50 Replies Latest reply: Jan 11, 2014 10:51 AM by jjbecksr RSS

    Best software for a single unit short-term rental?

    New Member

      Hi folks!  I am new owner of a single unit short term rental.  We got everything up and running and now I am scrambling to keep the bookings organized (individual rental agreements attached to the rentor record, when payments are due, notes, did I send a particular group a welcome package, etc...).  Currently, I am doing it in Excel.  However, I am finding it clunky.  

       

      I am sure there are many great software packages out there.  However, are any tailored specifically to the very small players in this business who have relatively simple needs.

       

      It would be great to hear from a few of you who have hands on experience.  I appreciate the opportunity to broach this question to such an experienced community!  Thank you!

        • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
          tyann Contributor

          Great question! I am interested in what other people use as well. I only have file folders and then enter reminders into my calendar to prompt me when I need to do something:

           

          • deposit due
          • remind balance due
          • balance due
          • send directions
          • arrival
          • departure
          • send thankyou

           

          That way I am not looking through folders every day and counting out days for each set of guests for each of the steps. I have a "deposit due" folder and then a "balance due" folder to move the agreement and info into after the deposit is made. Then a "paid in full" section after the balance has been paid.

           

          I keep the guest's name, phone number, security code, and number of people in the group written in my reservations calendar so the important info is at easy reach at all times.

           

          Tyann Marcink

          www.vacationhomeinbranson.com

            • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
              New Member

              Good input! The tip about putting due dates on the calendar is better than my current system of affixing a sticky to the file ;-)

                • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                  tsvr Contributor

                  Don't cha just love those sticky notes!

                  I too, use my (hard cover) reservation calendar for marking dates final payments, etc. are due (I travel a lot and can have it handy).

                  The other thing I use is the calendar that comes with my computers email program. I use it in conjunction with my HomeAway online clendar and my reservation planner. It even allows me to put reminder chimes and pop-up reminders on it.

                  I have tried an actual software program for any of this but am always interested in finding out what's out there and if there is a better way of doing it then what I am currently doing.

              • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                amyg Active Contributor

                Hi David, I use ivacationonline.com to manage my bookings.  I really like it and have used their system for over 3 years.  I have a link to the online booking page from our vrbo listing and when I get a rental request, I follow up with a confirmation.  Takes just seconds to do.  The system has everything I need so the entire rental process is handled through IVOL.  I just log in and do everything from my dashboard.  If guests do not book directly, when I send our inquiry replies I include the link so they can book it online.  This has worked very well for me and is much simpler than my old hanging file folder system. 

                 

                I give ivacationonline high marks for being very easy to work with and taking suggestions from VR owners.  They make regular improvements to the system--I just got notice of another one today.  If you need help, they are good about responding promptly and solving your problem. If you want to see an example, here's my IVOL listing:

                 

                http://www.ivacationonline.com/Rentals/Rental_View.asp?PropertyID=585

                 

                I don't have any stake in ivacationonline, though I have met the owners of the site.  I didn't want to spend the money on a reservation system but after going through am embarrassing double-booking situation, I realized I needed to look at something to keep me better organized and on top of my rentals.  It's been a fantastic solution for me.

                 

                Amy

                • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                  New Member

                  I use VRconnection an on line service.  Your property must be on their website to use the management services.  It is wonderful.  They have templates you can use to send out to your guests or make your own.  You can send out reminders to you guests or only to yourself, housekeeper, manager, etc. I set up a merchant account too so I can do on line booking and payment in the matter of minutes. 

                   

                  I have all of my inquiries (Home Away, VRBO, Vacation Rentals, stand alone site, etc) go through my VRconnection account.  When I get an inquiry, all of their dates and any info they gave are already in the system.  My notice from VRconnection gives me a notice if there is or is not a conflict with there dates. Since I have more than one property, it is easy to check it I can transfer it to another unit by a couple clicks of the mouse.  I can check the inquiriy’s history to see if they are a past guest or not.  I put my quote and any other notes in the inquiry on the VRconnection site that only I can see incase they end up booking so it is already to go if they book. I can use the VRconnection site to respond using the email address assigned to the property or I can use a different one (which is my case).  My pricing is too complex to take advantage of their auto reply and auto quoting pricing.  They also offer and automated booking I believe but I screen my guests first so I don't know if it is available.  If they want to rent, I go into the account and send them an email with the link to their reservation.  All of the information I already have and my quote are already in the system so it doesn't take long to send out the contract.  Another plus is it does not allow me to double book and they can sync most of my calendars. 

