Vacation rental calendar syncing: why it’s crucial to automatically update your calendars

Property managers know that to maximise their bookings and revenue, they need to advertise on as many different booking sites as possible. A multi-channel distribution strategy should include major OTAs like Airbnb, and Vrbo, as well as niche vacation rental websites.

To manage multiple properties across a variety of booking sites, you need a way to synchronise your availability calendars. Here are the key reasons why:

Avoid double bookings

When you advertise your listings on various channels, you could have more than one guest trying to book your rental for the exact same dates at the same time.

If one guest books the property through Airbnb, and your vacation rental availability calendars aren’t synced, another guest could book the same property on another site such as Vrbo.

This puts you in a tricky situation. You’ll have no choice but to cancel one of the bookings, which costs you lots of admin time and isn’t a good look for your vacation rental business. What’s more, it could result in your listings sliding down in OTA search results, which could lead to losing out on future bookings.

On top of all this, you may also be saddled with a fine from the OTA in question. Some sites penalise property managers for cancelled bookings because it reflects badly on their brand image as well.

All in all, double bookings are a disaster for property managers. Calendar syncing helps you avoid all this hassle because anytime someone makes a booking on one channel, those dates will be immediately blocked off across all your other channels.

Save time and decrease manual work

Manually updating all your listings, across every booking site, might be a good enough solution for small-time property managers who rent out a single vacation property, and only advertise on a handful of sites.

However, for property management companies managing tens or hundreds of properties across lots of different OTAs, doing this manually would be an impossible amount of work. Not having calendar synchronisation for your vacation rentals would drain your resources and use up a lot of manpower.

Even if you could keep up with the bookings coming in, you’d be vulnerable to human error which could still lead to double bookings and cost you revenue.

How to sync your vacation rental availability calendars

We’ve established that, for property managers, manually updating your property calendars is unfeasible. So what are your alternatives?

There are two main methods of syncing your calendars automatically, either by using iCal links, or a channel manager which connects to channels via API.

Though iCal technology has been around for a while, it isn’t ideal for the short-term rental industry, and specialised vacation rental channel managers are a much more powerful solution.

Why iCal connections don’t work

iCal files are small text files that carry calendar data. It’s free to use iCal connections to sync your calendars between different channels. However, it’s not a reliable method for property managers.

Let’s say you wanted to use iCal to connect two of your channels, such as Airbnb and

  • First, you’d log in to Airbnb, go to ‘export calendar’ in your availability settings and find the iCal URL that corresponds to your listing.
  • Then, you’d need to copy this, then log in to your account. In your settings, you’d look for the field where you can enter new iCal connections (‘import calendar’), and paste the URL there.
  • To establish a two-way connection, you would then have to repeat this process of exporting/importing calendars the other way around.
  • After the two channels are connected, every few hours will pull the iCal file from Airbnb into its system, and vice versa. If there are any new bookings found, the iCal calendars will be updated.

You can probably already spot some issues with this method.

Firstly, the files are only updated every few hours, and it can take as much as 12. This provides plenty of opportunities for overbookings to happen in between.

Also, it’s incredibly complicated to connect all your channels in this way when you advertise on more than two or three of them (plus your own website!). You can end up with mixups and circular references, and a totally incomprehensible system.

Finally, iCal files can sometimes break. When this happens, the files are corrupted and they can no longer sync.

Vacation rental calendar synchronisation: using a channel manager to keep your calendars up-to-date

A much more effective way to keep your calendars up-to-date is to use a vacation rental channel manager.

Channel managers are specialised software solutions that use API connections to distribute your property listings across multiple channels and sync directly with OTAs.

API stands for Application Programming Interface. This allows services – like channel managers and distribution channels – to communicate with each other.

Using a channel manager, you can update your rates, availability, calendar and listings information on all your channels at the same time.

Unlike iCal files, API connections are official and certified by the OTA. They allow for total, instant synchronisation. Using a trusted channel manager is the only reliable way to completely avoid double bookings and lessen your workload.

Find out why Rentals United won the award for Best Channel Manager in 2022. 

What is the best vacation rental software for calendar synchronisation?

There are lots of options for property managers when it comes to choosing a channel manager. However, for large property managers with tens or hundreds of listings, Rentals United is the best solution on the market. There’s no other channel manager that can compete in terms of high-quality connections, wide choice of partners, and advanced syncing.

Here are a few reasons to choose Rentals United:

API connections that allow for instant automatic update

All Rentals United’s connections are direct, two-way connections. This means that as soon as a guest makes a booking on Airbnb, for example, all connections are updated immediately, in real time.

In order to keep up with changes in their connections’ software, channel managers must be continually analysing and updating their API. Rentals United is constantly working hard to ensure our connections are the strongest and most up-to-date on the market.

This allows us to provide our property managers with access to the latest tools and functionalities built by OTAs.

Trusted partner of the 4 largest OTAs

Rentals United is the only channel manager to have been named a Premier and Preferred Partner by 4 of the biggest global OTAs:, Trip Advisor, Vrbo and Airbnb.

In 2021, VRBO named us an Elite Partner, a title reserved for only the highest-performing software providers. This could grant us early access to new Vrbo tools and features for integrated partners.

Thinking about switching channel managers? Read our step-by-step guide on how to do it painlessly.

50+ connected channels

Besides large OTAs, Rentals United also works with niche sites. It’s vital for property managers to have their properties visible on as many booking sites as possible. This helps you reach a larger audience, get more bookings, increase occupancy and earn more profit.

With Rentals United, you can choose from over 50 channels, from the largest OTAs to niche, specialist travel sites. You can make your properties visible to millions of potential guests with no manual work in the channels’ extranet.

Rentals United helps you find the perfect mix of sites that are relevant to your properties and manage all your listings from one place.

Advanced sync

A great channel manager can do more than just vacation rental calendar syncing. You can also sync property information, photos, rates, bookings, cancellations and more, depending on the channel.

This helps decrease your workload as you won’t have to log into the channel’s extranet every time you want to make a change.

The best channel manager to sync your vacation rental calendar

If you choose Rentals United as your channel manager, your vacation rental availability calendar will always be synced reliably across all channels.

You’ll never have to worry about overbookings or manually updating your calendars with the best vacation rental channel manager on the market.