The 5 Best Vacation Rental Channel Managers in 2024

Nov 09 2023

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.


What’s in this article?

“Vacation rental channel manager” is a mouthful, but for good reason: they manage, well, a lot. A vacation rental channel manager (VRCM) lets you list on multiple OTAs without the manual work and constant danger of double bookings. (Not to mention offers automations, integrations, guest management, staff management…the list goes on.)

But choosing a VRCM isn’t easy. A lot of tools market themselves as channel managers but are actually property management systems (PMS). What’s more, it’s not always clear which one is right for your portfolio size, budget, and needs.

At Hostfully, we specialize in helping property managers grow their reach and streamline their short-term rental business. So we’ve put together a list of the 5 best vacation rental channel managers and PMS to help you decide what’s best for your business.

We evaluated by looking at:

  • Which channels (Airbnb, Vrbo,, Expedia, etc.) they connect to and how
  • The features they offer
  • User reviews and feedback

We’ll also cover:

  • Choosing between a VRCM and PMS
  • 2024 VRM tech trends
  • What to look for when choosing

Why do you need a vacation rental channel manager?

To maximize distribution and bookings, you need to list on online travel agencies (OTAs), metasearch aggregators, online marketplaces, and any smaller sites that are relevant to your niche.

Managing vacation rentals is no easy task, though. So having a vacation rental channel manager is not only helpful, it can help any business scale.

Here’s why.

Greater distribution

A vacation rental channel manager lets you be across more channels without increasing your workload. You can list on global and local OTAs, reach niche segments—like LGBTQ+, family-friendly, or pet-friendly—and get more eyes on your brand.

If you don’t use a PMS, vacation rental channel managers can also sync with your direct bookings website. The channel manager will block off dates on the listing sites or the direct booking site when a reservation comes in on one of them. This way you save on OTA fees, but still get to keep a wide distribution.

Increased bookings and revenue

Widening your net leads to more bookings, higher occupancy rates, and increased revenue. It’s a tactic used by all larger hotel chains and vacation rental management companies (VRMC) to great effect. Plus, you can up your nightly rates without fear of losing bookings—if they drop off in one channel, the rest should make up for it.


Bar graph with five bars showing how many channels vacation rental management companies connect to according to their size
The larger the VRMC, the more channels it lists on. Source Hostfully.

For more tips on how to leverage multichannel distribution, check out our report.

Tech-first operations

Managing a single property is one thing. But once you start to expand, human input and error become a barrier to growth. It’s impossible—and highly inadvisable—to try and manage multiple booking channels manually. Channel managers are a must-have weapon in any serious VRMC’s arsenal.

They also provide greater visibility of all your bookings in one central platform, which facilitates remote property management and reduces the potential for human error—which leads us to…

No more double bookings and overbookings

When a booking comes in on one channel, your channel manager automatically blocks calendars across all portals you list on in real-time — 24/7. This means no more double bookings and none of the associated stress, extra work, and potential for negative reviews. And it avoids you falling foul of OTA policies that discourage canceling bookings.

Even if you’re only listing on one booking portal and your own direct booking website, double bookings can still happen. You’re not always in front of your computer. And nothing ruins family time or a peaceful night’s sleep faster than having to manage reservations before a double booking happens.


Flow chart with icons showing the manual process of blocking calendars on multiple channels
Manual channel management means scrambling to block all your calendars asap every time you get a booking on one channel. Source Hostfully

More consistent information and branding

As well as syncing availability and reservations, the best channel managers automatically update pricing, guest messages, minimum stays, and more simultaneously and across all your channels. This saves you a ton of time and manual work logging in and out of different websites. And it ensures consistency across your channels, which helps build trust with guests.

Greater independence and future-proofing

Listing on multiple channels means you’re not reliant on the same OTAs and, therefore, less vulnerable to fluctuations. So if Airbnb goes out of business or Vrbo changes its commission structure, you have other revenue sources to fall back on.

And it gives you freedom to experiment with marketing strategies, pricing, etc. on smaller channels before rolling them out to larger ones.

Do you need a vacation rental channel manager or a PMS?

So, do you need a vacation rental channel manager or a property management system (PMS)? It all depends on your needs, portfolio size, and stage of growth.