                   

                  You can set it up to send out rent reminders, arrival info, receipts, thank you's, cleaning instructions, etc.  Each property has a different email address so I don't use all of the features as I prefer it to come from my main account but you can still use the templates.  For example when their balance is due I click on the link on their account for my balance due notice.  It brings up my template with their link to their reservation, due dates, amount due, their name, etc already filled in.  I copy and paste it into my personal email account and send it out.  (I only use the assigned vrconnection email address for the initial contract but you can use it for everything if you wish to.) When I send my “Reminder the balance is almost due” it has the balance due, date due, my mailing address, etc.  If they want to pay by check on line or by credit card, or review their contract it has a link to their reservation.  I set up my merchant account through Jennifer at Ecomm.  If you go through VRconnection to sign up you'll get a good rate and no extra costs to set it up.  It is also handy. 

                   

                  I set up my VRconnection account to send a copy of the contract to the guest and myself at acceptance and Ecomm to send a copy of the receipt to both the guest and I.  I open my email and I have a booking completed and money on the way to my bank.  Well worth the fees.  Drew offers you a couple months for free at  www.vrconnection.com.  Please tell Drew I sent you.  I believe I get a month free if you decide to use his service.  Here are my listings on his site. http://www.vrconnection.com/MeadowBrookWalkIn and http://www.vrconnection.com/mbretreat . For an extra $50/yr, if you want your own site but you don't have the time to build one, you can get your own stand alone site.  Here is mine.  www.meadowbrook-resort.com .  All of my reviews on Home Away all show up too on both the VRconnection site and on my stand alone site.  I will admit it is a pain when you start because it offers so much but once you figure out all it will do it will save you a lot of time. 

                   

                  When you go to VRconnection, go to the upper right hand corner and select the link for owners.

                   

                  Good luck,

                  Sandy Kalvelage

                  • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                    New Member

                    I use Aximize.com a hosted solution.  While it may not have all of the notification and reminder features of some other vendors, it does except bookings, maintain calendar and integrates with paypal to send out invoices and accept payments.  While paypal takes their cut, I don't need to deal with receiving checks in the mail.  The email invoice contains my rental agreement so by paying by email they have agreed to the rental terms. I have almost no paperwork I need to maintain.  It also provides you a full functional web site and widgets you can embed in other sites. 

                     

                    Mike Miksis

                    University View House, Seattle WA

                    • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                      Contributor

                      I just use excel. I have a couple different checklists...

                       

                      One with all checkin dates and the steps I haev to complete for each renter.

                       

                      Then each renter gets a file folder with all the steps that need to be done, the dates it was done. check numbers, etc.

                      • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                        Contributor

                        I used to manage my two rentals on calendars with notes on reminders etc. I decided that this was not best use of my time, so I developed a solution that automatically responds to inquiries within minutes. It gives renters answer to their questions fast, are we availabe and how much is it? They love getting answers quickly. I had 750 inquiries from 6 advertising sites last year and love knowing that I didnt type one reply. Its a hosted solution, can be accessed anywhere anytime. It costs as little as 199 per year. Check us out www.myvrms.com

                        • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                          New Member

                          ...for a single unit short-term rental?

                          You could just use a sheet of paper or simple excell table. Don't bother with software for one unit!

                          • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                            Contributor

                            Use Kigo.net which is free for owners. It's an all-in-one integrated solution and I think that for one property it's more functionnalities that you can dream of. See for yourself :

                             

                            http://kigo.net/tour

                            • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                              New Member

                              As a new member of the community I found this to be a great question and was amazed by all the answers.  Thanks to all. 

                               

                              Bruce

                              bkkeproperties@gmail.com

                              • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                New Member

                                I agree that with one rental property, paying extra for a management utility is probably not necessary.  I use a combination of Outlook (the full version, which includes email and calendar) and Files and Folders to manage things.

                                 

                                I specifically DON'T use an 'all online' solution, because I travel a lot, sometimes in foreign countries, and may not have as easy access to the internet as the average person.  If it's on my laptop, I can always refer to it, even if I can't get a connection right away.

                                 

                                98% of my rental inquiries come in via email.  I then (within Outlook)  have an 'Inquiries -Open' and 'Inquiries -Nak' folder.  The Nak's are people who's inquiry I can't fill (I keep them around in case of a cancellation, or to pass to another unit owner in our complex).  All active correspondence to and from a prospect gets filed in the Inquiries folder.

