As an Airbnb host, you probably spend a lot of time managing your property (or properties!). While this is to be expected, especially if you’ve decided to make hosting your full-time job, it can become tedious and extremely time-consuming. Not only do you have to manage the obvious tasks (like bookings, reviews, availability, and upkeep), you are also responsible for the more complicated and labor-intensive ones like calculating profitability, pricing, staffing, and schedule optimization.
Luckily, the short-term rental market has spawned some great tools to help hosts maximize their time, profits, and efficiency. iGMS and Guesty are two great rental management programs that will make your life as a host much easier and more streamlined.
So how do the iGMS and Guesty compare at a glance?
|Free for up to 4 properties||$20 per month|
|No payment processing||Payment processing|
|iPhone and Android app||iPhone app only|
|Online support only||Online and live support options|
|Native smart messaging||In-depth analytics|
|Pop-up notifications||Free branded website|
If you’re serious about being an Airbnb host, you’ll definitely want to check out what these two programs have to offer.
iGMS, or Intelligent Guest Management Software, is a company that was founded in 2015 and originally only supported Airbnb hosts. The site has now been optimized to include VRBO and HomeAway, and they are looking to add full Booking.com support in the near future. For an in-depth demonstration of iGMS’s features, check out the YouTube video below:
This software is great for a variety of situations. Whether you rent a single property or have a full-scale rental operation, iGMS has a plan for you. The service is free if you have four or fewer properties and, during the low season, only charges $1 per booked night. If you have more than four properties to manage, the PRO plan ranges from $18-20 per month and features 24-hour email and chat support (the free version promises a response within 48 hours). You can sign up for iGMS here.
iGMS is free if you have four or few properties and, during slow season, only charges $1 per booked night.-iGMS
iGMS is great because they offer full-spectrum platform functionality with a web client, iPhone app, and an Android app, meaning you won’t have to ever be without access to your account. It even allows users to enable desktop pop-up notifications as well as push notifications on mobile, so you’ll never miss a message or an update.
The calendar functions are where iGMS really shines. You are able to sync your calendar data from many booking websites, including those not yet fully supported by the software yet like Booking.com and TripAdvisor. If you utilize those websites in addition to Airbnb, you’ll still be able to see if your rental has been booked and avoid embarrassing cancellations due to accidental double-booking. iGMS also features an intimidating yet powerful multi-calendar dashboard that enables hosts to get an overview of all of their properties, booking dates, openings, guest names and more. Here is a screenshot from a mobile phone showing the calendar:
Another great feature is the integrated team management options that iGMS offers. You can manage an entire team of employees all within the program. It even allows you to offer varying levels of access to “workspaces” within the program so that certain employees can see certain things that others don’t have access to. You can also automate tasks and cleaning schedules so that your team is always clear on what needs to be done next without you having to manually dictate the requirements each time. For a look at how to do this, check out this video below:
iGMS showcases dynamic pricing options to help your rental stay as close to 100% occupancy as possible. You can set your own discount rules, lay out minimum and maximum stays, and even allow their pricing feature to appear on 3rd party websites such as Airbnb so guests can see it when booking.
Their smart software also helps you know at-a-glance what type of rental a guest has just booked. This is extremely helpful, for example, if you have a house that can be rented by the bedroom or in its entirety. If only a single bedroom has been rented, you can work within iGMS to allow the remaining rooms to be rented but not the entire house, avoiding a double-booking catastrophe. As a bonus, you can even publish listings on Airbnb via iGMS.
Smart financial reporting is an absolute must-have for any rental management program. After all, what is the point of spending time and money integrating your workflow into a new system if you can’t see how much time and money you’ve saved by doing so? iGMS will provide you helpful financial reports right within the program. They cover transaction history, lists of reservations, work orders (such as cleaning tasks), and a summary. See screenshot below:
Guest Interaction Using iGMS Messaging
Communicating with hosts is a huge feature that draws people to book with Airbnb instead of a more traditional rental such as a hotel. Providing clear, responsive communication is one of your main duties as a great host and is consequently one of the most time-consuming aspects of the job.
Native smart messaging is an amazing feature offered by iGMS. They use a single-inbox screen that lets you see messages from all of the sites they support and all of the listings that you offer. You can even incorporate pre-made template responses to common messages you receive (see blue boxes in image below), which is a tremendous timesaver. Even better, you can completely automate some messages that can be set to send at specific trigger times, such as the day before a booking or if the guest changes or cancels a request.
Speaking of automation, iGMS also allows users to automate guest reviews. According to their website, only about 20% of guests actually leave a review. By increasing the number of reviews you give, you’ll also increase the number you receive. You can even integrate with outside software such as Keycafe to automate the drop-off and return of your keys! Click here to be taken to iGMS.
Obviously, this automation saves a ton of time for you as a host. However, there’s also a hidden bonus: the Airbnb search algorithm favors hosts who are more responsive. By ensuring a near-immediate response to almost everything, you’ll climb the search lists without even trying.
Unfortunately, iGMS does not offer integrated payment processing at this time. Guests can still book through many supported 3rd-party websites, but you unfortunately cannot use this powerful software to process any payments made outside of those.
Additionally, the only support offered for the free version is online, and responses can take up to 48 hours (usually less than an hour). This is not ideal for when you urgently need an answer. The Pro version does offer round-the-clock email and chat support, but still no phone support.
