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I'm very new and in the process of listing an Efficiency that is located below our home. I'm going through articles and forums to educate myself. I'm wondering about Reservation Manager that is on my Dashboard. Does everyone use this service? Also, any advise is appreciated.
I have one rental and don't use Reservation Manager. I find it takes about one hour maximum per guest to handle all aspects of the reservation from initial inquiry to security deposit return.
I created a spreadsheet to track each guests payments.
I'm with you susan, I rent my vacation house and I use an excel spreadsheet to track reservations, payments, cleaning schedule, etc. A spreadsheet program, word processing program, and e-mail should meet the requirements for managing a single property.
I signed up for RM when it came out. I don't think there is any obligation to use it. It's just there if you need it or if you like using it. It is convenient.
I mostly do business by check if there is enough time for it to clear. I prefer checks because there are no fees and it puts you in the driver's seat if there is a dispute. I have used it twice for last minute rentals. It worked fine both times.
I agree with Susan, use some sort of spread sheet to track payments, even if you use RM.
"if there is enough time"
There is always enough time for a bank check sent overnight. One business day will suffice.
If a guest truly wants to stay in your property, they will find a way to procure a bank check and send it promptly.
I agree.With only one rental, spreadsheets, word and Google Calendar reminders works fine for me. And we still only accept checks. No credit cards. We're well booked and we have good reviews so it must be working.
I use both QuickBooks and an Excel spreadsheet. My system has worked great for me up to this point. I've used RM two or three times now and I'm not particularly pleased with it. My first objection is that I don't get the travelers address information. I do when I email the rental agreement personally, of course, but not through RM. Plus, there are many extra characters in the agreement that make it messy and confusing. The last problem I have is in printing the agreement, the ink is very light. These all could be my fault, but so far haven't received a helpful response from HomeAway. I won't be using it again until I get these issues resolved.
Thanks for all the input. I can handle spreadsheets and I'm glad to know that "checks only" is not a problem. I put all my rental information in and now I'm waiting for VRBO to aprove it. I wasn't quite sure what all to put under rental rates. It seemed like a lot of space for rate information.
I wouldn't touch reservation manager with a 10-foot pole. All I want is for VRBO to list my house. They can stay out of my business other than that.
I am looking forward to cutting VRBO/HomeAway off as soon as more owners wise up and support another service.
IMHO, it's not a matter of owners wising up. It's potential renters wising up and they have, at least in my area. There are 273 rentals listed in my area on VRBO. Even with the great new filters on VRBO, it's still a lot for people to wade through. My last 3 rentals were through TripAdvisor/Flipkey and my listing now generates 70% of my inquiries-at a lot lower cost.
I believe it's mainly TripAdvisor that generates the inquiries but once you're setup on FlipKey, you're automatically set up on TripAdvisor.
Agree 100%. I don't use it and I never will. I have 3 homes and manage just fine with my merchant account, my tax/accountant lady and my online contract company that I use for signatures and contracts.
Guess I'm the odd man out.
I use the reservation manager for tracking reservations and accepting payments. Most of our guest bookings are for weekend getaways (we're less than 2 hours from NYC and Phila) and convenience is key for these folks. The ability to pay online, and with limited advance notice (like less than 2 days) is critical.
For reservations, I figure I have to keep my VRBO and HA online calendars up to date anyway, so even if I take a reservation from AirBnB or one of my other listing sources, I have to put something in the HA calendar to mark it as unavailable. I might as well enter the guest's name and contact info as well. This way I have it all in one place. Yes, I keep a spreadsheet as well (I need to for tax and municipal reporting) but I let my HA Reservation Manager calendar be my master list.
We use the Reservation Manager billing portion because we do EVERYTHING by credit card. I'm sorry, but I REALLY disagree with those who only take checks. Europeans don't even have checks, and if as a customer you tried to make me write a check and fed-ex, or even mail it to you, I'd be on to the next rental listing faster than you could hang up the phone. What a hassle! And as an owner, having to track and wait for checks to clear, checking my online bank statement all the time to check? Ugh!
The RM lets me do it all online - through a mechanism that users seem to trust more than PayPal or other online vendors. And, it lets me set up multiple payments - now, 30 days before arrival, with a damage deposit 7 days before arrival. I can change the payment periods. I can make it 2 payments - or 7 payments. For groups, I can even set it break up the payments into different size pieces so the renter can send the links to other members of the group so they can pay their portion. This has been a differentiator for a sale or two.
What don't I like about RM?
1) The payment system requires that the Damage Deposit be taken as an actual payment, and then refunded. I really wish they would let the DD be taken as a Pre-Auth only - like when you rent a car. Some people don't want to have their cards tied up with a couple thousand dollars worth of charges, even if I'll be returning $500 in a few days. I can live this this limitation, but the one I can't really live with is:
2) The inquiry response system sucks. This is my biggest complaint.
I do all my inquiry responses with my gmail email account because it lets me format text. Come on HA - it can't be that hard to incorporate the TinyMCE editor into the Reservation Manager. I need to be able to use boldface, fixed width fonts, and color to clearly explain our rates, policies, and steps to making a reservation.
Fix these two issues (or at least the last one) and I'll be happy as a clam!
I also use RM for just about all my guests. It gives a feeling of security to the guests to know they are paying through HomeAway/VRBO rather than just me through PayPal.
I use RM for one of our condos - we have four, each in seperate LLCs. You can only connect one bank account per account, and as I have no desire to seperate my condos into seperate VRBO accounts, I just do the one. Bit of a pain.
RM needs to add a lease spreadsheet feature like other sites showing your monthly rental amounts and taxes. This would be much more convenient as a single-look at your activity by month.