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Vacation Rental Management 101: A Step-By-Step Guide to Launching Your Homesharing Empire

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

In this article, we’ll explain how you can make money and delight guests through a vacation rental business. Vacation rentals aren’t just a niche for family reunions or spring break parties; travelers are increasingly choosing extra space and privacy that comes with a home of their own over a traditional hotel room. Are you a homeowner that wants to get a piece of the pie and start your own short-term rental business but don't have experience as a property manager? This guide will walk you through the 8 essential steps to starting a vacation rental empire of your own. Let’s get right to it. Here are the 8 steps to launching your homesharing empire: Choose your first market Acquire and set up a property Make an operational plan List your property online Welcome your first guest Reflect and read your reviews Build your brand Add to your portfolio   1. Choose your first market If you’re going to launch a vacation rental business, you need to decide where to launch. If you're looking to make some extra income from your vacation home - you can obviously skip this step.  Think about a few considerations when making this decision. Do you want to manage vacation rentals in the city where you live? Or a market that you know pretty well? Or maybe you want to try a totally new market that looks promising. Research tools like Transparent, AirDNA, Mashvisor, and Zillow can help you crunch the numbers.  Success is largely dependent on supply and demand.  Ideally, you want high rates and occupancy for vacation rentals relative to longer-term multi-family rental prices.  Property management companies can succeed in any market but favorable "rent arbitrage" and growth in local vacation rental demand set you up to acquire multiple properties in shorter periods of time. We also recommend scouting out your competition by shopping around on Airbnb and Vrbo. Is there a lot of availability? How high are the rates? What about the review scores? If you notice less availability online, that could mean the market can support new entrants. When choosing a market, it’s important to keep local regulations in mind too. Some cities have strict laws around vacation rental ownership and operations, while other markets are less restrictive.   2. Acquire and set up a property Once you’ve settled on a market, now it’s time to find your actual vacation rental property. Depending on the market you’ve chosen, it may be a home, an apartment, a condo, or something else. But how do you actually get access to it? Purchasing the property is one option, but if you don’t have that kind of capital available, you can also lease a property or find investors to help you get started. You could also establish a vacation rental management company that manages properties for owners on a commission basis. With keys in hand, you’ll need to set up the property for guests. If your property is unfurnished, you’ll need to furnish it. If you’re managing a furnished property, you still may need to update the furniture, stock the kitchen with dishes and cookware, and purchase towels and linens. Equipping the property for guests might also mean setting up WiFi, cable, and utilities.   3. Make an operational plan Although it’s good practice to start your operational plan before inking the contract for your property, once you know the specifics of your property, you can finalize that plan. Running a vacation rental business is a complex operational challenge - especially if you’re running it remotely. Some property owners prefer to commission full-service vacation rental property management companies that handle all facets of operations but these firms do not come cheap - after all, running a successful vacation rental business is a lot of work. Whether you hire a VR management company or go it alone - thinking through each step will help you prevent in-stay issues and maximize your efficiency. Your operational plan includes processes for each step of the stay experience, including: Do you need help with full-service management property management services? How will guests book your property? What vacation rental management software will you use? How will guests check-in? Will you have a door code, a lockbox, or an in-person key handoff? How can guests get help during their stay? Who will help with maintenance issues? Do you have round-the-clock support? What do guests need to do upon check-out (taking out the trash, starting the washing machine, etc.)