Vacation rental channel managers

Channel managers are unique in that they list on niche websites. Say you have an eco-home and want to appeal to environmentally aware travelers, or you own a property near Disneyworld and target family trips to see Mickey: VRCMs are great. So they’re best to widen your reach within specific demographics. While they offer property management features, these tend to be less well-developed than full-stack PMSs.

Property management systems

By contrast, PMSs are designed to centralize, streamline, and automate property management tasks. So the focus is on developing these features rather than native channel connections. While many have excellent channel managers, the range of native integrations tends to be narrower and usually focuses on larger OTAs. Lower-tier PMSs may also have fewer options to configure pricing, amenities, etc.

If you’re managing just a few properties, a channel manager and direct bookings website may be all you need. However, as you grow your portfolio and teams, you’re likely to need the features a PMS offers.

That said, many large VRMCs have a PMS and a subscription to a third-party channel manager. The PMS solves operational challenges while the channel manager handles distribution. Large VRMCs do this because, depending on the PMS used, channel managers are the only way to list on sites like Google Vacation Rental, Homes and Villas by Marriott International, and Expedia.

Illustration of a computer and tablet screen showing listings sites on a channel manager
A PMS like Hostfully offers connectivity to all the major booking channels. Source Hostfully

What to look for in a vacation rental channel manager

So what exactly should you look for in a vacation rental channel manager?

Channel coverage

Above all else, when selecting a vacation rental channel manager, channel coverage should be your priority. Check that any vacation rental channel manager covers all the major channels and location/niche-specific ones you need to be on to build your brand and reach. It should also connect to your direct booking site.

It’s also worth checking where a channel manager is based as this can indicate specialist knowledge of channels relevant to your region. Ditto if they have specialized knowledge and support of your property type—like boutique hotels, short-term rentals, etc.

You should also evaluate whether you need a true channel manager, or if you could achieve sufficient distribution with a PMS. For example, if you only need to list on larger OTAs.

Connectivity and synchronizations

It’s vital to check whether a vacation rental channel manager connects to booking portals via iCal or an API.

iCal is a free alternative to distribution channel management that uses small text files to sync properties across various channels. However, iCal comes with some serious downsides:

  • It can take anything from a few minutes to a few hours for channels to “pull” bookings from your iCal file. During this time, you could get a double booking.
  • Distribution channel updates can mess with iCal and you might not notice you’ve lost connectivity. Again, you could get a double booking.
  • iCal only manages your calendar. So there’s no option to also update pricing, guest messaging, etc.

It’s best to go with a tool that offers the most API connections. And always check what information gets synced. Some tools only sync calendar availability (like iCal); others update everything from pricing to property details.


Schema showing all Hostfully PMS’s integrations with third-party tools
Hostfully offers secure, real-time API connection to third-party hospitality providers. Source Hostfully.


Evaluate whether, in addition to channel management, you need guest communication, a centralized inbox, analytics, etc. If so, you’ll need to weigh whether a true channel manager can cover your needs or if you really need a PMS.


If you’re taking bookings, you need a tool that integrates well with payment gateways, dynamic pricing tools, and other third-party hospitality software.

If you’re also using a PMS like Hostfully, check that it integrates seamlessly with your channel manager. And that the sync is two-way. So any changes you make in your PMS are automatically reflected in the channel manager in real-time and vice versa.


12 boxes with logos of third-party software that Hostfully integrates with
Hostfully connects to all major channels and integrates with third-party hospitality tools. Source Hostfully


If you’re investing in a tool to prevent double bookings, you need it to be reliable. If it’s buggy and has a habit of going slow or down during busy periods, you could end up on the wrong side of guests and OTAs.

You can always check reviews on sites like G2, Capterra, etc. to hear what other users say.

Pricing (sliding scale)

Pricing should never be your first consideration when choosing channel management software. However, if the cost is too high, that can hamper your growth, especially in the early stages.

The solution? Look for vacation rental software that’s priced on a sliding scale, with discounts for volume. That way, you can scale without breaking the bank. It’s also worth looking for solutions that offer access to all essential features on lower tiers. So you can try them before upgrading.

