What are the essential features of a PMS?

PMS are extremely comprehensive tools that aim to centralize all the tasks of a property manager and his teams.


It is therefore sometimes difficult to navigate through the panel of tools offered. Here are the essential features to look for in your future PMS.

Channel manager

Does the PMS distribute listings to OTAs, synchronize rates, availability and keep calendars up to date?

A channel manager is a tool that allows you to distribute your rental listings to external booking platforms like Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com or Expedia simultaneously. It will automatically synchronize and update your rates, availability and bookings on a number of platforms simultaneously.

Originally used by hotels, channel managers ensure that room availability is always up-to-date on all OTAs where guests can make a reservation. This means that if a guest makes a reservation on a website such as Booking.com, for example, the number of available rooms will automatically change on Booking.com and on the hotel's website.

Having a channel manager for your vacation rental business will allow you to distribute your ads on different OTAs and, therefore, diversify your booking channels. It will also allow you to update and synchronize information automatically and immediately on all channels, which leaves very little margin for error.

Channel managers are at the heart of PMS and are an essential complement to your vacation rental business if you want to avoid mistakes such as overbooking or double booking.

Reservation Calendar

It is an availability calendar specialized in organizing reservations. It is an essential tool for any property manager who rents out their accommodations on a nightly basis. Some calendars are simple stand-alone applications, while others are part of a larger software service.

Any host wishing to rent out their property to travelers will need a booking schedule on their vacation rental website.

When using optimized software, the availability calendar will synchronize all bookings from your website and various OTAs into one platform. This channel manager feature gives travelers real-time availability while owners have quick access to existing booking details.

Let's say your property is listed on Airbnb and Booking.com. Instead of having to manually check each listing site every time a booking is made, a booking calendar will allow you to stay up to date at all times without fear of double bookings.

Having a centralized calendar has a positive impact on different aspects of your business. For cleaning staff in hotels or vacation rentals, these calendars can help you save a lot of effort.

Instead of having to notify your staff of every reservation, your availability calendar will do the work for you. By having access to one easy-to-manage calendar and inbox combination, your staff can quickly accept or reject requests. It also allows them to block out certain periods of time as unavailable and gives them a clear overview of their entire schedule.

A reservation calendar also makes your customers more comfortable. They get real-time information about current reservations and can view availability for their own booking dates. When a traveler makes a reservation directly using software linked to a reservation calendar, it is automatically updated for your staff as well.

One of the main benefits of using an availability calendar is that it saves time. By having access to important information at a glance, you have no trouble finding the information you need. This allows you to spend more time on business operations.

Site builder (CMS)

A content management system, often abbreviated to CMS, is software that helps users create, manage, and edit website content without the need for specialized technical knowledge.

In simpler language, a content management system is a tool that helps you create a website without having to write all the code from scratch (or even know how to code).

Instead of building your own system for creating web pages, storing images and other functions, the content management system takes care of all the basic infrastructure for you, allowing you to focus on the most important parts of your website.

Beyond websites, you can also find content management systems for other functions, such as document management.

A CMS allows you to create your direct booking website to diversify your booking channels and reduce the impact of OTAs commissions on your business.

Booking engine

A booking engine is an essential tool that you must have in your arsenal. It can be synced with your property management system (PMS) to allow you to accept direct bookings via your website, social media pages and third-party directory listings.

Travelers can filter their search by date, number of beds, amenities and even special packages. Once they find what they're looking for, they can securely provide all the information you need, including their credit card information at checkout, and leave knowing they have a guaranteed reservation. All this while you do... pretty much everything else.

When you offer direct booking on your website, you not only make the booking process more convenient for your customers, but you also reap the benefits. These direct bookings mean that you can accept bookings automatically without paying a commission to an online travel agency (OTA), like Booking.com or Airbnb. Ultimately, with a booking engine, you can generate more bookings while increasing your revenue.

Search engine optimization (SEO)

SEO is an acronym for search engine optimization, which is a set of practices aimed at improving the positioning of web pages in the results of search engines like Google. Since organic search is the primary way for Internet users to discover and access online content, a good SEO strategy is essential to improve the quality and quantity of traffic to your website.

Search engines such as Google and Bing use crawlers, sometimes called bots or spiders, to gather information about all the content they can find on the Internet. The bot starts from a known web page and follows internal links to pages on that site, as well as external links to pages on other sites. The content of these pages, as well as the context of the links it has followed, helps the crawler understand the content of each page and how it is semantically connected to all the other pages in the search engine's massive database, called an index.

When a user types or speaks a query into the search box, the search engine uses complex algorithms to extract what it believes to be the most accurate and useful list of results for that query. These organic results can include text-filled web pages, news articles, images, videos, local business listings and other more specialized types of content.

There are many factors that go into search engine algorithms, and these factors are constantly evolving to adapt to changes in user behavior and advances in machine learning.

This is an extremely complex and technical field that requires several full-time positions to optimize your site. However, many good practices are easy to implement and automate. That's why some PMS, especially those with a CMS, offer simplified features to improve the SEO of your direct booking site.

Travel Communications

As the vacation rental industry experiences the rapid effects of digital transformation, more and more professionals will need the help of PMS to automate their communication processes. Everyone offers automation of repetitive daily tasks, but few offer the flexibility and customization needed to meet the critical needs of communicating with your travelers.

PMS communication tools allow you to improve your responsiveness to customer communications with saved responses, maintain an informal and conversational style, and address travelers by name, while automating your processes.

