Vacation Rental Glossary

Welcome to our A-Z glossary of vacation rentals vernacular. Dive in and improve your knowledge of top industry terms, terminology and acronyms!

vacation rental glossary

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A

Airbnb is an online marketplace which lets people rent out their space, which can be anything from an entire property to a spare room, to guests. With over 6 millions listings worldwide, Airbnb is a household name in accommodation and vacation rentals.

Airbnb’s resolution centre is a resource that Airbnb hosts and guests can use to resolve any issues relating to a stay in an Airbnb property. 

Amenities

The desirable or useful features of a property which are noted on the property listing. For example, air-conditioning, parking, WiFi, hot tub, BBQ etc.

API

Application Programming Interface – a software intermediary that allows two applications to “talk” to each other.

API integration

An API integration is a full connection between two software platforms that allows data to be shared. For example, channel managers usually offer API connections with booking sites like Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, VRBO and TripAdvisor etc.

Available nights

The total number of nights that a property is open and available for bookings throughout the year. Many major booking sites require that a property must be available for a minimum of 90 days of bookable nights in order to list it.

B

Booking

Also referred to as a Reservation, this refers to blocking a specific vacation rental property for a definite duration of time for a particular guest.

Booking confirmation

A notification (can be an email, SMS, etc), sent to each guest, which includes key information about the booking they have made e.g. booking reference, cancellation policy and any house rules.

Booking window

The number of days between when the reservation is made by the guest and the check-in date.

Booking.com is an Online Travel Agency (OTA) website for booking hotel and vacation rental accommodation. The site is available in 43 languages and with more than 28 million listings worldwide, is one of the biggest names in the travel industry.

Booking.com extranet

The Booking.com extranet is the administrative side of the Booking.com platform – hosts/owners log in to the extranet to access and update information on their Booking.com property listing. This includes payment options, cancellation policy, pricing, photos and descriptions, reviews and more.

C

Cancellation fee

An amount the guest must pay if they cancel a reservation after the cancellation deadline has passed.

Cancellation policy

A specific set of rules which dictate what happens if a guest cancels their reservation within a certain notice period.

Changeover days

Specific day(s) of the week on which guests check-in and check-out.

Channels

Also known as booking sites, or OTAs, these are listing websites where owners can advertise their vacation rental properties.

Channel fee

A commission that a third-party distributor charges an owner to listing their vacation rental property on their website.

Channel manager

A tool that offers synchronisation between third-party distribution sites and a central platform for managing reservations. Channel managers typically synchronise calendars, although some connections can sync property information and rates too.

Check-in & Check-out

When a guest arrives/leaves a property, usually by a specific time which is noted on the listing.

Cleaning fee

A set fee owners charge guests to cover the cost of cleaning the property.

D

Damage deposit

Also known as a security or breakage deposit – this is a refundable sum of money which an owner collects from each guest in addition to the total booking cost. If any damage is made to the property by the guest, the owner can make deductions from the damage deposit to cover these. If there is no damage, the deposit is returned in full.

Dynamic pricing

Pricing that changes based on the season, number of guests, minimum stay. There are a number of softwares that provide dynamic pricing.

Direct booking

When a guest books directly via the property owner or manager’s website, rather than through a third-party distribution channel.

Double booking

A double booking is a reservation that overlaps with an existing booking.

E

Electronic lock

Also known as a smart lock, a digital or push-button mechanical lock that does not require a key or access card to operate.

Expedia is an Online Travel Agency (OTA), where customers can book a wide range of travel and accommodation products such as hotels, flights, vacation rental accommodation, car rentals and much more. Expedia has a large network of affiliate sites including Hotels.com, Trivago and Orbitz.

Expedia Partner Central

Expedia Partner Central is Expedia’s host facing administration portal, where property owners/hosts can access tools and resources to maintain their listing information on Expedia.

F

A range of tools offered by vacation rental software e.g. channel management, calendar synchronisation, listing optimisation, bookings engine, guest communications and more. 

