Vacation Rental Technology: How to Future-Proof Your Business
The vacation rental industry is booming coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic. 2021 surpassed 2020 demand levels by 66.4% and even beat pre-pandemic levels from 2019 by 5.4%
But with more bookings come more guests you have to accommodate, vet, and manage. You don’t have time to answer the same questions you’ve answered 100 times already.
But bringing in technology to automate some of these repetitive tasks can save you time and energy on administrative tasks and communication—whilst also improving guest satisfaction.
But where do you start?
In this article, we’ll give you a detailed overview of some hardware and software you can use to improve guest experience and reduce your workload.
What is the role of technology in vacation rental businesses?
Vacation rental technology is not only about delighting your guests, but also about saving time and helping property managers streamline their workflows and processes. This way, everything can run smoothly and in an automated way.
The latest vacation rental technology has the ability to:
- Help you save time by streamlining time-consuming operational tasks like communication between guests, managers and staff.
- Take the headache out of vacation rental distribution by automatically updating your calendars, availability and rates on OTAs.
- Allow you to provide a personalized guest experience through hotel-grade hospitality solutions.
This promises a lot going forward. The future of vacation rental businesses hinges on property managers integrating enhancements into their properties if they don’t want to be left behind by their competitors.
Vacation rental technology: guest management tools
If you were a guest instead of a property manager, would you book a stay at an accommodation with a low rating and clear signs of a negative guest experience?
Customer reviews are one of the most important factors in booking accommodation. So, you need to go all out to ensure your guests have a positive experience with you and your property.
A key part of ensuring consistently positive guest experiences is good communication. Whether it’s a question, a problem, or just a local tip, communicating efficiently and effectively with guests is a huge plus.
Interaction with guests can be enhanced immensely with the right guest communication tools. These days, software systems allow managers to send automated welcomes, answer guest queries through a central SMS text messaging system, share useful information with guests through local guidebooks and guestbooks, and send out surveys to gather feedback and encourage reviews.
The goal of these technologies is to create a smoother experience for guests—less hassle, problems resolved quickly, and feedback absorbed to create a continuously improving vacation experience. These tools make guest communication easy for property managers, too.
Instead of spending long hours on the telephone or wading through long emails, managers become aware of issues and questions with a simple text message.
With that in mind, let’s look at two different types of technologies you can use to enhance guest communication.
Software solution: RueBaRue, the all-in-one guest communication tool for property managers
At RueBaRue, there’s an entire suite of systems focused on improvingcommunication between guests and vacation property managers. SMS messaging, digital guestbooks , local area guides, and guest surveys are all a breeze through RueBaRue’s intuitive, integrated portal. Staying connected with guest questions, needs, and wants has never been easier than with slick, comprehensive communication software like RueBaRue.
Some of RueBaRue’s features include:
- Promptly creating local area guides and digital guidebooks and allowing you to send them guests via automated SMS and or Email. This way, not only do your guests have a more personalized experience, but they get to learn about the best ways to spend their vacation in the area
- Creating digital guestbooks within minutes, so you can offer your guests all the information they need to know
- Increase the chances of receiving great testimonials by enabling property managers to easily send their guests surveys after their stay
Finding the right guest communication tool for you will contribute highly to creating a positive guest experience, and by doing so, increasing your success and revenue.
RueBaRue main webpage Credit: RueBaRue.com
Hardware solution: in-property tablets
There are also hardware solutions to guest communication. Whether used to augment an integrated software tool or not, this hardware gives you more options for interacting with guests.
These systems rely on digital guest engagement platforms such as a welcometablet—available from solutions providers such as YourWelcome are located inside guest accommodations.
SuitePad main webpage Credit: Suite-Pad.com
Some features of these guest engagement platforms can include:
- A digital concierge allows guests to access information traditional found at the front desk of a hotel, such as property info or the location of local services
- A digital guest directory can be configured to welcome guests, schedule in-room service, or leave messages for managers and staff
- A Welcome Screen interface gives guests the option to browse and even book local activities and services
- There are also calling options integrating traditional telephone functions
- Many of these devices are easy to integrate with a Property Management System (PMS)
Now that we’ve explained the benefits of hardware solutions such as in-property tablets, it’s time to look at some of their limitations.
