IGMS – The Way To Do Short-Term Rental Software
Short-Term Rental Tech Tools Used to Only Be Available to Property Managers.
For the first time tech tools and vacation rental software’s are more available and affordable than ever before. For years the only people who were able to benefit from vacation-rental tech tools were property managers, simply because there wasn’t a market for them or even a product out there that worked for individual hosts with one or two rentals. With the creation of VRBO in 1995 and then its substantial growth when it was acquired by Homeway in 2006, the vacation-rental-by-owner market began to take shape. Now the STR (short-term rental) game was possible for big and small players alike. Once Airbnb sprouted up in 2008, the short-term rental industry expanded again by leaps and bounds.
Guests stopped searching for property management sites and began conducting their own research and acquisition on VRBO and Airbnb. This made it possible for the small host with one rental to be exposed to a global clientele, something that wasn’t even an option without the help of a property manager in the past.
However, the advantage that property managers had back then was the access to technology, and it has taken some serious time for software companies to catch up and develop options that work for smaller hosts.
Now After Years of Development Vacation Rental Software Makes Sense for Hosts.
FINALLY there are some pretty awesome tools built for hosts coming out of the woodwork. It’s almost overwhelming. How can this growing segment of property owners and operators, who have never been exposed to any vacation rental software, all of a sudden know what is and isn’t a good tool that will make their lives easier and yield more bookings? If a host isn’t careful these days, they can eat up all of their profit on shiny object syndrome. I’ve seen far too many hosts experimenting with multiple tools at once instead of learning and implementing one at a time, recording results and judging the value. Not all technologies are created equal.
Where Does a Host Start When Choosing the Right Tools?
That’s a big question we try to tackle with our clients at High Performance Hosts. Over the past 10 years, we’ve had the opportunity to see technology improve, and we really have tried almost every tool under the sun. Our 48 properties are like our laboratory, and that is a HUGE asset when we help our HPH clients reach their own goals. Knowing that something works from experience holds a lot more weight than believing a sales pitch.
So now that hosts have finally arrived at a place and time where they can run their small hosting hustle like a real business, (which… it is a real business and needs to be run like one) what are the tools they should be using? An important place to start is asking yourself, “what are my goals?” Do you want to streamline or automate communication? How about syncing all of your calendars and joining more booking platforms? What about updating your rates more consistently and strategically? There are so many possibilities but you can’t do everything at once. So how do you know where you start?
The One Tool We Think Every Host Should Consider Right Off the Bat.
There is 1 huge MANDATORY tool that all hosts should be using and that’s a Channel Manager. What is a channel manager? A channel manager connects your listings — most importantly your calendars — across multiple platforms so double bookings don’t take place. If you’re going to be on more than one platform, such as both Airbnb and VRBO, you should be using a channel manager.
I’m going to take this a step further and say that I don’t recommend using only a channel manager with no additional features. Find one that has other benefits to offer. For instance, when I first started hosting, I had to get two products, a vacation rental software to hold and manage my properties and a channel manager to sync and distribute them. This makes things pretty complicated and overwhelming for the individual property owners out there. However, now there is vacation rental software that connects directly (not via iCal, but 2-way direct connection. I’ll explain this shortly.) to both VRBO and Airbnb. Hallelujah!
So If a Channel Manager/Vacation Rental Software is So Important, Which One Is The Best?
I LOVE IGMS for hosts. It’s vacation rental software and a channel manager that connects in ‘nearly’ real time to VRBO and Airbnb, (other platforms are in the works!) but that’s not all. IGMS is vacation rental software, not just a channel manager, making it useful in more ways than one. It brings all of your messages from Airbnb and VRBO into one inbox, it lets you create automations for your arrival instructions and other things like inquiry responses. It has templates, maintenance tasks, cleaning tasks, and iCal for your direct book site connection. You can even add team members with different access to your account. Want to use all these features on the go? They have an app, so instead of jumping between Airbnb and VRBO on your phone to talk to different guests, you can do it all in one place.
Another thing I like about IGMS is their user interface. It’s intuitive and easy to use, unlike some of the other vacation rental softwares I’ve tried that are stuck in the dark ages. They also have a live chat functionality when you need help with something and their troubleshooting and online documentation for tech support is by far better than any other software I’ve tested.
And finally, they have a direct API connection with VRBO without any limitations. You can connect one VRBO listing or 50, unlike companies like Lodgify who require you to connect at least 5 properties to utilize their direct connection. That just doesn’t cater to the majority of hosts out there who are operating less one or two rentals.
If you want to see what IGMS is all about, they have a 14-Day Free Trial to sync your properties and use without restriction. Give it a try! TRY IGMS FOR FREE
Why Should I Choose an API Connection Over an iCal Connection? Does it Really Matter?
I’ve been talking a lot about connection so maybe I should explain myself a bit more. There are two types of connections between platform and software. There is a direct API connection and an iCal connection. iCal usually syncs every 30 minutes but can be delayed for up to 3 or more hours if the platform sending back information is really busy. What does that mean? Well, it means that during the time it takes iCal to relay a booking, another platform could book those dates! Check out a video I did about the difference between iCal and API
What Does All This Channel Manager/ Vacation Rental Software Talk Boil Down To?
Vacation rental tools can really give you an edge when it comes to getting more bookings, connecting with your guests, saving time and delivering a great experience. The key is prioritizing. Master one tool at a time and go from there. No host should be working on their direct book website or adding new platforms without a channel manager and why not choose a channel manager with other great features like IGMS? From the High Performance Host point of view, step 1 is getting your listings synced and your communication dialed in, two things you can use the right vacation rental software for. I know that once you implement your own VR software, you’ll wonder how you ever went without!