The Ultimate Guide to Choosing the Perfect PMS
As a vacation rental business owner, you’ll no doubt understand the importance of having a reliable and efficient system in place to manage your properties, reservations, and finances. But with so many PMS options available in the market, it can take time to determine which one is right for your business.
Fear not! In this guide, we will take you through all the important factors to consider when choosing a PMS. We’ll explore the problems they attempt to solve, the key features you need to look for, discuss the benefits of using a PMS, and we’ll share some top tips on how to effectively implement and use a PMS to boost your property management game.
So, whether you’re a seasoned pro or just starting out in the short-term rental industry, get ready to streamline your operations and boost your efficiency with our expert insights.
What exactly is a Property Management System (PMS)?
A property management system (PMS) is essentially software that helps property managers and owners simplify their property management tasks. It’s an all-in-one solution that makes it easier to manage property listings on platforms such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and Booking.com, and handle bookings, guest communication, rental agreements, cleaning tasks, maintenance tracking, payment collection, and accounting.
A good PMS can also give you useful insights about how your property is doing financially and performance-wise. This helps managers and owners make smarter decisions about their properties. It’s like having a virtual assistant that makes your property management life easier and more efficient!
But why do I need a PMS?
Using a PMS has tons of perks! You’ll get more done in less time, with fewer boring admin tasks to worry about. Plus, your guests will love you even more because it can help them out too. It’s a lifesaver when it comes to growing your business and saving precious time, effort, and cash.
To be more specific, let’s take a look at the problems a PMS can help you with and what benefits they provide.
What problems does a PMS solve?
Running a successful short-term rental business can be an incredibly rewarding experience, but it’s no easy feat. There are countless tasks that need to be completed each day to keep your property running smoothly, and that’s where a PMS comes in.
But what problems, specifically, does a PMS solve? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most common challenges faced by hosts and explore how a PMS can help solve them.
- Manual processes: A lot of property managers are still using old-school methods like spreadsheets and paper records. But let’s be real, those ways are slow, mistake-prone, and can be a pain to keep track of. That’s where a PMS comes in! It automates those tasks, cutting down on errors and making things run smoother.
- Channel management: Managing channels can be a real challenge, especially when you’ve got several channels to handle all at once. A PMS helps you to avoid the annoying issues that come with channel management, like overbooking, double bookings, mistakes from manual data entry, and inconsistent rates.
- Communication: Property managers sometimes have a tough time keeping everyone in the loop – their team, the owners, and the guests. But guess what? A PMS is all-encompassing, where team members can chat, owners can get updates, and guests can find all the important info they need. It’s a game-changer for better communication!
- Booking management: Businesses with multiple properties or properties listed on various OTAs can find managing bookings tricky. However, a PMS automates updates on availability, handles reservations, and processes payments.
- Accounting: Do all those numbers and spreadsheets drive you crazy? A PMS has a number of tools for creating invoices, tracking expenses, and generating financial reports.
- Cleaning and maintenance management: With a PMS, you can automatically assign cleaning tasks to your staff, schedule repairs, and send notifications to your maintenance team. In addition, it can help you with the staff payroll, invoices, and sending or requesting payments.And that’s not all. You’ll be delighted to know that most PMS software can integrate with third-party apps specifically designed to handle cleaning and property maintenance tasks. Avoid the stress and hassle of these tedious responsibilities by using a PMS with these tools.
- Guest management: Managing guest information manually is a hassle and can get super complicated. But with a PMS, you can keep guest and booking details organized, automate check-ins and check-outs, and manage all guest communications, like rental agreements and welcome letters. So you can spend less time stressing and more time making your guests feel at home!
- Pricing strategy: Figuring out the right prices takes a lot of time and research. But with a PMS, you can set up rules that change the rates automatically based on things like how busy it is, what time of year it is, and what your competitors are charging. It’s a smart way to make sure you’re making the most money and keeping your rooms full!
What benefits are there to using a PMS?
Now that we’ve explored the awesome features a PMS has to offer, let’s take a closer look at how they can benefit your business and help you generate more bookings and better reviews.
- Time-saving automation: A PMS can save you a ton of time by automatically handling tasks like processing payments, managing guests and employees, keeping track of property maintenance, assigning tasks, and guest turnovers.
- Improved guest experience: With a PMS, you can provide a better guest experience by automating check-ins and check-outs, guest communication, task assignments to staff, and sending rental agreements, welcome letters, and guidebooks. It can also enable easy access to guest information, preferences, and requests.
- Better revenue management: If you’re connected to a dynamic pricing tool such as Pricelabs, a PMS can amp up your pricing game by giving you all the juicy real-time info on how booked up your place is, what the demand looks like, and what your competitors are charging. Plus, the sweet bonus of automation means less time and effort spent on pricing, so you can actually focus on what matters to you.
