Taking the leap to start renting out your vacation property is exciting – especially if you’re in a hot market with lots of growth opportunities! However, many hosts and property managers quickly realize they need to do more than just place their property on a big listing site. Running a successful vacation rental company involves a lot of different processes – a lot of which can be automated. Luckily, in recent years there’s been an explosion of apps in the vacation rental industry. It’s now become possible to use software as a way to grow and scale a business without increasing staffing or contractor costs. As we’ll see below, there are 5 advantages to using short-term rental software:
- Save time on admin tasks
- List on multiple booking platforms simultaneously
- Activate a pre-built direct booking site
- Run operations from one platform
- Integrate other apps into your operations
Let’s take a deeper look into what vacation rental software can do for you and your business!
Vacation rental software helps save hours of admin time
Vacation rental software, specifically property management platforms (PMPs), help owners save a lot of time when it comes to managing multiple properties. A good PMP will allow you to automate repetitive tasks. Think of all those mundane and time-consuming business actions you take that make you think “I wish I could outsource this” when you do them. Sounds familiar right? Now imagine what your schedule would look like if those tasks disappeared.
A lot of hosts and managers have turned to their PMPs and set up automations like autoresponders that send canned responses to inquiry emails. This saves them hours per month and reduces the chances of making a mistake when copy/pasting responses. Some hosts use automation to ask guests for a review if they haven’t done it 2-3 days after check-out (this usually leads to more 5-star reviews). That said, autoresponses are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to vacation rental business automation. In this case study, an ingenious host used time-based triggers to auto-assign cleaning tasks to contractors. Other examples of automation include setting up your PMP with smart lock apps so that each guest receives a unique PIN code that’s valid just for the duration of their stay. Note that automation also involves syncing your calendar across multiple platforms (we have a whole section on that below).
Automation is one thing (fair warning: once you start automating your business, you go down a productive rabbit hole) but a good vacation rental software also makes it easy to perform manual tasks from one portal. These are tasks like generating owner reports, adjusting listing descriptions for one property across multiple platforms, pulling data to perform business analytics, or responding to guest communications that don’t fall within the parameters of your autoresponder.
Essentially, think of a PMP as the hub of a wheel. The spokes are all the different tasks and processes involved in running the business. The PMP helps coordinate, automate and centralize the administration of all those tasks.
Most beginner hosts and new vacation rental managers struggle with listing their properties on multiple websites. That’s because juggling calendars across multiple platforms increases in difficulty the more properties you manage. Even those with one property can find it challenging to list on multiple sites. However, listing on multiple sites (called enhance distribution) is a key contributor to growth. By broadening your marketing reach, you increase the number of potential guests that see your properties. More eyeballs leads to more bookings. With a lower vacancy rate, you can try things like increase your average daily rate (ADR). And that leads to higher revenue, which fuels growth.
If you want to learn more about multi-channel and enhanced distribution, we cover the topic in full detail (including the options to achieve it) in this paper:
Fortunately, syncing a calendar across multiple platforms is a task well-suited for vacation rental software. This is where a PMP or a Channel Manager are worth their weight in gold. All you have to do is create accounts on sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, HomeToGo, Booking.com (and others). Then import pictures and listing descriptions into your PMP or Channel Manager and connect to each of the. When a reservation is created, modified or cancelled your software will take care of syncing the calendar across all the platform. Multi-channel distribution is one of those “set it and forget it” features that have huge revenue-boosting potential.
Easily setup a vacation rental site and accept direct bookings
These days, vacation rental hosts and managers rely on software solutions to bypass the arduous and expensive process of building a website themselves. Their goal is to reduce their dependence on listing sites by attracting their own visitors. Once a user lands on their site (usually from Google) they have a page which allows the potential guest to book directly. So not only do they create a new marketing channel, but they also skip on paying commissions. On top of that, a direct booking site means the host or manager gains complete control over cancelation and damage policies.
Some of the top vacation rental software providers (like Hostfully) give owners the tools to set up their own professional business website with ease. For example, with Hostfully all you need is a domain and the PMP will generate a fully-functioning direct booking site. Or if you already have a website, Hostfully can generate a snippet of code that generates a booking widget on the site. The widget communicates with the PMP which syncs with the calendar (so no chances of a double-booking).
While there are other ways to go about creating a website, using software that’s specific to this industry means it will already be optimized for the type of website you are looking to build. Some vacation rental software providers may offer extra features such as a custom domain, and SSL certification.
For those non-techies out there (that includes the writer of this article), vacation rental software will take care of direct booking functionality with the click of a few buttons. Being built for industry practitioners, vacation rental software is generally easy to setup and deploy – that includes direct booking sites. For example, with Hostfully, all you need is to buy a domain and follow our step-by-step instructions (with photos).
Good software lets you run everything from one portal
Staying on top of all your different booking channels, calendars, inquiries, and messages can seem like hard work. But it doesn’t have to be!
With vacation rental software, you can easily synchronize all your external calendars, and control all incoming inquiries from one centralized inbox. This means handling bookings from every platform (your website, phone, email or any other external listing) is a breeze. Not only can you can approve all incoming booking requests, you can also check on the more minute details of each booking – such as the amount, who your guests are and their payment status.
Connect with other important apps
If you take a moment to look at the top vacation rental software on the market, you’ll find that there’s an app that solves challenges for almost every process in your business. Challenges like figuring out the optimal pricing, assigning different cleaners to certain properties, screening guests, or buying insurance policies based on guest risk profiles can all be achieved with niche vacation rental software solutions. However, there’s a trade off. On one hand, you can automate those tasks or get powerful algorithms to help you make great business decisions. But the more software tools you add, the more you increase the number of portals you have to open.
To get around this, your PMP can act as a hub that connects all those apps centrally. Choosing a vacation rental software that allows for these types of integrations will ensure your business doesn’t get left behind as technology advances.
Overall, vacation rental software can help owners set up a great website, take more online bookings, save time, manage everything from one centralized place and integrate with external applications.