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Making the right decision

You’ve read the feature lists and the reviews, but now it’s time to try out a few of the vacation rental software providers out there. In this chapter, we help you make the right choice.

You’ve read the feature lists and the reviews, but now it’s time to try them out for real. 

It’s time to create a short list of the best candidates. Pick the top two or three vacation rental softwares that have the right mix of price, features, and support. Go onto their website and register for either a free trial or a demo. These sign up buttons should be pretty easy to find—either right there on the home page or at the pricing page. 

Note that some software vendors and plans require you to talk to a sales person first before getting access to your trial. Let’s review what you can expect.

Demos and trials

You wouldn’t buy a car without taking it for a test drive, and you shouldn’t buy vacation rental software without trying it either. 

Many sales cycles start with a demo, which is when a sales person demonstrates the software on a live call. These are a good way to get an overview of the program, but remember that these are pre-constructed environments. They’re meant to showcase the software at its best. 

If you really want to get to know the software, you have to use it for yourself.

Most software vendors allow free trials for 7 to 14 days. They’re often a follow-up to a demo, although some vendors let you jump into a trial without talking to a sales rep. 

We recommend setting up the trial account as if you were going to use it for real. There are a few reasons to do this:

  1. It’s a more focused approach to testing than simply exploring features at random
  2. It gives you a sense of how the software works in a live environment
  3. You have a higher chance of detecting possible issues with your setup
  4. It gives you a head start if you end up buying the software

Evaluate the software based on the following criteria:

Intuitiveness. Is the software easy to navigate? Are the buttons and menus arranged in a logical fashion? Is everything where you expect it to be? 

User experience. How quickly does everything load? Do you have to click through a bunch of options before getting to the function you want? Is it easy to do what you need to do, or is the software getting in your way?

Functionality. Do the features behave the way you need them to? Do they deliver the result you want? Can you adapt the software to the way you work, or will you have to change your work to accommodate the software? 

Take note of everything. Don’t take anything for granted. Issues that seem minor now might develop into bigger issues over time. If something seems off or unclear, bring it up with the sales person. There’s no such thing as a dumb question when you’re about to invest in vacation rental property management software. 

Give your team access to the trial account, too. They can help you set it up and point out potential issues. Pay attention to how quickly they learn (or if they can pick it up at all). If you’re the only one in the company that can use the fancy new vacation rental tool, then that’s just going to bottleneck you even more. 

Don’t be afraid to put the software through its paces. Some trial environments make all features available to the user, so now’s your chance to see if that premium feature is really worth it. You might discover that it’s worth investing in a higher tier. 

Document all of your observations so that it’s easy to compare different softwares as you go through the different trials. Have the rest of your team record their observations in the same document, and discuss them as a group. 

Finalising your choice

Once you’ve made your decision, reach out to the sales person. They'll send you a contract and walk you through the next steps. 

As you examine your contract, be mindful of the following things:

Payment terms. Take note of exact payment amounts and the days they are due. Double-check the currency being used—it’s easy to mix up Canadian dollars for US dollars. If you’re paying annually, make sure that the property discounts have been applied. 

Cancellation policies. Read your cancellation policy so you’re not caught by surprise if things don’t work out. Check things like how much notice you have to give, what happens to your data, and how many days you have to qualify for a refund. Some platforms even require you to pay a fee in order to cancel a contract early. 

Exceptions. If you and the sales rep have agreed to special conditions, like for example a discount or unique payment terms, make sure that’s present in the contract before signing. The sales person might have used a contract template and forgotten to update the details. 

Congratulations, you’ve just received a new vacation rental property management software. Now comes the exciting part—getting it up and running.

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Next chapters

Read more about what you need to look out for when assessing what vacation rental software to buy.