? Who will clean the property between guests? How will they know when guests check-in or out? And where will they do laundry? What is your vendor services strategy? Will you use 3rd party cleaning services or hire a dedicated housekeeper? Will you provide concierge services? How will you handle guest communication and encourage them to book with you again?  Will you provide any guest services in stay or is it too much of a hassle? What will your channel mix look like and which listing sites will you focus on? Is Homeaway hot in your area? Airbnb? Maybe you plan to design a website to capture direct business. To be extra sure your operational plan will work, consider hosting a friend or family member for a test stay.   4. List your property online Now that you know how you’ll operate your vacation rental, it’s time to book some guests! Most guests book travel online, so the best way to market your property is through online channels. Popular vacation rental booking sites include Airbnb, Vrbo, Tripadvisor, Booking.com, and Expedia. Depending on where your property is located and who your ideal guests are, you might also find relevant niche channels that target specific traveler segments and geographical areas. In order to set your property up for success online, you’ll want to follow a few best practices: Take professional photos in good lighting, including photos of the bathrooms and exterior views. Set competitive prices, perhaps with the help of a dynamic pricing tool. Write a compelling, informative description. List your property on multiple channels.   5. Welcome your first guest Congratulations, you got your first booking! Now the real work begins. Your first few guests are the most important since they can determine the fate of your online reputation. It’s important to provide a great experience for all guests, but the first guests are responsible for writing your first online reviews. If your first guests have terrible experiences and write negative reviews, you might not get any more bookings from that channel. You’ll probably also need to issue refunds. On the other hand, if your first guests have fantastic experiences, those five-star reviews can help you score more bookings and charge higher rates in the future.   6. Reflect and read your reviews Speaking of reviews, feedback from guests isn’t just about earning that 5-star rating. Your guest reviews contain valuable insight into the guest experience - both the pros and the cons. By reading each review carefully, you can resolve problems and play up highlights that will make each future guest experience even better.  For instance, if a review mentions annoying street noise, you can consider adding a “sleep machine” that will play white noise to block out the horns and sirens. Make sure to mention the new addition in your listing descriptions! Or, maybe a guest wrote that they loved the taco restaurant down the street. Consider creating a local guide so all future guests can take advantage of the hidden gems the neighborhood has to offer.   7. Build your brand Adding thoughtful touches like a sleep machine or a neighborhood guide won’t just lead to good reviews, they’ll also help you build guest loyalty. As your vacation rental business grows, you can start to build a brand - whether you put a logo and a name to it or just keep guests coming back to your Airbnb listing. Some vacation rental managers want to shift business away from platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo to save money on commissions, and focusing on repeat business is a great way to do that. In addition to maintaining relationships with your past guests, you can market your property to new guests through a dedicated website, social media profiles, blog posts, and partnerships with local businesses or travel agents.   8. Add to your portfolio When you’ve mastered your first property, you might be ready to expand your empire to include new properties or new markets. Of course, managing one property is plenty of work, so don’t feel any pressure to sign new leases or purchase new assets before you’re ready. But once you are ready, you’ll find that the processes and learnings from your first property often apply to additional properties, so the ramp-up is much easier the second and third time around. Before you know it, you’ll be running your own homesharing empire. Now that we’ve shared the 8 essential steps to launching a vacation rental business, we want to hear from you!  Which step are you most excited about? Are you going to start laying out your operational plan? Or maybe you’re already brainstorming branding ideas. Let us know what you think by leaving a comment or sending us a note.  