- Enhanced reporting and analytics: Usually one of the more tedious tasks, generating reports and analytics that provide valuable insights into a property’s performance can be done by your PMS, allowing data-driven decisions to be made.
- Increased distribution: Using a PMS can increase your property’s reach and online presence! It helps you get your properties in front of more potential guests. Boosting your distribution channels and online visibility ensures your guests can easily find and book your properties.
What should I consider when choosing a PMS?
Choosing the right PMS can be overwhelming, especially with so many options available on the market; however, it’s crucial for your business. Nobody wants to be stuck migrating to a new PMS every year or two. It’s a drag and often painful, especially if you’re managing multiple properties. Trust us, you’ll want to pick a PMS that can grow with your business and save you the headache of switching down the line.
So, to help you make an informed decision, it is important to consider several factors.
Identify your business needs
Before you start evaluating PMS options, you need to know what you’re looking for. If you don’t identify your business needs first, you run the risk of choosing a PMS that’s not right for your operations. And let’s face it, nobody wants to waste time or money. So, take a step back, evaluate your needs, and find a PMS that aligns with your goals and objectives.
Features and functionality
Not all PMS systems are created equal, and selecting the wrong one could be a costly mistake. To make sure you choose the perfect PMS, take a closer look at your property management operations and identify the key aspects that matter most. Then, be sure to select a PMS that includes all the essential features to streamline your operations and help you achieve your business goals.
Ease of use
Are you tired of clunky and confusing software systems that leave you scratching your head? Well, when it comes to a PMS, you need one that is easy to use and intuitive, no matter your level of technical expertise. A complicated and challenging PMS can result in decreased productivity and wasted time. And worse yet, it could lead to costly user errors, potential data loss, and financial loss. So, make sure to choose a PMS that works for you, not against you.
When you’re picking out a PMS, make sure it can play nice with your other tools. You know, your listing platforms, pricing software, payment processors, and business analytics. If your PMS can integrate with these tools, you’ll save yourself from the hassle of constantly switching between them. Plus, it’ll make your operations run like a well-oiled machine.
Onboarding is the process of integrating a new system into your property management operations and is done at the beginning of your user journey. With a dedicated onboarding specialist, your team will receive personalized training, ensuring that every team member can navigate the PMS and make the most of its features. They will also help you to set up user accounts, import data, and customize the PMS.
Choosing a PMS with high-quality onboarding can make all the difference in your journey. A well-trained team can navigate the system with ease, leading to improved efficiency, better communication, and, ultimately, increased revenue.
Investing in a PMS is a big deal – it’s not just about buying software, it’s about investing in the future success of your business. That’s why it’s essential to have reliable and accessible support that provides peace of mind and ensures that you’re making the most of your investment.
When you have access to a team of experts who know the system inside and out, you can be confident that any issues or questions will be resolved quickly and efficiently. After all, your time is valuable, and you don’t want to waste it fumbling around with a system that’s not working as it should.
Value for money
Consider the total cost, including the initial purchase cost, the subscription fees, the support fees, booking commissions, and any other extra charges for upgrades or additional features. A good PMS will give you bang for your buck.
Are you planning to take your property business to the next level? If so, you need a PMS that can grow and expand with you! Make sure to choose a PMS that can scale up without forcing you to switch to a new system every time you add a new property to your portfolio.
To ensure you’re on the right track, consider the maximum number of properties and guests that the PMS can handle. By doing so, you can rest assured that your PMS will be able to keep up with your business’s growth and development, no matter how big your property empire becomes!
Whether you’re switching up your pricing strategy, catering to new guest preferences, or navigating changes in market demand, a flexible PMS can adapt alongside you. The beauty of it is that you can customize and configure the system to fit your unique business requirements without having to sacrifice any of the essential features or user experience.
Check out reviews from other property owners who’ve already tried the one you’re eyeing. Make sure to look for their thoughts on things like features, customer support, and whether they had a good overall user experience. It’s like getting a recommendation from a friend – you wouldn’t buy something without checking the reviews first, right? Same goes for picking a PMS!
You can check out what Lodgify customers are saying about us on these review and comparison sites here!
Preferred Partner status
If you’re checking out a PMS, make sure to see if it’s a Preferred Partner of the top OTAs. Being a Preferred Partner means the PMS has really impressed with its performance, reliability, and service. It’s like getting a gold star from the OTAs, and it shows there’s a high level of trust and confidence between them and the PMS. So keep an eye out for that Preferred Partner badge!
What are the main features of a PMS?
In today’s fast-paced world, running a vacation rental business is no easy task. With so many demands on your time, from ensuring guest satisfaction to maximizing revenue, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed.
