I have started this review of Turnkey Vacation Rentals by Owner on Sept 29, 2018, which I will update as things happen because when I was searching for “owner reviews” last year for any vacation rental management company, I couldn’t find anything valid or concrete from the OWNER’s perspective.
As much as we would like to run our own Vacation Rental, when we first started last year, we knew nothing about the industry other than our own personal renting experience. We both work full-time jobs and preferred that someone on the ground who knew this business get us up and running.
And now that my website is up and running, I thought I would do the rest of my fellow vacation rental owners justice by giving you information based on my personal experience with Turnkey Vacation Rentals as an owner of beachfront property that they manage.
We started with Turnkey Vacation Rentals in Galveston, TX in June of 2017 after we purchased our very first beachfront vacation rental. We interviewed several companies on the Island, but Turnkey seemed to have their stuff together, by far. Not to mention the GM was an AGGIE just like us! 🙂
I will say it was a rocky start at first. Once we signed the contract, Rashida (who is the General Manager for Galveston) called us to tell us our expectations were too high and maybe we were not the right fit. WTH was our first thought. Clearly, there was a MAJOR miscommunication between her and the account manager. But after Rashida spoke to us, she realized we were not as crazy as she thought. LOL!
Anyway, she did give us the wrong quotes for cleaning and damage protection initially which really sucked because at this point we were too far in to turn back. She quoted us $49-69 on damage waiver when it was really $89 and the cleaning was quoted for $120 when it really was $210. It was disappointing because she had actually given us these quotes in writing. It was all on her marketing material too. She realized after our fiasco she needed to update her material and be more careful about how things are quoted. In the end, Rashida did do right by us by getting permission from the corporate headquarters to allow us to get the May incentive (we signed in June) which was $1500 after the first year.
Once we were past all that, we didn’t really have any interaction with the GM, instead, we had an account manager who seemed very hard working and was always available for questions seemingly around the clock. However, when we got our new Account Manager, Rebecca, we learned our previous account manager either didn’t know things or gave us the WRONG information. Rebecca isn’t available around the clock, but she knows her business and is a great communicator and very helpful. We truly enjoy working with her. Honestly, it’s because of her, we are not shopping around as we have had plenty of other companies harassing us for our business especially after our home was featured on HGTV recently.
They pretty much pay on time, we haven’t had any issues with that and they are pretty good with reimbursements as long as you get your receipt in time as they only pay once a month.
Bookings and Fees
Overall Turnkey has done a good job with bookings. We did break even this year, but of course would prefer to just more than break even. I do like that they will reduce the commission to 10% if you source your own guests. Every bit helps.
We hate to be nickel and dimed and there seems to be a “fee” for just about everything these days. Fees include credit card fees and guest stocking fees for toiletries and paper goods. To some degree, the commission seems more than 18% because they also raise your rates by 9% which they take off the top for every booking to cover their expenses related to posting your home on the major vacation rental websites like Airbnb, HomeAway, VRBO, etc.
Turnkey is self-insured so you would think they would try to not let owners use the damage waivers or make it difficult, but I don’t get that impression. For the most part, they have been very fair with what goes to the damage waiver. We have had several things damaged by guests. Sometimes, Turnkey is fast to replace it and other times not so much. Either way, depending on the item, you have to stay on top of them for damage waiver related issues. Although their new Project Board has tremendously helped to keep track of these types of communications. I have learned that it’s a lot faster to replace items on your own and ask for reimbursement vs letting them do it for you. We have had guest either break or take items like wine glasses, vacuum cleaner, beach tent, etc. I just wish that the dashboard also included the damage reported by Housekeeping. Overall, no major issues here.
We have a wonderful cleaning crew and constantly get 5-star reviews for cleaning from guests. Turnkey emails and texts guest the same day of arrival asking for a review on the cleanliness of the home. We have never had any 1, 2 or 3-star reviews on cleaning, so I can’t tell you how they handle it or even if they respond to poor reviews. I would think they do as what else would be the purpose of such a service. In the beginning, I had to show the housekeeping crew my expectations and preferences just like anything else. Took a few times, but we got there. I like to have a relationship with my housekeeping crew and mostly have the same person clean which HELPS TREMENDOUSLY in meeting your expectations. I also like that Turnkey comes out to make sure the house is guest ready before every guest arrival. I just wish they would report why the house wasn’t guest ready in the dashboard they provide.