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The 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech 2021

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Each year Hotel Tech Report surveys thousands of industry insiders to find the best hotel tech jobs and employers globally. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic wreaked havoc on the hotel industry.  The World Travel and Tourism Council predicts that 121 million of the 330 million jobs tied to tourism around the world will be lost in 2020.  Despite existential challenges, hotels and their vendors have proven resilient in the face of the biggest challenge ever posed to the hospitality industry by working together. But there’s always opportunity in crisis.  The pandemic has advanced digitization in the global economy by at least 5 years according to most experts.  Hotels that already had adopted technology like contactless check-in and guest messaging software have had a massive advantage since the pandemic broke out and the importance of technology for running a successful hotel business will continue to rise over the coming years meaning that demand for hotel technology talent will grow with it. Here at Hotel Tech Report, we’ve interviewed countless hoteliers about their journeys from being hoteliers into lucrative technology careers like Del Ross, Marco Benvenuti, Sameer Umar, and Kevin Brown. For hoteliers furloughed on the sidelines, there is an unprecedented opportunity to pivot into a technology career leveraging skills and knowledge from hospitality experience.   But which hotel tech companies should you apply to? Every year we do the hard work for you and survey thousands of hotel tech professionals to find the best companies to work for in the hospitality industry. We ask respondents to rate their employers from 1-10 on these key variables:  Work-life balance Personal development opportunities Gender equality Confidence in company direction Values alignment 2021 Bonus Question: Rate your firm’s COVD-19 crisis response Hotel Tech Report creates this list each year for two reasons: (1) to help industry professionals find the best hospitality tech jobs and (2) to help hotel tech buyers understand that it’s just as important to partner with great organizations as it is to find great software tools and products. Vendor culture is important to every aspect of a vendor relationship: Product: Great workplaces attract the best talent who make the best products Customer Support: Happy client reps give better service and stay around longer developing deeper relationships. Sales: When a sales team has high turnover, innovation gets strangled because there isn’t enough cash coming in the door to invest in innovation. Our 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech list features companies who foster wonderful work environments for employees.  In return, those employees deliver incredible products and services to clients. Without further adieu here are 2021’s 10 Best Places to Work in Hotel Tech…     10. Siteminder (TIE) Right before the coronavirus pandemic broke out, industry leader Siteminder reached an incredible milestone earning itself unicorn status.  Under the stewardship of CEO Sankar Narayan the firm quickly composed itself when the pandemic broke out and began rolling out initiatives to support both employees and customers like its World Hotel Index sharing real-time data with the industry when historical data just wouldn’t cut it.  Siteminder has an internal slack channel called #stayingsocial dedicated strictly to team members having a social communal space in the age of remote work.  This is pretty typical for a small startup but much rarer in the world of 700 employee behemoths.  The great part about working at a large startup-like Siteminder is that there’s almost limitless upward mobility according to one employee working in operations at the firm, “They allow me opportunities to take on more responsibilities that are even beyond my scope to develop my skills and prep me up for bigger roles. They also give leadership training to enhance to continue developing my capabilities.”  If you’re looking for a fast-paced global startup on a world domination path - then you should absolutely be dropping a resume at Siteminder.  The best part is that they’ve got offices all around the world so even if you prefer the WFH life your colleagues shouldn’t be too far away no matter where you call home.     10. Atomize (TIE) This is Atomize’s first time making Hotel Tech Report’s annual Best Places to Work list but we doubt it will be their last.  In true Swedish fashion Atomize rates amongst the highest on the list for gender equality with a 50% ratio of men to women on its leadership team.  Atomize also rates very highly for culture alignment with a score of 97.8%.  Perhaps the biggest standout for Atomize was how highly employees rated the firm’s COVID-19 response and support for clients during a crisis.  “Everyone from finance to product development has chipped in to try to support clients. We have for instance developed a relief-program for those that are hurting really bad, we have updated the product to amend for the large drop in occupancy for hotels, etc,” one Atomize executive told Hotel Tech Report.  