G

Guest experience

The experience guests have when staying in a vacation rental property, which includes interactions with the host as well as the time spent in the property.

Gaps

Dates for which a vacation rental property has no bookings.

H

Holiday let

A term used to describe vacation rental properties in the UK and Ireland.

Homeowners insurance

A type of property insurance that covers losses and damages to an individual’s house and to assets in the home. Homeowners insurance also provides liability coverage against accidents in the home or on the property. TravelNest recommends Pikl, a specialist insurer for short-term holiday lets.

House rules

These are set by the host to cover anything that’s important for guests to know during their stay at a property. They are an ideal opportunity to clearly set out any expectations, to outline what guests can and cannot do at the property and what penalties will occur if the house rules are broken.

I

iCal connection

A connection used to synchronize calendars with closed periods to block periods of unavailability.

Instant book

A popular reservation method which does not require approval from the host before guests can book a property. Guests can choose their travel dates, book and pay without speaking to the host first.

Invoice

A document which helps guests keep track of their expenses and can be also used as proof of payment.

Inventory

A term used to describe a group of properties an owner or host has available for guests to book. 

J

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K

Keyless entry

A way for guests to gain access to a property without the need for keys. Hosts can send a temporary passcode to guests to allow them to access the property, removing the need for face-to-face interaction.

Key exchange

When a host meets guests at the beginning and end of their stay to give and collect keys for the property.

L

Licence

Also see Tourist licence. In some countries e.g. Spain, France and Portugal, a license is legally required before a property can be used as a short-term vacation rental.

Listing

This describes the profile of a property on a listing site or Online Travel Agency (OTA) and generally includes a title, description, photos and pricing.

Listing site

Also known as Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) or booking sites, these are third-party agents that list and advertise vacation rental properties through their own network. Vrbo and Expedia are examples of vacation rental listing sites.

Lockbox

A small safe that is attached to a vacation rental property (usually near the entrance), which contains the keys to the  property, cutting down the need for face-to-face interaction between the host and guests.

Low season

Also known as off-peak season, this refers to the time of year when travel is less common, resulting in fewer bookings for vacation rental properties. Rates are often reduced during the low season to attract bookings and remain competitive.

M

Minimum stay

Set by the owner, this refers to the minimum number of nights that a booking must cover. It is good practice to adapt your minimum stay settings to attract more bookings. 

Maintenence

Regular works carried out on a property to ensure it remains in good working order e.g. heating, plumbing, renovations, garden/outside works etc.

Mapping

The synchronisation of information about a property from vacation rental management software to listing on an OTA.

N

No-show

Where guests who have booked to stay in the property do not show up to use the property they have booked, without cancellation.

Non-refundable rate

A typically lower rate that has specific booking conditions attached. For example, guests will still have to pay the full price if they cancel, make changes or don’t show up. In other words, they will not receive a refund in the event of cancellation.

O

Occupancy

A term that describes the maximum number of guests that a property can accommodate.

Occupancy rate

The number of booked nights divided by the sum of the available nights and booked nights.

Off-peak season

Also known as low season, the time of year when fewer people choose to travel and prices are usually at their lowest.

OTA

An OTA is an Online Travel Agency whose websites list accommodation and sell them through their own network. Examples of popular OTAs are Airbnb, Expedia, Booking.com, VRBO and TripAdvisor.

P

Payment method

The way in which a guest makes a payment to the host to stay in the property.

PCI compliance

Payment card industry compliance is a set of standards and guidelines for companies to manage and secure credit card related personal data during and after financial transactions. PCI compliance is required by all card brands.

Peak season

Also known as high season, the time of year when travel to a destination is most popular and prices are at their highest.

Pet fee

A fee in addition to the total rate a guest pays which covers the stay of any pet and costs associated with it (i.e. cleaning). Pet fees are non-refundable.

Pet-friendly property

A property that allows pets to stay and is suitable for them. Making a property pet-friendly is a key way to attract more bookings.

