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How to Evaluate Vacation Rental Property Management Systems (PMS)

How to Evaluate Vacation Rental Property Management Systems (PMS)

Tech companies have been crowding the vacation rental industry for years, making it increasingly difficult to identify the best solutions for the best price. There are so many vacation rental property management solutions available now and seemingly more every week. It can be overwhelming to determine the best system for your needs. This is even more difficult for new property managers and hosts that don’t have experience in the industry or the technical knowledge to evaluate bad tech from good.

Included in this article is a list of great questions to ask during a demo and consider when making a final buying decision.

How Not To Evaluate Vacation Rental Property Management Systems

Where many new hosts and budding property managers start is in Airbnb hosting groups on Facebook. You'll frequently get questions like "what is the best channel manager to use?" and "what is the best PMS?" While these are great questions they often attract dishonest answers.

Comment sections are often bombarded with dozens of low-quality or biased suggestions. You’ll notice a flood of affiliate links and entrepreneurs recommending their solutions. Amongst the noise, there will be truly honest reviews coming from real users that love the product and have no alternative motive than trying to help, but it can hard to tell the difference.

Instead, when evaluating systems it’s important to do your own research, educate yourself, read reviews, and book some demos.

How Best to Evaluate Vacation Rental Property Management Systems

When evaluating your PMS options research the five major parts of Vacation Rental Property Management Systems:

  • Listing Manager
  • Unified Calendar
  • Channel Manager (CMS)
  • Guest Automation Tools
  • Task Automation Tools

Evaluate the overall performance, user experience, competitiveness, and support by reading online reviews on reputable software review sites such as:

How to Evaluate a Property Management Systems Listing Manager?

The listing manager of your property management system is where you can find and edit your vacation rentals details. The more that is included in the Listing Manager and connected via the Channel Manager the better! A strong Listing Manager will keep your details updated, central, and universal across major OTAs.

When evaluating a property management systems listing manager consider:

  • How is the ease of use and navigation (UX)?
  • What fields are included and what fields are editable?
  • What is mapped and what is not mapped to major OTAs?
  • Is the system customizable with tags and custom fields?

Hostaway - Listing Manager

How to Evaluate a Property Management Systems Unified Calendar?

The unified calendar of your property management system is a calendar view of your property reservations, availability, rates, and more. It’s a crucial piece of the system that provides valuable insight into your property.

When evaluating the unified calendar system of the property management system your reviewing consider:

  • Can you adjust views to be both a multi-unit timeline and a calendar format?
  • Can you adjust the view based on filters such as tags, city, property?
  • Is valuable guest data easily accessible?
  • Can you add direct reservations and owner use dates?

Hostaway - Multi-Calendar

How to Evaluate a Property Management Systems Channel Manager?

Your channel manager is the bridge between your PMS and Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) such as Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, Expedia, TripAdvisor. Channel managers allow you to seamlessly manage listings and guests across sales channels.

In order to evaluate your property management systems channel manager reliability and value consider:

  • What sales channels is the channel manager integrated with?
  • Does it use a direct API connection, an unofficial API, or a third party?
  • Is the connection 2-way, 1-way, or Ical?
  • Can you make adjustments in the PMS such as marking up specific channels?

Hostaway - Channel Manager

How to Evaluate a Property Management Systems Guest Automation Tools?

Guest automation is a massive time-saving feature included in vacation rental software. It will allow you to send automated messages, have a unified inbox, template conversations, automate guest reviews, and more.

To compare the Guest Automation Tools provided by Property Management Systems consider:

  • Can you automate messages, reviews, and create templates?
  • How extensive is the list of variable fields and triggers?
  • Can you find important guest details within the inbox and further detail in a guest portal?
  • Can you easily adjust scheduled messages when necessary?

Hostaway - Automated Guest Messages

How to Evaluate a Property Management Systems Task Automation Tools?

Just like guest automation, task managers are a suite of the amazing feature that simplifies, automates, and organizes your property operations. These tools will help manage your team, assign tasks such as cleaning and maintenance, and automatically update everyone.

In order to evaluate Task Automation Tools of Property Management Systems consider:

  • How flexible and customized is the user management system?
  • How extensive is the list of automated triggers?
  • Can you build templated checklists?
  • Does the PMS have an app that your cleaners and team can use?

Hostaway - Automated Task Manager

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!