Unlike Guesty, iGMS does not offer a free branded website with the purchase of a plan. While this is certainly an extra perk and by no means a deal-breaker, it is nice to have the option if you don’t already have a website of your own.
Lastly, while iGMS is free for 4 properties and under, they do consider each individual bedroom a “property” if it can be rented on its own. This means that you may actually have more properties than you originally thought and may not actually qualify for the free plan.
Guesty is another rental management company that offers great solutions for Airbnb hosts. Founded in 2013, they have offices around the globe including in Los Angeles, New York, London, Sydney. They currently support Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, Agoda, and more.
A huge perk unique to Guesty is that they will build you a personally branded website completely FREE with the purchase of a plan. This is an amazing offer, especially if you are unfamiliar with the ins and outs of web development and don’t yet have a business website of your own. A custom website will allow you to take direct bookings without any fees. You can also use it to showcase a portfolio of photos and properties as well as positive reviews. You can even sync to an existing website if you already have one.
Guesty offers in-depth analytic tools to help you study your properties’ performance, occupancy rates, and revenue. You can use these to see which properties are the most lucrative and which could use some more work.
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As we have mentioned, automation is a huge timesaver for hosts. Guesty offers a wide variety of automating options including auto-pricing, auto-payments, and more. They also feature a unified inbox to help you keep track of messages from every website you use.
Their dynamic pricing feature helps hosts make the most of supply and demand by adjusting prices based on seasonal peaks, events, searches and more. This will help your rental stay competitive during slower times and maximize profits when rental options are scarce. By taking the guesswork out of the equation, Guesty saves hosts the headache of manually adjusting prices across a swath of websites every time demand changes.
Guesty also makes use of a multi-calendar that allows you to keep track of each listing and its status. Their iPhone app even allows you to track employee status, tasks and messages on the go.
Communication is key as a host, but there are times and circumstances where you may not be available immediately to answer a guest’s message. Guesty has you covered. They offer a unique 24/7 guest communication system that will generate responses to messages, monitor reviews, and can even sign off as you or a member of your staff. This allows guests to feel that their needs are a priority and keeps them satisfied during their stay.
Also, Guesty’s software is always running in the background of your booking website. This means that your website’s search algorithm will perceive you as an even more active and responsive hosts, allowing your rank to rise effortlessly.
You can also create your own preset auto-responses to messages, reviews, and common questions via their software. These messages can be sent however you choose: SMS text, email, or even directly via the booking platform.
If your role is as more of a property manager for another owner, you have an added channel of communication that needs to be addressed. Thankfully, Guesty has an integrated Owner’s Portal that allows the property owner to have an overview of their listing and booking information. You can choose what is shown through the portal to further streamline the experience. As an added bonus, the Owner’s Portal is compatible with 15+ languages, so language barriers are an issue of the past!
For an easy upselling experience, Guesty has incorporated a built-in payment processing system. This means that you can offer additional concierge services and collect payment during a stay by using guests’ securely saved information within the software. This running tab system also allows you to easily rebook guests, hassle-free.
Guesty is also a great option if you’ve used (or are currently using) other rental management software. You can easily integrate existing software into Guesty’s program, so any smart locks or dynamic pricing tools can seamlessly become a part of your new interface.
Sadly, Guesty currently only offers a web client and an iPhone app. Android users are out of luck as far as mobile capability.
Also, unlike iGMS, there are no free plans available. If you are new to rental management software and are wary of spending too much money on something you may not like, this can be a drawback.
Both Guesty and iGMS are excellent rental property management programs. On the whole, they both offer many similar features that appeal to any level of Airbnb host.
Overall, I think iGMS caters to the widest variety of clients. Since they offer functionality on any operating system, nobody is excluded. Their free plans are amazing for someone looking for a low-commitment option for getting into rental property management, and their higher-level plans are great for more experienced hosts with a larger rental volume.
Guesty does offer some great niche services like integrated payment processing and a free branded website. Unfortunately, their lack of Android app could be a deal-breaker for many. Additionally, their $20 per month price might not be a worthy investment for someone with a lower client volume who is looking to organize their small business.
Before you decide on a program, spend some time making sure it is the right one for your needs. Migrating all your information is a lot of work, and you want to make sure that your new organizational system makes your time investment worth it.
Check Out This Rental Recon Article: Airbnb Essentials: 75+ Items Every Host Should Have For Guests
Do I really need to use a 3rd party booking manager?
If you’re managing a single property, or maybe a few that are usually not booked solid, you may not need a rental management software. There are fees involved with all of these programs, so you might find in some cases that your profits are slim enough and your workflow is light enough to not warrant them. However, if you have multiple, busy properties and even a team of staff, you’ll definitely want to look into a rental management program if you haven’t already.
What other tools can I use to optimize my time as a host?
If you haven’t tried any software yet or are just beginning the journey of getting your rental business organized, you’ve probably been overwhelmed by the number of choices available. A good, free place to start would be using programs you might already have like Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets to track your bookings and profits. If you find them lacking, there is always the option to upgrade to a dedicated rental management software.
When do I need to hire staff?
If you haven’t yet made Airbnb your full-time job, you might find yourself torn between your day job and the upkeep of your rental. If this is the case, even a part-time cleaning crew can really decrease your workload and is usually very affordable. If Airbnb is already your full-time job, it’s likely that you have multiple, busy listings and you’ll need some help turning them over in between stays. For this, full-time staff that knows you, your schedule, and recognizes your needs can be a great asset.