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How to Choose the Best PMS for your Vacation Rental Business

How to Choose the Best PMS for your Vacation Rental Business

Property Management Software (PMS) is a tool that focuses on facilitating and automating your day-to-day operations in managing your vacation rental property. With hundreds of PMS available in the market, choosing a suitable PMS can be time-consuming and at times confusing.

It is likely to choose a PMS that offers features that will help grow your vacation rental business, increase revenue, and is user-friendly. By selecting the right and best PMS, it will benefit you from not having overwhelming effects on your business, drain costs, and complicated operations.

Overall a PMS should include a variety of features for your management of vacation rentals into one platform. Hence, this article will help guide you on:

  • Who needs a PMS and Why?
  • What are the challenges in managing several properties?
  • A must-have factor when considering the best PMS for your vacation rental business
  • The final decision

Learn more on: How to evaluate vacation rental property management systems (PMS)

Who Needs A PMS And Why?

Are you managing a few vacation rental properties? Or just maybe looking to scale and grow your vacation rental business? If so, a PMS is necessary.


First and foremost, a PMS will save you time and cost by optimizing and managing your vacation rental business in one platform. Not forgetting, it will help property managers manage reservations that are on different platforms visible on one central calendar, hence avoiding double bookings. For example, Property A is booked on Airbnb, then if anyone wants to book Property A on VRBO, it will automatically be unavailable.

Moreover, it allows:

  • scheduled cleanings
  • assign tasks to staff
  • send automated messages to guests
  • create invoices, reports, and much more

What Are The Challenges In Managing Several Properties?

Managing several properties can be a highly profitable investment however it also comes with a set of unique challenges such as:

  • Vacancies - oftentimes, your vacation rental will be vacant for an extended period. This limits your ability to maximize profits, especially if you rely solely on it as your main source of income.

  • Highly Competitive - each year, vacation rentals are dramatically expanding meaning it becomes more and more competitive in the market.

  • Unhappy Guests - when running a vacation rental, you may face troubled guests that can not only damage your reputation but also your property.

  • Bookkeeping - oftentimes, it is hard to keep track of the profit and losses of your vacation rental business and even at times make human error. Therefore, accounting and bookkeeping should be carried out diligently.

  • Advertising and Marketing - it can be challenging when marketing to the right target audience resulting in it being time-consuming and costly.

A Must-Have Factor When Considering The Best PMS For Your Vacation Rental Business

It is hard to distinguish the differences between hundreds of vacation rental software available in the market. However, here are some guides on what qualities you should be looking for when choosing the best PMS for your vacation rental business:

1. Functionality

Booking Engine

First and foremost, when choosing a PMS, think about whether it has a built-in booking engine. It is important to know that direct bookings allow your vacation rental business to grow as well as eliminating the cost and time given to OTAs.

Furthermore, some PMS offer personalized websites with some functionalities and are SEO-friendly. Not Forgetting that PMS also allows you to integrate their booking engine with WordPress through a plugin, however hiring a professional web designer can further personalize your direct booking site.

Channel Manager

One crucial feature of a good PMS is a built-in channel manager. A channel manager is needed to ease the time and energy strain of managing multiple bookings. Hence, avoid double bookings and flexibility in availability of your property management system, efficiently distributing all your listings across all distribution channels, synchronizing rates, availability, and keeping calendars up-to-date, and manage them all in one place. Find out more on: What is a Channel Manager and why is it important?


It is an online calendar giving you necessary information such as rates, availability, reservation status, and scheduled cleaning. But of course, listings are ideally on different platforms such as Airbnb, VRBO, etc. Hence, this increases the chance of having a double booking. For a guest, it is frustrating when booking a property that is simply not available and has not been updated in the calendar. And at times, guests can even penalize for canceled bookings without a valid reason.

Having a good PMS gives access to one central calendar, eliminating double bookings, and offers the option of changing rates directly on the calendar.

Automated Communications

One of the important features when looking for the best PMS is a unified inbox that allows you to connect the inboxes of different listing channels. Apart from that, consider SMS, email templates with custom trigger rules, and email addresses among the factors. Learn more on: What is a Unified Inbox and why is it important?

Take note, managing a vacation rental mostly relies on being connected to different listing channels such as Airbnb, VRBO, Booking, and Expedia. Therefore, it is important to look for a tool that can help organize all the communications in one unified place.

Mobile Friendliness

It is a must that a PMS is easily accessible 24/7 ensuring productivity is achieved even when you are absent. For it to be accessible, the PMS must be compatible with different devices such as smartphones, tablets, and desktops.

