Vacation Rental Tech 9 mins read

Vacation rental software: Which do I need for my business to succeed?

By March 31, 2020 No Comments
Featured Image for Best vacation rental software

It doesn’t matter if you’re new to managing vacation rentals or looking to simplify property management. Choosing the best vacation rental software makes all the difference in your business success. With the correct tools from the beginning, your vacation rental management company will be set you up for long-term success. But how do you know what you should look for in a vacation rental software that will offer a solution to fit your immediate and future needs? Let’s find out.

Why you need vacation rental software

Whether you have one property or 10, listing and managing your vacation properties can be overwhelming at times. As new listing channels are on the rise at AirBnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, and others, vacation rental software can scale your business and give you an overview.

The best property management software should at the very least give you access to:

  • one central calendar
  • automated messaging to your guests
  • payment processing
  • owner management tools
  • customer and property data management
  • channel distribution
  • analytics

Let’s take a look at what you should search for beyond these features in a vacation rental software.

Criteria for choosing (and spending on) the best vacation property management rental software

Rather than just look at features, vacation rental managers also have to consider other intangible features. It’s like buying a car – you have to look past the gadgets and consider track record, reliability and other customer reviews.

Does the software have a proven track record?

Firsthand reviews of a software are always a great place to start when seeing if their solution is right for you. Reach out to fellow vacation property managers and see what they have been using and what challenges they’ve found with their current platforms.

If you’re just getting into property management and don’t have a network to reach out to, look into a software company’s case studies. This is a great place to not only see proof in their track record, but to read a bit more into how their solution can be tailored to fit your needs. With Hostfully’s case studies, we love to provide insight into how other property renters and hosts have improved their brand reputation and revenue using our platform.

Are there enough credible online reviews?

As mentioned earlier, if you’re just getting started and don’t have a reliable network to reach out to yet, check a software’s online reviews. However, online reviews can be manipulated or biased. So when you set out looking for software reviews, here are three questions you should keep in the back of your mind:

  • Do the reviews seem credible?
  • Are there enough reviews online to get a reasonable sample size?
  • Did any of the reviews address your concerns or questions?

Researching reviews also gives you a better understanding of what the product can truly offer your business. While a software company may advertise a feature on their site, you might find out from reviews that it isn’t practical for your needs. On the flip side, by reading reviews, you might also find tips and tricks on running a vacation rental company you wouldn’t have thought of yourself.

Is the software built with integrations in mind?

As your vacation rental property management grows, say past six to 12 properties, you’ll find that a property management platform (PMP) is essential. But not all PMPs are created equal. Some, like Hostfully, are built for the future with integrations with third-party software in mind.

You want to make sure the software is built with integrations to PMPs from the minute you start using it in your business. The reason is simple. For now, you might be managing a small portfolio. But eventually, it’ll grow and you’ll need a PMP to help you manage it at scale. So when you’ll eventually decide to get a PMP, if a certain software doesn’t have integrations you’ll have to manually switch all your properties to one that does support them.  That task might not seem like much now, but once you reach a certain property count, going through a switch like that while bookings are underway is a complex and stressful task. May as well pick the right vacation rental software from the beginning.

If you’re curious how PMPs can help a scaling vacation rental business, you can check out a demo or join us for a live webinar:


Sidenote on integrations: an integration means that the PMP, which centrally manages properties across multiple booking platforms, can have other apps tag on top of it. So for example, an app that auto-assigns cleaners when guests check-out gets the cue from the PMP once guests check-out in Airbnb. It’s this kind of technology that allows large vacation rental management companies to seamlessly operate 300+ properties.