That’s why having a powerful PMS is key. From streamlining reservations to managing housekeeping, a good PMS is like having a team of experts at your fingertips. With all the essential features you need to operate more efficiently and provide better guest experiences, a PMS is the secret weapon that will take your vacation rental business to the next level.
Let’s check out the main features you should look for in a PMS:
Basically, the primary function of a channel manager is to provide a centralized system for managing all distribution channels, ensuring that bookings are synced across all channels and reducing the risk of overbooking or double-booking.
Plus, with a channel manager, you can update rates and availability in real-time, making it easier to maximize your profits and keep your properties occupied.
Centralized reservation system
Picture this: You’re running a beautiful villa, but the chaos of managing reservations is overwhelming. Enter the solution to all your problems: a centralized reservation system. This software platform allows you to effortlessly manage reservations from one centralized location. With a few clicks, you can view and manage your inventory, keep track of bookings, and easily update availability across all your channels, from your website to online booking platforms.
With a unified inbox, all your guest messages from email, chat, and other platforms are combined into one inbox in your PMS. No more hopping around different channels trying to keep up!
This feature saves you time, prevents mistakes, and ensures that all guest requests and inquiries are taken care of quickly. So, instead of juggling multiple channels, your staff can manage all guest communication from one convenient spot.
Give your guests the luxury 5-star experience they deserve while freeing up your time by ensuring you can automate guest communication like a pro. It’s essential that you’re able to send and program personalized messages to your guests via text and email, including important documents like a rental agreement, for whenever you need. A good PMS will allow you to do all of this and more!
You don’t want to waste time crunching numbers, so choose a PMS with top accounting features. They’ll help you keep track of all your bookings and payments from both guests and employees, so you can easily see how much revenue you’re bringing in and where it’s coming from. Want to know which listings are your top performers? A PMS can show you that too!
Do you want to avoid constantly juggling tasks and trying to keep track of who’s responsible for what? A quality PMS will offer task management tools that help you effortlessly create and assign both recurring and one-time tasks to your team members, ensuring that nothing falls through the cracks. Once a task is completed, you’ll receive a notification right away, so you can stay up-to-date on progress and move on to the next item on your list.
With user management features, you can have complete control over who has access to your PMS and what they can do within it. User management means you can set up individual login details for each member of your team, and assign roles and permissions based on their responsibilities. This way, you can keep an eye on who’s accessing what, and ensure that everyone is working effectively and safely.
Whether you’re managing a small crew or a whole team, user management is an absolute must-have tool to maintain smooth operations, protect sensitive data, and guarantee accountability.
So, you’re a property owner or manager, and you want to create a bookable website for your property, but you don’t know how to code? That’s where a website builder comes in! With a website builder, you can create your own website without any web development skills.
Depending on your provider, you can choose from an array of pre-designed templates and themes, and customize your website with your own layout, colors, fonts, and images.
Most website builders come with a booking engine, online reservations, and payment processing, so guests can book and pay for their stay right on your website, helping you both to avoid paying commissions to OTAs.
Plus, you can also use the website builder to boost your marketing game with SEO optimizations, email marketing, and social media integration to drive more traffic to your site and score more bookings.
Already have a website? You need a booking widget
Are you a vacation rental owner with an already awesome website but struggling to find a way to accept payments for your bookings? Then make sure you use a PMS that provides an external booking widget. A booking widget should seamlessly integrate with your existing website, so guests can book your properties directly on your website. Plus, it should be fully customizable to match your website’s unique look and feel.
Financial reporting is an essential feature that helps property owners and managers track and analyze financial performance. A PMS typically includes a range of reports that provide detailed information on revenue, expenses, profits, and cash flow.
As a property owner or manager, you need a mobile app that lets you handle bookings, calendars, employees, and messaging all in one spot while you’re on the move. The app should have more or less the same features you can get on the desktop version, so guests, management, and staff can get info and do what they need to do right from their phones.
In the world of property management, time is money. That’s why a top-notch PMS is essential for any business that wants to succeed. With the right PMS in place, property managers and owners can effortlessly connect with other systems and tools to streamline their operations. Imagine being able to manage reservations, housekeeping, and maintenance all in one place, without the headache of jumping between multiple platforms.
Some of the popular integrations include:
- Accounting: These integrations allow your PMS to connect with accounting software, so you can easily sync financial data and track your property’s financial health. No need to stress about manual data entry – your PMS and accounting software will take care of it.
- Dynamic pricing: Dynamic pricing can seriously boost your earnings by helping you set rates that match market demand and outdo the competition. With the help of data analytics and machine learning, you can refine your pricing strategy and make sure you’re always ahead of the game.
