35 Must-Have Vacation Rental Host Tools in 2020

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Do you spend long hours of your day updating your calendars, replying to guests, scheduling cleanings, adjusting your rates, and other repetitive tasks?

Short-term rental hosts don’t need to do everything manually. There are lots of great vacation rental tools that help you shave hours off managing your short-term rental business. 

These tools can help you automate everything from channel management and guest communication to pricing and housekeeping. 

Of course, you don’t have to start with a full software arsenal: you’ll keep adding to your toolbox as your vacation rental business grows. 

To help you get started, we’ve put together a list of the best vacation rental tools to help you automate your Airbnb business.

We used this spreadsheet we created as a starting point - it gets constantly updated and you’re welcome to add your favorite providers to it.
Comparison chart of best vacation rental host tools

Channel management

Out of all the processes that you can automate, channel management is the one that will have the most impact on your business.

A channel management software lets you manage all your listings from one place. This means that if you advertise the same property on more than one channel (say, Airbnb, Vrbo and TripAdvisor), you can manage all three of those listings from your channel manager. 

Plus, channel managers let you automatically update your pricing and availability across all your booking channels. This way, you will never accidentally end up with conflicting information on different booking sites. 

There are two main reasons why this is a game changer. 

Firstly, you save lots of time by not having to log in to all your accounts and update them separately every time you need to make a change to your listings. 

Secondly, your calendars sync up automatically, so you don’t need to worry about double bookings (when two guests book your rental for the same time period on different channels). 

Here are the top channel managers for short-term rental hosts. Of course, there are many more solutions on the market, but we’re sticking to the ones that are affordable for vacation rental managers with a handful of listings.

Host Tools

Price: starts at $5.00 per month

Host Tools is a channel manager that lets you synchronize your calendars on different channels to prevent double bookings. Thanks to direct API integrations with Airbnb and Vrbo, and the option to import booking information from any channel using iCal, you can keep your calendar up-to-date at all times. And, you get a unified inbox and a multi-calendar so you can do everything from one place.

Lodgify

Price: starts at $12.00 per month

Lodgify is an all-in-one vacation rental software that helps you increase your online bookings and occupancy. Whether you own a single rental or multiple properties, Lodgify has several tools that can help you save time, including a channel manager, a PMS, a website builder, a booking software, and a payment processing tool. 

Beds24

Price: starts at $13.54 per month

Beds24 is a channel manager, property management system, and booking engine for hotels, B&Bs, vacation rentals, agencies, and more. Its flexible cloud-based software can be customized to fit your business’s needs. 

Your Porter

Price: starts at $18.00 per month

Your Porter lets you manage your distribution, improve your guest communication, and coordinate your team from a single platform. Its features include a channel manager, automated messaging, a website builder, mobile and web apps, and more. 

Smartbnb

Price: starts at $18.00 per month

Smartbnb helps property managers scale their operations and guest communication. Its features include automated messaging, task management, a single inbox, and a consolidated calendar.

OwnerRez

Price: starts at $19.99 per month

OwnerRez is an end-to-end automation tool for vacation rental businesses. It offers a flexible way to manage vacation rental properties without spreadsheets, thanks to its booking management, automation, and reporting tools.

Tokeet

Price: starts at $20.00 per month

Tokeet offers a suite of powerful tools for channel management, rental automation, and owner management. It can help you grow your vacation rental business with tools like dynamic pricing, invoicing and payments, contract signature, website building, and more.

Smoobu

Price: starts at $23.00 per month

Smoobu is an all-in-one vacation rental software that lets you increase your occupancy and revenue with a channel manager, a reservation system, a centralized calendar, a unified inbox, and a website builder.

iGMS

Price: starts at $30.00 per month

iGMS lets you manage your vacation rentals across various channels. The platform has features such as a channel manager, native smart messaging, automation tools, cleaning and team management tools, financial reporting, and more.


 

Guest experience/digital guidebooks

Providing an exceptional guest experience is key to increasing your revenue and getting better reviews on Airbnb.

But if you’re a host who’s constantly overwhelmed, you may not have time to provide the customer service that your guests expect. 

Enter guest experience tools. They usually come in the form of digital guidebooks or welcome apps - and they can make it seem as if you had a massive team running your rentals.

They essentially function as a concierge service, answering guests’ questions before they even think of them.

Check out our favorite providers and explore the options you have to step up your guest experience:

TouchStay

Price: starts at $2.00 per month

TouchStay is a digital welcome book that helps you become more efficient by empowering your guests so they don’t need to ask questions. You can use the digital guidebook to share practical information, local recommendations, and insider tips. You can share the web app with your guests by sending them a link via email. 

Wishbox

Price: starts at $6.25 per month

Wishbox helps you take your guest experience to another level with the help of its branded guest app, upselling and online-check-in options. You can also send pre-scheduled messages, optimize reviews, and connect to your key provider through an integration. 

HelloHere

Price: starts at $8.27 per month

The HelloHere digital guestbook comes in the form of a branded app that lets you save time and reduce operational costs. With HelloHere, it’s easy to send automated messages, provide real-time chat, and give your guests personalized recommendations. 

