Airbnb alone has over 5.6 million active listings worldwide. Millions of people are making good money every month by hosting guests at their personal homes or in their bed and breakfast facilities through platforms just like Airbnb. Some of these people even have more than just one listing across several channels.
Why You Need Vacation Rental Software
While it’s true that vacation rental facilities aren’t new to the hospitality business, thanks to technology and connectivity via the internet, millions of people who otherwise wouldn’t have ventured into the field are not legitimate business owners. These are people who have been thrust into a world of scheduling, guest management, property management, and a whole lot of payment issues to deal with from across the globe. It’s okay for these people to feel overwhelmed by it all.
Big hotels have been doing it for years, and even the best of them still have the occasional guest management mishap from time to time. Whether it’s overbooking, dealing with cancellations, or just completely misplacing a client’s booking, every system has its glitches.
With the help of robust vacation rental software, however, these glitches are minimized. Imagine have a system that helps you manage all your properties from a central location, a central dashboard if you will. Wouldn’t that make things so much easier?
With the right vacation software, you can:
- See how many people are booked in any of your properties at any given time
- See which properties are due for a cleaning or what kind of repairs are needed
- You can receive and process customer payments from a plethora of payment options
- You can manage customer complaints and reviews
- You can manage the marketing of your properties all from this central location
The right vacation rental software gives you a clear bird’s eye view of all your properties; however, many also streamline the admin work that goes with managing numerous listings across various platforms.
What Are the Features of the Best Vacation Rental Software?
There is a myriad of vacation rental software options in the market today, all of which have their own different set of features. All these features are geared towards helping you manage your vacation rental properties better and more seamlessly.
Some features are deemed necessary; others are superfluous, while few aren’t quite so necessary. Either way, when you choose a vacation rental software, it’s often best to know what kind of features are on offer and how they can help make your property management better.
Here are some of the common vacation rental features and definitions:
1. The Availability Calendar
As the name suggests, the Availability Calendar tells both your guests are you when a property is available for rent; vacant, if you will. A good vacation rental software should allow you to access this calendar both easily and securely to ensure that you are not missing out on income because guests don’t think you have a vacancy on the dates they plan to book with you.
2. The Channel Manager
There is a very good chance that most of your guests will come to you via various online marketing avenues that you have set up. These avenues often include placing your properties on listing sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com, among many others.
The Channel Manager allows you to manage all your properties that have been advertised on all of these platforms. This manager allows you to have a centralized view of where your properties are listed and manage the pricing on those various platforms.
It automatically updates your website and any other online travel agents you have marketing your listings whenever a guest books any one of your properties. It then makes those dates unavailable through the Availability Calendar.
3. The Reservation System
Your guests will need confirmation for their bookings and preferably talk to the host about their stay before they get there. A robust reservation system allows you to do all this, including:
- Issue booking receipts and confirmations
- Correspond with the guest via email
- View your Availability Calendar
- Make secure SSL-protected payments for their bookings
- Offer auto responders when necessary
- Enable cancellations when necessary
4. Website Builder Software
The whole idea here is to help you market and manage your vacation rental properties more efficiently. The best vacation rental software offers you the option to build a website for your properties through their “Website Builder Software.” This allows you to better present or package your properties in a much more professional and attractive manner.
With the right analytics tool, you can easily assess how well or poorly your rentals are doing over a certain period of time. The most effective vacation rental software offers you that data and even helps you interpret it in a way that makes sense. You can use the information provided by these reports to make changes based on the cold hard facts as portrayed by the numbers. You can identify which properties aren’t doing as well and try to see what you can do to improve them.
6. The Task Manager
Just as is the case in your own home, there will be tasks that need to be managed regularly. Things like:
- General cleaning of the properties
- Periodic inspection of fire and safety equipment
- Garden or yard maintenance
- Electrical bill payments
These are all things that need to be done, and when you manage many properties, some can very easily fall through the cracks. Whenever your visitor’s check-out, you need to assign maids and cleaning crews the duty of making sure that the property is ready for the next guest.
The Task Manager allows you to quickly assign these duties and keep track of which are completed, and which ones need checking on.
There are also other features, such as:
- “Automation Tools”that allow you to give the software permission to automate most of your property management duties from bookings to cancellations and payments.
- “Mobile Management App”that allows you to take the software with you on the road.
Others have features that allow you to customize the software itself. It’s all about making your life easier and more efficient when it comes to vacation rental software. Finding the right one is key to you achieving this and increasing your profit margins.
