If you are like most owners and managers, you’re always on the look out for new tools and services to help solve a problem or make more efficient some aspect of your vacation rental business.
And since so many of our subscribers are constantly asking me “What software did you use to do this?” or “Matt, what tool did you use to record that?” we’ve decided to share all the resources below.
While we always have plenty to recommend, these are only resources that we’ve used or demo-ed ourselves on this blog. Most of them are free! So just share this page using the lock-box below and get access to them all right now…
Boomerang: If you ever struggle with following up no-reply guests, this tool will save your life. I have been using it now for about 2 years and although it is free, I would totally pay any price they asked: that’s how awesome Boomerang is.
InfusionSoft: Folks often ask what CRM platform I use for this blog and the answer is the almighty InfusionSoft. It’s what basically runs “my marketing life” and has quite a steep learning curve (so definitely consult the reps before purchasing).
GoDaddy: I used GoDaddy for some of my websites when I was first getting started and they do a very good job. Plus there are TONS of tutorials on YouTube that walk beginners through pretty much every single step. One of the best values out there.
Reliable Penguin: These guys are super. I was turned on to them by a colleague and I use a 2GB package which features backups, monitoring, virus scanning…blah blah blah. Hosting really isn’t my area of expertise so I prefer to pay these guys to do it all for me and they’re spectacular!
Wordle: If you’ve ever seen one of the word clouds I’ve created, I probably used this tool to create it. It’s free, easy, and pretty darn flexible.
Pressbooks: This was my secret weapon in creating eBooks (I now publish everything directly to the Inner Circle). Pressbooks is incredibly simple (literally, publishing your content into the form of an E-Book is no harder than copy/pasting an email) and best of all, it’s free! The creator Hugh is something of a web celebrity — very customer-oriented.
Flickr: If you’re looking to use stock photos of your region that won’t get you in trouble for copyright infringement, this is the site for you. Just be sure to do your searches using the Creative Commons License (those are photos that the authors don’t mind being distributed).
GuestHook: Coined “the first copywriting agency specifically for vacation rentals” this business is also a product of our Inner Circle where Jessica Vozel and Andy McNulty realized a great need in our industry for professional property descriptions.
Camtasia: This is the software that I use to record all my screencast videos. It’s incredibly simple, has versions for both Windows and Mac, and utilizes this simple upload feature so you can put the video on YouTube with one click. Having researched them all, Camtasia is pretty much the gold standard.
Screenflow: This is the video editing software that I use for my little videos at the beginning of blog posts (when it’s just me). This doesn’t do any screencasting but it’s super easy to add in an intro and some captions to any video.
JiveSystems: I use Will Franco’s Jive systems video software to send my Digital Handshakes (the short video messages in response to inquiries) and to host my videos. Will is an amazing entrepreneur and everyone I send his way is always thrilled with the service.
Wistia: If you are just toying around with videos for your vacation rental, just stick to Youtube. But if you want to get serious and start tracking your views, correlating views with inquiring guests, calls to action at the end…etc. I highly recommend Wistia.
WordPress: It’s no secret that WordPress is the easiest, most straightforward platform on which to build your website. Most DIY vacation rental owners use it (and so do I).
WooThemes: If you have a WordPress website, here is the theme company I use most often. The template I used to use for my blog is the Gazette template and I’ve had tons of success with other templates of theirs as well. For like $70 you can get three themes (and they’re all really nicely formatted and easy to use).
ThriveThemes: This is the theme I use for my blog and it is by far the best theme I’ve ever purchased with WordPress. Plain and simple.
One Roof Top and MyVR: I have had the honor of knowing the founders of both these companies from their respective points of inception and can confidently say that they are really wonderful companies and even better people. They can both get you up and running within a few hours and have low monthly fees.
ReservationKey: I get asked a lot about which booking system I use and while it’s not the sexiest or most comprehensive, I have been nothing but content with ReservationKey and it’s proprietor, John, who is available around the clock for questions. Cheap, fast, everything you need (nothing you don’t).
Note: I could go on and on about all the other online booking softwares out there, but that would take up many many pages. My best advice in this department is to a) find someone with a similar business to yours (amount of properties) and inquire about their experiences. Because the industry is so fragmented, recommend softwares can often be more complicated than good.
PRWeb: I’ve used plenty of press release services before but I still seem to get the best results with PRWeb. I’ve even gone as far to visit their offices in Maryland and meet with their president and CFO!
Google Analytics: You simply aren’t doing your job if you don’t have Google Analytics installed on your personal website. It’s free, it gives you scientific-like insight into where your guests are coming from, and most importantly, it can be installed with literally the click of a button.
Hotjar: This remarkable service allows us to watch over the shoulder as anonymous users browse our websites. They have these incredible little sound effects that really help us understand what the client is thinking when they browse.
Zipinion: You’ve probably read my articles about these guys, but if not, Zipinion is a great tool to get feedback about your property from anonymous and unbiased individuals. Great tool, great customer service.
Open Site Explorer: Ever wondered how your competitors are getting all their leads? This tool provides every nitty gritty detail about your competitors’ website free of charge (I think it’s like 5 free searches per day)
Oh and if you have any tools or resources you think I should be using (that’s not listed above) please send them on over! (Please, no self-promoting plugs here.)