Vacation Rental Glossary

An evolving collection of industry terms, phrases, acronyms, and definitions

We’ve compiled this ever-evolving list of industry terms, buzzwords, and definitions. So whether you’re an industry veteran in need of a quick refresh or totally new to the scene (welcome!), feel free to bookmark this page and never forget what RevPAR stands for again.

  • Accessible Vacation Rental: A rental property that is modified so that it’s accessible to travelers with disabilities and wheelchair users.
  • Amenity: A desirable or even practical property feature, such as WiFi, a balcony, or a private backyard.
  • Amenity Fee: The additional amount guests pay a host to use or access specific amenities, such as beach chairs or bicycles.
  • Application Programming Interface (API): A software intermediary that enables two applications to communicate.
  • API Integration: The connection that enables two software programs to share data. In the short-term rental industry, a common example is how channel managers offer API connections to travel portals such as Booking.com and Expedia.
  • Availability Calendar: An online calendar that tracks and displays a property’s up-to-date availability.
  • Available Nights: The total number of nights a property is open for bookings during the year (i.e., when owners aren’t using the property or it isn’t closed for scheduled maintenance). This is also known as Room Supply or Nights Available.
  • Average Daily Rates (ADR): The calculated average nightly rate for a property. ADR is a very common metric that indicates the average rental income per paid occupied room during a specific period of time.
  • Average Length of Stay (ALOS): The average number of nights guests stay at a property during a specific period of time.
  • Average Rate Index (ARI): A metric that measures the performance of a property’s ADR in comparison to competitors during a specific period of time. ARI helps hosts determine whether to raise, lower, or hold on room rates.
  • Best Available Rate (BAR):  The lowest rate available on a given date. In essence, BAR pricing reduces confusion by showing potential guests the lowest amount they could pay for lodging on a certain date.
  • Billboard Effect: The theory that listing a vacation rental on multiple online travel sites leads to more exposure, and in turn, more revenue. Learn more about multi-channel distribution.
  • Booking: The industry term for when a property is blocked for a specific guest during a specific duration of time. Also known as a Reservation.
  • Booking Curve: A tool that visually displays how bookings materialize over a period of time. Hosts use it to adjust rates and availability accordingly.
  • Booking Pace: The rate at which bookings are made for a property—from the booking date to the arrival date—over a specific period of time. Hosts monitor this to identify patterns and maximize revenue.
  • Booking Policy: The policy that lays out the terms and conditions of payment schedules, cancellations, and damage deposits.
  • Booking Request: The reservation tactic that requires approval from the host before a guest can book a property. Example: guests message a host to ask for availability and confirm the booking before sending payment.
  • Cancellation Policy: The terms that dictate what happens in the event a guest cancels their booking within a specified notice period.
  • Channels: Listing websites like Airbnb, Booking.com, and others, where hosts advertise and distribute their property. Also known as Online Travel Agencies (OTAs).
  • Channel Manager: A connectivity tool that synchronizes third-party distribution sites with a central platform for managing reservations. Learn more about VacayHome Connect’s channel manager solution.
  • Clustering: A strategy property managers can use on Expedia and Booking.com that allows them to combine multiple units under one listing. That one listing then benefits from multiple-units availability, as well as reviews and conversion. Learn more about Clustering.
  • Comparative Market Analysis (CMA): A report on comparable properties nearby, which hosts use to determine the value of their own property.
  • Competitive Set: A defined group of competitive properties that have a similar target market, location, style, price, or other metrics. Hosts measure their property against these “comps” in an effort to make their own rental more appealing.
  • Connectivity: The synchronization between multiple platforms that enables hosts to export listing content, rates, and calendar availability to different travel sites.
  • Conversion Rate: The number of online users who view a property (or inquire about it) and ultimately book the property. Also known as the Look-to-Book ratio.
  • Custom Fee: Additional fees that are unique to an individual property. Example: nearly all properties have a cleaning fee, but only properties with a hot tub can charge for a hot-tub cleaning fee.
  • Damage Deposit: A refundable sum of money—generally around $200 or 10% of the rental rate—that hosts collect from guests in addition to the total booking amount. It is meant to cover any damages a guest might cause; also referred to as a Breakage Deposit or Security Deposit.
  • Default Rate: The standard base rate for a property.
  • Direct Booking: A reservation made directly through the property owner instead of a third-party distribution channel.
  • Double Booking: A booking that overlaps and conflicts with an existing reservation.
  • Dynamic Pricing: A tactic that enables hosts to vary their pricing based on market conditions, such as demand, growth, and other trends.
  • Full-Service Distribution: A full-service distribution company (such as VacayHome Connect) connects property managers to third-party travel sites and handles all marketing, revenue management, data analysis, content optimization, and more on behalf of its clients. Learn more.