                                 

                                When it turns into a confirmed booking, I then record the dates and contact info on my Outlook Calendar, with payment and key date reminders.  And I move all the email activity to a new folder with the Check-In Date and the Owner's Name under a folder named 'Confirmed Bookings'.

                                 

                                Once the rental is completed, I move that folder to 'Completed Rentals'.

                                 

                                The Renter's folder under Confirmed Bookings has every correspondence between me and the renter, including the initial inquiry, all negotiations, the rental contract, etc.  If they call me on the phone, I'll document that call via an email to myself.  In Outlook, you can modify the subject of an email after the fact, so if you get an email with Subject: Hey, you can change it to 'Rental Negotiations with G. Smith for April 1-5', so scanning down my email correspondence is really easy.

                                 

                                In the folders on my hard drive, I have an Excel quote sheet (this is mainly to eliminate math errors on my part), a Booking Confirmation, and a Rental Contract for each rental.  But I rarely have to refer to them, because the email has all the details.

                                 

                                For financial tracking, I use Quicken Premier (without the Rental Property upgrade)--I have been using Quicken for years, so it was easy to fold tracking rental expenses, receipts, and maintenance into my existing money management.

                                • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                  Contributor

                                  I keep it very simple.  For book keeping I use Excel.  For follow ups I use Lightning.  It's a calendar program that interfaces with my e-mail program.  When it's time to charge a credit card, send out a survey, or whatever I need to do, it dings and a window opens on the computer telling me what I need to do.  When I make a booking I have a checklist I print off telling me different things I need to do.  One of them is to program different items in the Lightning calendar for follow ups which takes 1 or 2 minutes.  By the way, the hard copy checklist is wonderful! It reminds me to fill in the calendars on different sites, to update the guest list and e-mail to the cleaner and resident manager of the complex, etc.  Can't live without it!

                                  • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                    New Member

                                    I use Excel - inexpensive - completely editable by me - easily sortable

                                    I have 2 workbooks -

                                    Reservation Workbook and Calendar Workbook

                                    Reservation Workbook has  3 worksheets

                                    1.) Reservation Info

                                    I assign each reservation a number and capture - address - e-mail - phone numbers - check in dates - check out dates - unit - rate - tax - cleaning fee - total

                                    2.) Payment Schledule

                                    Reservation number - payment due  - date due - SD?- SD return date -  method - payment received

                                    easy to sort by payment due date - SD return Date - method to recocile CC statement - paymetn date to reconcile bank account.

                                    3.) Cleaning

                                    Reservation number - check in date - check out date - unit number

                                    sort by cleaning date to e-mail cleaners.

                                     

                                    Calendar Workbook has 12 worksheets - 1 for each month

                                    Each date has 7 lines - name in line is booked.

                                    Easy to print out and take with to see you schedule.

                                     

                                    Renata

                                    • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                      Contributor

                                      I spoke to a woman this morning who has multiple units.  She recently bought an IPad.  She carries it around with her and is able to make instant replies & instant bookings.  She uses Excel for her financials, Lightening for her followups (she said there are other freebie calendar programs out there for other e-mail programs - just google to find them) and she uses a system very much like Renata uses for cleaners and her reservations.  What a wonderful tool!  She said the prices are coming down and they are getting more affordable. Since she uses the IPad for her businesses she wrote the cost of it off on her taxes and depreciates it out.  She also said she bought one of the older models and not the new one.

                                       

                                      Note: Our cleaner has her own business and she keeps track of her own schedule so that makes it very easy for me since we are several hundred miles away. However, it is my job to be sure I know exactly when the guests are arriving on the island, especially if it's a back to back, so hopefully the cleaners have more time than the 3 p.m. check-in time to get the unit done.  It's definitely a team work effort.

                                      • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                        New Member

                                        Wow!  It has been just about three months since I first posed this question (about short term rental software).  Everybody has provided such great input.  It has helped me - and I am sure others with the same quest. 

                                         

                                         

                                        I started out with sticky notes and excel spreadsheets.  This turned out to be a very popular method of management and seems to work great for many people.  My hat is off to those that can oversee their property this (most affordable) way.  I am simply not that good - or organized - or both... 

                                         

                                        I also demo'ed the various software packages that were suggested.  They worked and I felt they would have done an admirable job.  I must confess, however, I selected a different product, than what was suggested.

                                         

                                        All in all, this type of software has provided me stress free control of our vacation rental.

