Rental property owners and managers who are looking to optimize their businesses have one key thing in common: they are increasingly beginning to adopt software solutions which will help with the running of their day-to-day operations.
There are many different types of vacation rental software to choose from. Many of these will have similar functions and features, however, the main difference often comes down to the price of the software.
Different services have different price points, which can range from monthly or yearly subscriptions, to free software which simply has a commission markup for bookings.
However, there are a growing number of completely free vacation rental software systems which work quite well.
What Is Free Vacation Rental Software?
Free vacation rental software gives you all the functions of a competing paid program – but without the price tag. The quality of free vacation rental software traditionally varies depending on the service provider. These days, however, more and more providers are popping up on the market with very competitive characteristics.
The main features each business requires from the free software will be dependent on what it is hoping to achieve. For many vacation rental owners, the software should allow them to build a website, take online bookings and payments and also manage reservations at no cost.
Features of free vacation rental software
Rather than searching for free vacation rental software directly, perhaps a better approach is to seek out the ideal type of software which will solve the owner or manager’s problems.
Most options are affordable, though naturally, some are more expensive than others. When owners and managers understand the benefits and functions that a quality software brings, it becomes a tool that they simply cannot run their business without – whether it’s free or paid.
There are many features to look out for when choosing your free vacation rental software.
Free vacation rental software: website components
Most rental property owners are not already experts at building websites and simply don’t have the time to go through the learning process to do this. Not only do they not know what it takes to choose and buy a domain name, but they also aren’t yet experts on hosting either.
A vacation rental software should provide support for this area.
Vacation property managers who want to run their businesses online effectively need software to provide a good guest experience for those travelers looking to book accommodation.
Very often, rental property managers have a real desire to build their own designated website to advertise their homes. They know this is the best marketing tool they can use. Owners may come across free vacation rental software options that are simply a free website, with no additional features, which can be quite limiting on a marketing basis.
A fully functional vacation property software package will provide a good choice of templates and will make it super easy to customize them accordingly. It requires no web building, coding or design knowledge. However, the software will also go far beyond that. It should provide web design and a clear structure that has been built to strict search engine optimzation techniques. This will give the property owner a head start on their marketing efforts and enable their new website to show up in Google and other search engines.
Free vacation rental software: reservation system components
Besides from listing properties so that guests can book them, a vacation property manager has many more tasks to complete. Staying organized with property bookings and being able to handle and confirm reservations is highly important for smooth business operations. A good solution will provide all of the tools necessary for the property owner to be able to do this with ease.
MANAGE OFFLINE BOOKINGS
From day one, your free online reservation system will accept and manage offline bookings and give you the flexibility to make appointments to talk with potential staff. Lots of vacation rentals take last-minute reservations over the phone too. These types don’t have to throw off your diary. Simply enter the details on your site and your booking software will automatically add it to your calendar.
TAKE PARTIAL PAYMENTS
Owners have the freedom of whether they require a deposit to reserve a room or block of rooms. You can determine what percentage (if any) of the deposit is refundable. Also, you can accept partial payment for the reservation amount and schedule further payments.
Billing is automatic with your free online reservation system. Once the guests make their selection, they are taken to the checkout page. This page displays all of the payment options you accept, including credit cards, PayPal, and more. Here, your guests can make secure online payments.
A free online reservation system will automatically update your calendar. Therefore, even when a guest is reserving multiple rooms, your website will show those changes without any team member having to enter the data manually.
BOOK MULTIPLE ROOMS
When booking a block, your guests will need as much information about rates and discounts as possible. This should be visible even on a free online reservation system. Guests will be able to reserve multiple rooms either connecting or separate, without needing appointments to go over details.
ALLOW SMARTPHONE UPDATES
Recent studies show that 90% of people shopping use their smartphones while they are shopping. How does this affect hotel reservations? With an accessible system, it means that guests can connect to your website no matter where they are. They don’t have to be at their computers to check the dates before booking. They can simply go to your site and make their reservations on their phone.
In addition to this, you can make updates no matter where you are. As long as you have internet access, you can update availability, rates, specials, and more from your smartphone, iPad or tablet. Mobile adaptability is important for any online company, but especially for vacation rentals. Check to see if your free vacation rental software is mobile-friendly before using it.
CANCELLATIONS, REFUNDS, TAXES, FEES
Any automatic system should be able to handle cancellations and refunds. In some cases and as an owner, you may occasionally have to send refunds manually. Though it should be automatic if not. Fees and taxes will be displayed on the checkout page as well. These all affect the final total, and disclosure of all fees is required.
Additional Features of free vacation rental software
Now we’ve covered marketing and reservation capabilities of free vacation rental software, there will also be extra functionalities it needs. These additional functionalities can be things such as:
- A communication platform that can easily handle queries, quotes and help leads become reservations.
- An integrated, high-quality booking engine, so that you can accept reservations as soon as the site goes live. It has to provide all the information that an owner needs for their records.
- A good property CMS to update and edit the website whenever you like.
- An excellent payment platform is a must. It should make it easy for any traveler to pay and for property owners to manage the financial segment of the business.
- Online web app or mobile application that allows owners easy access to their site and bookings no matter where they are, even on-the-go.