No spam. Only valuable tips on how to grow your business. We promise.

Share

What’s in this article?

Now is a great time to be looking for the best vacation rental software (or invest in one for the first time). That’s because the US vacation rental market is expected to reach $20 billion in total revenue by 2026.* 

That’s a major piece of pie if you’re well-positioned to take a bite!

But finding the best software solution for your business can be a challenge. It’s tough to compare tools and it’s not always clear exactly how a platform works—or if it offers what you need. 

You also want to pick the right software so you can build an integrated, flexible tech stack that will grow with you. This helps avoid expensive and time-consuming changeovers down the line.

That’s why in this post we’ve:

  • Compared five of the best vacation rental property management system (PMS) tools on standout features, price, setup, and support
  • Explained why you need short-term rental software in the first place
  • Listed key things to consider when choosing your next (or first) tool
  • Suggested other tools to manage your vacation rentals 
Choose the right property management system for your business. 

Save time, boost revenue, improve guest communication, and streamline operations with Hostfully.

Book a demo

*Statista, Vacation Rentals – United States, 2022.

The 5 best vacation rental software tools

Here’s our pick of some of the best vacation rental software tools out there, depending on your needs, budget, and property portfolio size.

1. Hostfully

A view of Hostfully’s Booking Pipeline tool with leads and colored circles showing their booking journey
Hostfully’s Booking Pipeline tool is a unique feature that helps you nurture leads.
Source: Hostfully.com

Founded in 2015, Hostfully is an all-in-one management system designed for vacation rental property management companies (VRMCs) of all sizes. It’s a Preferred Partner of Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo, and a two-time VRMB Keystone Award winner.

Standout features

  • Booking pipeline – Follow leads through their booking journey and offer a better experience
  • Digital guidebooks – Share essential information and recommendations and reduce time-consuming guest questions
  • Central calendar – View bookings across all properties and avoid double bookings
  • Direct booking website – Sidestep online travel agency (OTA) fees, build your brand and guest relationships, and drive repeat bookings 
  • Robust API and large integration marketplace – Expand functionality with smart devices, automation, and task management
  • Mobile app – Manage your properties on the go and never miss a message

Pricing

Starts at $109 for up to four properties per month or$260 for 20. A one-time onboarding fee of $600, which is waived with 10% off if you pay annually. Try Hostfully’s pricing calculator.

Setup, onboarding, and support 

Hostfully setup is straightforward. You’ll receive step-by-step instructions, join a group call, and be assigned a dedicated Onboarding Specialist who will walk you through each stage of the process. This includes adding your properties, connecting to a payment processor, and configuring pricing. You’ll also schedule 1:1 calls to continue the process and set you up for success. Explore Hostfully’s plans and features

Hostfully has a separate help website with how-to guides on all aspects of its platform. For setup specifically, it has a full playlist of free videos that explain all major aspects of onboarding. These include how to sync channels, set up direct booking, and even add your own logo to the platform.

There is also a dedicated customer success team to provide support tailored to your needs, as well as email and chat support.

2. Hostaway

A man looking at a glowing computer screen, with graphics of dynamic pricing tools around the edge
Hostaway offers a wide range of tools that enable the coordination of complex functions such as dynamic pricing and revenue management.
Source: Hostaway.com

Established in 2005, Hostaway is a property management system (PMS) for professional vacation rental managers. It has high-level automation features. It’s the Preferred Partner of Airbnb, Vrbo, Marriott, Expedia, and Booking.com and has won many vacation rental industry awards.

Standout features

  • Cross-listings – Enable larger groups to book across multiple properties more easily 
  • Automations – Automate and simplify messaging, reviews, turnarounds, and payments
  • Analytics and reporting – Statements and reports on occupancy rates, owner ROI, and finances
  • Website builder – Proprietary direct website builder, plus a WordPress plugin 

Pricing

Like many of Hostaway’s competitors, Hostaway doesn’t publish pricing publicly on its website. Quotes are calculated based on the number of properties you manage. An oft-quoted figure is around $50 per property per month.

Setup, onboarding, and support 

Hostaway has a separate help website, which includes a section called “Getting started”. This explains how to set up your account. It shows how to contact the support team if needed. There are also links to support videos on how to update settings and set up key features.