Cleaning Tasks

Vacation rentals have a long list of cleaning tasks that would need to follow through a checklist. Whether you are thinking of outsourcing a cleaning company or hiring professional cleaning staff, it is important to check if the PMS integrates third-party or built-in cleaning management. Therefore, before thinking of purchasing a PMS, do check if it offers features that can automate cleaning tasks from start to finish such as:

  • Invite cleaners to become members of your team
  • Create and assign cleaning tasks for each rental property and member
  • Send notifications for team members of new tasks and details
  • Create a checklist for cleaners to follow through while they complete their tasks
  • Track the progress of your cleaning tasks in real-time
  • The creation of reports on cleaning tasks, cleaners, and the total time spent in cleaning

Related Article: Vacation Rental Cleaning: Tips and Tricks


Dynamic Pricing helps to find the ideal prices for your listing, hence giving you a competitive edge over other vacation rental properties. It is a great pricing tool; making frequent or automated changes in adjusting discounts, special offers, daily rates based on data insights and market demand.

Not to mention, it allows you to set up check-in/check-out dates with fast and easy bulk edits in maximizing revenues on both high and low peak seasons. With that said, dynamic pricing tools help you find the best rates throughout the year, hence increasing profits while lessening the time spent in adjusting prices.


Managing a vacation rental property ideally has a range of day-to-day operations may it be from pricing to communications or even accounting. With that said, if you own several properties, managing can be a hassle or even impossible. And when choosing the best PMS especially if you are managing more than one property, ask yourself, how well can you integrate specialized tools and connect them efficiently? Can you manage them altogether?

Therefore, having access to several advanced and ever-growing integrations in automating tasks will help in managing your vacation rentals. Check out: Hostaway Marketplace

2. Finance


Dealing with sums of money can be a hassle at times. However, a PMS should be able to integrate with accounting software that simplifies financial transactions by offering solutions in managing your finances. Apart from that, it enables:

  • Get an overview of your cash flow
  • Send invoices to guests
  • Tracks monthly, quarterly, or yearly profits and losses
  • Settle payments easily

Local Adaptations

A PMS must understand what are the local requirements such as:

  • Currencies
  • Taxes
  • Payment regulations
  • Other requirements specific to the location of the vacation rental property

3. Marketing

Having a booking engine connected to your website increases the number of direct bookings and results in revenue. With the right PMS, it reduces the cost of OTA’s commission with the help of the marketing efforts by encouraging direct bookings to your website.

Integrations with WordPress or third-party website platforms should work for you and not the other way around. And not forgetting that these are among the factors that are essential for increasing conversions on a direct booking website.

4. Reliability

Customer Support

It is important to understand that a good PMS should be reliable. Finding out that data has been lost, or not having access to technical support 24/7, is not ideal. Obviously, with technical support 24/7, it allows running a smooth operation for your vacation rental business.

However, do check if the technical support is available in your region and time zone. Do also check if it is a person who is answering your queries or a chatbot. Either way, make sure that the main goal is not just leaving you to your own devices.


Data protection and secure payment are ideally concerning when finding the right PMS for your vacation rental business. Sensitive information about your guests, staff, and investors should be protected at all times and protected against unauthorized access.

Therefore, it is useful to know to what extent the PMS provider is addressing data protection and secure payment. For example, Hostaway, a leading vacation rental software offers strong password security.

5. Flexibility and Adaptability

Ideally, a PMS should be flexible and adaptable in growing your vacation rental business. Is the software offering a wide range of choices for the growth of your vacation rental? Importantly, does the customer support proactively help and send feedback catering to what features your vacation rental business needs?

With that said, outstanding customer support makes the software a great PMS!

6. User-Friendly

An important factor in choosing the PMS for your vacation rental business is functionality. Is it user-friendly? Can you use the software without the assistance of experts? It is vital that not to settle with just any PMS but do your research and find out that the PMS of your choice, caters to the needs of your vacation rental business.

And more importantly, PMS should be well-designed, easy to learn, and user-friendly for property managers to make their jobs simpler and enjoyable.

The Final Decision

Overall, a good PMS should provide property managers vital visibility and in-built day-to-day operations in keeping track of tasks and schedules; directly impacting the guest experience. This includes managing inquiries, recurring guests, distribution channels, owners, building support, and staff all in one place. With that in mind, Hostaway, a leading vacation rental software automates almost all areas of your short-term rental business at no hidden costs. Hence, saves time, and managing your day-to-day operations is simpler and easier. For more details, request a free demo. Related Articles: Choosing your Vacation Rental Tech Stack

Ready to find out how Hostaway can transform your business?

Hostaway is proud to support thousands of Property Managers and Airbnb Hosts Around the world. We take pride in being Top Ranked in Vacation Rental Software Review Sites: Capterra, G2, Software Advice, Trust Pilot, to name just a few! Check out our reviews and read the Hostaway Case Studies from real successful and growing Short-Term Rental Managers!