There’s an easy way to find out if a vacation rental software is built with integrations in mind. Just go to the company’s page and look for an integration or partnership page. Let’s take Remote Lock (a software that grants managers property access staff and guests) as an example.  On their website, you can see that their software is built to interact with PMPs and other 3rd party apps :

example of partner integrations in software

Which vacation rental software we recommend for small VRMCs

If you take a minute to look at most vacation rental software pricing, you’ll notice that the best ones out there aren’t cheap.  There’s a reason for that: you get what you pay for (and free comes with its limits.) That said, $80 per month for vacation rental software, multiplied a few times over, can be a hefty fee for a newer operation. At Hostfully, we’re here to help, so we’ll share a small list of good solutions that we believe are worth every hard-earned penny.

Digital guidebooks – boost the guest experience and make money with upsells

Guidebooks are a wonderful way of displaying all your property’s features and what there is to do in the area for the guest. They can provide details about:

  • The space and amenities offered (like streaming services)
  • What there is to do in the surrounding areas (restaurants, bars, and activities)
  • House manual (how to use unique features of a property, wifi password, operating appliances)

A well set up digital guidebook will also give you the option of cutting down on guest communications, and maybe even eliminate in-person check-in and check-out.  They also give managers the flexibility to offer upsells. Once your vacation rental empire grows past a certain point, you’ll want to maximize revenue without growing your portfolio.  Upselling during a guest stay is a cheap and easily scalable way to do that. 

digital guidebook banner

Dynamic pricing – let AI optimize your nightly rates

Dynamic pricing gives you the ability to set flexible pricing depending on current market demands. During holiday or school breaks, room prices tend to rise. Imagine not having to worry about setting these prices manually and letting AI automatically optimize these rates for you.

Let’s take a deeper look into these three choices for dynamic pricing integrations:

  • Wheelhouse is a revenue management platform that integrates with Hostfully to build customized price strategies and dynamically update pricing. Their demand-driven data allows you to earn more in the high season and increase your bookings in the low season.
  • PriceLabs is another revenue management tool with Hostfully that focuses on the vacation and short-term rental industry. They use their years of experience and knowledge to offer the best dynamic pricing for your vacation rental properties.
  • Beyond Pricing will help maximize revenue through their data-driven dynamic pricing integration with Hostfully. Their software updates rates daily to raise revenue and win last minute bookings.

For a growing vacation rental management company, dynamic pricing is an easy way to boost profitability.  Just turn on the software and let powerful algorithms figure out the rest. You won’t have to worry about staying on top of festivals, concerts, conferences, seasonal peaks, etc and manually adjusting prices for all your properties.

Cleaning and turnover – because your time is valuable

At first, it’s normal to clean and turnover the properties yourself.  But as you scale, you won’t have time to clean properties – you’ll have to outsource those tasks.  But organizing the logistics between guest checkouts and check-ins is time-consuming and for some managers can be stressful. This amplifies as your business grows and the number of properties you manage multiplies.  A streamline vacation rental software with specific integrations assigns tasks for cleaning and turnover automatically.

Let’s take a look at some platforms we recommend:

  • Breezeway helps streamline cleanings, inspections, and maintenance jobs at your properties. Their field management system gives you as the property manager and your service providers the communication platform you’ll need.
  • VR Scheduler can help you automate your vacation rental workflow. With features like their drag-and-drop scheduling calendar, time and maintenance tracking, and payroll support, you’ll never be overwhelmed with cleaning and turnover operations again.
  • eCleanIt‘s housekeeping management platform boasts expertise in the challenges and solutions of scheduling, tracking, and confirming cleanings for vacation rental management properties.
  • Properly‘s visual checklist management software allows for the simple sharing of to-dos to your hospitality and service providers. Another great feature of this software is that it’s available on mobile for iOS and Android.

What’s great with all these platforms is that they’re built with integrations in mind.  So even if at first you don’t plan on using a PMP, when you do decide to get one, you’ll just need to activate the integration between the PMP and the software..

As you scale, consider additional vacation rental software solutions

Innovative vacation rental software can help with a lot of challenges, such as accounting software for rental business, remote locking management, or business analytics. The best vacation rental softwares will create the efficiency you’ll need to grow and expand to build the success of your brand.