Owning or managing a vacation rental is hard work and requires multiple skills. Owners and managers have to be patient and warm hosts, meticulous decorators, talented photographers, clever marketers, tech-savvy web designers, skilled copywriters, avid content creators, accurate accountants and, most of all, master organizers.
Thankfully, the internet is full of resources and tools that can help you juggle all these different tasks with ease. We’ve rounded them up, tried out the best ones, and listed the top 107 free tools that every vacation rental professional should use.
Whether you’re doing it on your own or working with a team of like-minded professionals, looking to give your business an extra boost or simply to improve your daily routine, you’re sure to find some helpful resources in this list which will help you to manage your business more effectively.
We’ve organized these 107 tools by category so you can easily see which ones to turn to for your website or your social media accounts; to help you with SEO, design, content creation or email marketing; to make you more organized, stay on top of your finances and keep up with the industry news.
1. Google Analytics
A fantastic way to analyze your vacation rental website’s visits, users and best-performing content, Google Analytics is a must for anyone looking to run a professional and optimized site.
2. Google Data Studio
This data visualization tool turns your website analytics into easy-to-understands reports; turn any information from a Google Sheet into attention-grabbing graphs and charts with Google Data Studio.
3. Google PageSpeed Insights
Google PageSpeed Insights lets you see how quickly your website loads on mobile and even suggests a list of improvements to make.
4. Google Mobile-Friendly Test
Take the Google Mobile-Friendly test and get either a mobile-friendly label below organic search results if you pass, or a list of things to improve if you fail. Win-win!
Segment helps connect all your third-party apps (Google Analytics, MailChimp, etc.) in one place. Perfect for teams.
A premium analytics service for mobile and desktop, Mixpanel focuses on measuring specific user actions and activities.
SimilarWeb estimates your website or mobile app’s traffic, geography and referral stats by pulling data from multiple sources.
8. Website Grader
Website Grader grades your site based on numerous factors such as speed, SEO, security and performance, and provides tips for ways to improve your website.
Hotjar uses heatmaps, clickmaps, scrollmaps and the like to show you what visitors are up to on your website.
Heatmap provides real-time heatmaps to let you know how your visitors are interacting with your web pages.
A solid analytics tool that includes heatmaps and scrollmaps, Ptengine also lets you compare multiple pages.
No need for an introduction, Facebook is the largest social network in the world, and an excellent way to promote your business online.
The famous microblogging platform, Twitter, helps promote your content to a wide audience of over 319 million users.
Google’s own social network, Google+, helps strengthen both your SEO and professional credibility.
Hands down the best platform for professionals looking to connect, share information and build a reputation online with LinkedIn. You can also join vacation rental industry groups to take part in interesting discussions with likeminded people.
The ever-popular photo-sharing social network which is now owned by Facebook, Instagram is perfect for crafting your business’ image.
Pinterest is an addictive digital pinboard that’s great for driving traffic to your website. Particularly recommended for fashion, food and travel related businesses.
The most popular video platform on the Internet, and the second biggest search engine. Use YouTube to share your rental’s videos.
Hootsuite is a social publishing app allowing you to post content and check notifications on all your social media channels from a single platform.
Tweetdeck lets you organize your Twitter feed and activity as well as schedule upcoming tweets.
Buffer is yet another social media management tool. Limited to the biggest platforms and handy for up to 11 profiles and pages. Beautiful design, flawless app.
Discover the most popular hashtags of the day with Hashtags.org. Use them in your posts to gain more visibility.
23. Font Awesome Icons
Download free vector icons with Font Awesome Icons to use around your blog or website.
24. Facebook Audience Insights
Facebook provides great insights on your audience, helping you do market and content research to make sure you’re publishing content your fans (and potential guests) will love.
25. Simply Measured
Simply Measured offers detailed analytics and reports for your social media accounts. Includes Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google+.
LikeAlyzer analyzes your Facebook presence to give you feedback and recommendations.
Socedo helps you find leads on social media by giving you a list of potential guests based on hashtags, keywords or other criteria.
A handy URL shortener than lets you track the performance of your links. Bitly is ideal for sharing links on Twitter and other social networks.
Yelp lists reviews about local businesses to help guests make informed decisions. Create a page for your vacation rental business to increase visibility.
TripAdvisor is a very popular review site worldwide; create a free page for your vacation rental business and start collecting reviews!
32. Sprout Social
One of the best social media management tools out there. Sprout Social is very user-friendly and packed with awesome features.
33. Google Webmaster Tools
Google Webmaster Tools provide detailed analytics to help you manage and improve your vacation rental website’s SEO.
34. Yoast SEO
Yoast SEO is an efficient WordPress plugin that scans your blog posts for the right keyword density and lets you preview them in organic search results.
Click the Mozbar button in your browser’s toolbar to get an instant SEO report of the website you’re on. The Mozbar analyzes Page Elements, Page Attributes and Link Data.