                                         

                                        There are too many reasons to list.  However, the simplicity of pulling up my dashboard to get a quick perspective on my entire business (who needs to make payment, do I need to return a security deposit, who is checking in / checking out, is wonderful.

                                         

                                        I currently have 24 reservations spread out through April 2012 and I have no concern that I forgot something or double booked somebody.  Additionally, the reporting features that these types of software packages provide is wonderful.  Sales, averages, taxes due – you name it, these packages enable the user to slice and dice all the data…

                                         

                                        Lastly, the ability to book my condo directly from my website is a great feature.  It not only makes my life easier but my customers can try different dates and get accurate quotes for their stay.  It even enables them to put in a discount code – if and when I choose to do a promotion.

                                         

                                        The long story short – this is the best 20 bucks I spend each month ($19.95 to be accurate).

                                         

                                        Thanks again everybody for your input!  Please feel free to keep sharing your thoughts and experiences with this type of software!

                                         

                                        Best regards,

                                         

                                        Dave and Stacy Savard

                                        www.LuxuryInBreckenridge.com

                                         

                                        P.S. I have refrained from mentioning what software company I chose since I did not want to turn this into a commercial.  If you would like to know, however, simply send me an e-mail at dave@luxuryinbreckenridge.com

                                          • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                            tsvr Contributor

                                            David, thanks for the update on your question.

                                             

                                            Would you mind sharing which software you decided to use that is working out

                                            so well for you. We have 3 properties and eventually I am going to need to

                                            update to something easier to do than what I am doing.

                                             

                                            Thanks, Lin

                                            www.ThreeSistersVacationRentals.com

                                            <http://www.threesistersvacationrentals.com/>

                                            ThreeSistersVacationRentals@mi.rr.com

                                            Lin (313) 387-0690

                                            Sue (248) 755-1618

                                              • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                New Member

                                                This is a follow up on my post of two days ago.

                                                 

                                                In addition to Lin's request above, I received quite a few questions about what solution I went with. In an effort to be as non-commercial as possible I will say I went with Lodgix.com (and in the same breath, say) it may or may not be the best solution for other vacation rental owners.

                                                 

                                                I originally contacted a total of about 8 companies and quickly culled my decision to three – primarily based on price.

                                                 

                                                It turns out that many vacation rental (VR) software solutions (like Escapia – a HomeAway company) charge a large initial start up fee (in the thousands of dollars) and then hope you will continue to pay a couple of hundred per month for usage.

                                                 

                                                Unfortunately, I cannot remember the names of those companies – otherwise I would list them and save you time and trouble…

                                                 

                                                Anyway, as I was saying, I narrowed my options down to three VR software companies; two that our great community suggested and one I discovered on my own. They were;

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Others on this post also mentioned the three below. However, they came through later in my evaluation process and I simply did not get to them. You probably want to include them on your own evaluation.

                                                 

                                                 

                                                I will say that both www.ivacationonline.com and www.vrconnection.com do have a couple of features that Lodgix.com does NOT have.

                                                 

                                                For instance, they seem to allow rental owners the ability to sell Accidental Rental Damage Insurance instead of collecting a security deposit.

                                                 

                                                Also, www.ivacationsonline.com (and probably www.vrconnections.com) enable owners to send a nice questionnaire as a follow up to guests. (I can do that in Lodgix.com – however, it is my own e-mail instead of what looks like a more professional questionnaire…).

                                                 

                                                Conversely, I think Lodgix.com may do a better job of integrating calendar and booking features into one’s own personal property website (only really important if you have or intend to have an individual website for your property).

                                                 

                                                All in all, I found all three of these solutions to provide similar core functionality.

                                                 

                                                • Manage Guests, Reservations, Payments, Fees, Refunds, Taxes & Services, etc..
                                                • Create and send customizable Invoices
                                                • Calendaring, Online Rate Quoting, Rental Agreement Check-Off

                                                 

                                                There are two more things I think I should touch on; PRICE and DELIVERY.

                                                 

                                                When I say delivery, I mean how and where the software resides. There are basically two type of software nowadays.

                                                 

                                                1. Software that you install on your computer (via download or CD)
                                                2. Web based software (now commonly referred to as the “cloud”)

                                                 

                                                Personally, I am a big fan of the cloud. It is as easy as going to any old website. That means I can do my VR work from any computer that is connected to the internet. The three I evaluated were all web / cloud based.

                                                 

                                                I know some people are concerned about security, when it comes to cloud applications. I am not one of those people. Perhaps I should be…

                                                 

                                                So – onto pricing!

