I'm curious what you all think about these and other platforms out there? There are tons of options all at different price points and I'd at least like to narrow the list down with feedback from you all.
@Sean Taylor I don’t use any of those and I’m crushing it.
Airbnb/VRBO/iGMS that’s all I need. Sometimes I play around on Beyond for 2 seconds.
VRBO keeps my calendar full, I get a few bookings from Airbnb. I don't need anything else.
Hi Sean - you need one if you want to scale and have several properties and want to list on multiple platforms and automate as much as you can/reduce the time you personally spend on managing. That was/is my goal. I use Guesty - they are not perfect by any means. Issues, etc. However they are probably one of the best PMSs for smaller operators. Hostfully/OrbiRental- I had awful experience with Orbi and had to drop them. Not sure if there has been any improvement since then. Hostaway- I’ve heard good reviews and they are probably on par with Guesty. Lodgify - have heard good things but I believe their main function is to equip you with the website for direct bookings. I have one through Guesty.
Hostfully/Orbirental has improved, but still lots of shortcomings. We are using them at present. if you are considering them, happy to run you through some of the pros/cons.
capterra.com has reviews on all the above. Keep in mind it could be a lot of work to get set up if you use a lot of the features
I've tested using Tokeet and Reservation Key (each for one year), and have just made the switch to OwnerRez. I tried Tokeet because of the affordable price for a small operator, but it was too limiting. ReservationKey was much better, but was kind of "buggy" and when I would write for help from Support they were responsive but often the burden was put upon me to create test bookings and try to troubleshoot the issue on my own.
OwnerRez is so flexible & robust and so far (about 2 months in) I am really liking the product.
This is the first system I've used to integrate with my Airbnb & VRBO account, which streamlines the process of managing so many listings. (I have 10 listings on each site of my own plus I manage bookings for a number of other properties also, most of which also have Airbnb & VRBO listings....very time-consuming to manually manage so many listings.)
One of the unexpected happy surprises I found after the VRBO integration was that my listings are not using their payment processing system; when a guest books on VRBO they take their service fee and then pass the guest's payment information and payments directly to me. So...no "check-in" payments for me! The guests' payments are deposited into my bank account within a few business days after they make the payment.
This was a "happy surprise" because I was very concerned about the Terms & Conditions on VRBO's new payment system, namely the one that says by using their payments systemthe listing owner "agrees" to allow VRBO to refund any guest who contacts them within 24 hours of Check-in and reports that the property is not "as is described" or "for any other reason". I was not worried about anyone complaining that my properties are not "as is described", but I WAS worried about the vague and generic "for any other reason" clause.
Now that my payments are not being processed through their payment system I no longer have to worry about VRBO arbitrarily deciding to issue refunds to guest who might complain to them "for any other reason".
ownerrez is good
I've bounced around on different platforms over the past couple of years. Research is key, because each time you switch is a major headache. It's impossible to find something that meets ALL of your needs and functions 100% perfectly, at least at this point in time. The most helpful thing to do when demoing the platforms and talking to reps is to write down a list of exactly what functions you are seeking in a software.
I currently use two different PMS platforms as I have two STR businesses:
BookingAutomation is what we use for my Airbnb-focused business. It offers a great level of customization and has full Airbnb API integration. It is cost-effective and has integrations with third-party systems we utilize. Cons - takes a bit of time to fully understand the platform. Customer service is a bit difficult to work with. You essentially have to figure everything out on your own. Would not recommend it if you integrate with VRBO and other platforms where you manage payments directly.
Direct is the platform I use for my local full-service management business. This came from the recommendation of another PM. They push to Airbnb, VRBO, and Booking.com, plus your own white-label website. I've only been using them for a little over a month now, but so far I am happy with it. They are releasing updates on a regular basis to improve glitches and make improvements, and their customer service has been fantastic. Their system for collecting and keeping track of payments on non-Airbnb bookings is great. Cons - they take 2% commission on all bookings (I prefer flat-based fees for softwares), newer software that has glitches, however they seem to be aware of them and are working to fix them, the software is a bit rigid with less customization than I'd prefer.