Onboarding and support

If you’re just getting started, switching tools, or scaling, you’ll need more support as you onboard and learn the tool. Ask sales teams about their onboarding process. What’s involved, how long it takes, how much 1:1 support you get, etc.

You will also want to understand, beyond onboarding, how much ongoing support you’ll be getting. Is it the same on all tiers? Do you get a dedicated support agent to troubleshoot? Where is the support team based and what are its hours? Are there ample help articles and walk-through videos? Again, check online reviews to see what existing customers say.

Finally, check whether there’s a minimum or maximum number of properties you need to register.

Unified Inbox

In the world of vacation rentals, the expectations couldn’t be higher for efficient communications. Don’t respond to a potential Airbnb guest quickly enough? They’ll likely book another property. Don’t see that Vrbo email from a current guest about that plumbing emergency right away? Count on a bad review. Forgot to let the cleaner know guests are coming early so the schedule needs shifting? Might be a bit awkward at check-in time. And if you’re using more than one channel, keeping all your communications straight is a headache and a half.

So when choosing your channel management software, make sure it has a reliable unified (or centralized) inbox with real-time messaging. To make your business run smoothly and be a responsible manager, you want all communications in one place so no matter how many OTAs you’re using, you only have to log into one inbox.

Ask any VRCM or PMS about whether their unified inbox feature offers automated templates and triggers so guest messages can be sent on preset dates/times/events (such as check-in, during a stay, and check-out). This will help save you valuable time and keep you on top of critical guest communications. You also may want one that allows for sorting and filtering functions so you can find messages faster.

For specific advice on how to choose a vacation rental PMS, check out our recent post.

The 2 best vacation rental channel managers

The truth is, many tools advertise as channel managers. However, for our money, there are only two pure vacation rental channel managers on the market that we recommend.

Let’s take a look at them.

1. Rentals United

Rentals United is an award-winning channel manager that’s well-regarded in the industry. It’s also a preferred connectivity partner of, HomeAway, and Agoda. While Rentals United is aimed at larger VRMCs rather than those just starting out, they have introduced Powerhost, which is geared to hosts with 9 or fewer properties.

Key features

  • Two-way API connections to 60+ certified short- and mid-term rental listing sites, OTAs, niche and local channels, meta searches, and wholesalers
  • Supports single-property and multi-unit distribution
  • Supports all amenities, bedding, and pricing configurations
  • Automated listings quality check with advice on improvements
  • Integrations with PMS like Hostfully, payment processing, dynamic pricing tools, etc.
  • Direct bookings engine and website template
  • Unified inbox for guest messaging
  • Dashboard overview of reservations
  • Mobile app
Logos of booking channels that Rentals United connects to
Rentals United connects you to major and niche channels. Source RentalsUnited.


Rentals United is priced at €199/month for 10-19 properties. This rises to €399/month for 40-49 properties. Powerhost starts at €19/month plus 1% booking fee and goes up in cost with most features and support.

Rentals United onboarding includes 2 hours of training and support over three sessions.

Pros and cons

Rentals United has a good reputation and offers distribution across lots of channels. One plus is that you maintain ownership of your listings, reviews, and OTA contracts. So if you stop working with Rentals United, you don’t lose it all.

However, it doesn’t come cheap and is a self-serve tool. So you’ll likely need a dedicated admin to get it set up and troubleshoot.

The support team is based in Spain and response times can be up to 5 hours. This can mean a delay in getting support if you’re in other parts of the world.

It also offers fewer property management features than a full-stack PMS.

2. NextPax

In business since 2006, NextPax is a well-established channel manager and Premium Partner of TripAdvisor Rentals. It offers connectivity to 100+ channels and is based in The Netherlands.

Key features

  • Two-way API connections to 100+ channels, OTAs, metasearch engines, etc.
  • Supports rate-plan sync across the board, whether unit-specific or chain-wide
  • Yield management options
  • Direct booking website
  • Email templates for automated guest communication
  • Integrations with PMS, payment providers, etc.


NextPax dashboard showing reservations
NextPax’s dashboard lets you view all reservations at a glance. Source NextPax


NextPax charges a commission per booking, but exactly how much isn’t published on its website. There are no implementation or fixed monthly fees. This means vacation rental management companies only pay for what they need, making it a risk-free way to widen distribution.