36. Moz Open Site Explorer
Moz Open Site Explorer is a useful tool that lets you check your domain authority as well as the number of links you are getting, complete with the sources.
37. SEOWorkers Analysis Tool
The SEOWorkers Analysis Tool generates a detailed report from any website’s URL. Use it to compare your site’s performance to those of your competitors. Also includes helpful educational videos about SEO.
WooRank provides insights into any website and gives you a list of priority issues to solve.
39. Quick Sprout
Free website analyzer with an easy-to-understand layout. Compare your website to the competition with the Competitive Analysis tool on Quick Sprout.
40. Onpage Optimization Tool
Enter any website’s URL and get information on keyword density, internal and external links, meta information and page content. This Onpage Optimization Tool helps improve your on-page SEO.
Siteliner analyzes your website and provides a wealth of information, including duplicate, common or unique content, average page load time, internal and external links and much more.
43. Google Keyword Planner
See how many people have searched for a specific keyword in the last month or year, and check out the keywords your competitors are using with Google’s Keyword Planner.
Another tool for keyword suggestion; Keyword.io lets you know which keywords to target or create content around for your vacation rental blog.
Content & Design
A very solid image editing tool for people with no design experience. Canva is an extremely user-friendly platform and provides templates that are perfect for social media (post images, headers, etc.), as well as stylish presentations.
Pixlr is an online photo editing tool to resize your pictures, add effects, overlays or borders.
Buffer’s own image editing app, Pablo, helps you create stunning graphics for your social media channels.
PicMonkey is a free online image editing tool that makes it easy to create shareable images for your blog or social media channels.
A content curation tool that delivers tailored, organized content based on your preferences. Feedly is a handy tool to find relevant content to share with your audience.
A precise online image editing software; using Snapseed will help make your listings stand out with high quality pictures.
Hyperlapse is an Instagram app that lets you create swoon-worthy timelapse videos.
Another Instagram app, Layout is perfect for creating collage images.
53. Photoshop Express
Touch up your pictures with automatic fixes and filters. Make your images pop free of charge, courtesy of Adobe with Photoshop Express.
Unsplash provides a beautiful gallery of free-to-use photos for your website’s blog or social media.
Pexels is another website full of beautiful stock photos you can use for free.
Wordswag is a useful app to add stylized text to your images in just a few taps.
57. 360 Panorama
Create 360° panorama photos with this app which will wow your visitors and potential guests.
The social network of writers, Medium is also a great collaboration tool and helps push your rental blog content to lots of people.
59. Blog Topic Generator
Need some ideas for a blog post? Enter a few nouns that describe your business into the Blog Topic Generator and it will give you a list of blog post ideas.
60. Content Idea Generator
Content Idea Generator only needs one keyword to provide you with fun content suggestions.
61. Answer The Public
Answer The Public’s useful tool gives you an idea of the questions related to your keywords. Easy to use and an innovative way to come up with content ideas that address the concerns of your audience.
MailChimp is one of the most popular email marketing services, mostly because it’s intuitive, cost-effective and boasts many other fantastic features.
A solid email marketing service, MailerLite is free for up to 1,000 subscribers and so easy to use.
Mailjet provides full automation and a variety of email templates for you to choose from.
Rapportive is a Google Chrome extension that provides useful information on your contacts by pulling in data from social networks like Twitter or LinkedIn.
Organization & Productivity
Evernote has been around for a long time and is a well-known organizing tool. Use it to organize your notes or save websites for later. Cross-device synchronization makes it easy to use Evernote on the go as well as on desktop.
Todoist is an excellent tool that makes it easy to get things done thanks to its smart lists with labels and filters, as well as the weekly overview and tasks due today features.
68. Google Keep
Google Keep lets you take and organize notes. Perfect for Android users.
69. Google Calendar
Google’s calendar boasts enough features to help you keep track of your obligations, appointments and to-dos on all your devices.
70. Google Drive
Keep your documents neatly organized and safely stored in Google Drive. Ideal for sharing documents with ease.
71. Google Docs
Google’s cloud-based office suite, Google Docs, is a dream for those who like working on the go, accessing their files from any device or collaborating with other team members on a shared document.
Organize your time and your projects efficiently with Asana. Works well for team projects, too.
A very intuitive tool, Trello uses boards and customizable cards to help you keep track of your projects. Use labels, checklists, attachments, due dates and other “power-ups” to keep on top of your workload.
Handy and popular cloud-based file-sharing tool, you can use Dropbox for sending additional property photos to inquiring guests.
Simply use the default Note program on your computer or smartphone to keep track of all of your ideas. If you’re using the latest MacOS and iOS, your notes will be synchronized across all your devices.
A genius way to get (or stay) in touch with your potential guests on the other side of the world, Skype allows face-to-face video calls and online meetings.