There is also a library of informative training webinars.

3. Guesty

Guesty’s multi-calendar tool with multi-colored tapes on a digital calendar
Guesty’s calendar is one of its many features that work especially well for larger VRMCs.
Source: Guesty.com

Founded in 2013, Guesty is well-regarded, premium vacation rental management software with a wide range of features. It is truly international and established worldwide, with nine offices from San Francisco to Sydney and counting.  

Standout features

  • Revenue management – A proprietary tool to automate competitive rates in real-time, and maximize revenue
  • 24/7 guest communication – In-house message support so you never miss an inquiry
  • Multi-unit groups – Streamline units and similar listings to manage more properties easily
  • Advanced reporting – Get a clear overview of your business data in one place

Pricing

Guesty doesn’t show its prices online for its Guesty for Pros platform. However, Software Pundit reported they charge between 2-5% of all bookings, plus an onboarding fee of $1,000

Setup, onboarding, and support

Guesty offers considerable support. It has a large help center, with extra how-to details for topics including listings, booking channels, revenue management, and automation tools. The “getting started” section includes articles on how to begin, troubleshooting, and best practices. 

If none of that answers your question, users can also contact support for more help.

Guesty also has its own “Guestyversity” of blog posts and virtual event videos on hundreds of topics and a “Guestypedia” glossary of terms to help users understand common industry jargon. 

4. Track

Track PMS’s tape screen with a calendar blocked out with green, blue, black, and red tapes
Track PMS enables the management of a large number of properties, of a range of types.
Source: Tnsinc.com

Track is a vacation rental PMS from TravelNet. It’s designed for a variety of hospitality businesses, including hotels and resorts. 

Standout features

  • Proprietary accounting – Trust accounting tool to simplify tax and financial records
  • Customer relationship management (CRM) tool – Manage leads and large databases
  • Guest and owner portals – Manage property owner communication, and offer guests crucial info
  • Integrated booking engine – Take bookings, and coordinate guests and stays automatically

Pricing

Track doesn’t publish pricing but calculates quotes based on the number of units. 

Setup, onboarding, and support 

It’s not clear exactly how easy Track PMS is to set up if you’re not already a paid user. However, Track owner TravelNet has a blog with a wide range of tips on its partners and how to maximize your success as a vacation rental manager. 

5. OwnerRez

A graphic in a flowchart style showing how OwnerRez gathers booking data
OwnerRez offers functionality for larger VRMCs, as well as smaller companies that rely on Airbnb listings.
Source: OwnerReservations.com

Vacation rental software solution OwnerRez is a Preferred Partner of Airbnb, Booking.com, and Tripadvisor and an Elite Vrbo Partner. It won awards for its functionality and highly-recommended features in 2021.

Standout features

  • Finance and accounting – Processing for payments, security deposits, and financial reports
  • Direct website tools – Build your direct booking strategy via its site builder or WordPress
  • CRM – Automated data collection to help build up guest relationships over time
  • SMS messaging – Send text messages from a unique number

Pricing

Starts at $100 per month for one property, with all features included, which works out at $420 per month for 20 properties.

Setup, onboarding, and support 

OwnerRez offers a free 14-day trial, so you can see if you like it before committing. 

OwnerRez has a comprehensive support center. It has an entire section dedicated to getting started. This section includes a 20-minute walkthrough video, and articles including “Setup Checklist”, and a “Setup Wizard for Rates and Seasons”. 

There are also other videos on setting up other features, including damage protection, payment processing, and API connection.

Do you need short-term rental software? 

Yes, if you want to run rentals professionally and successfully.

There are many benefits of using a vacation rental PMS. Your short-term property management platform is the central hub of your tech stack. It connects all of your digital tools and manages most digital aspects of your business.

What are the benefits of using property management software (PMS)?

Efficiency & time-saving 

A PMS automates the most time-consuming, repetitive tasks in your business. For example, guest communication and calendar management to avoid double bookings. It also syncs listing updates across distribution channels (such as Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com, plus more niche sites). This leaves you with more time and headspace to focus on improving the guest experience or growing your portfolio.

Improved guest communication

Most PMSs offer automated messaging. This lets you customize templates and set up triggers to send important messages to guests at the right moment. This means you don’t have to stay glued to your computer or phone waiting to hit send on that check-in info or check-out review request.

