Vacation Rental Software Review | Hostaway.com

As a vacation rental manager it is crucial to utilize the best technology and software. Channel managers (CMS) and property management systems (PMS) are key tools for any successful short term rental management business. Channel managers allow for seamless distribution onto key sales channels such as Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, Expedia, and TripAdvisor. While property management systems provide support and tools that effectively control, monitor, and automate your team, guest, revenue, owner, and operations management. This review of Hostaway.com will provide insight into the suite of vacation rental software features and integrations available with Hostaways channel management and property management system.

The Key Sections of this Review are:

  1. Pricing
  2. Channel Management
  3. Guest & Task Automation
  4. Financial Reporting
  5. Website Builder / WordPress Plugin
  6. Integrations
  7. User Interface and Ease of Use
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Hostaway | Pricing

The first question anyone wants to know is “what is the the price” so lets start there first. Hostaway is a more robust full-service solution than alternatives such as Lodgify, IGMS, or YourPorter. Hostaway is most closely compared to Guesty in terms of features and technology. The key difference and benefit of Hostaway over Guesty is in the pricing. Guesty has a commission on sales pricing strategy of around 3% while Hostaway has a fixed monthly rate per listing. Fixed monthly rates are far superior and cheaper for properties with high earnings. The benefit of a fixed expense is the cost remains predictable and in most cases cheaper.

Hostaway Pricing: $20 – $30 USD / Listing

Hostaway | Channel Management

Channel management is a key feature in all vacation rental software. Fortunately Hostaway has a wide list of sales channel integrations with a 2-way API. The list includes all major vacation rental sites such as Airbnb, VRBO, Homeaway, Expedia, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor.

Hostaway Sales Channel Partnerships

Deceptively many other vacation rental systems advertise a connection with these channels but many only have an Ical or 1-way connection. 2-way API is an important distinction that indicates that Hostaways system communicates with the sales channel and equally important the sales channel communicates with Hostaway. The two way communication allows for Hostaway to send data such as rates, availability, photos, and descriptions but perhaps more importantly it allows the sales channel to send reservation, cancellation, and guest messages to Hostaway.

Hostaways is an official partner of all major sales channels. In addition Hostaway has connections to alternative sales channels such as Innclusive, 9Flats, FindRentals, FlipKey, and HouseStays. Hostaway can also export Ical links that allows you to connect calendars to other OTAs.

Hostaway | Guest & Task Automation

Automation tools are lifesavers for managers with multiple properties! Before adopting a property management system I frequently forget to send guest check-in details or communicate with our cleaner that a guest cancelled their stay. Hostaways tools allow for automatic alerts, messages, and reviews to be sent to guests and team members!

Guest Communication

Hostaways guest automation tools include templated messages, variable fields, event triggers, a unified inbox, and support for multiple accounts. The message automation allows users to set up templated messages, with variable fields such as guest name, and determine the event trigger. This is perfect for sending check-in and checkout details.

The unified inbox and support for multiple accounts removes the need for property managers to continually login and out of OTA accounts. Inboxes for all your sales channels can be stored, managed, and monitored directly within the Hostaway dashboard.

Guest Reviews

Among Hostaways newest tools is review automation. Similar to templated guest conversations users can set up automated prewritten reviews for guests. On top of automating the process the dashboard lets you visualize all your guest ratings and reviews in a single inbox.

Task Alerts

Hostaways tools include task automation and user management. This allows you to send automatic alerts to your cleaning team of a new clean and update them on modifications and cancellations. The tools can also be used to schedule maintenance staff, tradesmen photographers, etc.

Hostaway Financial and Performance Reports
Hostaway Reporting

Hostaway | Financial Reporting

Hostaway has some of the most robust and complete reporting tools within the industry. Realtime data is available to yourself and homeowners (if you choose). The data includes analytics of revenue, bookings, messages, nights booked, nightly rates, occupancy, and more.

The reporting section of the Hostaway dashboard includes graphs detailing the financial performance of your business along with allowing you to narrow down to individual listings or grouped listings with the use of Hostaways tagging system.

Hostaway | Website Builder & WordPress Plugin

Hostaway has both a website builder and WordPress plugin. These are great tools for small and medium sized property managers however they are rather limited in their optimization and customization. For managers looking for custom solutions they can utilize Hostaways open API to build their own book direct system but this does require the technological know how.

Book Direct Hostaway Wordpress Plugin

Lifty Life uses the WordPress plugin to manage direct reservations.

Hostaway | Integrations

Hostaway has an extensive list of integration partners that can supplement their system. The integrations include automation tools, revenue management, guest communication, task scheduling, guest screening, and payment processing. Among the list of integrations Lifty Life uses their connection to Beyond Pricing, WordPress, and Stripe.

Hostaway has an ever expanding list of integrations and is currently finalizing their marketplace that will help their property managers seamlessly integrate systems. They are also in the process of completing a Zapier connection which would allow property managers to connect to thousands of tools including Quickbooks, Slack, Google Drive, and Salesforce to name a few.

Hostaway | User Interface & Ease of Use

Because Hostaway is an all inclusive service with hundreds of features it can take some time to understand and utilize the system to it’s full capability. Fortunately during the set up phase you’ll be paired with an account manager that will guide your through the system as well be your primary point of contact. Additionally there are online step by step guides and 24/7 support staff to assist you. Once you’ve had some experience with the system you’ll quickly be a master but it does take some dedication and practice.

There are many quirks related to the user interface (UI) of Hostaway. These UI issues can make the system at times unintuitive. Some of the important information can be oddly buried among less important features. As an example the guest message thread is oddly at the bottom of the guest portal rather than near the beginning.

However you’ll quickly identify the quirks of the system and begin to navigate through the system with ease. Hostaway does collect user feedback in order to continually improve the product so if there is something bugging you let them know.

Conclusion

Hostaway is a great tool that Lifty Life uses to manage and automate the majority of our business! For property managers or hosts looking for a full-service vacation rental solution it’s a great option. The fixed rate pricing structure ends up being much cheaper than the commission based model of its direct competitors such as Guesty. Finally and most importantly Hostaway invests and prioritizes optimizing its technology, expanding its features and integrations, and providing excellent user support.

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