Before the internet, vacation rentals were mostly a “mom-and-pop” industry. If travelers didn’t book through word-of-mouth recommendations, homes were simply advertised in the classified sections of newspapers or via promotional brochures which were sent by snail mail.
In recent years, however, the market has transformed. Now predicted to be worth more than $100 billion, new services and technologies are being created all the time to keep up with the demand of the industry. Whether you’re an owner who’s been in the industry for years or you’re just starting out with your vacation rental business, technology can truly lead you to achieve your goals.
As well as helping owners to increase direct bookings, technology can also save them hours and hours of their precious time by automating repetitive tasks.
That’s why owners need an all-in-one solution – software that has been designed with them in mind, bringing together all the different but crucial functions needed to effectively and efficiently run a profitable vacation rental business.
When you understand the capabilities of a streamlined reservation system and channel manager and the time-saving possibilities they bring, along with the satisfaction of taking direct bookings via the booking engine on your own professional website, you’ll appreciate just how important the right software solution is for your business.
In this guide, expect to find out what elements constitute a great vacation rental website software and how they can help your vacation rental business flourish.
1. Website Builder & Booking Engine
Deciding to create a vacation rental website is the first very important step in increasing direct bookings, taking control of your business and becoming less dependent on online travel agencies and listing sites.
Whether you have the technical knowledge or not, the website builder you choose needs to be able to support all your needs for your vacation rental website. Lodgify’s website builder lets you to create a beautiful website for your rental business in minutes. Spending more time tweaking and perfecting your design just the way you want it is up to you, however!
When you use our website builder, this is what you’ll have to look forward to:
Super professional vacation rental website templates that you can publish in minutes
As Lodgify’s website builder is template-based, even owners with zero prior experience creating a website can easily build their own. It’s as simple as picking the template you like the look of, uploading your property details and publishing with one click.
Lodgify’s website templates aren’t generic, all-encompassing templates. Instead, they have been designed and perfected with a specific entrepreneur in mind – you, a vacation rental property owner. That means they are 100% optimized to businesses just like yours.
Within our ready-made templates, you’ll find outstanding features which are built especially to showcase each property with unlimited photos, highlight its position on a map, and allow guests to view rates tables and availability calendars.
They also come with a fully functioning booking engine, allowing owners to take instant bookings with online payments on their website.
Attract more direct bookings from mobile users
Nowadays, mobile is the preferred channel for both travel research and bookings, with almost half of all travelers using their smartphones to reserve their vacation accommodation.
Don’t miss out on tapping into this market when it’s so easy to create a mobile-responsive website using templates like Lodgify’s. All of our website templates are 100% mobile-friendly, meaning they’ll adapt automatically to any size screen or device in question.
It’s not just your potential guests that will appreciate a responsive design, either. Not too long ago, Google changed its mobile search algorithm to only display listings that could be viewed on mobile devices. The bottom line? Being mobile-friendly is no longer a choice for vacation rental owners. Unless you want to risk your vacation rental site being buried in Google’s mobile search results, you need to make sure your site is optimized.
Accept online bookings on your vacation rental website from day one
Each and every Lodgify website has a powerful booking engine seamlessly built into the design, meaning your website will be ready to accept online bookings from the very first day.
The booking engine will help create instant quotes for your potential guests, check property availability, and calculate rates automatically – including any promotional discounts, additional taxes and fees or add-ons that you specify.
Your Lodgify booking engine allows your rental business to accept secure online, SSL-protected credit card payments in all currencies, enabling you to receive international guests with no issues or trouble at all.
Customize your website exactly how you want
Our intuitive design editor makes personalizing your website design a very straightforward process. Change the colors, choose different fonts, select a background image, upload your logo and add extra widgets to your site to change its layout.
Though our website builder has been especially developed for users with few technical skills, developers can also have access to our code to truly customize their website 100%.
No decisions you make for your website are final or permanent. If you want to change template further down the line or decide on a different color scheme, you’re not restricted. You have the freedom to edit your site whenever you feel like it!
Add, manage and update your website’s content 24 hours a day, seven days a week
Showcasing your properties on your new Lodgify website is effortless. Our vacation rental CMS (content management system) allows owners to manage and update their property content whatever time of day, no matter how many properties they have.
Our step-by-step CMS asks owners to input the details of each their properties, we then use this information to generate your vacation rental website.
You can add unlimited photos and write enticing descriptions about your rentals, select amenities, set your rates, display map data and show calendar availability for each of your properties.
Additionally, Lodgify’s CMS also supports different room types, meaning that if you have multiple room types for your one property, you can make this known on your website. These different room types will boast their own separate calendars and prices, but will altogether form part of your Lodgify vacation rental website.
