Are you a property owner renting on Airbnb? Or maybe you manage a dozen vacation rentals across sales channels like Booking.com and Vrbo? Listing and managing properties can be daunting and overwhelming at times – especially if you actually plan on making a profit!
Good news is today’s vacation rental software can perfectly take over the repetitive, time-consuming coordination work and help you maximise bookings.
Vacation rental software is not a new thing. However, with the vacation rental industry growing furiously along the years, there are many tools in the market with similar features but slightly different names and functions. You probably get confused about which tool and features you must have to make your business successful.
Therefore, we’ve created a checklist for you based on our experience with more than 3000 small and medium sized property managers like you. We list the core functions that you need to scale up your business. Let’s have a deep dive.
What’s vacation rental software?
Vacation rental software enables you to manage and list your holiday rentals online to get bookings. The software helps property owners and vacation rental managers to manage rental availability, automate booking and guest communications.
What are the must-have functions of vacation rental software?
Whether you are new to vacation rental management or you have grown from a handful properties to a dozen, the best vacation rental software should have the following functions to help you make a business success.
- Channel Manager – this enables you to list your vacation rentals and distribute them on the sales channels such as Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, Expedia and TripAdvisor.
- Calendar Synchronisation – when a booking is made on any sales channel, your vacation rental software should synchronise the booking with your master calendar, avoiding double bookings. Dedicated Calendar Synchronisation software does exist, but if that software doesn’t also include Channel Management features it’s often not worth the effort.
- Guest communications – this includes automated guest email communication such as confirmations, reminders, instructions and directions, as well as thank-you note without your involvement. The software should also allow you to directly communicate with guests when, for example, you provide a special offer. At Your.Rentals, we even have a customer support team to help follow up more complicated bookings and guest complaints. This greatly helps you to scale your business without the need to hire additional staff.
- Payment processing – another essential function so you can receive your payout safe and on time. It reduces the risk and hassle of collecting payment only when guests check in.
- Website creation – investing in a vacation rental software is a long term strategic decision. It should not only fulfill your current needs but also enable your business to grow in the long run. Therefore, if the software has a website function and allows you to install a booking engine easily, this will definitely set your business apart. This is because a website with a bookable calendar and payment transaction function can help you to secure direct bookings without paying a penny to sales channels. Learn more about Direct Booking here.
- Analytics – provides the data you need to adjust your prices and stay competitive, reducing the guesswork and enabling you to maximise revenue. For example, it can help you analyse things like the Occupancy rates of your competitors to see how you compare.
- Mobile/app – a mobile friendly interface or an app can allow you to manage your vacation rental business on the go at ease.
Essentially, all these core functions centre around one thing – bookings. It is about enabling you to get more bookings and making those bookings easier to manage. That’s what property managers and owners care most about. Other features are a nice addition but may cost extra. More often than not, you would find some of them irrelevant unless you have grown to a certain size, say managing more than 100 properties.
What are the pros and cons of using vacation rental management software?
- Time-saving – vacation rental software helps you organize and automate the boring and tedious day-to-day tasks that are associated with your vacation rentals. According to Vrbo’s finding, a property owner spends 9 hours on average per week to manage their vacation rental. If you are managing multiple properties, the hours keep going up. With vacation rental software, you can save time and focus your energy on more important tasks like expanding your business portfolio with new additions of rentals or exploring new revenue streams.
- Expand your business without additional headcount – no matter whether you run a family business or you are a rentalpreneur, adding new hire to the team is a serious and long term commitment. It also involves lots of training and onboarding work. However, vacation rental software in this case can be a good alternative. It enables you to “outsource” the mundane tasks while you are still in the driving seat.
- Work smarter instead of working harder – as mentioned above, best vacation rental software always comes with the analytics part. The insights and your listing quality are presented in a dashboard. Things are easy to understand at a glance. You do not have to conduct extensive research, check on different sites or pull things into an excel spreadsheet. It saves you enormous time and gives you the intelligence to take real actions!
- No overbooking – with effective Calendar Synchronisation you’ll have no more worries about double bookings and you will always stay on top when a reservation comes in.
Everything comes with a cost. Vacation rental software does charge a fee. (Perhaps, this is the only con!) But with the goal of maximising your bookings, then it’s just a matter of mathematics – whether the extra bookings you earn can justify the cost. There are two major pricing models in the market nowadays. One is a subscription model. The cost may vary depending on the number of properties you have and it also requires you to commit for a certain time period, say 12 months. Plus it usually goes with a set up fee. The other is a commission model so you only pay when you receive a booking. This probably better suits owners and small-and-medium-sized property managers as it’s more cost effective in the long run. With performance-based pricing like this, you know that you’re only paying when you see results.
The vacation rental business is growing dramatically in the past ten years. It has also outperformed the hotel industry during the COVID recovery period. People’s intrinsic needs for travel will not fade away. We already see bookings coming in for next year. To prepare for the coming peak season, now is time to scale up your business toolbox. Vacation rental software like Your.Rentals with free sign up, no setup fee, no subscription fee, will be the perfect tool for you to start.