Vacation Rental Management Companies (VRMCs) have a lot of tasks to juggle, particularly when managing multiple properties. Think check-ins and check-outs, payment processing, cleaning schedules, booking management systems, customer service—the list goes on. Manually managing all of these tasks for multiple properties becomes very difficult—not to mention time-consuming.
The automation of vacation rental management allows VRMCs to streamline their operations and therefore focus on acquiring more vacation rentals, enhancing customer experiences, and increasing their marketing efforts. This automation ultimately leads to faster business growth. That’s where API comes in.
The use of travel API technology to support property management systems has really taken off in recent years and is something we now often take for granted in the industry. But what are travel APIs? And what do they mean for vacation rental managers?
API stands for Application Programming Interface and it allows for multiple computer programs to communicate with each other effectively. Data and functionality can be shared between different systems, allowing for seamless connectivity and a more functional system overall. In the same way that a VoIP phone adapter allows for effective communications between various systems, API shares data streams and functionality between programs.
In the travel and tourism market, 74% of total revenue is expected to be generated by online sales by the year 2027. It’s no wonder then that travel API is a growing market with more and more third party tech companies providing solutions.
Thanks to this growing technology, vacation rental businesses don’t need to use separate apps for guest management, communication with service companies, and reservation management. Instead, they can easily manage multiple properties and boost their occupancy rate by investing their time and energy into improving guest experiences or building their marketing strategy.
Not only that, but the risk of human error is reduced, calendars can be synced, and many routine tasks are automated.
Sounds great, right? Let’s look in more detail at some key benefits of adopting API for Vacation Rental Managers.
Using travel API technology is a no-brainer for property owners and the vacation rental industry as a whole.
Let’s take a closer look at 5 key benefits of adopting travel API:
Any automation of tasks which would typically involve manual human input is going to save property management companies time. Instead of having to meet guests at check-in, why not operate an automated keyless entry system? Guests checked out, and the property needs to be cleaned? Send automated messages to notify your cleaning company. Are you due payment for an upcoming stay? Send an automatic email reminder, and the balance will update when the customer has paid.
Completing these tasks manually for one or two vacation rental properties sounds manageable, but as soon as a VRMCs portfolio expands beyond just a few properties, this quickly becomes difficult. If you want to grow, travel API is your friend.
The automation of these tasks reduces human input and therefore reduces the time spent on these repetitive tasks. With this extra time, property managers can focus on making strategic business decisions, planning marketing strategies and, as a result, accelerating business growth.
The use of travel API will significantly increase the quality of guest experiences. This is because you will be on top of all guest communications and will be able to focus more time and energy on meeting and exceeding guest expectations.
Your travel API software should include the seamless integration of email and calendar systems into an efficient property management system. You may want to consider alternatives to Outlook calendar to ensure you allow for optimum integration functionality.
How can you increase customer satisfaction and make the overall experience more positive for the guest? A simple thank you can go a long way. According to a recent survey, 77% of customers like it when a brand demonstrates appreciation.
Your travel API could include an automated thank you message for guests when they check out. Even better—offer them a discount if they book again within a month, introduce a referral program, or vacation packages. These are surefire ways to increase online bookings, occupancy rates, and customer satisfaction.
To take your customer service to the next level, you could use a solution like 8×8 hosted phone systems to ensure you can communicate with guests whether you are in the office or not. A hosted phone system allows you to answer calls from anywhere, and being available for your guests throughout the booking process and their stay will surely take a 4-star review to 5 stars.
Most property management companies will list their properties on multiple booking channels. The more booking capabilities you have, the higher the likelihood of missing a booking or leaving an inquiry unanswered.
Managing direct bookings for multiple properties across these multiple channels can be complicated for your channel manager. Travel API makes this easier by integrating the booking channels and allowing management to be handled from one property management platform.
Property managers no longer need to log into multiple apps or property management software systems to manage reservations. This is a huge benefit which makes managing bookings so much easier.
The integration of booking channels offers synced calendars and an at-a-glance overview of all bookings and inquiries. Meaning you can communicate better with tour operators, short term rental owners, or travel agencies. This reduces the likelihood of forgetting to respond to an inquiry or accepting a double booking.
You can use API software as a website builder to help you to develop your own website. This comes with many benefits, such as reducing commission costs from third-party services and being able to personalize the customer experience in a way that suits your brand.
You will want to ensure your website reflects your brand and ensures that guests have a smooth and pleasant experience right from the browsing and booking stage straight through to leaving a review. Make sure your web page is also optimized for mobile browsing, as many customers prefer to browse and even book their vacation rental property on their phones or smart devices.
