Case Study

Channel manager and multi-channel distribution

How a full-service vacation rental management company increased occupancy rates without scaling marketing efforts

Steve Patterson is the President of Ur Home In Philly (Urhip), a Philadelphia-based short-term and vacation rental management company. With a guest-centric business model, Urhip delivers exceptional value for money.

Urhip brings value to its owner-clients by using technology and software solutions that cut down repetitive tasks, boost efficiency, and keep overhead costs low. If there’s a piece of software that’ll optimize a process, Steve and his team will research and implement it.

Before Hostfully

The search for the right software

Like many vacation rental managers scaling their portfolio, Steve eventually got to a point where manually managing daily operations got too tenuous. At that time, most property management software (PMS) custom-built for vacation rental management had reliability issues. So Steve chose software designed for hotel management. As Steve puts it, “the software worked well enough, and we could list properties on Expedia and Booking.com. But being designed for hotels, it didn’t connect with Airbnb.” To get around this tech limitation, Steve posted his properties on Airbnb and imported Airbnb reservations by hand into his hotel PMS:

Like many other vacation rental managers who make up for tech limitations with manual processes, input mistakes happened. As Steve describes the situation, “Listing on multiple platforms caused occasional double bookings, but it was worth it since Airbnb brought in so many reservations and kept our vacancy rate low.”

As time went on, new vacation rental software solutions came on the market. Urhip was also growing beyond what manual processes could handle. Steve needed to switch to a PMS that could handle both daily operations and multi-channel distribution properly.

After Hostfully

Multi-channel distribution pushed one step further

But Steve didn’t stop there. He learned a valuable lesson from using the hotel PMS. Multi-channel distribution is a cheap and effective way to boost occupancy rates and reduces reliance on one booking channel.

And so, Steve took advantage of Hostfully’s integration with the Channel Manager (CM) Rentals United, which expanded distribution options to even more platforms. With the PMP and CM now working in tandem, Urhip had properties listed on:

As expected, pushing distribution via PMP and CM led to a lower vacancy rate. Although most reservations still come from Airbnb, Vrbo and Urhip’s direct booking site, Steve describes the boost in bookings as complementary to the leading platforms. As Steve says, “the extra visibility makes it easier to fill those mid-week vacancies or gaps between longer reservations.”

When asked if using the Rentals United CM in tandem with the Hostfully PMP was worth it, Steve had the following to say: “multi-channel distribution is at the core of what we do. More reservations means more money. So why not take advantage of the tools that help us do that effortlessly?”

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Bonus

Independence through multi-channel distribution

Urhip is an example of a company that uses two distribution tools to drive more bookings and decrease vacancies. However, pushing multi-channel distribution to its limit also has other advantages for vacation rental managers such as:

  • Finding your peak average daily rate (ADR) without increasing vacancies
  • Experiment with different seasonal pricing schemes
  • Try new listing descriptions and marketing strategies
Vacation rental managers can try different tactics on one or two listing sites without significantly impacting their primary booking source. If the experiment goes well, managers can slowly integrate the lessons learned into the other listing sites in the manager’s portfolio. From a business experimentation perspective, multi-channel distribution is a great way to reduce risk.

The Hostfully advantage

Hostfully’s industry-leading property management platform (PMP) is built from the ground up to help vacation rental owners and managers streamline their processes and increase their bottom-line. Here are some of the other features Hostfully clients like Steve also use to manage (and scale) their operations:
  • Automated and SMS messaging: save time and automatically send guests key information based on programmable triggers
  • Digital guidebooks: boost the guest experience, cut down on communications, and upsell products and services for extra income
  • Pre-built direct booking site: generate your own bookings and gain independence from listing sites
  • Central messaging hub: easily manage guest communications on one interface
  • Booking pipeline: follow-up on leads and increase conversions
  • Integrations: connect other vacation rental software like turnover and cleaning, dynamic pricing, and credit card processing
  • Payments processing: easily collect payments from direct bookings or from upsold services and products to guests  
  • Property management data: make informed decisions based on data
  • Owner financial reports: save time and effort in preparing owner reports
  • Open API: keep using your custom software but also gain the benefits of the Hostfully PMP