Which resources & tools are right for my vacation rental business?
Great Question but it depends! Worse, It can also be a daunting & time consuming task to find out.
At Live Swell Beach Bungalows, we’ve spent the last 10 years implementing top books, testing products and leveraging our vacation rental properties as real-life learning laboratories.
On this page, you will find most of the technology, intel and tools that work for us and other resources have helped to build a portfolio high performing vacation rental properties.
If you are looking to learn more about getting started or growing your vacation rental business, go to Vacation Rental Dojo.
Financial & Evaluation Tools
Vacation Rental Expenses Spreadsheet & Cash Flow Calculator
One of our most requested and valuable eval tools. Now available for Free. We use in our business to get a quick, accurate look at full picture of ALL vacation rental expenses and potential cash flow. Vacation rental expenses are often underestimated and many overlooked making investments not profitable. The tool formate is Excel.
Vacation Rental SuperAnalyzer
Our proprietary Vacation Rental SuperAnalyzer allows us to make quick, unbiased and more accurate data-driven decisions. With this tool, we can evaluate properties quickly and have greater certainty around where an offer needs to be for it to be considered a profitable deal & meet our investment criteria.
The SuperAnalyzer is a detailed spreadsheet that accounts for all the costs of running a vacation rental business, looks at budgets and calculates important financial metrics, like return on investment (ROI), internal rate of return (IRR) and debt service coverage ratio (DSCR). This tool is available as part of the Proven Process packages.
Valuate by REFM
Valuate, created by Real Estate Financial Modeling, is a high level software to run simulations and evaluate various real estate investment opportunities. While not specifically designed to evaluate a vacation rental, it can be done. We use this tool to evaluate new construction and commercial real estate opportunities.
This software is not for amateurs and does require some learning to understand how it works and the financial metrics output.
Wave Accounting Software
Simple bookkeeping solutions for small business owners aka Airbnb & Vacation Rental owners. Keeping Profit & Loss statements up to date is one of the best ways understand how your business is performing financially.
Operations & Management
Vision Traction Organizer (VTO)
The Vision Traction Organizer, from the book Traction, helps to organize the chaos that can occur in any business. We use the VTO format for our weekly meetings along with short & long term planning.
Download and customize your VTO if you desire to focus your intentions and get more done.
Hospitable, formerly, SmartBnB
Hospitable simplifies communication and guest reservation management. With this affordable tool you can easily see and manage upcoming reservations from multiple listing sites .
The best part for us is the automated messaging communication we use to stay on point and in touch with guests. We set the messages up and Hospitable sends them, even while we sleep. Hospitable serves as the workhorse of our property management.
Vacation Rental Data Tracker
The Vacation Rental Tracker is where we house our internal data for our business. If you list on Airbnb or HomeAway, they own all the data shown on their platform, not you.
If you are serious about using reservation data to track financials, trends and other important information, you will want to use some system to retain YOUR data.
The “E” Myth Revisited “Why Most Small Businesses Don’t Work and What to do About It” by Michael Gerber.
This book serves as the foundation of our vacation rental business model operational strategy. We believe in “working on” the business vs. “working in” the business. Two very different things with very different outcomes, plus its a lot more fun to work on the business.
Traction “Get a Grip on Your Business” by Gino Wickman
Traction is the business book that helped us develop the Live Swell Proven Process. A proven process is proven way you provide your service or product to your customers. You do it every time and it produces the same result.
Vacation Rental Confidential “Information So Valuable It Should be Kept a Secret” by Michael Hamilton
Vacation Rental Confidential showcases the proven business model of Live Swell, a boutique brand of top performing and top ranked vacation rentals. In Vacation Rental Confidential the reader will learn a wealth of information designed to provide a higher probability of success, create more options and fast track goals in the hot short term rental space.
SnagIt & Camtasia by TechSmith
Snagit is a screenshot program that captures still images or video. This helps make basic graphic design projects simple. We use this tool for creating labels, placards and infographics to communicate information on-site. We also use this tool for basic marketing needs.
Camtasia is a software for creating and recording video tutorials and presentations. This can be valuable to document your business processes, help train people and more.
“Tony” Live Swell Friendly Mascot
Tony is our friendly mascot that helps us communicate various types information. You can get your own mascot designed online or as we promised in Vacation Rental Confidential, you can download our Tony’s files for free and use them.
Check In Details Doc: Live Swell Template FREE
Help minimize one of your arriving guests biggest fears: Check-In. Unlike, hotels there is typically no reception nor familiarity with the accommodation. Over 90% of our guess request our “Check-In Details,” a value added document to make check-in as seamless and easy as possible. This process also allows us to collect customer emails and grow our email list, so we can stay in contact. This template was promised as a free resource in Vacation Rental Confidential.
Funding for AirBnB & Vacation Rentals
Non Qualified Mortgage Loans
Non Qualified Mortgage (non-QM) or Non Conforming Loans are an alternative to Qualified Mortgage (QM) loans. A non-QM loan is one that is NOT required to meet government and the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau guidelines for mortgages. These loans have very different qualifications typically weighted toward the financials of the investment vs. the financials of the individual.
Think “Outside” The Bank
- Raise Capital (for equity)
- Propose a “Lease-Option”
- Propose “Owner Financing”
- Leverage “Existing Financing”
*Caution: The above are advanced creative financing strategies. This typically requires education and skill development for success.
Investment Property Loans &Second Home Loans
The most common financing used for vacation home purchases are “second home loans” and “investment property loans.” Most local and community banks offer these loan types in their market, some national banks may not. If you can pass the typically lengthy qualification list for these loans, they typically offer the best financing terms.
We love using banks & debt to finance real estate! Even though CASH is available we will never finance with cash long term! Related: How to Short the Dollar via Vacation Rentals
Marketing & Bookings
Get MORE Booking Series
The Get MORE Bookings Video Series introduces the 7, need to know Points of the Booking Conversion Blueprint (BCB). The BCB the key marketing component of the Live Swell Proven Process created by Live Swell Beach Bungalow founders, Mike and Maria.
AirBnb is where we currently take the lion share of our bookings. We believe in leveraging Airbnbs marketing budget. The fee exchanged, while modest, makes sense for the exposure Airbnb provides and are some of the lowest for OTA’s, online travel agencies. The Booking Conversion Blueprint is implemented, click for Magical Bungalow example.
VRBO, Vacation Rental By Owner
VRBO is the old dog in vacation rental listing sites but is evolving and investing more into marketing itself. We also believe in leveraging VRBO’s marketing budget. Properties can also be advertised on Expedia as it is the parent company of VRBO. The fee structure is a bit more expensive with VRBO than Airbnb.The Booking Conversion Blueprint can be implemented on VRBO.
Professional “Real Estate” Photography
“Pro’s hire pro’s!” Be careful you want to choose a photographer with “real estate” shooting experience. In the event you need some one-off photos its a good idea to have a proper camera. We use the Cannon EOS T5 . Don’t forget to get a good “wide angle lens” for interior shots. For editing photos we use LightRoom.
Live Swell’s Proven Process
Live Swell’s Proven Process
Download our 7 Step Proven Process Infographic. This image provides an overview of each 7 steps of our process we have built and refined over 7 years while growing our vacation rental business.
If you prefer to shrink time frames and reduce the trial error we have made most of our Proven Process available for a reasonable investment.