If you operate a short-term rental, especially on more than one platform, you understand the headache of trying to manage communication while staying on top of updating and optimizing your listings.
I can certainly empathize, which is why I was so excited when channel managers started gaining popularity. A channel manager streamlines your communication from different websites, listings, and people into one easy-to-use workspace. In this review, I’ll be going in-depth to share the pros and cons of a popular channel manager, Smartbnb>>.
What is Smartbnb?
Smartbnb is a channel manager for short-term rental owners. In other words, it is smart software that will help you automate tasks, communicate with your team, and run your rental more efficiently.
So, do I consider Smartbnb to be a quality channel manager? Let’s take a look at how it rates:
Although a little on the pricey side, Smarbnb offers all of the automation features required by hosts, and provides integration to the main vacation rental platforms like Airbnb, VRBO, etc.
- 14-Day Free Trial
- Automates Your Messages and Bookings
- Only Pay for Active Listings
- Sync Between Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO
- Multi-Language Support with Translation
- Team Communication Platform
- More Expensive Than Competitors
- Charged Per Listing After 2 Listing
- Automated Messages can be Confusing to Guests
- Cancellation is a Hassle
How Does Smartbnb Stack Up?
Price is one of Smartbnb’s few weak points. I rated it 7.5 out of 10 because it is significantly more expensive than its competition. The base monthly price is $18 which includes two listings. After that, the per-listing price is $7.
While a few extra dollars a month may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, it is likely that someone operating just one or two rental properties might not have it in the budget.
However, I do give Smartbnb a high rating of 8.9 out of 10 for its value. The slightly higher price means that users get an app and a website for use at home and on-the-go. Additionally, it syncs across the three major rental platforms: Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. See below for more great features that make Smartbnb a worthwhile investment.
Reviews of Smartbnb on reputable websites are very positive, earning it a 9.5 out of 10. I haven’t really seen many issues with the price which, considering that it is higher than other options, must mean that people feel it is worth what they pay. The app and website’s functionality seem to be highly appreciated, as is the customer support.
Features-wise, I give Smartbnb a 9.2 out of 10. This service has a lot of exciting things that other companies just don’t offer. One that stuck out to me was the built-in translation support in messaging, which is a huge bonus for those hosting in other countries or places that see a lot of international travelers.
I have seen a few complaints about the layout of the website and that it has a bit of a learning curve, which is why I gave it an 8.9 out of 10 for ease of use. While almost anything takes time to learn, a service specifically designed to make your life easier shouldn’t do the opposite.
The final tally: Smartbnb earns an 8.8 out of 10 overall! Below, I’ll go into more specific pros, cons, and user impressions to help you decide if Smartbnb is right for you.
You can also sign up for Smartbnb’s Masterclass tutorial and they’ll take you through all of their platform features.
14-Day Free Trial
Offering a free trial is definitely a plus in my book. It’s incredibly difficult to know how well a product works for your needs without having tried it first, so I always opt for companies that back their product or service by offering a trial.
While some competitors offer slightly longer free trials, in reality it shouldn’t take all that long to figure out whether or not this software meets your needs. 14 days should be more than enough to overcome the learning curve and start experiencing the real benefits of a channel management program.
Automates Your Messages and Bookings
Automation is the future, and even niche industries like Airbnb that thrive on human connection are no exception. The ability to automate messages that you send on a daily basis will free up so much time in the long run.
Answers to simple questions such as whether or not you allow pets, what your cancellation policy is, and how far you are from the nearest train station can be answered by an algorithm in no time flat. Better yet, you can even automate your check-in and check-out messages to avoid confusion and hassle during a turnaround.
Automating bookings is a touchy subject around short-term rental online communities. Some say that the increase in revenue is worth it while others fear accidentally being stuck with a nightmare guest. Smartbnb uses a screening algorithm to help make sure that your auto-bookings are a good match for both sides.
Only Pay for Active Listings
While price is an issue that seems to keep coming up with Smartbnb, it does help that they only make you pay for “active” listings. After the base fee of $18 per month (which covers two listings), users are only required to pay the additional $7 per listing fee for any listing that has had a booking in the last 30 days.
This is great, in my opinion, because you won’t be stuck paying for a property that isn’t earning you money.
Sync Between Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO
Most short-term rental hosts these days cross-book, or list their property for rent on multiple websites, in order to increase their revenue and maximize bookings.
The issue that comes with this is known as a “double booking”, where different people book the same stay dates at your property on different platforms. This can be a huge hassle, not to mention embarrassing, which is why Smartbnb syncs seamlessly between the three major homestay websites to eliminate this risk.