Atomize made it through COVID-19 without a single layoff which is a testament to the longevity of the business and its and commitment to team members.  During the crisis Atomize stayed calm, launched the 2.0 version of their core RMS product, and even found time to bring the team together for a BBQ this summer during a slow down in transmission rates.     9. Hotel Effectiveness Georgia (the U.S. state not the country) based Hotel Effectiveness is in the business of helping hotel owners more efficiently manage labor but the question is: how well do they manage their own labor? It turns out they do a pretty darned good job at fostering internal culture.  Prior to the pandemic labor costs were the biggest focus area for most hotel ownership and management groups - despite the shift in focus Hotel Effectiveness managed to grow through the pandemic all while placing a heavy emphasis on quality of life for employees.  Team members cite a high percentage of employees being groomed from junior roles into leadership positions, flexible PTO programs, and strong opportunities for women.  PTO is great but Hotel Effectiveness management goes one step further where they encourage team members to completely unplug and not even check email during their vacation.  Adding icing to the cake, employees raved about the firm’s response to COVID-19 where it was able to grow without any layoffs needed.  One engineer raved about the Company’s COVID-19 response, “Hotel Effectiveness immediately shifted priorities specifically to address the changing needs of our clients. Hotel Effectiveness provided new guidance materials, payment options, and built new features (such as Daily Wellness Check-In) under tight deadlines to meet the new needs of our customers.”     8. EasyWay Big congrats to the first-ever Israeli startup to make this list!  If you’ve ever been to Tel Aviv or the Start-up Nation (Israel), perhaps a job interview with EasyWay is the excuse you needed to visit one of the most amazing cities in the world packed with beautiful beaches, vibrant nightlife, and a foodie scene that’s truly in a league of its own.  EasyWay is the quintessential startup with a mentality that so long as you hit your KPIs - the rest of your life is totally flexible.  An EasyWay executive’s quote to Hotel Tech Report about the last 12-months at the company says it all, “The work around the clock in the COVID-19 time was crazy.  We have developed so much stuff, that I almost miss this period. We've learned a lot from that, and staid on our feet! The rest of the team was great and it really gave me confidence in my own abilities.  If you're the kind of person who likes to work hard and play hard - you’d be wise to check out EasyWay’s open positions.      7. Asksuite This is Asksuite’s second year making the list and true to their commercial team’s motto “rockets don’t have reverse”, even a pandemic couldn’t slow down this high flying Brazilian startup.  Florianopolis may not be a hotel tech hub (yet) but the Asksuite team has access to lessons in language, hospitality and other training to upskill their way into global domination.  During the pandemic, leaders have made themselves available for 1:1 meetings to support all colleagues and perhaps it’s this close communication that leads Asksuite employees to rate 98% confidence in the future success of the firm.  Asksuite employees frequently cite an onboarding process that makes all team members feel like a part of the family in short order.     6. RoomRaccoon Despite the pandemic RoomRaccoon doubled the firm’s headcount in 2020 and achieved a major milestone in reaching 1,000 clients.  Employees frequently cite similar aspects of the culture as differentiators like their annual international week at the Netherlands headquarters and an inclusive onboarding program.  One employee within the marketing department told Hotel Tech Report, “This year RoomRaccoon decided to start hiring more new colleagues against the market trend of furlough and letting people go. To smoothen the onboarding process of our new hires we've created an E-learning program and two intensive onboarding weeks. So far we've onboarded 15 new hires since July 2020 that immediately are getting results. Something I'm really proud of!”  If you’re looking for an ambitious organization with a strong remote culture and complementary annual trips to the Netherlands - don’t hesitate and check out open listings at RoomRaccoon.     5. Alliants The Alliants story is the cure to the common venture funded business gone wrong story.  Alliants built the business developing custom software for ultra luxury hotel brands like Four Season and Jumeirah before ever dipping their toes into the SaaS world.  That means they’ve got killer products, an eye for design and engineering to back it up.  Starting in a consultative role for luxury brands has afforded Alliants a luxury not many early stage SaaS products have - cash flow.  How would this impact you when you apply for a role there?  Alliants employees are given a $5,000 stipend to invest in their own education and training.  