                                                 

                                                Suffice it to say, this stuff if cheap!

                                                 

                                                • VRConnections came in the as the least expensive at $16.66 per month
                                                • Lodgix next at $19.95 per month
                                                • iVacationonline at $24.99 per month

                                                 

                                                I think these prices are based on yearly subscriptions - which should not scare anyone who is not planning to sell within the year. Once you input all your info you will want to stop using them.

                                                 

                                                It could be argued that a client based software solution (downloadable or provided via CD) provides a better value since you buy it once – and that is it.

                                                 

                                                However, one of the benefits of a cloud based solution is that developers can easily push updates to the program. Client based systems will need you to initiate the update (and probably an additional payment) if and when updates do become available.

                                                 

                                                By the way, most of these software companies provide a free 30 or 60 day trial. So get out there and try some out! Just be aware of how much effort you are putting in during the trial period.

                                                 

                                                For instance – I recommend that you do not spend time posting any advertising information about your property. It is nice these companies provide that extra advertising channel (like a small HomeAway.com). However, you can do that later once you settle on a particular software provider.

                                                 

                                                Go slow and ask the software company questions since customer service will be a big aspect of this new long term relationship. If you are not happy with the service in your trial period I would take that as a hint.

                                                 

                                                Bottom line - no matter how ya slice it – any of these solutions (in my humble opinion) provide a tremendous bang for the buck!

                                                 

                                                Best regards!

                                                 

                                                Dave Savard

                                                dave@LuxuryInBreckenridge.com

                                                 

                                                P.S. There were several people who asked me about the calendar, online booking and possible integration with individual property websites. Therefore, I thought it might be helpful (and hopefully not confusing) to show the various packages as they display that information.

                                                 

                                                I have taken the liberty of showing the three software packages – and how they display CALENDARS.

                                                 

                                                Both Amy and Sandy, from the above thread, posted their websites and the calendaring / booking feature –so I hope they don’t mind me showing it again…

                                                 

                                                Amy, showcasing her lovely properties in Gatlinburg, TN using ivacationonline.com...

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Sandy – displaying her very nice condo’s in Branson, MO using VRConnections.com...

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Also, if I recall correctly VRConnections will create a website for you – for an extra fee.

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Dave (me) – showing his slightly quirky place in Breckenridge, CO using Lodigx.com...

                                                 

                                                 

                                                Please note – this is a website I created for the property and then used the Lodgix API (some html code) to display my Lodgix calendar on our properties website.

                                                 

                                                Confused – feel free to e-mail with specific questions. This post is WAY too long as it is…

                                                  • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                    Contributor

                                                    Hello David,

                                                     

                                                    It sounds like you put in a lot of time and effort into finding a solution that would suit your vacation rental wants and needs. Thank you for posting such a detailed and comprehensive response.

                                                    I am sure all the owners appreciated hearing your verdict and what led you to that decision. The software companies listed definitely present good solutions and it’s excellent that you were able to narrow down your options to one company.

                                                     

                                                    Ideally a vacation rental software gives you the ability to manage, organize and take your business to the next level, whether you are using it for a single property or hundreds. This includes:

                                                    • Reservation management
                                                    • Online payment
                                                    • Housekeeping schedule
                                                    • Auto filled emails
                                                    • Booking statistics
                                                    • etc.

                                                     

                                                    If you're already looking into a management software, why not go the extra mile with a company that also incorporates website design with a great customer service? The right system can elevate your business to an instantly professional image.

                                                     

                                                    The Kigo system combines management features as well as custom website design. You can also watch your business grow with activity monitoring that lets you easily review payments and booking stats per period or geographically. An overview:

                                                     

                                                     

                                                    Thanks again, and if you have any further questions don’t hesitate to ask!

                                              • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                New Member

                                                Hi there,

                                                I'm also an owner who was having similar issues tracking my rentals so I invented my own app!

                                                It's for iPhone right now, with plans already in the works for android and blackberry. I'm not tooting my own horn to go check out the app website but it's really useful and we have an update coming out in a week. I use this board for advice and know how so I hope the app can help you too.

                                                Http://www.tapandtrackrentals.com

                                                Or iTunes store tap &amp; track rentals

                                                • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                  Contributor

                                                  I'm surprised that nobody's mentioned ZOHO (http://www.zoho.com).  For under 4 users, it's free, and has done fine by us for the past 3 years.  It contains a complete desktop:  word (writer), excel (sheet), a calendar, email (you forward your email to your zoho account, and can set up the email so that your regular, not Zoho, email address is used in your responses.  It has a calendar, task list, and a separate, but easily integrated and also free, CRM, or client relationship manager, which we use to store client and vendor data, contracts, scans of checks received, and important dates/events.  Because it's online, it's accessible from anywhere there's an internet connection, and has an iPhone and Android app. 