- Not all your guests will be technology wizards and having to learn and operate new technologies, especially during their relaxing holiday, might fatigue them.
- Digital concierges come with privacy concerns, much like Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Alexa. Guests might feel like they’re being listened to and get uncomfortable. Additionally, many people aren’t comfortable with their data being stored and used in ways that they’re not aware of.
- Getting voice assistants to understand what you’re saying can sometimes be an art in and of itself. Using voice assistants is definitely not for everyone, and if your guests can get what they need as easily, you risk receiving some bad reviews.
In-property tablets and digital concierges aren’t always the comprehensive tools you need them to be and might complicate your communication with your guests, meeting their expectations, and personalizing their stay.
On the other hand, RueBaRue—an end-to-end guest communication solution—allows property managers to manage the entire communication process from one platform. This includes managing house rules, local guides, manuals, welcome notes, thank you notes, and surveys.
We’ve previously done a blog that delves into how exactly RueBaRue can meet your communication management needs.
Dynamic pricing tools
Tools that allow vacation property managers to more easily adjust vacation rental prices are more important than ever. The demand for vacation rentals is constantly fluctuating and nailing your pricing strategy is crucial if you’re going to make sure your prices adapt to reflect demand.
With the right dynamic pricing tool, it’s easy to adjust pricing and even automate rates. Whether it’s alternative rates for weekends versus weekdays or adapting to a seasonal rush, this tool is a must-have part of any vacation property management software. Dynamic pricing tools includeproviders like Beyond, Wheelhouse, and PriceLabs.
These tools guide you through the pricing process. They provide critical assistance by analyzing data and performance indicators and then suggest recommendations for when to charge specific rates.
Getting your pricing right with the help of dynamic pricing is a great way to increase your revenue—and there are additional ways that technology can help you earn more from a booking.
One of the simplest, but most effective, tools available at RueBaRue is theoption to extend guest stays. Made possible through guest communication and calendar systems, managers have the option of offering stay extensions at reduced rates. If a property has an open period in guest bookings, this is a great way to reduce empty days.
Property Management Systems
There’s a wide selection of benefits linked to having the right property management system (PMS) for your vacation rental property. Everything from calendars to accounting can be managed from a single software system. Streamlining, integrating, and simplifying the day-to-day processes of vacation property management has never been easier.
Whether it’s marketing, guest communication, financial tools, accounting, maintenance scheduling, or payment management, the right PMS makes it easy to coordinate processes. Then there’s the big bonus of accessing everything from one portal.
There are lots of options when it comes to choosing a PMS that fits specific property management needs. Here’s a quick rundown of popular PMSsoftware that’s easy to integrate with other software tools:
- Barefoot provides a comprehensive platform of management systems to boost revenue and track processes
- Escapia is a pared-down software featuring a simple interface, intuitive tools, and useful features
Escapia main webpage Credit: Escapia.com
- Guesty provides great options for automating and streamlining every aspect of property management
- Hostaway provides scalability and integrates well with other software programs
- Streamline is designed to be an easy-to-use, intuitive management system that puts everything in one place for ease of access
- OwnerRez is a customizable software package that provides managers with a wide range of features
Channel managers are software systems that link your site with online travel agencies (OTAs). This allows vacation property managers to list properties on multiple sites. When a booking is made on one booking site information then gets synced across all platforms.
Two-way integration and data sharing allow channel managers to control the entire process from a single platform. Adjusting rates, for example, only needs to be done in the channel manager, and that information gets synced automatically with all listings on all booking sites connected via the channel management system.
Networking with OTAs is another big part of channel management. Channel managers create relationships with listing sites, feed you information about which sites are generating bookings, and let you grow a presence on strategic sales channels.
04_Channel manager diagram Credit: Pesapal.com
Smart home technology
Alongside widespread use in private homes, vacation properties are a great space for the latest innovations in smart home technology. Everything from locks to vacuums can be automated, integrated, and made safer and more convenient by smart home technology.
