Pass the Keys expands operation in Manchester! Meet Phil & Donna

    Pass the Keys launches a new franchise in Manchester – meet our newest partners Phil & Donna. Pass the Keys, the UK’s largest professional Airbnb cohost, is now expanding within Manchester. Pass the Keys maximises income for homeowners by listing...

    by Pass the Keys Manchester




    Pass the Keys Services


    Airbnb Management




    18 Feb 2021

    Pass the Keys launches a new franchise in Manchester – meet our newest partners Phil & Donna.

    Pass the Keys, the UK’s largest professional Airbnb cohost, is now expanding within Manchester. Pass the Keys maximises income for homeowners by listing their properties on short term letting sites such as Airbnb &

    We offer a comprehensive holiday home management service, caring for your property, whilst ensuring you make the best financial returns possible.

    Can you tell us a bit about yourselves?

    We are Phil Gates & Donna McCormick Smith. We have been partners for twenty years and have spent the past eight years living in Manchester. We have two young boys aged five and three.


    Phil: I was brought up in Cheshire and the Isle of Man, studied law at Oxford, then somehow ‘fell’ into the film industry in London. I work predominantly as a location and production manager on feature films, and I’ve also produced a couple of films of my own. Pass the Keys is a new and exciting venture for me.

    Donna: I was brought up on the Isle of Man and studied Equine Science as I’d always wanted to work rehabilitating horses. I spent a few years thereafter working with an Olympic Event rider before finding work as an animal trainer in film. I’ve worked on the Harry Potter films and Bond. Latterly, I’ve been a mum to our two boys. I’m really excited about starting work again with Pass the Keys.

    Both: Having worked for twenty years in the film industry, the recent lockdown provided an opportunity to step back and re-evaluate our careers. We’ve always ‘lived to work’ but with a young family, our priorities have changed, and we were looking for a career opportunity that would allow us to spend more time at home. We also wanted to find something really exciting to do together. Pass the Keys provided us with the opportunity to work together and build a tangible, thriving business from the comfort of our own home.

    What drew you to partnering with Pass the Keys?

    Providence…. We saw an advert for the franchise opportunity and were inspired by the Airbnb management concept underlying Pass the Keys. The idea that we could successfully manage a large portfolio of short let or holiday let properties utilising Pass the Keys’ technology and support was very appealing. 

    The business franchise model is incredibly exciting and we’re hugely impressed by the company's success. There is a palpable energy within Pass the Keys that is infectious. The technology and in-house support are exceptional and will allow us to really concentrate on developing a strong portfolio of properties, whilst ensuring that we are providing an amazing service to our clients, and to our guests. 

    For us, it’s about finding the right properties to manage to create a unique selection of great places to stay. By adding the finer details, we aim to make each and every stay unique, and that’s how we plan to stand out and maximise returns for our hosts. It’s a brilliant opportunity for us.

    Why is Manchester ideal for short term letting on platforms like Airbnb?

    After years of post-industrial decline, in recent decades,  Manchester has undergone widespread urban regeneration that has injected new life into this cultural behemoth of a city. With an expanding expat population, an internationally focused local economy, and a deep community spirit, Manchester is a welcoming and thriving city.


    Whilst the current pandemic has had profound effects on the local economy, it's certain that Manchester’s economy will rebound strongly as we all adapt to the realities of the ‘new normal’. There’s still a huge demand to live and work in this dynamic city, and with good reason. Recent developments include the transformation of the city centre towards a more localised way of living and working. It is likely that the different districts of the city will further develop their own individual identities. Reports show that the major residential developments within the city centre are selling at pre-pandemic levels, and there’s a resurgence of available lettings on platforms such as Airbnb. There’s a growing demand in (and for) Manchester which means that there’s a great opportunity to start short letting right now.

    After London and Edinburgh, Manchester is the UK’s 3rd most popular destination for international visitors. It receives 3.4m domestic staying visitors per year and is the 5th largest ICCA ranked City for business and conference events within the UK. The tourism sector for the City alone is worth £4.5 billion per annum.

    As the city grows as a northern power house, so to does the increasing demand for short let accommodation. Significant sector growth in areas such as media production and technology have also increased demand for short to mid-term lets for corporate clients so there is a range of potential guests. The beauty of short letting platforms like Airbnb is that visitors can choose the neighbourhoods and districts where they would like to stay; there is so much freedom in booking with Airbnb which is what makes is so popular.


    Why does Manchester need Pass the Keys?

    There is a growing market of people searching for short stay accommodation in which they can enjoy the comforts of home, whilst also enjoying the cleanliness and amenities of 5* hotels. This appetite has been fuelled by the current pandemic, with visitors preferring the idea of having their own ‘front door’.

    We are keen to take advantage of this opportunity by helping potential hosts who might never have considered the opportunities offered by short term letting on platforms like Airbnb. Here at Pass the Keys, we help homeowners and landlords maximise on the returns from their properties.

    When managed properly, short term letting provides a substantially higher income than a standard tenancy, allowing property owners to reap ample financial rewards without the hassle of personally managing their property themselves. Pass the Keys have worked hard developing their business over the past few years. We offer a complete short let management solution that covers all bases, from vetting guests thoroughly, 24/7 guest support, and 5* hotel quality service. Moreover, our bespoke services have been awarded with professional Airbnb co-host status; Pass the Keys is far from the average Airbnb management company.

    The original concept behind Pass the Keys was to provide the ultimate Airbnb management solution. Since its launch in 2015, the company has been constantly developing by looking at different opportunities within the short and mid term lettings market. They are hugely responsive and will be a great partner now and in the future. 

    What is your top tip for homeowners who short let their property on sites like Airbnb?

    Make time and effort to ensure that your property is properly described and presented on Airbnb for optimum interest. Against the ever increasing competition from other short let property owners, it’s important that your property possesses charm and individuality.

    At present, the obvious key concern for any guest is the cleanliness of the property; here at Pass the Keys, we provide bespoke Airbnb cleaning services as part of our comprehensive property management plan.

    If you have a property in Manchester, and are interested to find out how much you could earn as a short let Airbnb host, why not give Pass the Keys Manchester a call on 0208 050 2818. You can also visit our website to get a quote on how much your property could earn through short letting. Simply visit


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