Sunday, March 29, 2015

Do you manage your vacation rental with Excel?

If you are like me with just one vacation rental property, you may have built a spreadsheet to manage inquires, bookings, rent and availability. You might be tired of all the manual work but feel like an expensive software product or cloud-based subscription service just isn't worth it. That's where I was. Then I took a hard look at the Google Apps platform and had an idea - what if I used Google App Script to write a program that automates the whole vacation rental management process?  The platform is perfect for it:

  • Google Docs for contracts and invoice letters
  • Google Forms for rental inquiries
  • Google Calendar for managing availability and schedules
  • Gmail to send reminders and alerts
  • Google Sheets to create a single dashboard 
  • Google Contacts to keep track of vacation rental customers
  • Google Drive to store everything including signed scanned contracts

I embarked on the project 3 years ago, and have been using earlier versions for years with our vacation rental, the Lodge at Palmer Lake. This week I finished the initial release of a version to make public. I call it 'TrackVacs', for tracking vacation rentals.

The cool thing? Google offers the entire platform for free. 

You can click here to set up TrackVacs for your vacation rental at no cost. Try it out, you will get a lot of time back. If you appreciate it and want to contribute, that would be fantastic.

What parts of vacation rental management can be automated?

A great deal. Here is how software can greatly simplify the whole life cycle of having someone rent your property:

  1. A few clicks sends a pre-written email to a prospective renter with an inquiry form.

  2. When the rental inquiry is received, the code then:
    • Validates the requested dates against other bookings and rules. If an issue is found, a window pops up with options to address it.
    • Creates a calendar event for the stay and to set aside time for cleaning if desired.
    • Calculates the rent based on seasonal rate structures, extra costs for more people and cleaning fees as applicable.
    • Creates a Contact for your new customer, complete with all their contact info.
    • Builds an invoice letter and rental contract with all of the details of the renter's group, a breakdown of fees and sales tax, check in/out dates and times, payment due dates and contract terms.
    • Provides immediate visibility via the dashboard to key elements of each booking, and quick 2-click access to the associated documents and calendar entries.
    • Sends email reminders to the right parties automatically as payment due dates approach, rent is overdue or deposits need to be returned. 
    • Offers filtering options in the dashboard to get simpler views as bookings grow. 

Want to know more?

I put together a user guide, check it here - Using TrackVacs to Manage Your Vacation Rental.

Want to try it?

It's free. To get started, check out this installation guide that describes the setup step by step with screenshots. 

Any feedback is very appreciated, let me know what you think and how to make it better!


  1. Oh my gosh, you are my hero....this looks fabulous & just what I've been looking for! I will be trying this out & giving you feedback!! Thank you!

  2. Hi Barbara, thanks! I'm happy to help you get started if you need anything just let me know.