                                                   

                                                  There's a bit of a learning curve, but it's not a geeky thing that requires a degree in computer science to use....

                                                   

                                                  Jim Van

                                                  Avondale Properties

                                                  http://www.avondaleri.com

                                                  • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                    New Member

                                                    I use Bookerville.com, it's the best and affordable.  If I have a question I can email or I can just call John on the phone, he'll take care of whatever question I might have that very second.  Check them out!  www.Bookerville.com  you can see their calendars live on my site, www.BeachCondoGirl.com

                                                      • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                        New Member

                                                        BCG....thanks for your comments.   I checked out Bookerville and it looks interesting.

                                                         

                                                        You have a great website. Did u design yourself or use a design company?

                                                         

                                                        Do you use HomeAway for any of your bookings? (I am wondering if the Bookerville calendar can be integrated with HomeAways)

                                                          • Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                            New Member

                                                            Hi, this is for property owners to manage online for single and multi unit properties. Integrate to homeaway calendar

                                                            http://www.lodgix.com/117.html

                                                            regards.

                                                            • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                              New Member

                                                              Hi JohnBoy!

                                                              Thank you, I love my site too!  I had it built several years ago, I could NEVER build anything like it.  I have a small handful of listings on Homeaway, I do not think they will allow you to link a calendar from another site but I would love to link my Bookerville calendars.  A few years back the calendars were displayed but the owners manually inserting a link, BeachCondoGirl.com still does allow this methods as does a few other small sites.  I wanted my own site because during the selling process I wanted to remove myself from the big advertisers and all of the competition.  I don't know where your rental is but if its not in an area where I sell I'd be happy to give you a free 1 year listing if you sign for a year with Bookerville, this would give you the chance to use Bookervilles reservation system with a public view calendar away from the pressure of the big sites.  Just let me know, I'd be happy to hook you up in no time!!

                                                              • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                New Member

                                                                One other thing I forgot to mention.  While a property owner or manager of just 1 or 2 rentals could do everything on paper or Excel I love the fact of knowing that I'll never double book a rental in error in addition to the cleaners having their own login.  They login in often to keep their own schedule, I never email them anything.  I think you can program Bookerville to send email notifications to the cleaners, I don't but I think the option is there. 

                                                            • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                              New Member

                                                              Try http://www.bookerville.com for 30 days free.  We've made it very easy to use for both you, the rental manager, and also for your customers, the potential guests.  Make sure whatever booking service you choose is compatible with all popular browsers.  Avoid those that are implemented using Flash technology, as it will not work on all devices.

                                                               

                                                              A few of Bookerville's customizable features:

                                                               

                                                              • Integration with PayPal, Authorize.net
                                                              • Cleaning fees, Booking fees, Security Deposits/Waivers
                                                              • Custom value-added upgrades that are presented to the guest at booking time
                                                              • Collect all, part, or none of the balance due at booking time
                                                              • Allow-Lists and Block-Lists (email address based)
                                                              • Custom header banners and color to match your site(s)
                                                              • Super-extensive email template system lets you customize email correspondence
                                                              • Automated custom contracts, check-in/check-out instructions
                                                              • Multi-Property search lists all available properties, with pricing and quick links to book/request
                                                              • Super-easy rate-entry system.  Click range of dates, enter rate, done!
                                                              • Annual copy-rates-forward tool
                                                              • Tax-exempt option for your guests (optional)
                                                              • Minimum/Maximum stays are as easy to enter as rates - best-in-class
                                                              • Add new users for your owners, agents, cleaners, etc, and grant limited access per property
                                                              • Track marketing channels
                                                              • Define as many multi-day discounts as you want
                                                              • 24/7, commission-free web-based booking system for you and your guests

                                                               

                                                              And too many more to list!  Try us free:  http://www.bookerville.com

                                                               

                                                               

                                                                • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                  New Member

                                                                  Best iPhone app to track your calendar. Http://tapandtrackrentals.com

                                                                  • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                    New Member

                                                                    Along with the apps mentioned already, another good one is "Vacation RentPro", at http://VacationRentPro.com.  It offers one of the most complete set of features for vacation rental management software.  The website has all the details plus a free download for 60 days.  It integrates with VRBO/HomeAway and other calendars, has the ability to view bookings and availability remotely on iphones and smart phones, optionally interfaces accounting transactions with QuickBooks or Quicken, does credit card processing with multiple merchant accounts, provides online calendars, with optional websites and online bookings, plus a whole lot more.  And, it's a one time cost.  (No recurring charges).  $199 for 2 properties, and up for more units.  Plan to spend some time on the website.  There's a lot of features and info there.