For owners, Lodgify is as easy as one, two, three:
Start by selecting the template you like best. Add your properties and upload all their details such as photos, descriptions and amenities. Finally, publish your website with just one click to start accepting online bookings for your vacation rental.
Easily create additional pages to support your main vacation rental website
Aside from using our property CMS to modify any details about your rental, you can also easily add unlimited, new custom pages to your website. Simply add extra pages, then personalize them using the drag-and-drop builder by uploading the content, images and video you’d like to include.
Search Engine Optimization
Ensure guests find your website on sites like Google, Bing and Yahoo!
When it comes to marketing your vacation rental website, Lodgify has you covered.
All Lodgify websites are search engine friendly and follow best practices for SEO (search engine optimization). When you create your vacation rental website with Lodgify, we automatically submit your sitemap to search engines and support on-page optimization (that includes a customizable title, meta information, H1 tags and customizable URLs).
Social Media integration
Connect with more potential guests and gain visibility for your brand
It also couldn’t be easier to integrate your Lodgify website with your professional social media pages like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google+. Simply enter your social URLs in your Lodgify account and the logos will instantly show on your website and link to your pages. As social media is a great tool for building your vacation rental brand, your website will also feature “Like” and “Share” buttons so your viewers can spread the word.
What’s more, Lodgify is also integrated with Facebook Messenger so guests can communicate with you directly and the messages will arrive straight to your Lodgify account.
Reviews & Guestbook
Build credibility and a solid reputation for your vacation rental
Reviews are an incredibly powerful tool for attracting guests to your vacation rental. According to one study, 84% of internet users said they trusted online reviews as much as personal recommendations!
That’s why Lodgify’s fully-fledged built-in review system allows owners and managers to automatically collect and publish their guest reviews onto their websites with a few simple clicks. Compiling guest reviews of your property not only helps to build credibility and a strong reputation for your vacation rental brand, but they also make it more likely that other guests will book your property, too!
Add translations of your website to reach a more global audience
Lodgify websites support and encourage multilingual translations to help your website become more attractive to international bookers.
Our website builder makes it extremely easy to show your pages in any language you require. We already have professionally translated content for features like amenities and navigation bars in more than 25 languages, which you can simply activate in your Lodgify back office.
Free Domain Name and Unlimited Hosting
Establish your brand and never run out of bandwidth
We’ll happily provide you with the opportunity and advantage of creating your own personalized domain name, free of charge. Domain names are vital in establishing your own unique web identity, helping you to stand out from your competition and enabling visitors to reach your website through search engine results.
After all, your domain name is the primary interaction guests will have with your vacation rental brand, so as well as wanting it to be memorable and unique, you’ll also want it to say something special about your lodging.
Additionally, all Lodgify plans include unlimited hosting. That means we’ll never charge you based on how many visitors or how much traffic goes to your site. What’s more, our daily backups ensure that your data will never be lost and 24/7 monitoring means your website will be safe and secure.
2. Reservation System
Having a central place to manage your reservations is almost as important as having your own website in the first place.
Lodgify’s reservation system not only allows you to keep on top of all of your rental bookings from one place, but it also encourages you to automate repetitive tasks in order to make the running of your vacation rental business a lot more efficient.
Manage only one calendar and never be double-booked again
Lodgify’s reservation system collects all your reservations into one place, ensuring all of your bookings will be centralized into one easy-to-manage calendar and inbox.
The centralized calendar also allows you to block off certain booked calendar periods, guaranteeing no double bookings for your rental, while simultaneously giving you a clear overview of who is arriving and when.
Centralized inbox with detailed booking information
Easily keep on top of your reservations – they’re all in one place
Find all of your booking information and effortlessly manage reservations from your centralized Lodgify inbox. Your inbox collates bookings from every platform, no matter where they come from – whether that’s your website, telephone, email or any other external channel. Simply approve suitable incoming booking requests and create manual booking quotes for prospective guests with one click.
See at a glance the finer details of each and every booking you’ve taken, including who your guests are, how many guests will be staying, how much the booking amount is and so on. Lodgify’s centralized inbox makes for simplified handling of reservations and guest details, saving owners a lot of time and admin work.
Inquiry and quote management
Convert inquiries into bookings with complete ease
If you accept bookings on an inquiry-only basis, we also have the solution for you. With Lodgify, inquiry management is a painless task which allows you to convert more inquiries into bookings with little extra effort, whether these come in via listing sites, by phone or email, etc.
Our quote management tool allows owners like you to generate an automated booking quote and send it directly to your inquiring guests. Once they receive their personalized quote, guests can confirm the booking and make the payment, and all details will be sent immediately to your centralized inbox.
