Industry, Long Term, Short Term, Sydney

What is a Booking Agent? Let’s clear it up.

November 30, 2021 – 4 minute read – by Don Binkley

Property Providers see value in pragmatism and flexibility. We are experts at marketing and managing Sydney’s prestigious properties to the most discerning clientele.  

We offer a wide range of solutions for our owners, so that they can work with us in the way that best suits them. In our short-term rental capacity, our owners have the choice to work with us in 2 different ways: with us operating as a full manager for the property or with us operating solely as a booking agent.  There are plenty of benefits to finding a good Booking Agent, however, a Booking Agent Agreement and Full Management are distinctively different. 

So, what’s the difference, you may ask? Here goes…  

Full Management

A full management service includes both Property Management and Booking Agency. This is typically for owners who want a complete short-term end-to-end or turnkey outsourced service. Simply put, we ‘take care of everything’ from the guest enquiry through to post departure. Owners of full management properties harness our entire competitive advantage including all operations (property management, repairs, and maintenance) as well as our team of hospitality service centric professionals. We meet and greet and/or arrange access for the guests into the property and care for them for the duration of their stay.  Importantly our legal contract or T&Cs are particularly strong and well tested having facilitated over 5000 bookings over 10 years. These of course are underpinned by a suite of well thought through policies and procedures to protect all parties and set out clear guidelines.

Booking Agent Only

A Booking Agency is for owners who want to be “hands on” in managing their property.  They want to be non-exclusive and care for their property and guests directly.  In these cases, the function of the Booking Agent is Sales, Marketing and Finance capacity only.  Here we augment the owner’s booking efforts and take bookings to “fill the gaps with available vacancy”.  In simple terms, owners benefit from our large portfolio, channel management and our strength in lead to sales conversion rate.  We source leads, qualify guest’s suitability, and convert/ commercialise them into bookings for the owner.  The owner takes responsibility for all the Property Management components including: 

  • The entirety of the guest experience post payment confirmation transaction.  
  • All logistics, operations and property management including the repairs, maintenance, cleaning, and housekeeping.  
  • Arrange pre arrival communication including welcoming the guest and/or access to the property.  
  • Managing any questions, concerns, and guest service once they have paid until after their security deposit is finalised. 
  • Report on return of security deposit and manage any communication in relation to deductions.  

In short, we acquire the customer, transact, and then pass the customer to the owner for the stay fulfilment or execution.   The owner then advises us of any deductions to the security deposit (after agreeing to them with the guest) and we transfer it back to the customer.  Please Note: for properties/owners where we are a booking agent, negotiating or mediating security deposit disputes is not in the scope unless of course we have materially misrepresented the property in a material way. 

In both cases, it is important to highlight that the agency is just that…an agency.  This means the stay or contract is between the owner and the guest.  The agency’s role is to facilitate the agreement (it is a license) between both parties. 

Simplifying, see below the table of the core difference between both agreements:

Booking Agent Only vs. Full Management

Full Management  
(Booking Agent + Property Mngt)
Booking Agent Only
Listing & Marketing 
Marketing, Channel Management & Distribution 
Sourcing & Servicing 
Short-Term Enquiries 
Guest Vetting & Suitability 
Negotiating Special Terms 
(Pre-Purchase) 
Converting & Commercialising Enquiries into Bookings/Stays 
Processing Payments 
Finance 
Trust Account Requirements # 
Legal & Licensing 
Guest Terms & Conditions* 
Regulatory 
Adherence & Compliance* 
Guest Communication 
(Post-Purchase/Payment) 
Guest Services 
(Pre-Arrival & Access) 
Guest Management 
(In-House, Pre-Post Departure) 
Property Management 
(Repairs) 
Preventative/Proactive Maintenance
Project Management 
Hospitality Services 
(Housekeeping & Linen) 
Concierge Services 
Other Operational Requirements 
Delivery Requirements 
Dispute Resolution ✘^
Reviews  
Generation & Management 
Repeat & Return Purchase (CRM) 
✔ (managed by Property Providers) • ✘(Managed by the Owner) • # Finance: Negotiating and mediating security deposit disputes is excluded from Booking Agent services. The agency will only transfer funds once an agreement has been reached between the owner/guest.  • ^(inclusive of security deposit claims)

In Closing…

Operating in a booking agent capacity may seem like an effective way to save money and retain control; however, do not underestimate the time, resources and capability required for delivering a great guest experience.  

It is also worth considering that guests’ expectations have evolved substantially over the past few years. Along with this the introduction of new legislation, means managing your short-term rental property is far more complicated and involved than it may initially appear.

There are a range of things owners need to consider when setting up a booking agency.  

It is our recommendation that new owners to short-term rentals adopt a full management approach and then after some time consider moving to a booking agent. We are happy to train, induct and get owners used to what is expected. Short-term rentals can be very lucrative and provide you the opportunity to use your own property for personal reasons.  However, don’t forget… It’s a job! 

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Don Binkley

Don is a Canadian native who has been living in Sydney since 2000. His career started in advertising/media working with a host of multinational brands. Evolving from marketing, he held a senior leadership position for a number of years at American Express. In 2010, he founded Property Providers, Sydney’s most flexible residential rental agency. He now leads a passionate team which has become recognised as experts in managing and marketing Sydney’s finest property to the most discerning clientele. Don is driven by the guiding principal that all long-term partnerships have a foundation of mutual respect, mutual commitment, mutual investment and mutual risk. Don is a proud father of 3 boys and is passionate about Skiing, Mountain Biking and Kayaking.

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