Whether it’s a paid marketing course or intro to Ruby on Rails - at Alliants you will be able to create your own journey and take control of your destiny.  Have you ever had a boss block your calendar so people can’t book meetings with you? Well, Alliants employees have.  During winter months with less daylight, CEO Tristan Gadsby blocked the entire team’s calendars from 11:30am - 1:30pm to encourage team members to get outside, walk or simply catch some rays.  If that doesn’t sell you I don’t know what will.     4. ALICE This ain’t ALICE’s first rodeo, well it’s their fourth if we want to be precise about it.  ALICE has made Hotel Tech Report’s Best Places to Work list 4 years in a row (2018, 2019, 2020, 2021).  ALICE is an incredible place to work for former hoteliers because employees truly act as a strategic extension of their partner properties.  During the pandemic, ALICE quickly pivoted to rollout closure checklists and other free assets to help partners quickly reconfigure their operations for the new normal.  “The most memorable achievement while working at ALICE this past year was being able to provide support for our employees during the pandemic. The pandemic-related fatigue and anxiety impacted everyone and in different ways. We were able to provide support to our employees through group therapy sessions, health and wellness initiatives, increased one-on-one check-ins regarding fatigue, increased opportunities for learning and connection with one another virtually. I am so proud of how the leadership at ALICE has led us through the most difficult time in our industry's history, and with such care for both our customers, our industry as a whole, and our employees,” says one ALICE team member in an HR role.  Just as important as supporting clients through COVID-19 is supporting colleagues.  ALICE team members were constantly comforted that management understood the stress and challenges they were facing during this historic yet tragic year, encouraging an environment of transparency and honesty about how to cope with natural distractions from work in times of stress.     3. hotelkit Austria-based hotelkit is another repeat visitor on this list moving up from 4th to 3rd place.  Founded in 2012 by hotelier Marius Donhauser, hotelkit is a majority female-run business that’s growing rapidly but responsibly throughout Europe.  hotelkit’s team motto is “one team one dream” and while the team had to work remotely for a good portion of the year, colleagues are hopeful that 2021 will bring back the annual hotelkit Christmas party famous for great eats and poker.  Under Marius’ leadership, hotelkit has fostered a culture that feels like family so it’s no wonder that employees rate the culture so highly across every single vector.     2. Cloudbeds Cloudbeds may be the fastest-growing hotel tech company right now so while their headquarters are in sunny San Diego the Company has got Silicon Valley energy pumping through its veins.  Not to mention, Cloudbeds is extremely global with local managers in 40 countries. On March 11th (yes that’s right when COVID-19 took the world by storm) Cloudbeds announced the closing of an $80M funding round.  Cloudbeds employees tend to share two main things in common: (1) they are extremely performance-driven and (2) they LOVE to travel. One Cloudbeds employee within the operations department told Hotel Tech Report, “I managed to get promoted on my 1 anniversary day at Cloudbeds, I was so happy and everyone was so attentive to me during this process. Cloudbeds is an amazing company, full of amazing individuals, it's so nice to see the owners in our calls and engaged with us all at all times. I used to think I had worked at good companies, till I met Cloudbeds. This is where I want to stay and grow. It will be hard for any other company to take me from here.”  Cloudbeds has TONS of openings so make sure to browse their career page if you’re in the market.     1. Mews This is Mews’ 3rd year making the list ranking #2 in 2019 and #3 in 2020 - but this is their first year topping the list which is a testament to the strong culture at the firm.  Like most fast-growing companies, the pandemic wreaked havoc on projections and business plans for Mews leading to some difficult decisions needing to be made.  Mews not only came through what was maybe the darkest moment in the history of the hotel industry but came out stronger than ever before.  Mews leadership set a strong course for the business cutting expenses, reorganizing the team, rebranding, focusing on remote deployments, and even making an acquisition.  Quite a busy year - even if things had been normal.  Mews management has created one of those infectious startup cultures that can almost feel cult-like at times often intoxicating entire trade show floors (pre-COVID).  It’s not often that employees at an aggressive high-performance tier 1 venture-backed business get to see their founder dancing through a town hall (affectionately named Mews Con) in a silly costume.  Mews pivoted from hyper-growth mode into a sharp focus on profitability right-sizing the business and is poised to come out of the pandemic far stronger than it went in.  Lots of open roles to check out and we’re sure that list will continue to grow over the coming months.  

