When you start to have multiple short-term rental listings, it gets more challenging to manage them all at once.
You’ve taken all the steps: you wrote a killer description, created a stunning photo gallery, chosen the perfect cancellation policy, and responded to all your reviews. And your listings are skyrocketing.
Mary in the 2-bedroom villa with a seaside view is checking out a day later than expected and will need some towels, while Jeronimo in the studio 10-minute walk from the city center still can’t connect to the WiFi.
More bookings, better business, more listings, and a busier host comes with its downsides: having to coordinate, in real-time, between different properties, at different checkout times, and with guests that don’t always (or almost never) arrive or leave at the time agreed.
The solution is to use a Property Management System (PMS). Using a PMS, you can expect not only to sync calendars across multiple listings, but also have a centralized inbox for all your messsages.
Depending on your needs, you need to find software that:
- Streamlines operations by putting all your listings in one place
- Makes it easy to keep track of communication with different guests
- Automates that communication
- Keeps all the different Airbnb accounts in one place, if applicable
- Has a multi-calendar dashboard
- Has a direct booking website builder
In this post, we’ll talk about what features our favorite property management software companies have so that you can find one that best suits your needs.
Here are the five companies that we’ll cover:
Although these tools can handle any amount of listings, we feel that they are most suitable for the small to medium size host, with anywhere from a few up to 25 properties.
They are cost-effective, don’t charge a hefty setup fee, and fairly easy to work with.
Keep in mind that there is no perfect PMS. If you ask 10 hosts what their favorite is, you’ll get at least eight different answers.
A PMS is a complicated t0ol to build, and we have never found one that doesn’t have at least a few drawbacks or bugs.
So our advice is to try a few different ones, see what you like, and don’t be discouraged at the first challenge. Give it a real shot before you decide to move on to a different platform.
Alright, let’s dive in and look at the different features of each tool.
Direct API Integrations
The main benefit of using automated property management software is getting one central calendar where you can see all your listings. The one in the above photograph is by Your Porter.
When your number of listings starts to grow, you need to be able to stay on top of the calendar to know when people are coming in and out.
Most management software will automatically update the calendar across different channels. This helps especially when you’re working with different team members that are in charge of different properties.
Your Porter: Direct API integration with Airbnb, Booking.com, and HomeAway.
Hostfully: Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, Booking.com, TripAdvisor Rentals, HometoGo (direct API only available for 5 or more properties though iCal Sync is available for any number of properties.)
Lodgify: Two-way API integrations with Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway/VRBO, plus iCal sync for all other channels.
Smartbnb: Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, instant property sync.
iGMS: Native API Integration with Airbnb, Stayz and VRBO/HomeAway. Booking.com, Tripadvisor and others are synced with iCal.
Cleaning and Team Management
If you have listings all over the world, another feature that you might want your rental property management software to have is cleaning and team management. Having a delegation system in place where workers can view, accept and mark tasks as complete will make a property manager’s job far simpler.
Your Porter: Scheduled task notifications (email and SMS) to teammates, push notifications when the task is completed. Weekly/monthly task overviews and shared calendar with limited access.
Hostfully: Delegate jobs/tasks to any service provider, fully automated task creation. Use triggers and templates to automate task delegation to teams.
Lodgify: No task delegation feature.
Smartbnb: Automatically create and assign tasks like cleaning, check-in and check-out jobs, and send automated notifications to teammates via email or SMS, or keep them up-to-date with iCal feeds.
iGMS: Advanced cleaning and team project management platform. Real-time and automated, allows setting the roles/accesses and auto-assign cleaners.
Automated Guest Messaging and Communication
Guest communication is a very important part of the guest’s experience, although one that can be tedious and burdensome for the host. Cutting and pasting messages for each guest not only becomes annoying but simply impossible after a certain number of listings.
Luckily, most automated Airbnb property management software has integrated automated messaging. There are more benefits to this than just saving time: your response time will go down because you answer guests instantly, which means your listing will improve its ranking. Which means more listings, and more messages!
And you can use them to go beyond just the standard message flow. For example, Smartbnb uses an AI you can configure to answer your guests’ random questions in a way that’s not disingenuous.
If you’re too worried about having a “bot” talk to your guests, there are some options: for example you can set it up such that if a guest writes a message with the word “dog” in it, you can send an automated message that includes an answer to any question you’ve ever received about dogs.
That way you’re likely to cover the question. Another option is to only answer questions automatically on topics where the questions tend to be very straightforward, such as WiFi and parking, and answer other questions manually.
Your Porter: Automated messaging for Airbnb, HomeAway, and Booking.com. Unified Inbox for all 3 channels.
Hostfully: Sophisticated, event-based message automation system, available across channels including the PM’s own websites; with multilingual capabilities, SMS, and direct Airbnb message support.
Lodgify: Automated email messaging.
Smartbnb: Sophisticated scheduled and event-based native messaging for Airbnb and HomeAway/VRBO, including conditional paragraphs;t rainable machine-learning component to detect and reply to guest questions.
iGMS: Messages from all platforms integrated in a single inbox. Set event-based message templates.