                                                                    • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                      jeffbailey Contributor

                                                                      There's also a new iPhone App  called Vacation Props can not only keep track of the availability for  your properties, but is a great timesaver in responding to all your  VRBO, HomeAway, VacationRentals & FlipKey requests.  Vacation Props  will automatically analyze the request, checking availability, rates,  etc., and create a email response.  You have complete control over the  email templates used for the inquiry responses.

                                                                       

                                                                      Here's a link to the app in iTunes:

                                                                       

                                                                      http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vacation-props/id452612798?mt=8

                                                                       

                                                                      You can also find out more information on the web site and download the User Guide:

                                                                       

                                                                      http://www.fourthframe.com/FourthFrame_Technologies/VacationProps.html

                                                                      • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                        New Member

                                                                        www.xlholidayhomes.com

                                                                         

                                                                        Online property vacation management system designed for vacation property owners with one or more vacation homes.

                                                                        You can keep track of bookings, email you alerts. I have been using it for about 8 months now and would not be without it.

                                                                        • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                          New Member

                                                                          This post helped us get started on our search for the best rental management software. Our evaluation wasn't as comprehensive as David's but we did take alot of ideas from this thread to pick the best solution for our property.

                                                                           

                                                                          We compared:

                                                                          vrconnection.com

                                                                          bookerville.com

                                                                          myvrzone.com

                                                                           

                                                                          Our primary need was to use something to help us track and respond to inquiries, keep track of who was booked when, provide electronic contracts and means to book and integrate credit card payment. This is our first vacation rental and we are new to renting, starting out seemed a bit overwhelming to try to figure out all the pieces to what we needed.

                                                                           

                                                                          We weren't as concerned with advertising or with creation of our own website, but we did want to integrate our availabiltiy calendar and booking for into our own website. Also for the location of our property, the main player is VRBO, so integration with VRBO was key for us.

                                                                           

                                                                          We ended up picking www.myvrzone.com and after 6 months, I can honestly say it is the best $120 we have spent. A year of use is only $10 per month. It tracks EVERYTHING for us - from pulling details out of inquiries (most of which we get from vrbo) to being our master calender (that we sync to vrbo) to tracking who has reserved when, we also collect a booking form from each guest that has their contact information and includes our terms and conditions in a verified electronically signed form.

                                                                           

                                                                          It did take me about 4 hours to set everything up - putting in rates, dates, etc that we need to respond to inquiries and to put a contract together - part of that was that we are new to this so we were defining rates/dates as we went along. This program has saved us hours and hours of effort.

                                                                           

                                                                          How it works for us:
                                                                          We get an inquiry (either VRBO or our website), forward to myvrzone.com

                                                                          MyVrzone application creates a quote specific to the inquiry - confirms if the property is available, adds options like parking/cleaning, etc.

                                                                          We customize the quote if we want to provide a discount, etc.

                                                                          Quote is emailed to potential guest along with a link that they can book from if desired.

                                                                           

                                                                          If guest decides to book:

                                                                          They click through and enter detailed contact info, view/accept terms and conditions and are provided options for payment.

                                                                          We have chosen to use authorize.net for CC payments - fully integrated to www.myvrzone.com

                                                                          The guest has access to everything about their reservation from the emails we send.

                                                                           

                                                                          In our dashboard, we get notifications of upcoming payments that are due, upcoming reservations as well as ticklers to send welcome packets, welcome home letters, etc. We even download a report of all upcoming guests and send it to our cleaning company.

                                                                           

                                                                          Lastly, where we have run into something that didn't work as we wanted - ie a specific way to search inquiries, the owner - Neil is great at getting back to us.

                                                                           

                                                                          Disclaimer - we don't own any part of myvrzone.com - we are just very satisified customers and feel that this software has greatly simplified managing our property.