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Cloudbeds, SiteMinder & Room Raccoon Top People’s Choice Awards in the 2021 HotelTechAwards

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated hotel software in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the Top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards. The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity. The HotelTechAwards platform (by Hotel Tech Report) leverages real customer data to determine best of breed products and companies that help hoteliers grow their bottom lines. “The People’s Choice Award goes to a single company across all categories who demonstrates the strongest customer relationships during the HotelTechAwards.  Cloudbeds had more than 550 hotelier customers come out to share overwhelmingly positive feedback about Cloudbeds products in the midst of a global pandemic.  To have that kind of support from clients during the most challenging market in hotel history says all you need to know about Cloudbeds’ commitment to their partner properties,” says Hotel Tech Report CEO Jordan Hollander. Here’s the Official 2021 People’s Choice List: Cloudbeds SiteMinder RoomRaccoon Bookassist OTA Insight ALICE IDeaS Avvio Hoteltime hotelkit The key factors used to determine the annual People’s Choice Award include total verified customer reviews, geographic reach of reviews, and overall review sentiment and ratings. The best companies know that the most effective way to communicate their value proposition is to empower and amplify the voices of their happy customers.  The People’s Choice Award recognizes companies whose customers really value the relationship and partnership. “Twenty years ago we lived in a world where hoteliers just used one of the three or four technology systems out there and typically just ended up using whatever system they had heard of before.  Today there are thousands of SaaS choices in the market and dozens of great options available for most use cases but the market is moving so quickly that it’s hard for hoteliers to identify and keep track of the best products and companies.  This award honors the companies whose hotel customers are the most vocal advocates of their products to make that process easy,” says Hollander.   About the 2021 People's Choice Award The People's Choice Awards serve to honor and recognize companies who have balanced strong growth with a relentless focus on customer-centricity.  Early on as a startup, it’s easier for companies to maintain strong customer relationships with a limited customer base. But as a company grows its install base and scales globally, maintaining high customer satisfaction becomes increasingly more challenging.  Each year along with individual awards for the top-rated product in each category, Hotel Tech Report recognizes the top 10 most customer-centric global companies in the annual People's Choice Awards acknowledging the achievements of top innovators across all categories who embody the values, transparency, and customer-centricity that lie at the core of truly great companies. View Ranking Methodology>>

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Winners of the 2021 HotelTechAwards Announced

by
Hotel Tech Report
1 month ago

Hotel Tech Report has announced winners in the 2021 HotelTechAwards, based on more than 10,000 hotel software product reviews contributed by verified hoteliers during the competition.  Winners are selected based on key performance metrics including product popularity, customer satisfaction, integration compatibility, customer support quality, and more.  Winning a HotelTechAward is the highest achievement in the hotel technology industry. “In the midst of a global pandemic, 318,466 hoteliers visited Hotel Tech Report from every corner of the globe contributing 10,227 verified new product reviews during the 3-month awards period to share insights about their favorite tech products to run and grow their businesses.  It has been inspiring to see this massive wave of hoteliers sharing technology insights and product recommendations,” says Jordan Hollander, CEO of Hotel Tech Report. “This is the most comprehensive dataset around hotelier preferences ever developed and it gives unprecedented insights into tech trends for hotels during a pivotal moment in history.  Winning a HotelTechAward is a huge feat with the 2021 competition being the most competitive year ever.  Every company on this list should be extremely proud of what they've contributed to the growth of the hotel industry.” During the HotelTechAwards, hoteliers from the world's leading hotel companies review the top tech products used at their hotels to increase operating efficiency, drive revenue, and improve the guest experience. This data is used to identify the best hotel tech products and organizations. "The HotelTechAwards  are the only prize in the industry that is completely and transparently customer-driven — it's the hoteliers that decide who is best, and it's their opinion that matters most." Gautam Lulla, CEO at Pegasus. "We at SiteMinder believe strongly in the essence of openness; it is what underpins the very core of what we stand for, and the HotelTechAwards, through the program's data-driven and transparent process, aligns firmly with this value.” - Sankar Narayan, CEO at SiteMinder “This honor has deep, personal meaning as it is decided upon by our clients and represents our passion and focus for providing the most sophisticated revenue technology and comprehensive support.” Dr. Ravi Mehrotra Founder at IDeaS “The HotelTechAwards are a powerful stamp of approval for any company to possess and for hoteliers to trust. We value the HotelTechAwards process, which collects thousands of verified reviews from around the world each year.” Alex Shashou, Co-Founder at ALICE “HotelTechReport is the leading platform for technology in the hotel industry, and its meticulous and impartial verification process makes this one of the most prestigious awards.” Moritz von Petersdorff-Campen, Co-Founder at SuitePad The competition spans core areas of hotel software & technology: marketing, revenue, operations, and guest experience. 2021 Voting included participation from major hotel groups including Four Seasons, Hilton, Marriott, Accor Hotels, Hyatt, Intercontinental, Rosewood, and thousands of independents. "We originally created the HotelTechAwards as a democratized way to help our fellow hoteliers quickly determine best of breed vendors based on data they can trust and the scope of the competition this year is a testament to how far the industry has come in the last decade.  The HotelTechAwards rating process is simple, transparent, and unbiased--judging is based on time tested ranking factors, publicly available data, and crowdsourced insights from verified hoteliers who have hands-on experience with each product.” The HotelTechAwards are often referred to as "the Grammys of Hotel Tech" and winners were selected from the top technology products around the world. The HotelTechAwards are the industry's only data-driven awards platform with winners determined not by a handful of judges or popularity votes but by a global community comprised of thousands of verified hotel technology users across more than 127 countries.   Best Hotel Software Companies List >>

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Why is PMS Software Different for Hotels, Vacation Rentals and Apartments?

