The scores of tech services that are available to vacation rental property managers can be overwhelming. From marketing automation to home automation, keyless locks, revenue management and guest experience softwares, the variety of professional tools is endless.
The vacation rental business is morphing into a hospitality business, one that needs to be more and more professional to thrive in the competitive market. So, where do you start? Here, we reveal the top five tools that a manager shouldn’t live without in the future.
Top 5 Tech Tools For Property Managers In 2017
1. Channel Management
What is a Channel Manager? Channel management enables property owners and managers to advertise their vacation rentals on a high number of websites automatically and in real time. A channel manager makes it possible to manage descriptions, pricing, and calendars from one central place, which then updates all the websites where you have chosen to list your property. At Rentals United, our clients report saving a lot of time (10+ hours a week) and getting more bookings (5-50 more per month, depending on the size of the inventory).
Just like the hotel industry, it is likely that all vacation rental property managers will use a channel manager in the future. Make sure your PMS (see below) works with a channel manager or connects with one directly. The initial setup can be time consuming, but you will reap the benefits in the long run.
2. Property Management System (PMS)
A PMS helps you manage the operations of a vacation rental business: bookings, arrivals, payments, promotions, emailing, and guest services. It also often allows you to create a website for your rentals. Getting a better overview of your business and managing it in an efficient way is what a PMS software promises.
Today, most PMS companies connect to channel management companies to increase their functionality, and allow managers to also distribute their rentals via the platform. So when you choose a PMS to work with, make sure your PMS uses a reputable channel manager. The connection is seamless: you update your PMS and the Channel Manager automatically updates all the websites you want to work with.
3. Revenue Management
If you haven’t tapped into the power of revenue management, now is the time to do it. This is a category of service within the VR industry that has received a lot of interest over the last few years and has grown at a high speed. It automates your rates based on big data analytics such time of the year, events, rates of competition and historical data. This gives property managers more bookings.
Again, this is not a service that you would use separately from the others. Make sure your PMS has its own revenue management tool or, ideally, that it partners with a specialized revenue management company.
4. Check in/check out
More and more property managers now opt to outsource the check-in/check-out process. You can use specialized services that send people to open the door, or use smart locks, one of the latest pieces of technology. Smart locks enable guests to unlock the door with a temporarily code that you generate with an app. You can control and monitor these key locks from anywhere, meaning that you can lock the door with your smartphone from any place in the world.
Some forward-thinking PMSes have already formed partnerships with key lock companies: when a check-in is scheduled, an automatic email is sent to the guest with the temporary code already generated. Wow!
5. Maintenance & Cleaning
Technology has also improved two of our main challenges as vacation rental managers: maintenance and cleaning. It is no longer necessary to look for a reliable and professional cleaner yourself. There are many innovative service companies today that allow you to book specialized vacation rental cleaners and even check their work remotely! Try Properly, Handy or Doinn.co.
The same goes for maintenance, there are many companies out there that can connect you with same-day help trained in the industry’s best practices. This help ranges from small repairs to mowing the grass. Try Taskrabbit for quick and easy help.
Vanessa de Souza Lage has been in the vacation rental industry since 2004. She started off as a vacation rental agent with her own global website that at one point had 8000 online bookable rentals. In 2012, she co-founded Rentals United, a channel manager for vacation rentals and now acts as the marketing director. She manages rentals in Barcelona and Sitges, which she successfully advertises on 50+ channels via Rentals United. Vanessa is passionate about technology and in 2015 founded the Vrtech events where vacation rental tech companies meet property managers to discuss innovation.