I've been using this software since we started our vacation rentals in 2006. You can look at the initial price and be alarmed, but I've only paid one upgrade in all the six years. My total investment totals $299, which is a breakdown of just around $50 a year.
Any software that is this complex will be at least in this price range. I have purchased content management database software that was about $150 per seat, and we needed two seats and the actual operating system software to run it that was another $300 -- so $600.
In another comparison, we have outsourced programming for some of our coffee processing and tracking needs and our investment was triple this cost just for the customized software (not considering the platform to run the custom application) -- so I do not think that the current $299 price is unreasonable to expect to invest.
The developer does not nickel and dime you -- there are no hidden parts to have to buy later to get total functionality and there are no annual upgrades or sudden "version jumps" with associated renewal or upgrade fees.
I had researched back in 2006 what my options were and I don't pretend to remember back that far exactly what was on the market at the time, but I was under no pressure at the time to make a quick decision -- and this software was the best choice.
I have had the need to contact the developer a few times and he was courteous and prompt in responses back. More important he would get to any issue and correct it in a timely manner.
I also made a couple of recommendations for some features I felt would enhance the software and was happy to experience that the developer actually did listen and implemented quite a few.
Developers can't anticipate everything and they can't help if you don't let them know what you need -- and in this case that street is not roadblocked against you!
I had looked around a few times way back years ago and never found anything that would replace the existing functions and flexibility of this software. I mainly looked because I would have preferred that it was more glamourous to use; but now after having used it for 6 years and thrown all my needs at it and it having met them, there is really no reason for me to look for anything else. Beauty is more than skin deep, underneath this is has some very beautiful programing.
If I did want to look for a replacement today -- I'd use the standards I've come to expect from this program, and tick them off on a list as requirements, as a measuring stick to any other alternative.
I don't use every bell and whistle of the software but the fact that there are optional parts or modules of it that are ready in the wings and that the developer keeps improving the total software product (and not only what I use daily) is most impressive.
Vacation Rental Tracker Plus has been a critical part of how we have been able to manage and operate the comings and goings of our units and keep our sanity. It is not the only software tool we use but it is an essential part of the work flow.
With Vacation Rental and Tracker Plus I can answer a phone call and type in a few facts and have a QUICK QUOTE with accurate numbers in just a moment, without the caller getting impatient or me stumbling with a calculator or trying to do figures or stall or say "this is only an estimate". I have real accurate numbers and I know for sure that a unit is open and don't need to guess or worry. If the caller wants to move forward, I can get more info and turn that QUICK QUOTE right into an actual reservation on the spot. After they end the call I can have a confirmation invoice out and to the caller in less than 5 minutes -- more time would be involved in running a charge than producing the rental quote to email!
In the real world potential guests will call several places and you may need to quote 10 times to get a booking. That would be a nightmare without software like this that can show you on a chart who is in "line" for what unit at what point in time. You can issue quotes and once someone follows thru with their deposit, then you can mark the "winner" as RESERVED and turn the others to cancelled.
There are more "status" choices, but the point is that quotes often running concurrently and with this software you can see where each quote stands. Once someone has actually completed gaining their reservation, you cannot accidentally overbook -- but the software is flexible enough to let you quote for a period that is already booked -- why would you want to? -- because sometimes you may have multiple units, and you can offer upgrades to someone while taking another booking into consideration.
There are fields ready to take your notes, adequate fields for phone numbers, status, housekeeping schedules, maintenance or owner used dates that you can "block out". Rates can be entered and referenced or you can make them "on the fly".
Have a quote for 2 years from now -- you can do it, but try that with some of the on-line calendar systems -- good luck!
Reports are also important, and the software is flexible enough to generate the reports and has editing capability that allows you to move, or edit as you need before you save to a PDF or generate a printout.
If you do not like some wording, preferences allow you to replace with your own wording in most cases. Deposits, which can mean different things to different people -- again the preferences can be opted in or out to make it work the way you work and not the other way around.
Tracking deposit is not overlooked -- you can re-visit your records and see who has a deposit on file; if that deposit is against a future final balance -- you can press a button and see the current AMOUNT DUE.
When the guest has completed their stay, if they have a SECURITY or DAMAGE DEPOSIT or any other balance in their account, again, you can see exactly what to refund and there are field provided to enter that information so you can track it.
Quotes can be made onto your clipboard and then just inserted into your emails to potential guests, or you can add a logo or header and make a nicely presented paper or PDF quote.
Should you desire to have a policy statement as part of your quote, that is also provided for with the software.
Want to make multiple quotes to one person for several time frames or different units -- it is all doable. Want to associate the quote numbers -- you can alter the quote numbers on the fly to suit your needs. Those multiple quotes go faster than they could because the software has built in address keeping -- you can do the first quote, then retrieve the main guest data from the built in address book to save many keystrokes for the second, etc. quotes.
A guest calls you or emails that stayed 4 years ago -- you can look up their history (use your notes!) and what their rate was "way back then". Many guests feel like you should have their old data -- they will call and give very basic data, then expect you to be able to email them or call them back -- and with software like this, you can (assuming their email, etc. is the same).
In our case our trusted repeat guests may get perks or better rates -- the software is invaluable in keeping track of those sorts of details.
We have over 4000 quotes in our system -- we generate over 200 a year! I'd really not want to be using a makeshift database or file cards for that -- and we are relatively small potatoes -- 5 rentable units in one house.
In other words -- it is flexible, and is meant to try to adapt to as many types of vacation rental situations as it possibly can.
Backup routines are built into the software and are just a button push away, and there are preferences to have it remind you when you quit the program to make a backup -- which just takes a moment but is a prudent thing to do. Between versions, you backup from the old version and restore to the new version -- most all your settings painlessly follow along.
In all these six years I never had any major need to go get a backup and restore it, but it is a nice safety net just in case and beats keeping a whole copy of both the data and software.
Yes the interface is not a star wars presentation, but the inside guts and all the time put into it, the fact that if you need something done it can do it is worth more than a pretty interface -- there are plenty of pretty softwares out there that don't do much more than impress you initially -- this software will impress you for weeks, months, years to come.
Cross platform, solid, a developer who knows software and attends to maintenance and keeping the software updated. Software that can track all your units whether you have one or hundreds. That can track multiple property owners. That can keep track of monies paid in, monies due, deposits to come back.
That with a glance you can see what unit has what requests and the status of those request on a chart.
That can sit waiting for the phone to ring and provide you with down to the penny accurate quotes, or can sit waiting as you check your guests in and out in a "live" booking situation.
You can download and try it, email for questions, put it thru its paces before you need to buy. It is definitely software that you need to become familiar with by hands on testing and use. The developer's website is not all polished fancy and glitzy -- but the meat and potatoes are there, just as they are within this software.
If you need more details of how I go about doing our vacation rentals, feel free to drop me a line. I know how frustrating it can be as vacation rentals are complex to implement -- but it is not really necessary to reinvent the wheel. Now off the soap box.
Michael Tucker (Mike @ KonaComfort.com)
http://www.KonaComfortRental.com/ vacation rentals in Hawaii and http://www.konacomfortcoffee.com/ sells great Kona coffee.