Our quotes are automatically generated based on the contributing factors you decide (such as length of stay, calendar dates, rates for that period). This saves owners time and hassle as it takes away the need to manually calculate such details, automating the workflow for swifter management of your rental and its bookings.
No more chasing overdue payments – simply collect them online
Lodgify’s reservation system allows owners to accept secure credit card payments in any currency – meaning your business is optimized to receive guests from all over the world.
Not only can you take instant credit card payments on your Lodgify website, but you can also efficiently deal with everything else payments handling entails.
Our software facilitates you in your payment collection process via easy, automatic payment scheduling. We’ll tell you when reservation deposits are due to be paid, and equally, if they’re overdue – we’ll also warn you.
Additionally, you can view your entire transaction history, allowing you to check up on what you have been paid and what you’re still owed from your upcoming guests.
Our payment tool ensures that you can collect the payment of each booking on time (provided guests aren’t paying the full amount upon booking confirmation). It also allows you to set your own scheduling rules and define your personal settings for payment collection.
Spend less time handling refunds when you set predefined cancellation rules
Administering cancellations is trouble-free with Lodgify’s reservation system. Once you define your specific cancellation policies, we’ll automatically calculate how much you need to refund to your guest as soon as they cancel.
You’re in full control of your own cancellation rules, so it’s truly up to you whether that’s no refunds at all, a partial refund if guests cancel one day before reservation date, or a full refund if it’s at least two weeks before. Define these rules in your Lodgify reservation system and we’ll take care of all the calculations.
Autoresponders and email templates
Save time and automatically send emails after guests complete certain actions
Lodgify has its own built-in guest CRM (customer relationship management) tool. With Lodgify’s CRM, you’ll no longer need any other platforms to communicate with your guests. View all guest details and manage your entire booking correspondence from one place – your Lodgify inbox.
Minimize work and maximize the guest experience from the word ‘go’ when you implement auto-responders. When triggered by certain events such as booking confirmation or payment receipt, personalized emails will be sent to your guest automatically – helping you save hours of admin time each week.
What’s more, you can create and save pre-formatted reply templates to your most commonly asked questions and reuse them at your leisure with a single click. These can also be personalized using your guest’s data via placeholders.
As Lodgify is even integrated with Facebook Messenger, guests can communicate with you directly and any messages received will arrive straight to your central Lodgify inbox.
Manage on the go – your business in your hand
Lodgify’s mobile application allows busy vacation rental owners to manage all aspects of their rental website and bookings on the go, direct from their mobile device.
Create new bookings, view your availability calendar, review payments and transaction history and communicate with your guests – all at your fingertips on your handheld device. What’s more, you’ll get notified immediately as soon as bookings or inquiries come in, allowing for efficient query management and booking confirmations.
3. Channel Manager
With our channel manager, you can synchronize and integrate all of your external listings on websites such as Booking.com, Airbnb and HomeAway with your Lodgify account. The channel manager automatically ensures calendar and rates are up-to-date and consistent across all sites, saving you from having to do it manually.
Straightforward synchronization of your Booking.com listings and Lodgify
Using Lodgify’s channel manager, you’ll never have to worry about updating your Booking.com listings again. Our seamless integration allows users to export rates and availability from Lodgify to Booking.com, as well as import reservations from the platform with all the necessary information included.
Use iCal to make management of multiple calendars a breeze
Using the channel manager as your central base, whenever you update your Lodgify calendar with new bookings or blocked-out periods, all your external listings will be automatically updated without any extra effort.
Using the iCal one-way integration, you’re not limited to a few specific channels – you’re able to synchronize your calendar data with any provider which accepts iCal.
We’ll make sure you’re always in the know
Our entire team of developers are constantly working to improve the Lodgify product, and our clients are the first to benefit from the changes. We listen to feedback carefully and develop Lodgify in line with our customers’ needs.
Technology is changing at a rapid pace, but you can relax. As we’re constantly updating our software, you won’t miss the technology train! So there’s no need to worry about falling behind. Plus, every update we do is for free.
What to take away
For vacation rental owners, having a business website is no longer a “nice-to-have” – owners who want their rental income to stay on top need one.
We hope this guide has explained just how important software is for bringing your vacation rental business to the next level, by helping you achieve more direct bookings while spending less time on administrative tasks.
Choosing which software to go for can be a difficult decision. For beginner hosts and veterans alike, selecting an all-in-one option which unites the different elements needed to run a vacation rental business smoothly is a great choice.
Lodgify’s innovative website builder, reservation system and channel manager have been designed to work hand-in-hand to give you the freedom to control your income and run your vacation rental business exactly the way you want.
All you have to do is sign up and give Lodgify a try!