The property headline is the title of your property that guests can see on booking sites e.g. 3-Bed Villa + Pool with Stunning Views, 10 mins from Ibiza Town

PMS

A PMS is a property management system – software that is used to manage vacation rental properties. This includes bookings, calendar availability, guest communication, rates, listings on other channels, property information and more.

Written content on a listing that tells potential guests all they need to know about your property, its key features, and why they should consider booking a stay there.

Q

Quiet hours

Specified hours during which guests are expected to keep noise to a minimum at a vacation rental or short-term rental property.

Query

A question from a potential guest asking for specific information about a vacation rental property.

R

Refundable booking

A booking that qualifies for a refund under specific circumstances usually set out in the cancellation policy.

Repeat guests

A term used to describe guests who have previously stayed at a specific property and who return to stay again.

Reviews

Feedback from previous guests about a property. Reviews are a powerful tool for attracting new bookings and encouraging loyal guests.

S

Seasonal rates

Seasonal rates refer to increased costs of vacation rental accommodation during popular times to travel. Hosts and owners can increase rates on a seasonal basis to coincide with changes in climate, attractions or events that are happening in the area.

Security deposit

See damage deposit.

Self-catering accommodation

Vacation rental accommodation that includes kitchen and dining facilities where guests can prepare and eat meals.

Self check-in

A term to describe guests checking themselves into a property, without the need to meet anyone (e.g. the host) in person. This reduces the need for face-to-face interactions.

Shoulder season

A term used to describe a period of time that falls between peak and off-peak seasons.

Short-term rental

A property that is rented to guests for a short period of time, usually in connection with leisure or business travel.

Smart home

A property that has been fitted with smart home devices to monitor and control functions such as heating, lighting, security cameras remotely.

Superhost

An Airbnb specific term for experienced, positively rated hosts who provide excellent service and experiences for guests. The Superhost badge icon is an earned accreditation achieved by having a good response time to guest enquiries, a certain number of positive reviews plus other additional factors.

Smart locks

Smart locks are a way for guests to check-in without a key. It refers to remote, keyless access for guests.

T

TravelNest helps hosts unlock the potential of their vacation rental properties. The TravelNest platform boosts exposure and increases bookings by creating high-performing listings across 30+ top booking sites like Airbnb, Booking.com and Expedia.

TripAdvisor is an American online travel company that operates a website and mobile app with user-generated content and a comparison-shopping website. Users can post reviews and opinions about their travel experiences 

Also known as TUI Group, TUI (Touristik Union International), is an Anglo-German multinational travel and tourism company headquartered in Hanover, Germany. It is the largest leisure, travel and tourism company in the world, and it owns travel agencies, hotels, airlines, cruise ships and retail shops

In some countries e.g. Spain, France and Portugal, a license is legally required before a property can be used as a short-term vacation rental.

U

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V

Vacation rental

A furnished apartment, house or villa that can be booked by guests and stayed in on a temporary basis for the purpose of leisure or business travel.

Vacation rental management

The process of running a vacation rental business, attracting bookings and managing day-to-day operational tasks such as cleaning, changeovers and maintenance.

Vacation rental software

Software which connects to booking sites, accepts bookings and online payments and guest communications.

Originally known as Vacation Rentals by Owner, Vrbo is a vacation rentals listing site that lists only entire homes, rather than individual rooms within private homes, that can be booked by guests.

W

Weekend pricing

A pricing strategy where you a host can set different rates per night for Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

Welcome app

A website or mobile app that is designed to enrich the guest experience. It will provide guests with everything they need to know before and during their stay. In some cases, guests can chat with the host via the digital welcome app, as well as book local activities or add-ons.

Welcome book

Similar to a welcome app, but a physical book for the guests to use. In a welcome book, hosts can organise key information about the property and the surrounding area in one place, providing a useful resource for guests.

Welcome basket

Hosts can provide a selection of items for guests in a welcome basket or welcome hamper, e.g breakfast items, toiletries, selected local produce etc.

X

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Y

Yield management

Yield management is a pricing strategy that involves anticipating customer behaviour and varying pricing and rates to maximise vacation rental occupancy and increase revenue.

Z

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