As vacation rentals secure their rightful position as part of the accommodation mainstream, property owners and distributors have an increasing number of technology partners to work with.

NB This is a viewpoint by Erik Engel, founder and CEO of NextPax.

Here are five things you should think about before signing on the dotted line.

1) Ease of access and use

Whether you own a single property or a portfolio, one of the most important aspects is how easy the property and channel managements system is to get to. The last thing a property manager needs is a complicated access procedure to get into a system which is too complicated to understand.

If you’re selling vacation rental properties, choice is key. If you have a global reach then a global inventory would make sense. But if you’re business is focused on a specific source market with defined destination preferences, or within a specific vertical, the ability to pick and choose the inventory you list is vital.

It’s about getting the balance right between giving customers enough options for them to make an informed decision without overwhelming them.

2) A range of partners covering a range of source markets

Having said all that, in order to offer targetted properties for specific markets, the  inventory on the system needs to be as broad as possible in terms of property types and size, location, facilities and more.

Channel managers have an important role to play in making sure that your property is made available to the widest possible audience. You might have very specific reasons for relying on a single site for distribution, but that might be a short-sighted approach. When both the supply of properties coming onto the market and  the demand from customers is increasing, a wider reach is needed.

3) Syncing

Instant confirmations of bookings are vital for a number of reasons. The most obvious one is that this avoids double bookings – an increasingly common problem for owners. If your property is double-booked, there is a customer service issue to attend to on the ground, and this can take time and  specific skills, both of which might be in limited supply.

And of course double bookings tends to happen on your best properties during peak periods, compounding the customer service issues. In an increasingly competitive and crowded market how likely is it that a client will give you a second chance if you mess up the first time?

Similarly, if you sell the same property twice, will the owner still give you access to their inventory? As previously discussed, property owners are spoilt for choice when it comes to potential partners,

4) Business back-up

At the moment, functions such as calendar availability, guest profiling and email marketing are common-place. But in time disciplines such as yield management, revenue management and dynamic pricing will come to the fore. A technology provider needs to be scalable and built in such a way that these new functions can be integrated without disturbing the current business processes.

In the airline sector, the low-cost carriers brought yield and revenue management to the top table, showing how clever pricing policies can help the bottom line. Vacation rental suppliers with access to market insights and demand patterns need a system which can deliver non-linear pricing models to the relevant point of sales, in a consistent and reliable manner.

5) Marketing insights

As the vacation rental sector expands and matures, you will need a technology provider who understands not only the market but also marketing. For owners, marketing knowhow is vital, either via your channel manager or standalone.

However great your location or facilities, your occupancy will be disappointing if no-one knows about you.

From a dedicated code in a press or TV ad to a tracking pixel for banner ads, the efficacy of any marketing campaign can only be determined by how well it is measured.

In time, all tech providers will need to have marketing functionality built into the core of their system,

To conclude
As vacation rental becomes mainstream, the technology infrastructure behind it also comes to the fore. With a wider choice of partners in the market – from established players in other accommodation verticals adapting their systems for vacation rental to start-ups and new entrants specifically developed for the sector – that decision is more complicated and critical than ever.

NB This is a viewpoint by Erik Engel, founder and CEO of NextPax.