Pricing management tools
Your pricing strategy should differ across booking channels, so it’s useful if the property management software has a tool that makes this easier. For instance, Your Porter App takes your smart prices from Airbnb and pushes them to Booking.com after adjusting with your customized markup rate.
It’s also useful if you can edit the pricing within your calendar or set rules that the management platform follows.
Your Porter: Mark-up pushes your prices, updates your Booking.com prices based on your Airbnb rules. Integrated with all major smart pricing tools (BeyondPricing, PriceLabs, Wheelhouse).
Hostfully: Sophisticated price management. Total control over multi-channel pricing.
Lodgify: API Integrations with PriceLabs and Outswitch dynamic pricing and revenue management tools, works across all channels.
Smartbnb: Push prices to Airbnb and HomeAway. Upcoming integration with PriceLabs.
iGMS: Smart toolkit pricing management (on beta), which you can modify straight from the calendar. Pushes pricing to Airbnb, HomeAway.
Guest Review Management
Another great feature to look out for in automated property management software is guest review management. All hosts know that the more reviews you write, the more you get back. And the more reviews you get, the higher you rank and the more listings you get. It’s just science.
If you can automate guest reviews to go out at a specific time during checkout, that’s another task off your to-do list.
Your Porter: Has 60 templates to choose from to automatically review guests.
Hostfully: No automated guest review feature.
Lodgify: No automated guest review feature.
Smartbnb: Automatic positive guest reviews based on templates attributed randomly. ‘Bad review mode’ lets you send your negative review within 20 seconds of the review window closing, so guests don’t have a chance to retaliate.
iGMS: Automated guest reviews with your own pre-defined templates.
Property Management Website Builder
Lodgify is known for its website builder for vacation rentals. This may be useful for hosts who want to take the next step and “brand” themselves. Normally, these websites will still be fully integrated and synced with the calendars of all the other platforms. These short-term-rental-specific websites help you create a page that’s SEO optimized and from where guests can book directly.
Your Porter: Super easy, one-click website creation. You can choose from 8 color palettes, get online payments via Stripe and PayPal.
Hostfully: White-label custom platforms (with your own URL) and an upselling platform.
Lodgify: Template-based, customizable website creation.
Smartbnb: No website creation feature.
iGMS: No website creation feature.
When you have multiple listings to manage, it means you’re a professional and you need to stay on top of your finances. If you can have financial reporting integrated into your Airbnb automated property management software, all the better. That way you can track income and expenses and make sure you’re going in the right direction.
Your Porter: Get a detailed report with price breakdowns from all channels.
Hostfully: Analytics and Reports feature where you can see your conversion rate, net bookings revenue, leads, and occupancy rate by property, integration with Quickbooks.
Lodgify: Transaction reports and you can connect it to your accounting system.
Smartbnb: Metrics products can track over 40 metrics, including financial, messaging, and reviews, with customizable dashboards and reports.
iGMS: Create professional reports with a full overview of finances, transactions, reservations, and work orders.
Property Management Software Pricing
You’ve probably already chosen which software works for you based on your needs after reading this article. Here are the prices for each of them:
iGMS – Free up to 4 properties, $20/month/per property for PRO plan. Only pay for active properties (not listings) if you get reservations. No setup fee and no cancellation fee – (Click here to sign up). iGMS promo code (30% off PRO plan): GPFYP30
Smartbnb – Starting at $18/month for 2 properties. Fixed price per listing. Only charges for properties with revenue in the last 30 days. Volume discounts applied automatically – (Click here to sign up).
Lodgify – From $30/month – (Click here to sign up). Lodify promo code (10% off): GPFYP
Hostfully – From $59/month, more competitive as you get more listings – (Click here to sign up)
Your Porter – $9/month – (Click here to sign up). Your Porter promo code ($20 off): PAD
All of these tools are good, it’s just a matter of what exact features you’re looking for. Sometimes you can mix and match the cheaper ones (e.g. Smartbnb + Your Porter App), depending on your needs and budget.
Which PMS is best for you?
Now that we’ve looked at all the different features of the PMS’s, it’s time to figure out which PMS is best for you. As we mentioned before, there is no perfect PMS. So the goal is to figure out what’s the best fit for your personal situation.
The best way to do this, is to prioritize the features that you want your PMS to have and exclude the ones that don’t meet your criteria.
You can do that by answering two questions.
- Do you want direct API integration with Booking.com?
- Do you want to have your own direct booking website?
If you’re looking for the most cost-effective solution, and you’re only on Airbnb, then we recommend iGMS. They have a free plan for up to four listings.
Smartbnb really stands out for the sophisticated messaging system that they have developed.
Not only can you automate standard messages, such as the booking confirmation, but they even have AI technology that you can use to automatically respond to questions based on the keywords that the message contains.
Some hosts use Smartbnb in addition to their PMS, just for its messaging features.
Alright, that’s it for now. If you’ve made it until here, good job. Start using one of these property management systems and you’re on your way to save time and get better results.
Now you have two options.
Option 1 is to do this on your own. Take this info, put it into action, and surely you will see some results.
Or, option 2, we do this together. You join the Short-Term Rental Profit Academy and we will guide you along the way to make sure you get the best results.