celebrate a special occasion and enjoy a good glass of wine with one of its tasty dishes. 

You can order to take away too! 

Now it's your turnt! What are your favourite restaurants in Malaga city centre?

Malaga Street Art: where to find the best urban art in the city

Malaga is a very vibrant and open-minded place on the Mediterranean coast that has dozens of artistic and cultural places to enjoy. In fact, it’s the third city in Spain with more museums and its variety comes from Picasso (he was born in Malaga) to Automovilistic or Cine Museum.

We talk a lot about what to do in Malaga and today, I want to show you a different plan that you’ll love! The thing is, in Malaga, you don’t have to go inside a museum to enjoy great art pieces, you can find them on the streets!

Thanks to the MAUS (Malaga Arte Urbano Soho) project.

‘Maus is a unique experience of creation through which streets are transformed into a working canvas for numerous artists from all over the world’

In this blog, we will show you the most beautiful street art pieces you can find in Malaga and their location so you can visit them personally! Let’s go!

Street Art Malaga Map

MAUS project is located in Soho Neighborhood, the most multicultural area in the city. A few years ago this neighborhood was famous for being a quite dangerous place, where people used to do drugs and other types of illegal actions. However, this has completely changed, and the Soho is currently one of the most visited and lively areas of the city, with plenty of places to eat, listen to live music, or, in this case enjoy great cultural street art pieces.

Down below, you can see the map, where I highlight most of the streets where you can find the different graffitis and pieces of art that belong to MAUS project.

Street Art Soho Malaga

????Comandante Benitez Street

Author: D*face and Obey

???? San Lorenzo Street

Author: unknow artists

Author: Boamistura

????Alameda principal

Author: Faith47

Graffiti in Alameda Principal, Malaga

Author: Dal east

Art in Alameda Principal, Malaga

????Tomás Heredia Street

Author: Dadi Dreucol

Dadi Dreucol graffiti in Tomas Heredia street

????Casas de Campos Street

Author: Roa

Casas de Campos street urban art

????Hotel Soho Bahía Malaga

Author: Okuda & Remed

hotel soho bahia malaga street art graffiti

????Hotel Soho Bahía Malaga

Author: Aryz

Urban art - graffiti in Hotel Soho Bahí Malaga

????Parking Alemania Street

Author: Andi Rivas

Graffiti in the window in Parking Alemania Street

Unknown artists

????Blasco de Garay Street

Author: Unknow artists

Street Art by unknown artist
Street Art Malaga in Blasco de Garay street
Street art in Malaga

????Barroso Street

Street Art Malaga in Barroso Street
Street Art Malaga

????Navalón Street

Street art in Malaga

????Barroso Street

Malaga street Art in Soho neighborhood

????Duquesa de Parcent

Street Art in Malaga

The importance of direct bookings for a holiday property owner

When searching for the right holiday property manager to look after your property, it is crucial that the company you choose can drive direct bookings through their own website

This can help your net profit increase by at least 15%

Choosing the right property rental manager is of course not only about rental income. There are many other important factors that you need to focus on, namely the quality of their customer service, guests’ reviews, maintenance, marketing, as well as who their target clients are. 

You need to ensure all these areas are covered before you can decide who is the right company for you.

If a property manager’s strategy mainly relies on OTA’s to generate the majority of bookings, it will undoubtedly have negative consequences for you as a holiday homeowner. Not only will you generate less profit, but you will also leave your business in the hands of powerful conglomerates who, in many cases, don’t always have your personal benefits at heart. 

In this article, I'll explain to you certain terms and aspects you have to we aware of before choosing one company or another.

What are OTA's?

OTA's - Online Travel Agency definition

Let's start by defining OTA’s. The acronym “OTA” stands for Online Travel Agency

You are probably already familiar with a few of them:, Expedia, Airbnb, Tripadvisor and VRBO. In the holiday rental industry, the five aforementioned companies are the largest and most powerful ones. Apart from them, there are also several other smaller operators such as Hometogo, Homes & Villas (Marriott) and Holidu to name a few. 

These OTA’s all charge a commission for their services; in most cases, said commission is approximately around 15%, but in some instances it can be more. I can safely say that I’m expecting these commissions to increase in the near future. In simple terms, for a reservation worth 1000€, you will need to pay 150€ to the OTA who generated your booking.

What are Direct Bookings?

Direct bookings are reservations made directly through the holiday property managers’ website, or a reservation made without you paying any commission to a third party, such as the aforementioned OTA’s.

Why are Direct Bookings so important?

To put it shortly, there are many reasons why. To better understand, let's look at your holiday home as your small business. Your holiday rental drives an income to cover your expenses, and in most cases, to generate financial profit. The question is: who would leave their business in the hands of a stranger? 