Pros and cons

NextPax offers access to a wider range of channels than Rentals United. And it offers help to select the most profitable channels to list on. However, it has a very low online presence with limited reviews. This and the non-transparent pricing make it hard to assess whether it’s for you.

Support agents are based around the world (24/7 support), which is helpful. However, response times can be up to 24 hours.

The 3 best PMS for channel management

Dedicated channel manager offerings in the vacation rental industry are limited, however, for hosts and vacation rental property management companies looking for a single software to handle operations and distribution, there are great PMS options like Hostfully.

This is a diagram of what using a PMS would be like
PMS options like Hostfully are a key piece of the vacation rental ecosystem, helping VRMs automate, communicate, and coordinate all operations. Source: Hostfully

1. Hostfully

Hostfully is an award-winning, full-stack PMS and Preferred Partner of Airbnb, VRBO, and It’s used by vacation rental managers of all sizes and includes all the features you need to manage, automate, and grow your business.

Hostfully key features

  • Two-way API connections to 16+ channels, including Airbnb, Vrbo, and, with customizable copy, amenities, and pricing for each OTA
  • Integrations with Rentals United and NextPax to offer distribution to over 170 channels
  • Robust integrations with payment processing, dynamic pricing tools, etc.
  • Booking pipeline gives you an at-a-glance view of confirmed bookings and lead status, with tools to automate the guest workflow
  • Browser-based digital guidebooks let you automate the provision of important pre- and in-stay information, make recommendations, and upsell services and amenities
  • Customizable rules and triggers to automate and streamline workflows
  • Direct bookings and/or inventory widget that sits on your own website
  • Unified inbox and automated guest messaging
  • Owner portals
  • New mobile app for on-the-go managing


Hostfully dashboard showing the booking pipeline feature
Hostfully’s booking pipeline offers unparalleled visibility into lead status. Source Hostfully.

Hostfully pricing

Hostfully starts at $109/month for up to 4 properties, with sliding scale pricing based on portfolio size. For example, you’ll pay $260/month for 20 properties. Pricing is designed to support all managers and to reward growth: the more properties you add, the cheaper each unit is.

Customers receive 50% off the one-time onboarding fee if you sign up for a year. Customers also receive a 10% discount for annual payment.

Hostfully pros and cons

Hostfully offers more features to streamline and automate property management than a true channel manager. But it doesn’t provide access to as many channels, so to really widen your net, you’ll need to also sign up to Rentals United or NextPax. Fortunately, compared to some other PMSs, Hostfully’s low per-unit price point means this won’t break the bank.

Hostfully also has a great reputation for white-glove support, including holistic support from onboarding through dedicated customer support specialists. This plus response time and affordability makes it a great option for VRMs of all sizes and stages of growth.

2. Guesty

Guesty is a well-funded, advanced end-to-end PMS that’s well-regarded in the industry. With pricing toward the upper end of the scale, its customer base tends toward large, established VRMs.

Guesty key features

  • Two-way API connections with Airbnb,, Agoda, TripAdvisor, Vrbo, and Misterb&b
  • Integrations with Rentals United and Siteminder for distribution across hundreds of major OTAs and niche channels
  • Supports sync of availability, reservations, content, rate plans, promotions, and messaging—manually create reservations, adjust pricing, and set date-specific rules from the central calendar
  • Dashboard view of current and upcoming reservations, payments, check-ins, etc.
  • Unified Inbox and dedicated 24/7 guest communications agent
  • Multi-unit grouping to streamline management and maximize occupancy
  • Automations and triggers
  • Individual owner portals
  • Direct vacation rental website or widget
  • Integrations with dynamic pricing tools, payment processing, etc.
  • Mobile app


Guesty dashboard showing several listings
Guesty lets you modify rates, availability, and more from a single platform. Source Guesty


Guesty charges on a sliding scale, starting at $49 for 1 listing. Over 3 listings, pricing is customized according to your needs and portfolio. Most likely on a commission basis with 2-5% charged for each booking. Customers can save up to 30% for annual payment.