A unified inbox also allows you to centralize your communication channels to make sure you don't miss a message and lose the link with your customers.

In short, establishing effective communication is an ongoing process, one that requires constant attention and sometimes really quick and appropriate responses. It's an inseparable part of the challenging daily life of vacation rental professionals, and you'll definitely want to see it included in your preferred PMS platform.

Online inventory

The vacation rental industry is constantly evolving, demanding new solutions and new ways to satisfy travelers. This continuous progress forces professionals to update their internal and external processes.

One of the keys to improvement is the user experience. The goal is to always satisfy the customer so that they will repeat their stay in one of the properties. Throughout the process, from the reservation to the end of the stay, there are a series of factors that have a direct impact on the experience and are a fundamental key in the final evaluation of the customer. And the check-in process is precisely one of these factors.

More than just a necessary formality, having an efficient and frictionless check-in process can greatly improve the customer experience. A quick and easy remote 100% process will benefit your travelers and therefore your business.

If your ideal PMS does not offer this feature, don't worry, Swikly offers an online inventory of fixtures service with photos that will serve as evidence in case of dispute.

Payment management

Some PMSs integrate seamlessly with external payment processing providers, giving you complete flexibility at low cost.

They allow you to monitor all activity and manage rental payments from your dashboard. You can send payment requests at any time and will receive notifications when a balance has been successfully processed.

These tools also allow you to generate transaction reports to track the balance of each reservation and control late payments.

Websites that accept credit card payments receive up to seven times more bookings than those that do not. A payment processing tool is therefore essential to manage credit card payments securely.

Some tools also allow you to schedule payments and bill automatically according to your rules, manage cancellations by automating refunds, and many other specific tasks that take time and sometimes require the creation of a position.


Accounting is one of the most difficult parts of running a vacation rental business. However, every vacation rental business needs some form of accounting to operate. While the basic principles of business accounting are the same for most companies, accounting differences can result from a combination of factors, including the type and size of the business or the number of transactions made.

Accounting software for vacation rentals offers many useful features that make managing your business finances easier than ever.

The payment history allows you to see which payments have already been made and by which guests. This feature is useful because it allows you to confirm which guests have booked and paid for a stay at your vacation rental property. It is essential to confirm if your potential guests have paid for their stay. You want to avoid listing a property as "not vacant" before payment has been received, or you risk losing potential revenue.

Some tools automatically generate profit and loss reports for your vacation rental business so you can see at a glance how profitable your business is.

Others track the income generated as well as the expenses made from your account. This gives you accurate reports on your income over the year. You can use this information to estimate your taxes and prepare your return.

Revenue Management

Revenue management is the method of using analytics to examine availability and pricing, and predict customer behavior in order to maximize revenue.

Revenue management for vacation rentals is the key to maximizing profits. It is a pricing strategy that looks at supply and demand to maximize profits.

A revenue management strategy enables property managers to achieve their goals. It is necessary to gather all historical, present and future data to compare occupancy and pricing. Understanding historical data and forecasting performance is critical to realizing revenue potential.

Pricing an ad is a complex subject. The pricing of an ad must be sensitive to the demand and its characteristics - who books, how, what and when do they book? If the maximum price at which we can rent an accommodation fluctuates depending on a number of parameters such as the period, competitive pressure or the type of your accommodation, the pricing must be smart and fluctuate accordingly.

In short, vacation rental revenue management ensures that a property has the right rate, on the right channel, at the right time.

Performance analysis

Analysis in the vacation rental industry starts with three key KPIs. These "Big 3" are used to diagnose your vacation rental's ability to generate revenue.

  • The occupancy rate is the simplest indicator in vacation rentals to calculate. Simply divide the number of nights the property is booked by the number of days in your reservation period. Most of the time, a monthly period of 30-31 days is used.
  • The average daily rate is the average revenue paid by clients during a specific period. Like the occupancy rate, it is also often calculated by month.
  • Until now, there was no variable that hosts could use to maximize their revenue. That's where the RevPar comes in. It takes into account both occupancy and revenue.

Although these indicators are easy to calculate and track, they do not present a holistic view of your business. Opting for a PMS that offers functions to analyze your company's performance for different time scales and according to different approaches becomes essential if you want to optimize your growth.

In addition, these features take into account the forecasts of your accounting tools and the behavior of your revenue management tools. Thus, you can develop a complex model and pilot it from your performance dashboard.

Task management

A task management tool allows you to coordinate your teams, from greeters and cleaning staff to property managers and administrators. You can give users access to specific parts of your PMS by defining what each person can see or do. This allows you to manage responsibilities among your employees and get a better overview of your teams.

These tools allow you to easily create and assign recurring and specific tasks to different members of your team. As soon as a task is completed, you are immediately informed. Stay on top of your workload, keep track of who did what and when, and save time on communication with your employees.

With detailed lists of everything that needs to be done on your dashboard, you make the check-in and check-out process easy by scheduling tasks for your team. See when keys have been returned, when the property has been cleaned and inspected, and when it is ready for the next guests. This makes guest rotation smoother and more efficient.

In a nutshell

PMS are complex tools that offer a wide range of features. In order to choose the right PMS for your needs, you need to identify the tasks that take you the most time and look for a tool that will allow you to automate them. Also think about the long-term development of your vacation rental business to identify the features that will quickly become essential to manage your business and support its growth.

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