                                                                           

                                                                          marty and john

                                                                           

                                                                          www.aspentraditions.com

                                                                          http://www.vrbo.com/370991

                                                                          http://www.myvrzone.com/Guest/?cid=643

                                                                          • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                            New Member

                                                                            Dunno if anyone has mentioned it, but I've switched over to using OwnerReservations.com.  For small operations [owners with 5 properties or less] I don't think anything beats it.  The big thing for me was that it keeps VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey calendars all up to date in real time.  Myvrzone does that too but they only update like once per day or so.  OwnerRez updates the calendars as soon as the reservation lands.  I've also been impressed with the reliability of the app.  I've never seen it hesitate or flicker when connecting.  Always very fast.  The previous group I used was down about once every two weeks.  VRDesk had downtime issues too.  If you're bigger than 10 properties, OwnerRez probably won't work for you very well because they don't have a ribbon screen.  No mobile app either.

                                                                              • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                                myvrzone New Member

                                                                                The big thing for me was that it keeps VRBO, HomeAway and FlipKey calendars all up to date in real time.  Myvrzone does that too but they only update like once per day or so.

                                                                                MyVRzone reservation changes cause updates those other calendars immediately - so it's changed in real-time too. If you happen to use the HomeAwayConnect (HAC) calendar as the one place you update your calendar then, yes, changes will be synchronized once a day automatically. Most users set the reservations directly in the system as it provides more flexibility and the HAC calendar gets updated automatically anyway.

                                                                                 

                                                                                You also get to see your reservations on your PC or Mobile device too if you want - there's an ICAL feed that you can use to display them in gmail, outlook, iPhone, android etc. It's handy on your smartphone to see current/upcoming reservations and be able to contact them using the displayed contact info if needed.

                                                                                 

                                                                                These services are all part of the free account subscription.

                                                                                 

                                                                                Cheers,

                                                                                Neil

                                                                                • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                                  jeffbailey Contributor

                                                                                  OwnerReservation.com looks interesting.  Thanks for the link.  I saw you can sign up for a fee account, but I didn't see any information about a premium paid service.  I was curious what the pricing model is?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Also, this email thread reminded me of another service that was in beta and looked very promising - SnapVR.com.  However I see the site is no longer active.  Anyone know what happened with them?

                                                                                   

                                                                                  Jeff Bailey

                                                                                  Creator of Vacation Props, an innovative iPhone/iPad app to manage vacation properties and quickly respond to inquiries

                                                                                  http://www.fourthframe.com/FourthFrame_Technologies/VacationProps.html

                                                                                  http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/vacation-props/id452612798?mt=8

                                                                                • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                                  New Member

                                                                                  We have had our florida unit for past 3 years and as discussed above multiple reservations in different steps of process can be very tedious to manage. Having technologists in our family, we built an app which runs on the mobile devices and all browsers, but solves this problem very differently. We did this as we found the other solutions to be very computer intensive i.e. you had to spend some time on the computer and we wanted to build a hands off system to drastically improve an vacation rental owners lifestyle.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  We built this product as a workflow system of multiple steps from inquiry to checkout and cleaning including dynamic pricing and we are workiing on making it available for FREE in beta and also give all BETA users 1 year free when it is generally available. Also, each step of the process is dynamically linked to email templates for your property and the app can directly let you personalize the template based email and send it directly from your app by connecting your Gmail account. I have been using this app for a while before we decided to make it publicly available and cannot stress that I now dont have to remember anything, never have to search my email to find what is going on with a customer/guest, no cut and paste of emails, no remembering what has to happen next as I get automatically nofified by the app for my next action on any inquiry/reservation and I can do it from my iPhone when I am shopping or when I am on my computer at home.

                                                                                   

                                                                                  If you are interested, please check this out at http://lodgetec.com an pre-register for beta. I have improved my lifestyle drastically by leveraging this tool and sincerely hope that the community can benefit from it.  

                                                                                  • Re: Best software for a single unit short-term rental?
                                                                                    softwaregirl New Member

                                                                                    Hi David!

                                                                                     

                                                                                    I saw your post and thought it might be fitting for me to reach out to you. I know it has been awhile since your last post but I wanted to see if you found a rental software yet? I think if you checked out OwnerReservations.com  you can find everything you are looking for. It also imports to excel, a feature you mentioned you already work with. OwnerRez gives you a free 30 day free trial so you can explore the site. If you are impressed by the software, you can even sign up for a merchant account (all of your bookings would then be free)!

                                                                                     

                                                                                    I hope your rental business is successful.

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Take care,

                                                                                     

                                                                                    Devin Schaeffer

                                                                                    Ownerreservations.com