Many PMPs also offer tools such as a unified inbox and SMS messaging. This lets you keep track of all messages from across formats and communicate with guests more easily. By improving your response rates, you can delight your guests and improve your ratings. 

Streamlined team management and scheduling 

PMPs simplify the complicated logistics of managing your teams and turnarounds. Coordinate staff members, automatically inform cleaners when a guest checks out, and schedule property maintenance.

A view of Hostfully’s team management role tool
PMSs like Hostfully make team management and role assignments much easier.
Source: Hostfully.com

Save fees and secure bookings with a direct website

Direct bookings are a must to save OTA fees, capture guest data for remarketing, and build closer guest relationships to drive repeat bookings and referrals.

A PMS makes building a direct booking website much easier as many offer this functionality. This includes templates and payment tools designed to show property availability and amenities. You can embed your PMSs direct booking widget on your custom-designed website too.

Improved property safety and security

Using a PMS with a wide range of integrations lets you connect tools such as smart locks. This makes managing access to your property much easier and safer for you and your guests. Just send them a unique, temporary access code advance; no risk of lost or stolen keys. Guests can enter without waiting for an in-person key handover, and there’s no stress in case of delays.   

PMSs can also help you connect to smart monitoring devices (see more below), for deep(but respectful) insights into what’s going on at your property, even if you’re 100% remote.

A view of Hostfully’s financial reporting tool with a table and reports showing up
Hostfully’s financial reporting tools simplify communication with property owners.
Source: Hostfully.com

Keep track of finances, rates, and key metrics

Using a PMS simplifies many tasks that property managers might otherwise have to pay someone else to do. It’s easier to manage finances with automated reports, tax management, invoicing, and owner portals. 

This helps you to improve owner relationships and show them ROI on their properties. It also lets you stay financially compliant, save on accountant’s fees, and make data-driven decisions.

Almost limitless functionality

Most PMS not only offer a wide range of in-built features but also integrations with many other tools. For example, dynamic pricing, upsells, channel management, and data management.

It’s much easier to offer guests an excellent experience, manage cleaning, and set up smart locks with a PMS as the bedrock of your tech stack. 

What to consider when choosing a vacation rental tool

Comparing vacation rental tools can be frustrating as a property manager. Many offer similar features and all promise to be the best for your business.   

When doing your research, we suggest considering the following factors, to make it easier to decide: 

Functionalities 

There’s no point investing in a PMS if it doesn’t offer the tools you need, or has so many complex features that it will be unwieldy and unintuitive to use. Consider the exact functions you truly need for your business, and ensure your PMS includes them specifically.

For example: 

  • A mobile app – Do you need on-the-go management tools? 
  • Automated messaging – Consider what level of automatic messaging you need for guests. 
  • SMS messaging – For companies whose guests will appreciate messaging via text.
  • Booking pipeline – Do you need to improve conversions and understand guests better?
  • Digital guidebook – Impress guests with insightful recommendations and helpful tips.

Portfolio size

Not all PMSs are created equal when it comes to portfolio size. Some are aimed at larger VRMCs. In contrast, others are better for smaller companies or work well for any size. 

There are too many PMS options to add here, but we recommend reading comparison pieces and looking at reviews. This will help you identify if any software is particularly right for you. They will also help to identify what size portfolio each is aimed at.

Budget 

Budget should never be your first consideration when looking for a PMS. You’re unlikely to choose a platform based on price alone, but it is a factor. 

Consider your budget, your expected revenue, and how much you can charge per unit. Ask yourself if your PMS will end up being a cumbersome expense or pay for itself in the time you’ll save. What about the staff hiring you’ll avoid, the extra bookings you’ll close, or the upsells you’ll offer? Will they compensate for the cost? 

Ease of use

A PMS is supposed to make your business easier and simpler, not more complicated. Yes, pretty much all software has a learning curve. But consider the skill level of your end users and the time and effort you want to dedicate to a new platform before investing.

Also, consider the level of customer support a platform offers. Do you need a high level of customer service? What options does the company offer for onboarding and ongoing support? Will you get a dedicated account manager? How can you contact support, and what are the response times? 

