Effectively operating your vacation rental property requires the right tools, and a Property Management System (PMS) is at the top of the list. A PMS is essential for efficiently managing your property, providing a better guest experience, optimizing revenue, and simplifying many administrative tasks associated with property management. It’s a valuable tool for both beginners and experienced property owners.
Choosing the right PMS for your property can streamline your operations, maximize your bookings, and provide an excellent guest experience.
In this article, we explore what a PMS does, its key benefits, what differentiates a channel manager and a property management system, and how to choose the right one for your property management needs.
We’ll break it down and show you the 14-part formula for increasing your vacation rental revenue and providing an experience your guests won’t forget.
What is a PMS?
A property management system is a software solution designed to streamline the management of properties in the hospitality industry, whether it’s a single vacation rental unit or an extensive portfolio. It acts as a central hub for property-related tasks, including:
- Automated Tasks & Workflows
- Guest communication (Unified Inbox)
- Pricing optimization
- Channel management
- Property listing
- Payment processing
- Scheduling of cleaning and maintenance
- Guest review management
- Monthly reports and analytics
- Guest experience management
Using a PMS helps property owners efficiently oversee everything. From who’s coming and going to keeping guests happy. A PMS is like a personal assistant for properties, making sure everything runs smoothly.
”“The real question is, what exactly is a PMS? The overarching purpose of a PMS is to simplify how you — the property owner — interact with your property or your guests."
Oskar Dunklee, Senior Client Success, Support and Onboarding Manager at Enso Connect
Things To Do When Choosing The Best Property Management System
Choosing the right PMS involves careful evaluation and you should always go with a system that has an option to offer seamless integration with OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO, or Booking.com.
Define Your Requirements
Making a list of your specific needs and goals before you choose a management system can be helpful to help narrow down PMS choices. What tasks do you want the PMS to handle? Typically owners want help with reservations, bookings, guest communication, housekeeping, maintenance, improving the guest experience, and reporting.
Review Existing Clients and Testimonials
Research online user reviews to get a better sense of PMS user experiences. If possible, speaking with property owners or managers who use the system can provide valuable insights. Existing property management companies are already using this software so make sure you read the reviews they’re leaving on sites like Capterra, G2, Google, etc.
Book a Demo
Reach out the PMS providers on your shortlist and request a live demo to see the system in action. This will give you firsthand experience in how the system works. Ask questions about its capabilities and how it addresses your specific needs. During the demo as the software company if they offer any a free trial of the product. The user experience is going to be one of the best ways to vet a software products and different systems.
Ensure that the PMS is a Preferred Software Provider
Check if the PMS integrates seamlessly with tools like accounting softwares and popular OTAs like Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, Expedia. Being a preferred software provider is an award, badge, or accolade provided by the OTA that helps people determine how strong the integration is with the sales channel. The best property management software in the industry will be on these lists.
- Airbnb Software Partners <- Enso Connect integrates with Airbnb
- VRBO Connectivity Partners
- Booking.com Tech Providers
Read the Case Studies the Company Publishes
Most property management softwares regularly publish case studies that explain some of the success stories their clients have experience since using their software. Try to find a story that you resonate with and compare the case study among several different softwares.
Check Support and Training
A reliable PMS offers online customer support if questions were to arise. You should be able to contact your PMS system via phone, email, or chat support. A reliable system should also offer training resources to help get to know and understand the system.
”“Selecting the right Property Management System (PMS) for your vacation rental business is the bedrock upon which the entire guest experience and operational efficiency are built. Choose wisely, and you unlock the potential for seamless interactions, happier guests, and soaring revenues."
Francois Gouelo, co-founder and CEO of Enso Connect
What are the Benefits of a PMS?
The benefits of using a PMS for property managers are endless. They include automation of tasks, a centralized control hub, easy reporting, improved guest experiences, and adding to the thrill of owning a rental property.
1. Centralized Management
A PMS provides a single platform to manage all aspects of your property, from reservations and guest communication to housekeeping and maintenance. Reduce the risk of errors and provide consistent service.
If you want to save time and minimize manual errors, property management systems can automate repetitive tasks, such as booking confirmations, check-in/out procedures, and invoicing. It allows you to focus on other things like guest experience.
3. Real-Time Updates
Property management systems offer real-time property availability updates, synchronizing your property’s availability and rates across all online booking platforms. Remove the risk of double bookings and maximize your occupancy.
4. Improved Guest Experience
PMS systems help you personalize guest interactions by storing guest information and preferences for future use. You can send automated welcome messages, provide local recommendations, and address guest requests promptly.
5. Analytics and Reporting
Automatically track occupancy rates, revenue, and guest demographics that you can use to optimize your pricing and marketing strategies. You’ll get access to detailed reports and analytics to help you make data-driven decisions.
6. Secure Payment Processing
Many PMS solutions offer integrated payment processing, allowing guests to pay securely online. This reduces the risk of any payment disputes and simplifies accounting.
7. Inventory Management
PMS systems help you manage all aspects of your property inventory, including furnishings, appliances, and maintenance schedules.
8. Streamlined Housekeeping
Seamlessly keep your property in top condition for incoming guests. PMS software often includes housekeeping features that facilitate scheduling, task assignment, and communication with cleaning staff.
9. Integration with OTAs
The best PMS platforms integrate seamlessly with online travel agencies like Airbnb, Booking.com, and VRBO. This means that updates to rates, availability, and property details are automatically synchronized across all channels.
They can scale with your business and grow with you. Whether you have one property or a large portfolio, the software can adapt to your needs.
11. Cost Savings
While there is a cost associated with using a PMS, the amount of time saved on administrative tasks and the potential for increased bookings and revenue can really outweigh this expense.
