As the owner or property manager of a rental property, you may have quickly learned that a number of factors go into the vacation rental process. You are responsible for communicating with guests, processing payments, updating the rental’s availability, scheduling housekeeping… the list goes on.
While managing a vacation rental business is a conceptually simple idea, there are many complex components that go into making the business successful. Vacation rental software can lighten the load that you carry as the owner or property manager.
When choosing vacation rental software, it is important to pay attention to key features that will make your daily operations a success. These are the top 10 features to look for in vacation rental software.
1. Calendar Organization
This feature is first on the list for a reason. It is beyond imperative that you integrate a calendar organization system within your vacation rental business. Knowing the availability and scheduled reservations are crucial in running a successful business. If your property shows incorrect availability, you can miss out on potential revenue, as well as frustrate guests.
Guests do not want to discover the vacation rental they have reserved was, in fact, already booked by another guest but not reflected on the website. A calendar system within your vacation rental software will keep your reservations and availability organized.
Listing your vacation rental on multiple sites means a greater chance of your rental being reserved, but it also means more calendars to manage. Vacation rental software should synchronize the calendars from multiple listings within the software for you to see, in one place, the property’s real-time availability.
Lastly, there are many guests who may prefer discussing their reservation with a real-life person. The last thing you want to have happen while on the phone with a potential guest is staring at a calendar that does not currently reflect reservations and availability. This can lead to a double booking or a missed booking.
Guests who have had a sudden change in plans and need to cancel their reservation will call you directly to make this change. Having one calendar to manage these reservations will allow you to make the change directly in the vacation rental software.
2. Automatic Messaging
The more information you can give your guests, the better. A guest does not want to have to wait for a confirmation email or arrival instructions after they have done their part by booking the rental.
With vacation rental software, you can schedule automatic emails to send to guests who have made a reservation. These emails can be confirmation emails, arrival instructions, departure information, and friendly reminders about their upcoming trip.
Another automated message you can send guests is a reminder to leave a review of the property. You can schedule to send this automatic email a day or two after the guest has departed your property. This gives the guest time to return home and leave a review while their stay is fresh on their mind.
3. Website Design
With so many guests who book vacation rentals online, it is imperative to have a user-friendly website. Your vacation rental software should include a website design feature where you can implement a calendar, accept payments, and upload pictures. This website should be easy to use on both a desktop computer and a mobile device.
4. Accounting System
Any business that sells a product or a service will need a good accounting system. Whether its accepting payments or projecting a budget, you will need to know how much revenue your business is making, and if your business is falling in the red, green, or black.
5. Guest Reviews
Word of mouth, even virtually, can have an impact on how frequent your rental is booked, and guest reviews are what makes this possible. A guest who has a countless number of positive reviews to read can be the deciding factor in the decision to choose your property. Use vacation rental software that gives you the option to include an area on your website for guests to leave reviews.
6. Flexible Rental Rates
Integrating a pricing system within your vacation rental software will allow you to realistically adjust the rental rate of your property according to the time of year. Guests who are able to travel during the week are likely to choose a property with a discounted weekday rental rate, rather than a property that has the same rate on both the weekdays and the weekends.
On the flip side, you should account for peak travel dates and seasons and adjust your rental rate accordingly. If it is a high travel time of year, such as a holiday weekend or season of the year, maximize your nightly rate so that you can get the biggest return on your investment.
7. Scheduling Housekeeping and Maintenance Services
Your rental property will require housekeeping after every guest’s stay. The cleaning company you choose will need to be scheduled to know when and where to clean. The vacation rental software you choose should include a feature that allows you to schedule housekeeping services according to the reservation schedule.
Additionally, if the rental property includes a hot tub or swimming pool, you may need to schedule weekly or monthly service to the pool. A guest on vacation does not want to be inconvenienced by a cleaning company servicing the amenities at the property. A calendar system showing current availability will allow you to schedule housekeeping and maintenance appropriately without disrupting guests.
8. Rental Totals & Payment Options
While it is important to set a realistic, competitive rental rate, you will also need to account for applicable taxes, fees, and deposits. The vacation rental software you choose should allow you to apply all necessary additional fees for the guest to review.
Guests do not like to be surprised with fees during checkout that were not included in the original estimated amount.
In addition to accurate rental totals, you should also give guests the option to make a partial or split payment arrangement. A small option like this will increase the likelihood of the guest choosing to book your property.
To stay in control of the process, you can choose to implement non-refundable deposits, or the total reservation amount due at a certain time.
9. Social Media Integration
Social media is prominent among guests of all ages. Similar to word of mouth, a social media advertisement showcasing your property can catch a potential guest’s eye. Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter are a few of the most popular social media platforms among users. Having a digital footprint among these sites can allow you to reach a large audience and increase the probability that your property will be booked.
Running any successful business will require you to examine each area of the business to determine if it is functioning at 100%. Reporting features within your vacation rental software will allow you to see all areas of your rental property to determine if any adjustments need to be made.
You may be spending too much on housekeeping, or your property is repeatedly vacant at certain times of the year. Having vacation rental software to run various reports will allow you to maximize the full potential of your business.