When you have your own website and additionally promote your vacation rental (VR) properties through listings on external vacation rental listing sites, it becomes difficult and time-consuming to manually update all your availability calendars on each of these channels. Fortunately there are ways to link your personal vacation rental website calendar to your calendars on other VR listing sites like Airbnb, Flipkey and HomeAway – and vice versa. You then basically just need to manage one calendar centrally, and link the others with it.
Here are two common ways to do this:
1. Export your website calendar via so called “iCal feeds” to vacation rental listing sites
iCal is a computer file format (identifiable by the .ics in the calendar URL) that communicates data on availability or unavailability. iCal is growing in popularity, and most of the vacation rental listing sites out there accept iCal calendar imports, and you can read instructions on their site how to exactly import the file, for example Flipkey (http://help.flipkey.com/entries/194206-calendar#id.l73dcd4onxc7) and Airbnb: (https://www.airbnb.com/help/question/99)
If you use a Lodgify website, here are the instructions how to export your calendar via iCal to other VR listing sites:http://support.lodgify.com/support/articles/99683-export-your-calendar-to-external-listing-sites
The Pros: It’s really easy to do and almost every VR listing site has adopted this function by now. You could even use a Google Calendar to export your calendar.
The Cons: It’s a one-way communication only. You simply export your data and replicate it to another channel. Also, VR listing sites only update the imported iCal a couple of times per day. Your calendar may therefore not be updated immediately, so there is a very slight risk of double-bookings.
2. Use a Channel Manager to establish a dynamic link between your website calendar and your calendars on other VR listing sites
If you use a channel manager like the one Lodgify offers, your website calendar is technically integrated with some of the major VR listing site calendars, allowing a two-way communication and instant synchronization of data.
The Pros: Your website calendar is fully integrated with VR listing sites. It is a two-way communication, meaning you can send your availability data to a VR listing site and receive availability data back. So it’s a simultaneous synchronization. Also, there is no delay in the update, and therefore no risk of double bookings. Finally, you are also able to import reservation data (e.g. guest name, length of stay, number of persons, etc.) automatically into your reservation system. This avoids having to copy and paste this data into your reservation system manually. It’s a real time-saver!
The Cons: Not all VR listing sites allow independent calendar software to integrate with them yet (e.g. Airbnb), but workarounds do exist!
Our advice would be to use a combination of the two solutions mentioned above. Using a channel manager makes life so much easier – and for those vacation rental listing sites that do not offer channel manager integration yet, simply export your calendar data to them via iCal. You are in full control on what to sync and what not to sync. And that is how you’ll make sure your website calendar and your calendar on VR listing sites are always in sync.
Let us know your thoughts in the comments below. And if you found it all a bit too technical, just reach out to us via chat or email and we’d be happy to explain further.