- Guest screening: Guest screening automations use advanced algorithms to analyze guest information and history, including past reviews, booking behavior, and even social media activity. By automating this process, you can quickly identify potential red flags and take proactive measures to prevent any issues that could lead to a negative guest experience.
- Home automation: Did you know that with home automation, you can control your lights and heating from afar? Plus, you can also keep an eye on the noise levels and security cameras, so you can prevent unauthorized parties before they happen.
- Payments: Payment integrations allow you to accept and request online payments from guests, as well as pay employees.
- Marketing: Connecting your PMS with effective marketing tools, such as email marketing software or property listing platforms, can help you reach new audiences and spread the word about your properties.
- Maintenance management: There are several maintenance management tools, such as cleaning scheduling tools, to help manage maintenance requests and track cleaning tasks.
- Turnovers: ‘Turnover’ refers to the process of cleaning and preparing a property for the next guest after the previous guest has checked out. A turnover integration can help streamline housekeeping operations, reducing the time it takes to clean the rental and ensuring it’s ready for the next guest as quickly as possible.
- Short-term rental insurance: Short-term rental insurance integrations in a PMS can help property managers protect their properties and guests against unforeseen events. Not only do these tools protect your properties and guests, but they also help you manage claims and reduce risks. They can even enhance the safety of your short-term rental properties.
Is it worthwhile investing in a PMS?
The cost of a PMS can vary based on different factors, like the number of properties you have, the features you need, and the pricing model of the software. You can expect to pay anywhere from a few hundred to several thousand dollars per year. And some companies also charge a one-time setup fee along with the subscription cost.
While the cost of a PMS can seem significant, it is essential to consider the potential benefits, such as streamlined operations, happy guests, and increased revenue streams.
Lodgify has three different pricing plans, which aim to meet the needs of all business sizes:
- Starter: This is an affordable option for property managers who are just starting out in the vacation rental industry. This subscription level includes features such as a customizable website, booking management, and channel management from just $10 per month.
- Professional: The Professional subscription is the most popular and ideal for hosts who want to take their vacation rental business to the next level. Users gain access to a wide range of features, including advanced guest messaging, Google Vacation Rentals, and enhanced customer support.
- Ultimate: Lodgify’s Ultimate subscription is a powerful solution for vacation rental professionals. Users receive dedicated support and personalized training to ensure they can make the most of the platform’s advanced features.On top of everything offered in the Professional plan, users get an expanded dashboard, giving you a comprehensive view of your bookings, revenue, and guest data all in one place.There’s also cleaning and task management features, accounting, and owner management tools that allow you to manage multiple properties with ease. As for your guests, we offer a user-friendly app that streamlines the check-in process and provides them with all the information they need for a great stay. Finally, our priority customer support team is available to assist you across all channels, ensuring that you always have the help you need when you need it.
Can I try before I buy?
Trying any PMS before making a purchase is important because it allows you to evaluate the system’s features, capabilities, and ease of use. By testing it in a real-world setting, it’s possible to gain a better understanding of how it can streamline operations, improve guest experiences, and enhance revenue management. Additionally, testing a PMS can help identify any potential issues or limitations that may not have been apparent during the sales process.
Most quality PMS systems will allow potential customers to experiment with their software through free trials before purchasing. Some will even offer free demonstrations, where specialized agents will walk through the PMS over a video call or provide potential customers with a demo account where users can explore the PMS through a pre-configured test account.
With Lodgify’s powerful vacation rental software, you’ll be able to streamline your operations and scale your business like never before. But don’t just take our word for it – sign up for a free 7-day trial and see for yourself how Lodgify can revolutionize your workflow.
Alternatively, you can register for a personalized product demo call with one of our agents or try our features with a demo account.
Which PMS should I buy?
There is no straightforward answer; however, choosing the right PMS for your short-term rental business is a crucial decision that can impact the success and efficiency of your operations. It is important to consider a few factors. Like, how big is your business? What are your goals? What kind of properties do you manage? And, of course, what features and functionality do you need? And don’t forget about your budget!
To make sure you’re making the right call, it’s important to do your research, analyze your business needs, and test out different systems. Take your time, and don’t rush into anything – your business will thank you for it!
Lodgify is a top choice for any vacation rental business looking to streamline its operations and maximize profits. With a user-friendly interface and an array of powerful features, our PMS makes it easy to manage your properties, reservations, and finances with ease. From automated guest communication to powerful analytics tools, we have everything you need to take your vacation rental business to the next level.
And with top-notch customer support and a commitment to constant innovation, you can trust that Lodgify will be there to help you every step of the way. So why wait? Sign up for a commitment-free trial today and discover if Lodgify is the perfect PMS for your vacation rental business.