More Expensive Than Competitors
It’s hard not to be extra price-conscious these days, especially if you’re someone who doesn’t do a high volume of bookings on a monthly basis.
If you’re looking into a channel management software, it is likely that your volume is high enough to warrant paying for one. However, those with fewer (or just less expensive) bookings might think twice about paying $18 a month to start off.
Charged Per Listing After 2 Listings
Something that feels a little nickel-and-dime-ey to some users is the fact that Smartbnb charges extra for any more than two listings. Other competitors, such as iGMS (more below) are free for up to four listings. Some other programs have even higher listing limits or none at all.
Automated Messages Can Be Confusing to Guests
Automation is a great time saver… when it works. When it doesn’t work, hosts are left to play damage control after the system sends a confusing or unrelated message to a guest who now feels unsure about their host.
Machine learning is always a work in progress, and the algorithm will get better with time. That being said, many people have mentioned in their reviews that Smartbnb’s system sent strange messages to guests that ended up costing them a lot more time and effort to fix in the long run. Some might feel uncomfortable using the automation feature if it means they’ll be “guinea pigs” for the program to practice on.
Cancellation is a Hassle
Unfortunately, more than a few reviews I found mentioned that cancelling the service was very unpleasant and, at times, even unprofessional. I find this to be unacceptable for a company, especially one that brings in large numbers of clients with free trials and promises of new features coming soon.
Some reviewers said that when they went to cancel Smartbnb at the end of the free trial, they felt pressured by staff to extend their membership. I don’t condone these tactics at all, and feel that a product should speak for itself and draw in its own willing customers rather than those that need to be coerced.
In spite of a few varying opinions, I found reviews of Smartbnb be to be very positive in nature overall. It was highly rated on reputable forums and websites that cater to the short-term rental community.
A lot of people even mentioned that they didn’t feel there were any negative aspects to the service at all, and it seems to exceed expectations across the board. Even better, Smartbnb plans to roll out a new “Metrics” feature in the near future that will help hosts analyze their data and make smarter decisions for the future of their rental.
If Smartbnb doesn’t sound like quite the right service for you, there are a few options on the market. iGMS is one of the main ones. Also known as Intelligent Guest Management Software, iGMS is a powerhouse that offers a master calendar overview, guest services automation, native messaging within the program, and so much more.
iGMS is free to use in and of itself, and only charges as little as $1 per booked night. If this sounds like a good option for you, head over to iGMS to get started!
Rental Recon Tip: Don’t be afraid to shop around for different guest management options! Most companies offer at least a free trial, and some, like iGMS, are free to use until you actually get a booking. Seeing what works for you firsthand is the best way to find a reliable option.
Check Out Our Other Articles on Rental Recon:
- What Are the Airbnb Co-Host Fees : The Truth About Co-Hosts
- How to View Your Airbnb Private Feedback : Shockingly Easy
- Adoric Pillow Review : A Hotel-Quality Memory Foam Pillow?
- iGMS vs. Lodgify : Comprehensive Comparison
- 21 Critical Airbnb House Rules Examples  (& Templates)
As we’ve mentioned previously, Smartbnb is a pricier service than many of its competitors. It does have stellar reviews, which means that people are willing to pay the hefty price tag for a great service.
Smartbnb starts at $18 per month after the 14-day free trial. This covers two listings. After that, listings can be added on for an average of $7 per listing. The bonus is that you only get charged for listings (apart from the first two) that have had bookings in the past 30 days, eliminating the worry of paying for unused services.
Does Smartbnb Have an App?
Smartbnb does have an app! This is a somewhat recent development and one that longtime Smartbnb users have been anxiously awaiting.
Through the app, users can do everything that they would normally do on the website. It is especially great in that it allows people to get notified on-the-go of bookings or client communications.
In summary, Smartbnb is a high-quality channel manager and, in my opinion, a great investment for any short-term rental owner. There are other channel managers on the market that all offer slightly different features at differing price points. Smartbnb is definitely on the pricier side, but well worth it.
Smartbnb can seamlessly sync up listings from popular short-term rental sites such as Airbnb, HomeAway, and VRBO. This eliminates the hassle of dealing with an accidental double-booking and helps users optimize their workflow across the board.
The service has grown a lot in recent years and now supports tons of great features like multilingual translation and smart automated messaging. While the machine learning component may still be working out the kinks, it will still undoubtedly save hosts a lot of time.
I urge anyone interested to sign up for their free trial today and find out if Smartbnb is the right fit for your needs!