Making guest experiences relaxing and hassle-free on a day-to-day basis relies as much on the technology inside the property as it does on management software.
The best home automation platforms on the market seamlessly integrate a wide range of appliances and devices while letting property managers control everything from a single platform.
- Software systems like Operto, and Brivoprovide options to integrate, automate, and monitor a wide range of smart home devices
Brivo main webpage Credit: Brivo.com
- There are also options to rely on device integration using a system such as Google Nest Hub, Wink Hub 2, Amazon Echo, or Apple Homekit to sync smart home devices
Here are some examples of smart home devices that you can use to ensure a positive guest experience.
Smart locks make checking in, stepping onto the veranda, or dashing off to catch a late-night flight easier and safer. Smart locks let property managers control keyless entry remotely and allow guests to have access right when they need it.
Additionally, they eliminate the risk of stolen or lost keys as each guest gets a unique access code. Smart Locks also make remote check-in possible, which is crucial during a pandemic.
Noise monitors allow you to control the noise levels of your guests while respecting their privacy. These smart home systems alert managers to potential noise-related problems, alerting the property manager of unruly guests or illegal parties and activities. Too much noise means too many guests in the rental.
They also allow you to kindly ask your guests to reduce the noise before any neighbors complain. Having neighbors banging on the door and skiing the guests to keep it down not only leaves a bad taste in the guests’ mouths but also reflects poorly on the property manager.
Utilizing smart thermostats means guests can easily adjust the temperature of the property to whatever they find comfortable. Making it simple to set the temperature—through voice commands or intuitive buttons—makes it easier for guests to settle in, reducing the unfamiliarity factor as they settle into their temporary home.
More importantly, it allows property managers to control the temperature remotely—in case the guest leaves the A/C or heating on when they leave the rental—and helps them cut utility costs.
These days there’s a wide range of smart appliances—from lights to barbeques—that can be integrated into a smart home system. Highly customizable and activated by voice commands, they add an extra level of dynamic comfort. Not to mention that you can market these smart appliances as luxury amenities to help your listing stand out from your other competitors on OTAs.
Other vacation rental technology tools
Besides smart appliances, there are many other vacation rental tools that have the potential to elevate the experience of guests. Some examples:
- Vintory is a platform that enhances property managers’ ability to acquire new owners and grow their portfolio
- HausMart makes selling in-property merchandise easy and simple so you can increase your revenue.
What vacation rental technology means for managers and guests
There are a lot of advantages created by the comfort, customizability, and efficiency afforded by new technologies that are ready to be integrated into vacation rental properties.
Taking advantage of vacation rental technology not only delights guests but also saves property managers time and helps them automate their tasks and streamline every aspect of their business from operations to marketing.
There’s more technology available than there’s ever been and it’s increasingly easy to plug it into existing systems. Signing up for software that makes it easy to market a property, then welcoming guests into a location that has the latest communication, payment, and smart home systems just makes sense. It takes all the separate threads of running a vacation rental property and organizes it into one place—making it easier than ever to exceed guest expectations.
FAQs about vacation rental technology
How do I integrate new technology into my current system?
It's easy—all you need to do is check what other tools your PMS integrates with. These other tools can include channel managers, dynamic pricing tools, or a guest communication tool. If your PMS doesn’t currently integrate with a tool you’d like to use, reach out and ask them if they’re planning to implement it in the future.
How can tools like RubaRue help you provide an exceptional guest experience?
Tools like RueBaRue are all about helping you save time on time-consuming operational tasks and improving the guest experience. Whether it’s connecting with guests through surveys and SMS messages or providing guests with services such as guestbooks and local guidebooks, RueBaRue gives property managers the necessary tools for achieving the very best guest experiences in a fraction of the time.
How does using vacation rental technology directly benefit me and my guests?
The modern vacation rental industry is being taken over by a storm of digital solutions, technological innovations, and cutting-edge software. Participating in this trend has never been easier and it opens doors to providing guests with better experiences than ever before. On top of this, streamlined communication, intuitive management processes, and happy guests make managing a vacation property easier and easier.
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