YourWelcome

Price: starts at $15.83 per month

YourWelcome is a tool that allows you to increase the profitability of your bookings by adding a hands-off service layer to the booking process. You can use the YourWelcome tablet to upsell services and communicate with your guests during their stay. And, you can take advantage of YourWelcome’s automated messaging and advance check-in features, too. 

Hostfully

Price: starts at $19.99 per month

Hostfully Guidebooks are simple, mobile-first websites that can help you deliver an enhanced customer experience. You can customize them as much as you want, and include all the information your guests need before and during their stay, and for checkout.

Pricing tools

Getting your pricing right is one of the most difficult aspects of vacation rental management. 

You need to have a well-thought-out strategy to make sure you’re not overcharging or undercharging, and you constantly need to monitor your competition. Not to mention that manually updating rates on all your channels is time-consuming. 

But you don’t have to figure out your pricing on your own. These days, successful property managers use pricing tools to automate their rates and help them set prices that guarantee high profit and occupancy.

Here are the most popular revenue management tools on the market. Give them a try and stop leaving money on the table:

Host Tools

Price: starts at $5.00 per month

Host Tools’ highly customizable, rule-based pricing engine lets you create an effective pricing strategy tailored to your listing. The tool is easy-to-use, and with the help of intelligent controls, you can make sure it will never under- or overprice your properties. Plus, your calendar syncs every 6 hours, which keeps your prices up-to-date and increases your search ranking.  

Wheelhouse

Price: 0.75-1% per booking

Wheelhouse is a data-driven dynamic pricing software that lets you earn 10-40% more revenue. It gives you automated rates, powerful insights, and a personalized strategy to help you find the right price for every night. 

Beyond Pricing

Price: 1-1.25% per booking

Beyond Pricing helps vacation rental owners and managers earn more with intelligent dynamic pricing. The company uses real-time market data to give pricing recommendations that are aimed at maximizing revenue and occupancy. 

PriceLabs 

Price: starts at $19.99 per month (depending on how many listings you have and where they’re located)

PriceLabs is a yield manager for vacation rentals with advanced customization options. To make sure that you’re in control of your pricing, you can layer custom automation rules on top of market data provided by PriceLabs.

Automated messaging tools

Are you tired of answering the same questions over and over again? Then you need to automate your guest messaging. 

Most vacation rental hosts spend too much time emailing back and forth with guests when they could use automated messaging tools to do the work for them.

Here are the tools we recommend to streamline your guest communication:

Host Tools

Price: starts at $5.00 per month

Host Tools’ messaging feature lets you set up and send automated messages to your guests and cleaners, so you can be an attentive host and save tons of time on guest communication. The tool has templates for you to customize: all you need to do is add rules and triggers so your messages get sent out at the right time. You can send guests messages in their own language, and even encourage them to leave reviews with review reminders. 

Wishbox

Price: starts at $6.25 per month

Wishbox lets you send pre-scheduled messages so you can engage with your guests from the moment the booking is confirmed. Next to messaging automation, the platform has a variety of other tools that let you enhance the guest experience and boost brand awareness with targeted communication. 

Your Porter

Price: starts at $18.00 per month

Your Porter has a handy messaging automation feature that lets you schedule messages, emails, and texts. You can also answer inquiries automatically to increase your conversions. And, you can check your messages from anywhere on the Your Porter App.

Market research tools

If you are a truly savvy host, you must have done some sort of market research to benchmark yourself against your competitors. 

And if you have, you’ll know that doing it manually is near impossible.

That’s why you should consider asking the help of a vacation rental data company, like these:

Transparent

Price: has a free version

Transparent helps you increase your revenue by monitoring supply and demand in your area, tracking your competitors, and helping you optimize your rates. You can try the free version, or track individual competitor performance and market supply with the Transparent pro data dashboard. 

AllTheRooms

Price: starts at $4.99 per month and a $19.99 setup fee (depending on the size of your market)

AllTheRooms is a market intelligence tool that lets you analyze your vacation rental market. It gives you a personalized property score based on your bookings, earnings, and reviews; and it lets you benchmark your performance against your competitors to find areas of improvement. 

Mashvisor

Price: starts at $10.00 per month

Mashvisor helps you find lucrative Airbnb properties anywhere in the world in a matter of minutes. You can search a city and pick a neighborhood based on your criteria. Then, you can find your property with the help of interactive filters. Mashvisor will tell you how it will perform as a short-term rental and what you need to do to outrun the competition. 

AirDNA

Price: starts at $19.95 per month (depending on the size of your market)

AirdDNA tracks the performance of over 10 million vacation rentals across 80,000 cities worldwide. Its MarketMinder tool lets you explore the trends in your market and see how the vacation rental industry is evolving. You can use these data insights to get ahead of your competition and set smarter prices.

Cleaning management tools

Managing your cleaning team and staying on top of your cleaning schedule takes a lot of time - that you could be spending on other aspects of your business.