  • House Rules: The set of rules shared with guests by a host, wherein the host can convey expectations and potential penalties if established rules are broken.
  • iCal Connection: A popular method to synchronize calendars, block periods of unavailability, and avoid double bookings.
  • Key Performance Indicators (KPIs): A collection of quantifiable measures used to gauge performance over a specific period of time. Important vacation-rental KPIs include occupancy rate, ADR, conversion rate, and many others.
  • Listing: The “profile” page of a property on an online travel site. It is content-driven and typically includes a title (headline), written description, photos, and pricing.
  • Merchant of Record (MOR): The entity or party that is authorized to charge the guest’s credit card for a booking.
  • Occupancy Forecast: The occupancy a property is expected to achieve during a specified period of time.
  • Occupancy Rate (OCC): The percentage of total available nights that have been rented for a property during a specific period of time (i.e., the number of booked nights divided by the sum of available nights + booked nights).
  • Online Travel Agency (OTA): The third-party agents who list and sell accommodations through their online platforms, including Airbnb, Booking.com, and VRBO. Also known as Channels.
  • OTA Search Ranking: The position of a host’s listing on a search results page. Dictated by an algorithm, rankings are extremely important and are influenced by numerous factors, from photo quality to a host’s average response time.
  • Partner Channels (Channel Partners): The Online Travel Agencies (OTAs) a distribution company or channel manager partners with. Learn more about VacayHome Connect’s partner channels.
  • Payment Processor: A tool that collects and processes payments. Also known as a Payment Gateway.
  • Premier Host: A VRBO-specific term for exemplary hosts who set the bar for other hosts while providing incredible guest experiences. Learn more about how to become a Premier Host on VRBO.
  • Property Management System (PMS): A software program that facilitates rental-property management. This tool helps hosts manage their reservations and booking calendar, communicate with guests, manage rates, list on OTAs, and more. Also known as Property Management Software.
  • Price Per Guest: A pricing strategy that enables hosts to adjust rates based on the number of guests per visit.
  • Private Channels: Large membership-driven companies that offer travel services to their base members. Unlike traditional channels (such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and Vrbo), Private Channels are not open to the public and are usually only accessible via log-in. Learn more about Private Channels.
  • Property Description: An important piece of listing content that describes a property’s features, shares its story, and convinces potential guests to book it.
  • Property Manager: An industry professional hired to execute real estate management duties for short- and long-term rental housing.
  • Regulations: A set of location-specific restrictions for short-term rental properties that dictates the total number of days they are rented out every year, among other requirements.
  • Rental Agreement: A legally binding document between a host and guests. It defines (in writing) the arrangements that are made between the two parties, including House Rules and penalties if those rules are broken.
  • Reviews: Feedback from guests about their experience at a property. Reviews are very important for attracting new guests and ranking highly in search results. Learn more about how to handle reviews.
  • Revenue per Available Room (RevPAR): A metric that calculates the amount of revenue earned per bedroom, per night. It is an important measurement of performance that can be determined by multiplying the average daily room rate (ADR) by its occupancy rate.
  • Seasonal Rates: An increase in rental costs during popular travel times. Rates typically go up due to a location’s desirability based on weather, attractions, or events.
  • Self Check-In/Check-Out: A process that allows guests to check in and check out of a property on their own. Typically, this requires a keyless lock or smart lock.
  • Single-Family House (SFH): An accommodation suited for one family.
  • Short-Term Rental (STR): A property or an accommodation that is rented out to guests for short periods of time.
  • Smart Home: A property equipped with devices and technology that enable a host to manage lighting, temperature, and other aspects remotely.
  • Smart Lock: A device powered by WiFi or Bluetooth that enables guests to lock and unlock doors via an application on their smartphone, computer, or tablet. These provide remote, keyless entry to a property.
  • Superhost: An Airbnb-specific term for exemplary hosts who set the bar for other hosts while providing incredible guest experiences. Learn more about how to become a Superhost on Airbnb.
  • Vacation Rental Management Association (VRMA): An esteemed industry association that offers education, networking, and professional development opportunities. Learn more.
  • Weekend Pricing: A pricing strategy that enables hosts to adjust rates per night for Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.
  • Welcome Book: A physical book that welcomes guests to a property. It can feature house rules, information about local attractions, and more.
  • Yield Management: A pricing discipline that enables a host to anticipate travel behavior and adjust rates based on specific market factors, such as demand or competition.

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