Including direct integrations of CMS (content management system) and CRM (customer relationship management) software is essential. CMS software helps you manage and create content for your brand, while CRM software tells you how your customers interact with your business.
Both CMS and CRM software are invaluable and should be built into your web design.
Ultimately, investing in travel API will lead to faster business growth and increased revenue. The benefits listed above will naturally help you to achieve your business objectives.
Effective management of multiple properties and the automation of repetitive operational tasks allows for cutting back on costs and an increase in occupancy rates. Using a Business Process Management software solution is a no-brainer for any vacation rental business that wants to future-proof their business and see exponential growth.
In fact, research has shown that firms adopting API integration grew an additional 38.7% over a sixteen-year period compared to similar companies with no API.
Now you know the benefits of travel API—you might be wondering how to choose the right software for your business.
Read on to learn 5 top tips for choosing the right travel API for your business:
Before deciding what API solution is best for your company, you need to clarify exactly what it is you seek to gain from using it. What strategic business goals are you working towards, and how will travel API technology help you?
You may wish to provide an exceptional guest experience, or you might want to integrate your revenue management tools seamlessly and have one interface only. Perhaps you want to include dynamic pricing tools or data analytics. Different API software will offer different benefits. When you really focus on your main strategic goal, it will be easier to look for what you need from API solutions.
There are many accessible APIs out there for vacation rental owners from multiple suppliers. Spend time really investigating the functionality and the benefits of each software system.
You can usually access reviews from current or previous users, so spend time reading through these or ask the opinions of business associates you trust such as travel agents or other property managers.
You might find it helpful to create a comparison table (or find one that someone else has already made!) that compares the functions, benefits, and costs of each API you’re considering.
As with any business decision, you need to consider the cost. Find out exactly how much your chosen API will cost, and weigh up the benefits you will gain from adopting it.
API providers will come at different costs. Some may operate on a monthly or yearly fee basis. Others may have a fee structure based on the number of properties you manage. Some may have additional costs for certain services, so it’s important to remember tips 1 and 2, make sure you know what you will be using the API for, and research different providers.
Is the most expensive option always the best? Not necessarily. It’s important to look again at your list of requirements and the strategic goal you are working towards by adopting a travel API and decide which solution is best placed to meet your needs. It may not always be the most expensive option. Then again—it might be! Don’t underestimate the ROI you stand to gain from adopting an API, but be confident you’re choosing the right one for you.
Before committing to your new API solution, ensure you carefully check and understand the documentation provided.
Spend time reading and analyzing the API documentation to ensure all of your questions are answered before you commit. The documentation should include information like the parameters, limitations, rules, and pricing.
Although you may be saving on commission from third-party sites by building your own website, your API host may include details in their small print that they also take a commission on each booking made. This is something you need to be aware of, as it will be a huge deciding factor.
Be sure you are aware of the cancellation policy too. You may incur a hefty fee if you cancel your contract within a certain time frame, so this is worth keeping in mind before you commit.
Reading over long and detailed documentation can be time-consuming, but it is worth finding out all you can before making any commitment.
When onboarding your travel API, you want to be sure that you know what you’re doing and that support is available. Make sure your chosen API provider has a high-quality onboarding system and that there is good after-sales service.
You also want to make sure your API provider has an error management system and that there is support available to you if there are glitches along the way.
This may be particularly important during the initial integration phase but will continue to be important as your business develops and grows. VRMCs need to be able to solve problems and glitches swiftly to ensure there is no detrimental effect on their guest’s experience.
An API provider which offers you hands-on support via a Microsoft Teams phone system with 8×8, for example, would be significantly more attractive than a provider who took 3-5 business days to respond to emails.
So, we’ve established what travel APIs are, their benefits, and how to pick the right API solution for vacation rental managers.
As the API industry grows, the property management industry can expect to see more and more vacation rental software options to choose from. A more diverse marketplace means you are more likely to find the product that meets your exact requirements. Not only that, but prices will likely decrease as API providers need to compete for VRMC custom.
The right travel API integrations can save you time, allow you to expand your portfolio, increase customer satisfaction and ultimately increase your revenue. Ensure you follow our tips when selecting your travel API solution and watch your Vacation Rental Management Company grow from strength to strength.
About the Author:
Alwayne Powell is an experienced performance marketing leader with an extensive background in the digital space, working client and agency side to provide paid search, SEO and CRO solutions in the B2B and B2C sectors. They are the current Senior Digital Marketing Manager at one of the leading platforms with features like 8×8 virtual phone systems. You can find them on LinkedIn.
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