The Evolution of The Modern Vacation Rental Manager 

 May 13, 2020

By  Matt Landau

In anticipation of our next Keystone Awards, we have examined 1000+ completions of our Property Management Software Selector Tool and enlisted the data science services of Wes Melton of Nokori to help find patterns and visualize trends. Each Part of this series will feature one graph (to avoid overload) with audio discussion points. Click PLAY below for some background context... 

Matt Landau, VRMB.com

Wes Melton, Nokori.com

Survey Format

​Each Property Manager was asked a series of questions, each specifically identifying the importance they placed on a number of PMS specific features, such as powerful revenue management, trust accounting & reporting, work order management, etc. and so on.

Specific Methodology

While no data exercise in this range can be thought of as 100% statistically significant, no objective poll performed by a truly objective party has been performed at this scale within the Vacation Rental Industry before now.

Therefore, it is believed that the current sample size is still directionally accurate, and a helpful tool to understand overall trends in software needs that Vacation Rental Managers have demonstratively expressed as real needs over the course of their own growth journeys, both through voice and vendor selection/changes.

All participant feedback has been anonamized, consolidated, and verified. Most data analysis projects begin with a large amount of 'data cleansing' - this effort has been no different. Significant time has been placed in cleaning the data, removing obvious outliers, removing participants who did not complete the entire survey, double entries, and any other feedback that appeared to be intentionally trying to sway the results by vested parties.


In this analysis, each survery response value has been normalized to a range from 0.0-1.0. This is a value which converts a 3-part scale to a relative percentage (0%-100%) for easier evaluation. For clarity, the original survey gave respondents the 3 following choices:

  • 1 - Not Important
  • 2 - Somewhat Important
  • 3 - Extremely Important

Additionally, Property Managers were segmented along the following unit quantities:

  • 1 Property Managed
  • 2-5 Properties Managed
  • 6-20 Properties Managed
  • 20-50 Properties Managed
  • 50-100 Properties Managed
  • 100+ Properties Managed

Part 1: The Importance of Features with Growth

Depending on property count, certain ​operational priorities were ranked more important than others. This can ​help to ​calibrate yourself: are you aware of all the features you could ​be benefiting from now? What about the features you may need as you grow?​  Click PLAY below and listen to Wes and Terry explain how to interpret your first graph. Then read Wes' analysis and Takeaways below. 

INVITATION: If you currently use a PMS, please contribute to our research by completing the Current User PMS Feedback Survey and you will receive VIP findings before ​they go public. Sorry, no PMS representatives permitted.

Observe The Constants

Some features show consistent demand through out the growth curve of all surveyed PMs. Most noteably, 'System Automations', 'Booking Source Visibility', and 'Property Detail Configurability' are pretty consistent in their importance to all survey participants. This highlights a fundamental understanding among even newer PMs who are just getting their feet wet, that this operationally intensive business requires repetitive tasks to be automated early in the growth curve.

Note The Dramatic Shifts

First, as property counts increase, a dramatic shift in importance happens around 'Work Order Management' as well as 'Housekeeping Management'. This is logical. As unit counts grow, "managing the minutia" becomes extensibly more difficult, thus needing better systems and processes in place to manage the growing headcount required to pull off all of the cleaning and maintenance requirements of the growing business.

Second, while not as severe, there is also noticeable uptick in importance for 'Revenue Management', 'Channel Management', 'Customizable Rates', 'Guest Portals', and 'Owner Portals'. We believe the growth of importance around Rate & Channel management revolves more closely to a more sizeable operation needing more sophisticated controls on revenue producing mechanisms, while guest & owner portals/communication likely centers more closely to automating guest communication, which is again a means of automating manually intensive managerial tasks.

Takeaways for Property Managers

Consistent across the board we find that around the 20-50 unit mark, operational automation takes a front-seat in terms of importance to operations. This gives new respect to the national managers we've seen emerge in recent times with thousands of units under management across many destinations and countries.

If you are below this threshold, or quickly entering it, we recommend not making purchase decisions based on your needs today, but to look ahead to ensure the system you pick will continue to serve you well as you move quickly in to needing more sophisticated automation and operational management solutions.

Stay Tuned...

This is part one of a series to build up excitement for our next round of the Keystone Awards. ​You can sign up for our list here: www.vrmb.com/mmm

Matt Landau

Matt Landau is the Founder of the VRMB and the Inner Circle, two online resources dedicated to helping vacation rental owners and managers generate more bookings.

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