12. Guest Reviews and Feedback
Receive consolidated valuable information for improving your property. Systems often include features that ask for and collect guest reviews and feedback.
13. Financial Management
Get help with accounting. PMS tools assist with billing, invoicing, and financial reporting so you can save time and effort for other areas.
”“As a property manager, I use a PMS every single day to automate a lot of tasks for me. The most important benefit a PMS offers is its ability to automate hundreds, if not, thousands of minial tasks ever single day. We took automations to a whole other level once we integrated our PMS with Enso Connect's 'If This, Then That' functionality."
Connor Griffiths, co-founder and CEO of Lifty Life Hospitality
Frequently Asked Questions
Every Property Management System will have different pricing based on the number of units and how many features you need.
Generally speaking the typical cost structure will be $10 – $50 / unit / month. Some companies charge a commission structure instead of a flat-monthly cost.
While considering your budget and cost for using a PMS is an important factor, it should not be an outweighing consideration. Choosing the cheapest option could lead to:
- Frustration with limited integrations
- Inadequate support and time wasted
- Security risks and protecting guests data
- Outgrowing the system too quickly
- More costs down the road
A more comprehensive PMS may come at a higher price, but the pros outweigh the costs with reducing risks, improved efficiency, and guest satisfaction. Saving money upfront may seem like a good choice at the time, but it can lead to inefficiencies and limitations in the long run.
While both PMS and Channel Managers are tools recommended for property management, they do serve different purposes. A Property Management System is like an “operations manager” and mainly focuses on property-related tasks, while a Channel Manager focuses on distributing your property listings across various online booking platforms and online travel agencies (OTAs).
Channel Manager’s connect your rental property to channels like Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com and ensure that rates, availability, and information are all the same and updated on each channel.
Both a PMS and a Channel Manager are used to effectively manage a vacation rental listing and maximize its exposure to potential guests.
Enso Connect is integrated with some of the top rated property management softwares in the vacation rental industry.
Here is a list of the integrated PMS partners:
It’s Your Very Own Personal Assistant
A Property Management Software is the best way to maximize your revenue and enhance your guest’s experience and overall service, and allows you to be as hands off as you need to be. Its core benefit is to automate and mitigate all the mundane tasks such as answering questions, keeping track of your reviews, updating your listings page, managing keys and access and keeping all of your guest contacts organized across multiple booking platforms.
Here’s how the right service can streamline your rental management and save you a significant amount of time:
1. It’s Convenient and Practical
Every service has its own perks and benefits, but the majority of them work across your multiple platforms and consolidates everything into one dashboard. With one click, you can see all of your reservations, check ins and outs, and can update your listings once and push it out to your different booking platforms.
This also applies to your inbox. Most services offer a unified inbox so that you can keep track of all guest communications in one place, as well as manage your vendors and whatnot.
2. It Offers Flexibility
Utilizing a PMS means you don’t have to be at your rental as often, or at all. In fact, you can manage it remotely. By relying on your software, as well as introducing automation and smart technology, you can manage every facet of your rental from a birds-eye-view.
For example, introducing smart locks, smart thermostats, noise sensors, and other smart tech allows you to offer access remotely, as well as monitor your property’s security and integrity. Some services, such as the one that Enso Connect provides, offer an AI-enabled concierge that can answer the common questions that hosts are tired of answering. It can also send out booking confirmations, greetings and reminders of what to do upon check out, and to leave a review.
It can also then inform the cleaning staff when a reservation ends and the next is to begin, so they can get in and sanitize.
3. It Can Optimize Your Pricing
There are major cost benefits to relying on a PMS after the initial investment, and one of them is dynamic pricing. The software can look at the market and rely on its algorithms to optimize based on peak and low seasons, surrounding availability and help you maximize your earning potential and total profits across all your listings.
That said, no system and machine learning is perfect. Letting the software manage your pricing dynamically is a good starting point and something that you can let run automatically most times, but as a word of advice, it’s a good idea to sometimes go in yourself and play with the numbers manually to boost your listing intentionally.
4. It Can Help With Your Marketing Strategy
When it comes to managing your rental property firsthand, there is a lot of input required from a host to best manage their listings. One such way is keeping your listing updated, changing the verbiage from time to time to freshen it up, and most importantly, managing and giving reviews. As mentioned above, the key to a good review is reliable and consistent communication with your guests. This is one of the largest pain points for most Airbnb veterans – hosts that are incommunicado, so being available is key to getting those good reviews and word of mouth. Hence, an inbox that has all of your communication in one place, in both email and direct message format, makes this a lot easier.
As well, a lot of PMS services integrate with social media, which helps promote your listing organically via your guests comments and photos on their personal feeds.
5. It Allows for Superior Guest Service and Operations
The key to having a successful rental property is offering that unparalleled service. Travellers have plenty of options when choosing a rental or Airbnb, so you need to lean on your PMS to take care of the little stuff, so you can focus on the bigger picture – offering a memorable stay. Automating tasks means that your attention is focused on your guests and what they want out of their time in your home.
From an operational standpoint, once you streamline everything (the cleaning, any repairs, the management of the physical space itself via smart technology), you’ll only see better guest reviews, more occupancy, and watch costs go down, while profits go up.
How Enso Connect Can Help
Streamline the management of your vacation rental and create a seamless experience for your guests. Enso Connect can help by personalizing and simplifying guest interactions at all stages of the customer journey. Take advantage of dozens of integrations to manage check-in, cleaning schedules, and communication while creating upsells to maximize your profits and enhance your guest’s experience. Learn more or book a demo today!