To avoid wasting your day in repetitive tasks like sending messages to cleaners, try automating your housekeeping. Here are a few tools to consider:

Breezeway

Price: Request

Breezeway is a complete operations platform with automated task scheduling, quality assurance, guest messaging, and more. It gives you all the coordination and communication tools you need to ensure perfect cleanliness in your properties, and provide an outstanding guest experience.

Properly

Price: Request

Properly helps short-term rental hosts find cleaners and automatically schedule cleanings. It also gives you real-time visibility into when your cleaners arrive, start, and complete tasks. And, you can create customized checklists to make sure everything is up to scratch. 

Turnover BNB

Price: 1 property is free

Turnover BNB helps property managers connect with trusted cleaners in their area. The platform has a smart cleaning management tool with automatic payments, custom checklists, automatic cleaner scheduling, and review management. It also comes with a mobile app for Airbnb hosts that centralizes all communication with the cleaning team.

Direct booking tools

Less dependence on online travel agencies (OTAs) like Airbnb and VRBO, more people booking directly with you leads to increased profits. Direct bookings mean no more commissions, full control over your cancellation policies, and full control over your business.

But how do you step up your branding and marketing efforts to get more direct bookings when you’re on a budget?

These tools can help you build a recognizable online brand identity, and get more direct bookings as a result:

Houfy

Price: Free for basic listings

Houfy is an online network that looks like an OTA - but it doesn’t charge any fees or commissions. You can list your properties just like you would on Airbnb, and travelers can book them directly. There are no communication restrictions, either - guests can contact you however they want. 

Wix

Price: has a free version

Wix is a free website builder that lets you create professional-looking, SEO-optimized (meaning they show up on Google searches), mobile-friendly websites without any design or programming knowledge. You just need to answer a few questions, and the AI-powered tool will build your personalized website, with all the features your business needs - like a booking system. This way, you can easily create an online presence that will help you attract direct bookings.

HostZaver

Price: starts at $39.00 per month

HostZaver lets you turn any of your listings into a unique website in just one click. All you have to do is copy in your Airbnb URL, select a template that you like, and start sharing around your new, bookable website. You don’t need any technical skills, and your photos, pricing and reviews will be automatically synced. 

Boostly

Price: free report download

Boostly is a comprehensive, downloadable guide to boosting your direct bookings. It has all the tools, tactics, and tips you need to start increasing your revenue with bookings made on your own website. Boostly also encompasses a weekly podcast and a Facebook community that you can join to exchange ideas with other property owners.

Smart home tools

Home automation is all the rage these days - and not just because guests love cool in-property tech. 

Smart home tools can also help you save money on utility bills and avoid conflict with neighbors. 

Here are a few providers that you should consider working with:

Operto

Price: starts at $14.99 per month

Operto is a home automation platform that lets you turn your property into a smart rental. From keyless entry to temperature control and noise monitoring, you can manage everything from one dashboard. Guests love a smart rental, and smart sensors can save you lots of money on utility bills. Win-win!

Keycrib

Price: starts at $15.00 per month

Keycrib’s cloud-based software lets you manage your rental remotely, with solutions like noise, smoking, and guest detection, keyless entry, built-in alerts, contracts, and direct messaging. It also provides identity checks and rankings for guests, so hosts are always protected. 

Minut

Price: device starts at $129.00

Minut is a camera-free home sensor built to measure noise levels while respecting your guests’ privacy. It never records, stores, or shares personal data. It’s a handy device that helps you keep your neighbors happy and increase your home security.

August Smart Lock

Price: lock starts at $149.99 

August Smart Lock is a popular keyless entry solution for vacation rentals. You can use it to upgrade your existing door lock with keyless entry, guest access control, and activity monitoring features. This way, you can always be in full control of your locks, no matter where you are. 

August smart lock integrates with Host Tools, offering practical features for users of the Host Tools short-term rental automation, such as automate messages being triggered when their August smart locks are used. 

NoiseAware

Price: starts at $199.00 (one-year noise monitoring with indoor sensor)

NoiseAware offers smart noise monitoring and noise detectors so you can keep your property’s noise levels in check. It notifies you if your guests throw a party or make noise in your rental so you can prevent costly damages, fines, or issues with your neighbors.

Accounting tools

It may not be the most exciting element of running a short-term rental business, but keeping track of your financials is necessary. 

Accounting tools allow you to stay on top of your cash flow without having to use complicated spreadsheets. 

Here are two that you should check out:

Quickbooks

Price: starts at $7.50 per month

Quickbooks is a popular accounting software solution that short-term rental hosts love. It lets you manage your books in one place from any device you choose. You can keep everything organized and up-to-date, create and send professional-looking invoices, give your accountant access to the platform, and do anything you need to keep your financials in check.

Bnbtally

Price: starts at $14.99 per month

Bnbtally is an Airbnb accounting integration that lets you connect multiple Airbnb accounts to your accounting software. You can use it to connect QuickBooks and Airbnb to gain deep insights into your short-term rental revenue. It allows you to track revenue, taxes, commissions, hosting fees, cleaning fees, listing performance, and cash flow, so you can forget about manual data entry forever. 

What other providers would you add to the list? Leave a comment to let us know - and don’t forget to try Host Tools for free!

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