With property management firms charging as much as 45% of a rental property’s income, more and more vacation home owners are turning to the Internet to book their rental properties themselves in order to keep more of their rental income.
While websites such as HomeAway have given vacation home owners a new venue to advertise their rental properties, most vacation home owners are finding that these sites alone do not produce enough rentals to keep their properties fully booked. Even worse, vacation home owners are finding that the mundane tasks of replying to inquiries, manually sending out invoices and rental agreements, updating their properties’ availability calendars, and all the other tasks associated with replacing a property management firm all add up to a full-time job.
There are online software management tools for vacation rental properties, though, that can greatly reduce the amount of time you have to spend managing these types of activities.
To help vacation home owners find, book and manage online rentals for their rental properties, here are the top 3 time-saving vacation rental management tools that no vacation property owner should be without.
1. Online Booking and Reservations Management System
If there’s one thing that online consumers have learned to expect, it’s instant gratification. If a potential renter can’t instantly book and reserve your vacation property online, then you are lowering your chances of getting their business.
Websites like HomeAway urge their vacation home owners to “respond quickly! Data shows that owners who respond to inquiries within 3 hours close 57% more bookings than owners that respond within 24 hours.” Just imagine what eliminating response time altogether can do to improve your bookings, then.
With today’s integrated online booking, credit card processing, and reservations management systems, there’s no reason to make your potential renters wait. These best of these services provide renters an instant rate quote, including taxes, and allows them to sign-up and book your vacation rental property instantly using any major credit card.
Some vacation rental management software solution providers offer this service – including setting up the merchant credit card processing on your behalf – with no up-front costs. You just pay a small portion of your reservation amount when a renter uses the online system. If you have multiple websites, make sure to find a provider who allows for their software to be integrated into your other sites, too, so you can centrally manage online bookings for all of your websites through one main interface.
2. Self-Updating Availability Calendars
If you’re like most vacation home owners, in order to find enough renters to book your property as often as you’d like, you have listings on all the large vacation listing sites. You might supplement those efforts with manual postings on Craigslist and even your own personal website that you maintain. Whenever you book a rental you have to log in to each website/ listing and update your vacation property’s availability calendar. That can take a lot of time.
A better way to manage your vacation home property’s availability calendars is to use a centralized, self-updating calendar that’s tied to a booking and reservations system. Whenever you accept a booking through the reservations system, the availability calendar automatically marks the dates booked as unavailable. Once you point all of your websites and listings to your centralized calendar (as easy as inserting a link into the webpage), then all of your listings are updated with the latest availability information automatically – requiring no manual intervention on your part.
3. Electronic Rental Agreements
A big time-saver for the do-it-yourself vacation home owner is electronic rental terms and agreements. If done correctly, an electronic agreement is a legally valid, signed contract. Many vacation rental software providers offer vacation home owners the ability to customize the rental terms and agreements and include agreeing to these contracts an integrated part of the reservations/ booking process – ensuring that your renters have signed and agreed to your terms before they are able to reserve your vacation home.
Looking to online software management tools for the vacation home rental owner can save you time and present a more professional appearance to your online renting activities. Look for a vacation rental software management company that makes installing their management software tools into your existing sites easy. Some providers even offer you the ability to create a website using their service for the most highly integrated looking website possible.
Be sure to do your research, though, as pricing, functionality and set-up activities vary widely among these vacation rental management software firms. In the end, though, using online software management tools for vacation rental property websites like the ones listed above can help increase your bookings through their increased functionality. Plus, they’ll save you time since they’re designed to put your online vacation rental website efforts on “auto-pilot”.