Nowadays, there are several tools that vacation rental owners or serviced apartment operators can use to ease the process of renting out their properties and maximise their revenue. Of course, anyone in the business wants to increase their properties’ visibility using various booking platforms, commonly known as OTAs. However, the more you make use of OTAs or other booking channels, the higher the possibility of overbookings.
An availability calendar is an immediate, straightforward solution to address this problem. Using a proper calendar, especially while using a sufficient PMS (Property Management Software) and channel manager helps you avoid this problem to a great extent.
With a qualified availability calendar, you can effortlessly keep track of your vacation rental bookings and more. In this article, we’re going through different aspects and advantages of availability calendars and also other types of calendars that come very handy, particularly when you’re running multiple properties or offering longer-term rate plans such as weekly or monthly.
Benefits of Having a Competent Availability Calendar
A vacation rental calendar should have two primary features: easy to use and reliable. Remember, the ultimate goal of using an availability calendar is to achieve high occupancy rates while avoiding overbookings.
One of the main objectives of an availability calendar is to organise bookings and save you time and energy. These calendars are available in different forms and versions. If you’re using a channel manager, or you’ve just embarked on the process of choosing one, be careful to see whether they use iCal calendar, or they also provide API connections. As iCal calendars are free, most booking websites tend to use this type; however, they increase the possibility of overbooking and are more limited than the API ones.
Advertising on Third-party Sites
The first tool for increasing your properties’ exposure is to use third-party sites like OTAs and other booking channels. As a host, especially at the initial steps of your business, using sites like Airbnb and Booking.com enables you to promote your rentals to thousands of potential travellers.
Some availability calendars are stand-alone applications. Others are part of a property management software and channel manager. While using a sufficient channel manager, you can have one centralised calendar and sync it with any channel or OTA your work with.
It is better to think and fully consider all aspects of your business like its scale, your needs and budget, and then decide whether to use a separate calendar or one that is a part of a PMS.
An Availability Calendar Gives Your Guests the Necessary Information
Using an availability calendar allows your guests to get real-time information on current bookings and view availability for their own reservation dates. The main outcome of this feature is that it saves time and boosts guest experience from the very beginning moment of making a reservation when guests can find the information they need at a glance.
Getting More Direct Bookings Through Your Own Website
Availability calendars can also sync with your direct booking website. This is a vital feature as you might be using channels but at the same time working on your own website in the hope of getting more and more bookings. So, it is important that if a booking comes from a channel or an OTA, your website gets updated as well to avoid overbookings.
Necessity of an Availability Calendar for a Multi-property Business
Whether you’re running a single property or multiple ones, it is important that your calendar has the ability to manage all of them. In the following sections, we’ll talk more about this feature, as well as the ability to block any dates whenever you want and of course, searching and filtering.
When you want to expand your business and diversify your portfolio, it is not only your revenue that increases; the hassle and confusion created by the more operations will be doubled as well. To overcome this obstacle, it’s better to have different pieces of data in one centralised hub. This is where a multi-unit calendar comes to your rescue. While using a centralised calendar, all the bookings are collected in one place, which results in an easy-to-manage calendar and inbox combination.
Why You Need a Competent Multi-unit Calendar
While running multiple properties, you might want to hire more staff which multiplies your workload as a manager. But, if your calendar has this option to enable your staff to block particular dates, it’ll give them a clear overview of their entire schedule. So, a huge amount of the job can be done automatically by them without having to bother you for any tiny piece of information.
Unless you have the right tools, growing your vacation rental business is not a dream come true. On the other hand, if you’re aware of the latest technological solutions for the extra hassle scaling your business might bring about, it can become a piece of cake.
When you’re managing various properties, what you need the most is a clear visual overview of all the bookings at the same time. One solution offers displaying all the properties in close proximity to each other on the same page. Unfortunately, they’re combined by showing properties in other cities on the same page as well. So, you can imagine the confusion this situation creates, thus making it a challenge to find a booking or answer any questions related to availability.
Another aspect of your business is effective rates setting which can’t be done efficiently unless your revenue managers have a clear-cut overview of the rates for all unit types and their availability.
There are two main types of multi-unit calendars, one of which is specifically for bookings and the other for rates and availability. These calendars can help you achieve your income goals, yet at the same time avoid all these difficulties and confusions.
What Is a Booking Calendar?
When you run multiple properties in various locations, especially when they’re spotted in different cities, what you need is not just a booking calendar for each property but for each city. By having such a calendar, if you have several properties, it’s much easier to navigate them while saving you a lot of precious time that can be spent on finding new ideas and strategies to expand your business.
Moreover, it can provide you with the opportunity to create bookings and block dates directly from the booking calendar, thus reducing the number of clicks and actions to get the task done!
Moreover, a booking calendar must give you an overview of the cleanliness status of each unit. When the unit is marked as dirty, your housekeepers will know a housekeeping is due, will take care of it and finally mark it as clean. This level of automation not only clarifies the information you require in one instant, but also helps your staff to get an organised overview of their tasks.
What Is a Rates and Availability Calendar?
You can simply guess the content of this type of calendar by its name: the rates and availability. This type of availability calendar allows you to see not only the booked and empty dates, but also the rates you have set for each unit type, alongside any other restrictions.
A top-notch rates and availability calendar must also display the total number of units for each unit type for each night while revealing how many of those are left to rent for the night. Having all this information in one place enables you to analyse your rates and decide which ones need to be changed, resulting in higher occupancy.
Moreover, because of the exceptional current situation, many people in the industry are looking for ways to attract business travellers or the ones who are interested in longer stays. This is a point you need to carefully consider before choosing a PMS and rates & availability calendar as it must offer features that meet the new requirements.
Bear in mind that with all the pricing tools in the market, you’ve got the chance to work with a dynamic pricing software that’ll help you optimise your rates based on price recommendations and maximise revenue and occupancy for your listings. However, if you use a PMS and a channel manager that is already integrated with one of the world’s leading revenue management software, you can easily push your rates to all the channels you advertise your property(ies) on, without worrying about syncing your rates and availability, and having to deal with overbookings.
As you’ve seen in this article, an availability calendar can be more than showing the available dates, or whether a booking has been made. Even if you’ve just started your business as a vacation rental owner or managing properties for others, it is suggested to use a proper channel manager and PMS right from the beginning. Having an organised availability calendar is a must if you want to successfully manage your properties, but if you can find one that also includes excellent rates and availability and booking calendars, it can make a huge difference in your success.