Vacation Rental Glossary
Now that you know some of the best and most notable features of vacation rental software, let’s take a look at some more key definitions that you should know as a rental property manager or vacation rental owner.
Accessible Vacation Rental: this refers to a property that has been adapted for wheelchair accessibility and other disabled travelers
Accounting Software: this is a simple solution for vacation rental owners and vacation rental managers to send invoices to guests, measure revenue, track expenses, and more.
Advance Payment: This is a portion of the rental amount paid by the traveler in advance of their visit
Amenity Fee: this is an additional amount paid by the guests to access specific amenities
Automated Messaging: Automation tools like automated messaging help streamline short term rental property management by contacting visitors, screening guests, and making payments
Average Length of Stay (ALOS): this is the average number of nights that a guest visits over a month, season, or year
Average Index Rate (ARI): this shows the success of the vacation rental compared to its competitors over a certain amount of time
Back-to-Back Booking: this is when one guest checks out, and a new guest immediately checks in that same day
Best Available Rate (BAR): this is the lowest rate bookable by the guests. The best available rate can change daily or weekly
Booking Confirmation: this can be sent via email, SMS, or phone call and includes the booking reference and other guest information
Booking Engine: a booking engine refers to the app or software used on an accommodation website to process reservations and payments securely. It makes online booking easy
Cancellation Fee: this is a fee typically paid if a guest were to cancel a reservation after the cancellation deadline
Channel Management: these are tools that can be used to help synchronize your central platform for managing reservations. Channel management tools often include calendars, messages, and more.
Direct Bookings: this is when a guest books directly with the vacation rental property owner or through the manager’s site instead of a third-party distribution channel
Distribution Channel: refers to a third-party distribution channel that advertises a property online like Airbnb and Vrbo
Domain Name: this is the website name and address where users can access your website
Dynamic Pricing: this is when prices are varied to reflect changing market conditions
Gross Booking Revenue: this is the total value of transactions that were recorded at the time of a booking
Guest Communication: this is what can help distinguish yourself from competitors. Guest communication is vital
Guest Experience: in the hospitality industry, this is the guest’s interaction with your brand and their experience
Guest Screening: many property owners use guest screening tools to evaluate prospective guests before allowing them to rent
Off-Peak Season: this is when fewer guests visit destinations. Prices are typically lower during this time
OTA Ranking: this is where your rental places on a search results page. The OTA ranking is influenced by photo quality, response time, reservation click ratio, and more
Owners Portal: this is a dedicated dashboard for vacation rental owners who outsource the management of their properties
Payment Gateway: this is an eCommerce application that authorizes payment via a credit card or debit card
Peak Season: this is a season where more guests visit, and the prices are typically higher
Property Management System or Property Management Software (PMS): this is a software you can use to facilitate the management of vacation rental properties
Repeat Guests: this is when you have guests book again after a previous stay
Reservation Confirmation: this is a message sent to verify the booking
Revenue Management: this involves the use of analytics to track the performance of a rental property over time
Screening Guests: this is an action taken by a rental owner to escape potential fraud and monetary losses
Task Management: this includes tools that an owner or property manager can use to distribute and effectively manage tasks
Vacation Rental: this is a furnished property rented out professionally temporarily
Vacation Rental Management: all the processes involved in managing a successful vacation rental property; often in combination with rental property software
Vacation Rental Software: this software is often cloud-based and allows owners to build a website, accept direct bookings, receive online payments, and more
Website Builder: this is software online used to build a website based on information the user has provided
Website Template: this refers to a pre-designed site that you can use to create your own website easily
What Are the Pros and Cons of Using Vacation Rental Management Software?
If you are still on the fence when it comes to using vacation rental management software, keep in mind that it can take over the more repetitive and time consuming tasks you typically have to follow through with while also helping you maximize your bookings.
With a channel manager, you can make bookings easier and the vacation rental software free can synchronize bookings with your master calendar, while eliminating the risk of double bookings.
With the right guest communication in place, confirmations, reminders, and directions can easily be conveyed and you can communicate with your guests directly.
Vacation rental management software is time-saving, can help you expand your vacation rental business, and allows you to work smarter instead of harder.
However, on the hand, everything comes with a cost. If you can’t find vacation rental software free, you will find some charge a minimal fee. The costs may vary depending on how many properties you have.
At least if you find performance based pricing rather than finding vacation rental software free, you can rest easy knowing that you are paying for only the best results.