With the growing influence of online travel agencies and sales channels it’s now easier than ever before for guests to book their vacation rental properties online. Because of this, guests expect their booking process to be quick and accurate. Unfortunately, that isn’t always the case. A large amount of booking issues can be attributed to an out-of-date or inaccurate calendar. This can mean unwanted or cancelled bookings, an unhappy guest, and a frustrated property manager. This article will explain why it’s important to keep your vacation rental calendar up to date and how to do it easily.
For more info on keeping your vacation rental listing in great shape, check out this blog on the importance of seasonal rates.
What is a vacation rental calendar?
Okay, let’s get the basics out of the way first. A vacation rental calendar refers to the dates that a vacation rental property could potentially be booked by a guest. Traditionally, this could have been a paper calendar or spreadsheet that property managers updated manually, but nowadays most vacation rental calendars are online. This means that bookings can be easily added and removed, and the growth of Channel Managers and iCal has meant that these calendars can be shared between websites.
Why do I need to update my calendar?
Your calendar should always be accurate. This means that the dates that a property is booked should be indicated as such. You don’t want a guest making a booking, only to find that someone else has already snapped up those dates first! Similarly, if your calendar says that your property is unavailable even when it’s empty, you’re missing out on potential bookings.
This is especially important if you’re using a Channel Manager. Channel Managers are tools that allow you to list your vacation rental property on multiple rentals websites, such as Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and more. Guests who visit any of the channels will be able to see and book your property. When you’re listing in multiple places, it’s absolutely vital that the calendars are up to date. Otherwise, a property might show as available on Airbnb when it’s already been booked on Booking.com for example. If that happens, you’ll have to cancel a booking and, most likely, incur a cancellation fee as well as annoying your guest and the rentals website.
In fact, many rentals websites refuse to host calendars that haven’t been updated recently. This is because they really, really hate cancellations – so even if you don’t have anything new to add to your calendar, you still need to “update” it anyway.
How do I update my vacation rental calendar?
Most online vacation rental calendars will automatically update when they receive a booking. If you’re using a Channel Manager, this booking should automatically be added to every single website you use. You can also add bookings manually, so if you receive an offline booking (for example, through a personal contact or referral), you can add this to your calendar so that those dates become unavailable for other guests to book. Blocking unavailable dates (such as when your property is undergoing maintenance) also counts as a calendar update.
Sometimes, you won’t have any bookings to add, but you still need to “update” your calendar. This is because rentals websites need to know that the calendar is accurate, and that you haven’t just forgotten to add bookings. If you use a Property Management System like Your.Rentals, you can indicate that your calendar is up to date when you log in to your account. Then, all of your rental websites will know that you are a responsible property manager, and will be happy to host your listing. You should do this at least every 14 days. If you don’t update your calendar in one of the above ways approximately every 30 days, rental websites will take your listing offline. We recommend adding a reminder in your diary every couple of weeks to take a couple of minutes to update your calendars.
What is Calendar Sync and how can I use it to update my calendar?
A quick and easy way to keep your calendars updated is to use Calendar Sync. This is useful when you’ve got an existing calendar that you need to link to your main booking platform. For example, if you manage your bookings on a Google Calendar, or have an existing account on a vacation rental website, you need to link it to your booking platform so that your channel manager knows when that calendar is updated. Adding a Calendar Sync using an iCal address will mean that when one calendar is updated, all of the others update automatically. Then you can rest easy knowing that you don’t need to add information to every single calendar you use. A Calendar Sync also counts as a calendar update, so you won’t need to inform rentals websites if you haven’t got any dates to add.
Read more about Calendar Sync here
By keeping your vacation rental calendar updated you can make sure that your property is available on vacation rental websites and that you won’t be risking having to cancel or turn down bookings. Your.Rentals makes it easy for you to update your calendar and share it to whichever channels you like, so that your property is visible (and more importantly, bookable!) for as many potential guests as possible.
To get started publishing your property on all the major vacation rental websites, sign up for a FREE Your.Rentals account here!