How to Correctly Sync Vacation and Short Term Rental Calendars with Listing Sites

Dec 30, 2019

How to Properly Sync a Vacation Rental Availability Calendar

In this article, we're going to show you the easy and correct way to set up your Availability Calendar iCAL URL links to avoid headaches and problems. We'll help you understand the importance of using a "Master Calendar" to set up your syncing framework in 3 simple steps.

Savvy vacation rental owners, property managers, and hosts know that syncing a short-term vacation property's availability calendar is a great way to decrease workload and avoid double bookings. But many don't know how to correctly set up the iCal URL links in order for calendars to integrate seamlessly.

The Importance of a "Master" Calendar within the Rental iCAL Sync Framework

It's important to choose one "Master" calendar for all of your iCal URL Links to sync directly into. This "Master Calendar" has to have the ability to receive multiple iCal URL links from all of your advertising listing sites. In some cases, this would be your channel manager or booking software if you use either of these tools. Although it's not necessary to use special software. You can use one specific listing site as your "Master Calendar" option.

Not sure what a channel manager or booking software is? We explain them briefly below. If you don't need either of these options skip down to the step by step syncing instructions.

What is Vacation Rental Booking Engine Software?

Owners and property managers who oversee many properties and booking requests find it easier to manage their business by using booking engine software to ease multiple manual jobs that are necessary for the vacation short-term rental business cycle. Many opt for a booking software that serves as their central hub to easily manage all of their reservations, sync with financial software like Quickbooks, manage cleaner schedules, etc... Using booking engine software can greatly enhance and automate many functions like answering inquiries, sending quotes, rental contracts and booking guests.

Vacation Rental Booking Engine Software is ideal for short-term rental industry owners and hosts who: 

  • advertise on multiple distribution channels/listing sites
  • prefer a streamlined efficient hub to manage and oversee a single or multiple properties
  • need enhanced software to manage direct bookings from their own websites, book direct listings sites like Florida Rental By Owners - FlaRBO and marketing social media platform bookings
  • prefer an automated software system to efficiently manage rental contracts, guest booking details, sync financial information with accounting software, manage rates, etc...

What is a Vacation Rental Channel Manager?

A Channel Manager is primarily used by property managers to connect their Booking Engine Software or Property Management System (PMS) directly with online short-term distribution channels. Think of it as the central hub where all information and details of properties on a property manager's website or any of their connected channels (FlaRBO, Airbnb, VRBO, Booking.com, etc...) will automatically update the property's availability, photos, listing description details, rates, etc...  on the other sites. 

Channel Managers are ideal for short-term rental industry professionals who:  

  • advertise on multiple distribution channels/listing sites
  • receive a large portion of bookings via multiple listing sites
  • require real-time, up-to-date availability calendars, photos, rates, listing details, etc...
  • need a centralized hub to efficiently manage a large number of inquiries and booking requests

How to Choose a Master Calendar to Sync Availability Correctly

There are a few things to keep in mind when syncing multiple calendars to a property listing. Always use a Master Calendar for your syncs. This avoids any reservations that may not get picked up through the other listing sites. There are some criteria that a Master Calendar needs to have before you start setting up the framework and connections correctly.

A Master Availability Calendar can be chosen from one of the following options that have multiple URL links abilities:

  1. A listing site that allows several iCal URL link imports (ie: Florida Rental By Owners - FLARBO)
  2. A booking software or channel manager (ie: Ownerreservations.com, RentalsUnited.com, Lodgify, etc..) that can manage multiple URL link imports
  3. A calendar like Google Calendar if you are able to set up yourself which requires a bit of technical knowledge
Correct Way to Sync CalendarsIncorrect Way to Sync Calendars
                  

Step by Step Instructions on How to Sync Availability Calendars

How to IMPORT Availability calendar reservations into a Master Calendar

In this example, we will be using the Florida Rental By Owners Availability Calendar as the "Master Calendar" but the steps below will work for another Master Calendar option in much the same way. Start by opening up the property dashboard on all listing sites that you wish to IMPORT into your Master Calendar.

STEP 1: Capture the iCAL export links from the Listing Sites that you are advertised on that will not be your Master Calendar

  1. Go to the Owner Dashboard in listing sites that you wish to sync and IMPORT into your Master Calendar.
  2. Go to the Property Calendar, usually found under the Availability or Calendar tabs in any listing site or booking software
  3. Copy the iCAL EXPORT link. (see screenshot above)

STEP 2: Paste the iCAL export links from the Listing Sites that you are advertised on into your Master Calendar

Go to the Florida Rental By Owners - FLARBO Owner Dashboard. On the left menu bar Click "Manage Rentals"> then click on "Update listing" on the property you are working on if you have more than one. The FLARBO calendar will sync every 15 minutes

  1. On the property listing click the "Availability" Tab (see screenshot below)
  2. Click on the sub-tab marked "iCAL IMPORT".
  3. Now paste the listing site iCAL URL LINK into the white box
  4. NOTE: If you wish to upload an iCAL file instead of syncing a link you can do so by pressing the "Choose File" button. 
  5. Press the iCAL Import button to SAVE the link

Availability iCal URL link Instructions Vacation Rentals

How to EXPORT Availability calendar reservations from a Master Calendar into Listing Sites

STEP 3: Final step, now it's time to connect your Master Calendar's iCAL export link to all of the listing sites to capture all bookings.

On the Master Calendar Availability Calendar, in this case, Florida Rental By Owner's property calendar

  1. On the property listing click the "Availability" tab (see screenshot above)
  2. This time you will click on the sub-tab marked "iCAL EXPORT" and copy the URL link
  3. Head to your other advertising listing sites and paste the listing site iCAL URL link into the property calendar IMPORT fields and press the Save or Import Calendar button (see screenshot below).

In most cases, you will want to choose Block Dates so that any events that are captured within the iCAL URL link are saved immediately and the property calendar is blocked. On certain listing sites you can also choose a color to easily identify a link. 

An Important Note About Cancellations and Calendar Syncs

  • If you get a cancellation, it is important to review each listing site to ensure that the booking has been removed. Remember to give yourself enough sync period time before looking (up to 30 minutes)
  • In some cases, depending on the timing of the syncing cycle and how quickly you can work through the multiple listing sites, you may have to detach (remove) the Master iCal URL link, and delete the booking from the listing sites that aren't updating properly and finally re-attach the iCal URL link. 
  • The FLARBO calendar sync's every 15 minutes but each listing site and booking software has their own time period for syncs some up to 30 minutes.

About Florida Rental By Owners - FLARBO

Florida Rental By Owners (FLARBO) is a fair and reasonable vacation rental advertising marketplace specifically focused on helping Florida property owners. A vacation rental listing site "Built By Owners - For Owners" to connect directly with Florida travelers. Allowing vacation rental homeowners and property managers the luxury to:

  • Communicate Directly with Travelers
  • No Traveler Booking Fees
  • Take Control of the Entire Booking Process
  • No Cancellation Penalties or Imposed Policies
  • Use Your Own Booking Software and Save Money
  • Keep All Traveler Contact Information for Your Marketing
  • Enjoy the Freedom of Hosting on Your Own Terms

If you'd like further details you can contact the customer service team at Florida Rental By Owners (FLARBO) here. Click the highlighted blue text to read the full terms and conditions as well as the privacy policy of listing your property on Florida rental by owners.

Florida Rental By Owners List Your Property