We are a pet-free home, yet people still bring their animals. We have great neighbors and when they see crazy parties or pets on the property, they let us know. The first time, the guests had to get rid of the animal and our account manager provided options for doggy daycare. They also had to pay a $200 fee. The second and third times, the animal was a “service animal” and interestingly enough, twice in a row in a back to back booking per the ground crew. Yea right! But we felt helpless about the situation.
We have had two evictions so far due to parties. Turnkey did an excellent job of securing my home and getting rid of the minors partying. This last time, they had to call a locksmith at 10 pm. They had new keys for us and changed the lock box codes right away. The only thing I didn’t like is that I never really got a FULL damage list from them. It just felt like I would find out things randomly or when we were using the house I would question something and it was “from the eviction”
After Hours Calls
There have been several times when I have called the Owner hotline, where no one ever picks up. One of the times, the phones lines and prompts would just go in circles. THAT WAS ANNOYING AS HELL because if I am calling after hours, it’s not for a minor issue. And sometimes you get great people on the phone who really understand the service industry and other times…not so much. Calling Turnkey after hours is definitely hit or miss. I think they are still working on fixing this issue.
It would be so much easier if they just posted the contact information of the ground crew on call, but they make us call and go through the red tape which can be very frustrating when they don’t answer the phones. We also don’t have great relationships with the ground crew other than housekeeping. I just feel its important to know everyone taking care of your home. Although, I must mention that Tucker and John are great when we do interact with them, but the red bat phone must be called first. LOL
You have access to a dashboard with your booking info, financials, housekeeping photos and there is a project board. The project board has ALL of your communication with Turnkey logged in one place. Unfortunately, they still send emails so if you have a lot of open cases, then you will get a ton of emails. LOL!!
Reviews and Guest Communication
We as owners are very involved with our home as we are lucky enough to only be 1.5 hours away. Reviews are very important to us and unfortunately, the only time we have received a 1-star review on VRBO is because of a Turnkey communication with guest (or lack of). Luckily we were able to have one of the reviews taken down as my husband reached out to the guest and asked them if they would consider removing the review since it was not a home or homeowner issue. They were someone we had sourced through our website and they enjoyed speaking with us so they did it for us. Today I have 35 reviews on VRBO and most of them are 5-star and some with positive remarks about Turnkey, so we are not too worried about it at this point. You can see our reviews here.
As owners, we do not get any information on the guests which I wish we could. I know in the past I have asked for details and they will send me what they have, but Turnkey does not actively share guest information or emails with owners. I know not everyone wants this type of info, but for me, I like to personalize some of the more expensive stays if I can for the guest such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc. I also would like to reach out to guest after their stay. I solved this problem by adding a guestbook to the home where I ask for feedback. Most of it is RAVING- so if the guest leaves an email I usually email them the same day thanking them for being great guests and to stay in touch. It’s also an opportunity to remind the guest to review the property. BTW, my housekeeper emails me the picture of the guest book every time.
We usually change out our own AC filter, light bulbs, Keurig filters, refrigerator filters, etc. but they do provide that service if you ask them too. For us, it’s just easier (and a preference) to take care of those details in our home. Turnkey has been pretty good at fixing things that guest either break or damage. They have fixed our gate along with some damage that guest had caused to our walls and fireplaces.
Overall, no company is going to be perfect and because we have such a great account manager and ground team, we are still with them today. And honestly this is our first experience with a property management company, so we don’t really have anything to compare to. I think its very important for owners to be hands-on and involved and to stay in touch with your account manager.
Believe me, we know how stressful the process of choosing the right property manager for your investment is. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at email@example.com
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My husband and I really hope this review helps anyone looking and comparing vacation property managers with Turnkey Vacation Rentals.
Pravin and Leena Taneja
Nov 11, 2018: after careful consideration of our finances, we have decided to take our beach home off the Turnkey market. We gave notice this week and hopefully they will keep their promise of transferring reviews and listing sites back to us.
We have decided to move away from Turnkey to see if we can at least break even, if not more by managing the home on our own. Overall, our experience with Turnkey was great and we would still recommend them especially to people who are just starting out and want to eventually take over the the management of their home or to anyone who just wants to be hands off and allow a PM to manager their house.
Dec 16, 2018: things are still going well as we transition away from Turnkey. They did come back with an income guarantee for next year, but the terms didnt work for us. We are also awaiting for them to transfer the VRBO reviews to our site. Will report again once the transition is final on the first weekend of 2019
Wish us luck on this next journey. 🙂