Scannable scans your notes, bills, invoices, contracts and more so you can stock and organize them digitally, saving space and time when managing your vacation rental.
78. Genius Scan
Genius Scan also lets you scan and digitize your documents, whether on iOS or Android.
Finances & Legal
PayPal is the most popular online payment service, and makes it easy for users to pay for goods and services online as well as request payment or transfer money to their account.
Stripe is another gateway which is a good alternative to PayPal for taking online payments.
Wave allows you to create and send invoices to clients whilst keeping track of your business’ performance.
Invoicely is an excellent invoicing platform that helps you manage your business finances.
Sign legal documents online with DocuSign. Secure, legal and straightforward.
Trademarkia is a handy trademark search engine that also helps with trademark registration.
85. Lodgify Blog
A one-stop portal for vacation rental owners, the Lodgify blog covers everything from marketing to guest experience, web design and industry updates. Check out the latest articles.
86. Lodgify eBooks
Lodgify also provides free downloadable eBooks to help vacation rental owners and managers improve their businesses.
87. Rentals United blog
Including hacks and tips for all kinds of vacation rental professionals, the Rentals United blog is one to bookmark and come back to time and time again.
88. Rented.com blog
Find insightful articles about the latest in the vacation rental industry, plus helpful advice for VR owners wanting to market their properties the right way on the Rented.com blog.
89. Guest Hook blog
The Guest Hook blog focuses on a variety of issues, including cultivating guest trust or writing compelling listing descriptions and content.
90. Tyann Marcink Blog
Tyann Marcink is a noted vacation rental photographer who gives owners precious tips to make their own properties look more desirable in pictures, as well as general marketing and business advice.
91. Vacation Rental Marketing Blog
Matt Landau is a VR marketing specialist with real-life industry experience. His blog, VRMB, is full of useful, practical information and insights.
92. The Business of Holiday Rental
The Business of Holiday Rental is a popular website dedicated to helping vacation rental owners grow a successful and prosperous business.
93. The Distinguished Guest blog
On The Distinguished Guest’s blog, Alanna Schroeder-Millar shares her experience with vacation rental owners, helping them make their life easier and their business more profitable.
94. Rent More Weeks
Rent More Weeks is owned by Alan Egan, who has more than ten years of experience managing his own vacation rentals. It’s no wonder, then, that his marketing guides are some of the best you can find!
95. Vacation Rental Secrets
Antonio Bortolotti, owner of Vacation Rental Secrets, is also the host of the Vacation Rental World Summit. Head over to his website for useful tips and industry insights.
NeedMoreRentals’ Damian Sheridan shares his SEO knowledge with the vacation rental community, also providing owners and managers with the right strategies for reaching more guests and converting inquiries into bookings.
The man behind 91Digital, Conrad O’Connell, is a digital marketing consultant who uses his blog to provide digital marketing advice for vacation rental and B&B owners looking to grow their businesses online.
98. Rental Tonic blog
Louise Brace at Rental Tonic gives clients actionable advice on successful rental marketing tactics. Her view is that vacations should be about the whole experience, not just the rental.
99. 1 Chic Retreat
Mercedes Brennan founded 1 Chic Retreat to help vacation rental owners and managers make their properties stand out from the crowd. Head over to her website for interior design tips featuring real-life vacation rentals.
Founder Thibault Masson uses his site, RentalPreneurs, to share his vacation rental marketing strategies, host explanatory webinars and to help his readers achieve their marketing goals.
101. Cottage Blogger
Author of the bestselling book Renting For Profit, Heather Bayer soon realized that she needed a blog to keep readers up to date with the new ideas and techniques in the world of VR marketing. Introducing: Cottage Blogger.
102. VRM Intel
VRM Intel provides industry-specific news, information and resources for managers and owners alike.
Check out the VRMA blog for guidance on reservations and revenue generation, marketing, operations and maintenance as well as disaster management. A helpful website for any professional in the industry.
104. Google Alerts
Set up Google Alerts so you get notified each time someone mentions your brand, or use it to monitor certain topics such as the area local to your rentals.
Pocket lets you store articles you want to read later, all within a clean layout. Available on desktop or smartphone so you can go back to your article whenever you want.
Feedly is a powered-up RSS feed with the ability to organize your news sources by category.
Flipboard uses your social media accounts and interests to provide you with the news that matters to you. All with a beautiful layout and very user-friendly platform.
What to take away
In today’s world, knowledge is easier than ever to access, and there are plenty of tools available which make it possible for vacation rental professionals to learn new skills or hone previous ones. Whether that’s in marketing, photography, SEO, content, invoicing, social media, or simply keeping up with the industry news.
We recommend exploring each of these free resources progressively, learning to use them as you go, in order to gradually become a successful and multi-talented vacation rental professional.
By making good use of these 107 free tools, you’ll be able to save both time and money, allowing you to focus on growing a prosperous and fulfilling vacation rental business.