Looking at user ratings on review sites such as G2, Capterra, or SoftwareAdvice.com, some software is known for being more complex. In contrast, others receive praise for straightforward onboarding, white-glove support, email, and chat.

Integrations

Integrations are essential to expand your flexibility as you grow.

They offer crucial extra functionality to your PMS and take over where its inbuilt features leave off. Consider which platforms you already use, and which you want to play nicely with your new software. Then check if your chosen PMS has a direct integration or can connect via open API. API integrations are more stable than iCal for channel connectivity, for example, so it makes sense to double-check this.

Other tools you might need to manage your vacation rentals

No PMS does everything. That’s why you will likely need other tools to manage your rentals. It’s also much easier to coordinate operations if these other tools integrate with your PMS. 

So when looking for your perfect platform, consider if it integrates with:

A view of Hostfully’s dynamic pricing tools
Hostfully PMP connects with a variety of leading dynamic pricing tools in the space.
Source: Hostfully.com

Dynamic pricing tools

Dynamic pricing tools These analyze thousands of data points from the vacation rental market to calculate the most competitive rates. Data might include the season, changing demand, the prices of nearby similar properties, or if local events are taking place.

Connecting these tools to your PMS enables you to display the most competitive rate on all your channels automatically. Some PMPs, like Hostfully, also let you adjust your pricing to take into account varying OTA fees. So you make the same profit per night no matter which channel guests book from.  

Payment processing 

Connecting your PMS to payment processing tools is crucial. This enables you to take payments for bookings and pre- or in-stay upsells to boost revenue.

Many PMSs also embed payment processors into your direct booking website, for seamless online payments.

Smart home devices

Many PMSs connect to smart devices including monitors for noise, occupancy, smoke, and flooding. You can set them to send alerts to you, your team, and guests if levels are breached.

This helps you to avoid damage and prevents neighbor complaints. It also ensures guests are sticking to the house rules, even if you manage your properties 100% remotely.

A view of NoiseAware’s alerts messaging system
Hostfully integrates with leading home automation and smart device platforms including NoiseAware’s monitoring system. This can send automated noise alerts to guests.
Source: NoiseAware.com

Direct booking site 

Some PMSs offer templates to create a basic direct booking site while others offer a widget you can install on custom-built websites to enable booking and payment. 

You can also use external tools to add more functionality to your website or connect your existing website to your PMS. This enables you to sync bookings from your direct site as well as OTAs and other channels. 

Guest experience tools 

Services that improve the guest experience make for happy guests, better reviews, and more revenue from every booking. 

Many PMSs offer “extras” to make their stay a little easier and more convenient—and generate more revenue for you. For example, luggage storage, ground transport, trips or tours, baby equipment, or virtual concierge services.

Cleaning and turnover 

Cleaning and turnover are two of the most logistically-complex parts of running a vacation rental business. So integrating your PMS with cleaning and turnover tools can save you serious time and stress. 

Depending on the tool, these can help you find cleaning staff, or simply organize the team you already have. They can schedule cleans, and automatically message staff to let them know when the cleaning is needed. 

You can even prepare and share checklists for cleaners, so you can be assured they’ll do the work consistently every time. Some tools also let you schedule regular maintenance. Some even keep track of cleaning supplies so that cleaners always have everything they need.

Choose the best vacation rental software tool for your business 

Comparing vacation rental tools can be a challenge. But the best PMS is ultimately the one that fits your portfolio size and stage of growth and allows you to achieve your goals. 

A good PMS saves time, money, and stress by making it easy to manage your listings, bookings, and teams. Not to mention financial record-keeping, and guest comfort and safety. 

Consider factors like the size of your portfolio, ease of use, and budget before making a choice. It’s also crucial to look at the list of integrations to make sure your chosen PMS will actually do what you need it to. So you can manage your business more easily and remotely and run a leaner, more profitable operation. 

With a number of unique features that can help you secure leads, attract more bookings, and please guests, Hostfully ticks all those boxes. For example, a booking pipeline, digital guidebooks, and a direct vacation rental website builder. It also has a vast selection of integrations to boost functionality even further. 

 

Choose the right PMS for your business. 

Save time, boost revenue, improve guest communication, and streamline operations with Hostfully.

Book a demo