Onboarding costs aren’t published but some users report fees of over $1000.

Guesty pros and cons

Like Hostfully, Guesty is a PMS first and foremost, so you’ll need to integrate with a channel manager to achieve widespread distribution. And while it offers a good range of native channel integrations to the larger channels, Expedia doesn’t make the list. The TripAdvisor connection is also only available for 15+ properties.

If a PMS is what you’re looking for, you can’t go far wrong with this top-flight platform. However, all those features come at a price—prohibitive for smaller VRMs. Unless you have a large portfolio or team, you could end up paying for features you don’t use.

Guesty support is also prioritized by portfolio size, so smaller managers may find it hard to access the help they need when starting out.

3. Hostaway

Hostaway is another premium PMS for professional VRMs looking to automate and scale their business. It has a reputation for being reliable and user-friendly and is a Preferred or Premier Partner of Airbnb, Vrbo,, and Expedia.

Hostaway key features

  • Two-way API connections to major OTAs and niche sites—customize rates, content, amenities, and images as well as availability
  • Integrations with 100+ partners for dynamic pricing, accounting, marketing, smart locks, and more tools
  • Unified inbox and automated messaging
  • Owner and guest portals
  • Powerful analytics, reporting, and accounting features
  • Revenue management features
  • Automation triggers, including automated reviews
  • Direct bookings website
  • Mobile app
Logos of channels Hostaway connects to
Hostaway connects to all major channels and third-party hospitality tools. Source Hostaway

Hostaway pricing

Hostaway is custom-priced according to your needs and portfolio. Pricing isn’t published, but a frequently quoted estimate is approx. $50 per property/month. Set-up fees seem to hover around $500.

Hostaway pros and cons

Like Guesty, Hostaway offers all the features you need to manage your vacation rental business. And maybe some you don’t need until you get really big. This, plus the hefty price tag puts it out of reach of smaller or scaling hosts. While some customers have been dissatisfied with onboarding, it does have a reputation for good customer service and a short learning curve.

Boost your bookings with a vacation rental channel manager

If you want to get more eyes on your listings, boost your books and benefit your bottom line, a vacation rental channel manager is essential. A VCRM or PMS will save a ton of manual time and work and eliminate the possibility of double bookings

As discussed, when choosing a vacation rental channel manager, be sure it:

  • Offers reliable API connectivity to all the channels you need to list on.
  • Fits your portfolio size and budget and offers the functionality you need.
  • Provides solid customer support and good help center response times.

Use our list of the 5 best vacation rental channel managers (PMSs included!) to help you choose. If you’re looking for a true channel manager to connect to major global and niche or local channels, you’ll want a subscription to Rentals United or NextPax. If, however, you need a cost-effective PMS that connects to all the major channels and has features to streamline and automate property management, you can’t go wrong with Hostfully.

Frequently asked questions about vacation rental channel managers

What is a vacation rental channel manager?

A vacation rental channel manager is a software tool that connects to online travel agencies, metasearch aggregators, niche booking portals, and more. Vacation rental channel managers sync availability, pricing, and other property information across all the channels you list on simultaneously. This increases your reach and prevents double bookings.

What is a channel manager for Airbnb?

A channel manager for Airbnb is a software tool that syncs bookings and other updates made to your Airbnb listing with other booking portals. For example, Vrbo,, etc. This ensures information is always up to date in a central calendar on all channels and you never get double bookings.

How do I combine Airbnb and Vrbo?

You can combine Airbnb and Vrbo by using a channel manager or PMS to manage and update your listings on both sites in real-time. This means information is always consistent across both channels.

How much is a channel manager?

Channel managers are usually priced according to the size of your property portfolio. Rentals United starts at €199/month for up to 19 properties. Hostfully’s PMS is more affordable at $12.50/month/property for companies with 20 properties.

Is there a minimum amount of properties to use a channel manager?

You need a minimum of 10 properties to use the Rentals United channel manager. NextPax doesn’t publish this information, but its website states “Our solutions are suitable for all types and amounts of accommodations.” This seems to indicate no lower limit. Hostfully’s PMS doesn’t impose any limits while Guesty’s PMS stipulates 15+ properties to connect to TripAdvisor.