by
Hotel Tech Report
5 months ago

Hotels, apartments, and vacation rentals each have their unique characteristics but what about their software? The property management system is the core of the tech stack at any accommodation business, but, as we’ll discuss in this article, not all property management systems are the same. If you’re considering implementing a PMS or switching from your current vendor, this article will help you understand the intricacies of systems designed for specific types of properties. With the right software partnership, you can run your hospitality business more efficiently and focus on delighting your guests (or tenants).   Very Different Guest Journeys Based on Length of Stay The apartment "guest journey" is relatively straightforward.  Prospective tenants view an apartment they like with a leasing agent, decides to rent and then moves in.  Prior to move in they complete a credit check and setup payment through an online payment portal that gets drawn upon in monthly increments. The next most complex guest journey exists in vacation rentals where prospective guests find a rental unit via an online travel agency like Booking.com or Airbnb.  They'll often communicate with the owner via the platform they booked on and use a mobile check-in method like keyless entry upon arrival.  Rooms aren't cleaned until the guest checks out and there are no on site outlets or amenities. Hotels offer the most complexity in guest journey with ultra high touch amenities delivered by often large teams of hotel staff.  The hotel industry is all about guest service.  Guests usually make direct bookings on a hotel website or via an OTA.  They'll receive email or text message communication prior to arrival.  Upon check-in, guests are greeted by a front desk agent and taken to their room by a bellman.  Their room gets cleaned each night and they enjoy hotel amenities like room service, on-site restaurant and spa outlets and more.   What is PMS Software? Let’s start at the beginning: what is a property management system anyway? A PMS houses all the organizational and administrative tools you need to run a multi-family business, hotel or short-term rental in real-time and automate core functions like booking and reservation management.  Key functionality in hotels and vacation rentals includes a calendar where you can manage reservations, a booking engine for your website, a dashboard for housekeeping to mark clean and dirty rooms, a guest information database, and various financial reporting. Some PMSs have an integrated channel manager which handles connections to third-party booking sites. Many PMSs are cloud-based and offer mobile apps so you can manage your property from anywhere at any time. It's important to understand each of these journeys before diving into the core operating system of each, a cloud PMS, because each PMS is designed for both the complexity and jobs to be done of both staff and guest journeys.  Where hotel property management software requires functionality like connecting to major international payment gateways an apartment reservation system might only require local payment processing since tenants are by definition locals.   Hotels, Apartments and Vacation Rentals Are Converging We're seeing a major convergence in the real estate and hospitality industry where the guest experience in certain segments of the hotel market is looking more like vacation rentals and vice versa.   Adding to that, companies like Sonder and Why Hotels are turning apartments into short term rentals and hotel rooms while Airbnb is now a major distributor of hotel inventory. It's not hard to understand why.  The hotel business is all about delivering high guest satisfaction and incredible guest experiences - it's ultimately doing the same thing as the vacation rental business and even apartments.  Hotel operations tend to be the most complex given the focus on guest experience and presence of front office teams.  Generally speaking, the longer the duration of the rental, the easier the business is to manage meaning that apartments are the least operationally complex to run. The key difference between short term vs. long term accommodation software lies in the fact that apartment management systems generally focus on tenant functionality like community portals and subscription rent payments.  For shorter term accommodations, hotel and vacation rental PMS software focuses on credit card and payment functionality, facilitating online bookings and rate management.   