With Direct Bookings, you have the control all the time

As such, you don’t want the OTA’s to have total control over your reservations. Control is exactly  what these industry giants have over your financials, and everytime, they seem to be pushing the limits a bit further. Recently, Airbnb unilaterally decided to change their terms and conditions whereby they can now force a holiday property manager, or property owner, to pay for a relocation of guests based on very questionable excuses. Sadly, we have already witnessed numerous disturbing instances where the property manager (and as a result the property owner) ended up not receiving any payout without much explanation.  

A perfect example of these large companies controlling your business was seen at the beginning of the pandemic. In most cases, the customer pays directly to the OTA, who in turn organizes the payout to the property manager (or owner) a few days after the check-in. 

When the pandemic started, Airbnb created a new policy called “Extenuating Circumstances” and proceeded to refund the full amount to all guests leaving many owners and property managers in dire straits. 

I am of course aware that these were difficult and unusual times, and that many travelers were forced to cancel their reservation and get a refund, or get a voucher issued to use at a later time. This is what most companies in the tourist industry, including airline carriers, did.  

However, what Airbnb did was that they didn't even approach the owners or property managers. They completely bypassed existing contractual terms and conditions by creating a very vague “Extenuating Circumstance” clause, acting as they saw fit in the detriment of everyone else. Yes, they are in control of your business, and it is only going to get worse in the future. Hence the importance of choosing a holiday rental manager that can generate direct bookings and does not rely on OTA’s to produce income for you. 

You can drive more revenue as you don't have to pay OTA's commision

Moreover, there is a huge economic profit driving direct bookings. Paying 15% of your revenue to the OTA’s represents a lot of money at year end. 

To summarize, direct bookings are essentials as they allow you to remain in charge of your business, control your cash flow, and as a result get a higher profit.

How to get more direct bookings?

There are many ways to do so, but this mainly depends on the holiday property managers’ business strategy. In all cases, the holiday rental managers, or the property owners themselves, are the ones in charge of all the hard work, such as cleaning, check-in/out, maintenance and many more tasks related to running a holiday apartment. The OTA’s are basically an enormous PR machine with a huge marketing budget that can help get more customers. 

1. Hire a trusted holiday property manager with a proper website and a good online communication

So the first thing you need to look at is the website of the holiday property manager. The company needs to have a well-performing website (read webspeed and customer experience), be visible, and come up on the first search page of Google, be active on social media, have a quality blog site, and feature positive customer reviews. You should also ask your rental manager to provide some statistics. Make sure you know where their guests come from, and where they get their bookings from. As a rule of thumb, they should be able to provide at least 45-50% direct bookings. 

2. Your aparment prices on your website and on OTAs' website should be different

The next thing you need to make sure of is that the property manager advertises your property at a higher price on the OTA’s themselves. They need to raise the prices in order to cover the expenses of the commission that the OTA’s charge. Holiday rental managers are free to set rates as they see if. In 2015, the European Commission ruled that OTA’s could not force hotels or accommodation companies to price parity. This means that the guests will pay at least 15% more for the same accommodation on the OTA’s. 

3. Understand terms and conditions of your holiday rental manager

The next factor you need to look at is that the holiday rental manager offers better terms and conditions for his customers on their website than the OTA’s do.

An example could be a more attractive cancellation policy. As a result of the pandemic, many travelers require more flexibility and therefore it is a good idea to offer free cancellation up to 15 days before arrival. In turn, the rental manager can set the free cancellation policy to 30 days on the OTA’s. This is another incentive for guests to book directly on the holiday rental managers’ website. 

Many OTA’s do not pay out the property manager (or the owner) until a few days after check-in. Airbnb, Tripadvisor and Expedia are using this method while both and VRBO do allow the owner or property manager to charge the guests directly through their credit card facilities. What is important for you is that the property manager controls the cash flow. 

There is no need to let the OTA’s be in charge of your money. 

As a result, the property manager can “penalize” the OTA’s working on a payout basis by raising the prices another 10%.  These OTA’s who work on this model of payout after check-in are the ones that you need to stay away from; they can keep your money in case the guests make a complaint. By raising the prices, you will receive less OTA reservations and as a result have more availability on your calendar to make direct bookings.

Direct Bookings: best and direct way to boost your revenue

Many guests are simply not aware that they can get better terms and prices when they do a direct booking, hence the reason why they keep on using OTA’s. Today, most property managers have their own website. As a traveler, by doing a simple search on the internet, you might find their direct website and save lots of money. And finally, guess who will book directly on your website if you offer the same terms and conditions as the OTA’s? The answer is nobody! But imagine for a moment that a guest could save 250€ booking on your website and cancel free of charge 15 days before arrival.

This is a real game changer for them.

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