Team management for property managers
What needs to be solved
HomeAway has many homeowners who have posted properties to the HomeAway platform, looking for travelers to book their properties. These homeowners come from all kinds of backgrounds, have different managing styles, and own different numbers of properties. Some homeowners own a few properties, while there are some owners who own tens or hundreds of properties. These homeowners are called property managers. They often find themselves struggling to manage many properties in a short period of time, which is a major pain point among property managers.
What these property managers want
We invited some of these property managers, who each own tens of hundreds of properties, into our user testing lab to understand what their needs are that are unique to themselves only. Besides the common needs of typical homeowners, such as adjusting daily rates, looking at market insights, or talking with renters, many property managers expressed that they often travel from city to city, or state to state, to manage their properties in detail. Even if some property managers don't travel to all of their properties frequently, they often find themselves lacking a way to manage properties with similar attributes. These property managers really need a system to manage groups of properties with ease. They need a system that organizes their properties into groups, and some also need a system that enables a team of people that work for this property manager. I designed this product that allows a property manager to hire a team of people to manage the properties. The property manager can assign properties to each team member, and give tools to each team member as the property manager believes is needed to help manage properties.
This product allows property managers to hire a team to manage properties. The property manager can view a list of all the team members, which tool each member can access, and which properties are assigned to each team member. The property manager can always add new members, or remove current team members.
The property manager can view details of a specific team member, view exactly which tools this team member can use, and which properties are assigned to this team member, and make any adjustments needed.
This video shows the team management product in action.
Was it the right decision?
Launching this product takes some risks. Risks of user engagement, developer labor time, and future product direction.
This product is the first of its sorts within a HomeAway homeowner account that introduces a team concept. Although we received overwhelming feedback from property managers that they have desires for an easier way to manage all their properties, they were not exposed to this team management concept previously. Introducing an unfamiliar concept might deviate previously established relationships, but judging by where property managers are struggling with, and the gap HomeAway had with building relationships and engagements with property managers overall, we decided to launch the product.
Developer labor time
Developer labor times are best spent working on product features that would bring the most value to users or product directions. As a designer, I want to understand what product features would bring the most short-term or long-term values to groups of users, by taking into account both user struggles and business visions. The biggest key of this collaboration effort with developers always effective collaboration.
When both short-term and long-term values need to be worked on, I want to understand the values that would emerge down the road. Sometime, a short-term value that require a little modification of an existing feature can remove a bottleneck, and bring huge benefits down the road. Sometimes, a long-term value might not show imminent signs initially, but will gradually show increase in user engagements double or triple down the road. This team management concept would bring long-term values to property managers. It is critical to communicate this value to developers and product managers.
Future product direction
Property managers have been a huge component of maintaining vitality on the HomeAway platform. Their successes in managing their hundreds of properties enable travelers to have more choices and livelihood when choosing a place to stay. HomeAway was coming up short when delivering the best experience possible to ensure that property managers have everything they needed to manager all their properties at ease. This group of owners had lower user engagement in comparison to the rest of the homeowners. It is without doubt in HomeAway's interest to find a great way to solve the biggest pain points for property managers.