My first dive into a PMS was with Orbi which lasted about 2 weeks. I can't actually remember specifically why I dropped them, I think I just didn't have a grasp of what exactly I was looking for and was disappointed that it couldn't do what I needed it to. Perhaps it's gotten better since I used it.
Then I tried Lodgify but was not happy with the channel management system. As others have stated, they seem to focus more on their custom websites versus channel management. Customer service was also difficult to work with. Fast-talking salesmen and slow-responding customer support once you pay the onboarding fees.
Lodgix was next. Overall I was happy with this system, it offered a good amount of customization. It was a bit outdated however and it was obvious that the developers had no intention of coming out with new updates or integrations. I dropped because they charged an additional 1% fee for Airbnb bookings, did not offer Airbnb API auto messaging, and didn't integrate with a dynamic pricing tool.
I used BookingAutomation for my full-service management business for a few months, but decided to make the switch to Direct. The main reason is that Direct offers an effortless system for collecting payments from all OTA's, whereas BookingAutomation did not. BookingAutomation works fine for my Airbnb business since all payments are handled directly through Airbnb, but when it came to VRBO and Booking.com where payments were handled through my own payment processor, things got sticky quick.
So to reiterate - Make a list of exactly what you're looking for in a PMS. Demo, demo, demo. Make sure you go with a software that is actively developing updates, as the industry is ever-changing. Hope this helps!
The reviews on sites like Capterra.com are bogus and clearly gamed. It is hard to find real reviews about PMSs from searching on Google. Guesty is a tech start up. It has really mostly been focused on fast quick growth to appease VCs and and hit metrics on paper that increase the paper value of their start up for the next investment round.
After years about telling them they need better customer support I was connected to Celine who is great. But still customer support is severely lacking as all you can do is submit support tickets or emails and go back forth wasting tremendous time to explain and provide context to problems and bugs via email. They desperately need call in phone support because there are plenty of ongoing bugs that just never get fixed. Even though they have US office now, I still communicated with the team in Israil via email and all of the other independent contractors all over the world. I really needed US phone support.
Overall if you operate several properties and are looking to scale, Guesty is better than nothing. But it is one of the highest priced PMSs out there. Just know they are a company that is good with hype and marketing because they have raised multi million $ VC rds of capital. Like many other tech start ups, they are mostly focused on adding new features (you dont actually need and are not that helpful, but sound really good to would-be users and those that don't know better), raising more money, and bringing in more new users.
Their core competency is not customer service or supporting their exiting users. It is showing short term rental management world that they are one of the biggest PMSs.
The problem is PMSs are complicated for professional managers and you quickly get entrenched in them. Then they have you held hostage because it is very difficult to leave without settting off numerous fires and problems in your business. If one little setting is changed in one way a domino rally a problems happens.
I am currently in the process of migrating to Owner Rez. So far so good. It is amazing to see such response support and staff from the get go.
Bigger is not always better! Often it is worse.
It is also quite well known that there are problems and limitations of most of the PMS systems on the market of which there are numerous options (impossible to keep track of how fragmented the PMS market is).
Find a PMS that actually focuses on a quality product and service to its users rather than to its VCs. I have a great feeling about Owner Rez and have heard good things. It is not flashy because you do not need your PMS to be.
All those website suck the big one. I get most of my online rentals from CL.
But I rent to refinery contractors. Big burly guys with neck tats. Boilermakers and welders. My 23 STRs are decorated like Hugh Hefner's mansion, with no complaints.
My only problem is if one guy in the group gets to the house before everyone else. The better T's and A's artwork is raided from every bedroom and winds up in the first guys room. So I've fixed the problem by covering most of the walls with T's and A's. My approach probably won't work for most other people, but it works for me.
We are struggling with Guesty as well @Brian G. . Perhaps I can pick your brain re: owner rez when you are a bit further along, I suspect we will need to make a change away from Guesty and will likely have the time to focus on that in a month or so.