Key differences in PMS software for Hotels vs. Vacation Rentals The daily operations of hotels and short-term rentals can be quite different, so it makes sense that property management systems would have unique functionality for different property types. But what are the biggest differences? Key points of differentiation include the room or unit type setup, the connections available in the channel manager, tools for daily operations, and integrations with third-party software.   Room Types vs. Separate Units When we think about the physical layouts of a hotel, short-term rental apartments, and vacation homes, several differences come to mind. At a hotel, you’ll find a lot of rooms, but those rooms usually fall into a few distinct room types. Short-term rental operators might manage many apartments, but each of those apartments might be unique and located in a few different buildings. Vacation homes can have their own addresses and often have different sizes, amenities, and policies. In order for hoteliers and property managers to get the most utility out of their software, property management systems must account for these differences. Hotel-specific software like Hoteltime will be set up for room types in the same building, while vacation rental-specific software is built for unique individual units often at different addresses. While hoteliers probably don’t add new room types on a regular basis, short-term rental operators expand their portfolios regularly, so it’s important that their software allows for easy addition of new units. Daily Operations The who, what, and where for daily operations is another major point of differentiation between hotels and short-term rental properties - and their software. At a hotel, many employees from various departments will use the PMS on a daily basis. Front desk agents, housekeeping staff, back-office employees, and the leadership team might all use the PMS at the same time. Tasks range from checking in guests, tracking housekeeping status, upselling rooms, entering reservations taken over the phone, and running reports for leadership meetings. It’s important for a hotel PMS like Hoteltime to allow multiple user accounts and levels of access rights. A vacation rental PMS, on the other hand, is used by fewer people and for fewer manual tasks. Vacation rental reservations are rarely taken over the phone, and, usually, a smaller team of staff interacts with the system. Since short-term rentals often don’t have a front desk, it’s crucial that property managers can access the PMS on the go, like via a mobile app. Most short-term rentals do not offer housekeeping mid-stay, so that functionality is less important. However, it’s crucial that a PMS can support automated check-in instructions and other communications that allow the guest to complete a self-service check-in. Smaller hotels (under 20 rooms) generally require all-in-one affordable hotel management software but may be able to use vacation rental software to manage their properties.  Check out our list of best hotel software for smaller properties. Channel Connections Not only do daily operations differ based on property type, but so do distribution strategies. If a PMS offers channel management functionality, you’ll notice that the supported channels vary with property type. Hotel-specific software will focus on connections to the big OTAs, like Expedia, Booking.com, and Agoda, plus to the GDS and travel agents. Most vacation rental-specific software also connects to Booking.com and Expedia, but connections to vacation rental booking sites like Airbnb, Vrbo, and Tripadvisor Rentals are essential. Hotel-specific software likely does not support connections to Airbnb, Vrbo, or Tripadvisor Rentals. Integrations Channel connections aren’t the only links between a PMS and other systems; property management software can connect to third-party apps that bring additional value to your operations. Hotel-specific PMSs will offer integrations with other hotel systems that usually happen via API, such as revenue management systems (IDeaS, for example), work order software (HotSOS), upsell software and point of sale systems (Micros). Vacation rental-specific PMSs integrate with a slew of vacation rental-specific software and apps, including dynamic pricing tools (PriceLabs), property-level security and monitoring systems (NoiseAware), keyless entry solutions (RemoteLock), guest communication tools (Hostfully), and more.   Have we missed any major differences between property management systems? Let us know!  

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