USA Escapia/Other Vacation Rental Management Softwares


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Anyone here have experience with Escapia? Or any other property management software they could recommend?

We own 15 vacation properties in Orlando, FL that we currently currently manage with LiveRez that pushes all financial data into QuickBooks. The owner along with our manager have been looking for other alternatives as they feel like LiveRez is going downhill. Escapia works hand in hand with HomeAway (both owned by Expedia) to book and track vacation rentals. The owner and manager love the marketing side of the software and asked me to look into the accounting functions.

I sat through a demo last week and i can't say that I'm a fan. It seems the software is set up more for a property management company and not for those that own and manage their own properties. The software collects all funds paid in and distributes them to our bank account only as we manually initiate the transfer. All QuickBooks functions are pretty much replaced by this software unless we export the data, format it, then upload it into QuickBooks. Even then it sounds as if most of the customer specific data would not come over to QuickBooks.

I requested a test environment so that I could see exactly how the process would flow before making the commitment. They could not provide us with that or even put us in touch with a current customer who is using the software. Being that this software is cloud based brings even more uncertainty as there doesn't seem to be any way for us to back up the information just for a piece of mind.

Any input is greatly appreciated!

Chris
 
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Hi Chris C,

I know you posted a few weeks ago but didn't see this until now.
I am a daily (accountant) user of both Escapia and QuickBooks, for three vacation rental clients.

Yes Escapia is a tricky character and it works great for reservations, housekeeping assignment, bookings, Folio, etc. The accounting is a little tricky. The main thing to know know, is that what you normally expect in other accounting software, is not what you get there. That said, if you do things exactly as you are supposed to in Escapia, it will work fine.

Downsides are, it does not integrate with QuickBooks AND Escapia is expensive. Yes, it has lots of functions that apply to catering to and the property owners...something you clearly don't need, like:
Generating detailed monthly Owner Statements
Month-End Closing Procedures including balancing the HomeAway charges and pmts.
Process Booking Revenue monthly Owner Payouts
Monthly Reconciliation of Trust Account and other bank accounts
Annual Owners Statements, issuance of 1099's and 1099 Reporting
And, why pay for all that functionality if you are the owner?

In addition, you still need your own accounting because from your Trust Account in Escapia, you cannot pay or handle other accounting functions. And, there system is a double entry system. You cannot just make an owner contribution and they don't really have a way to pay you unless you are a vendor for services rendered. It's just not really accounting system but following all procedures to the letter it serves you ok for tracking rental revenue and deductions.

After that you need to process income and expenses in QuickBooks as well.

It's a ton of features extra work that you don't even need.

For your situation, I'd recommend not choosing Escapia...at least not at this point.

How important is a reservation system and housekeeping/maintenance modules, etc?

There are other options out there. I don't know a lot about them but for 5 or more units, I see that Guesty has good reviews.
Also for managing the housekeeping, fulfilling maintenance and inventory needs I know that Breezeway comes highly recommended.

If a separate res system and services are not needed, why not rework you Chart of Accounts, use QuickBooks Online for everything
and utilize the res system (and accounting) from your reporting found in Airbnb, Yapstone (VRP/RentPayment), 2nd address, VRBO etc.?

(just noticed something else in your post so I'll address it here). In Escapia, deposits from Airbnb, etc., when paid through their system are deposited directly to your bank. No manual initialization is required by HomeAway's system, Air bnb is the same but, you need post the transactions to Escapia (into each guest Folio) and instead of a CC payment, Airbnb appears as as a CASH deposit into your account.

If you need to/want to do your own credit Card Transactions, with limited sign up and no monthly fees, there is an onsite and online payment system through QuickBooks that is easy to set up. The per trx fees are very reasonable and they've improved the time it takes to post to your account. They have the choice to pay by ACH or Credit Card and usually it's in your bank the next day. This works with month long rentals too!

Unless you really need all that fluff or really need the add on features, why not stick to QuickBooks and account for everything?
Simply and automate as much as possible with the tools that are free or inexpensive and work with QuickBooks?

Make things easy on your self!

Let me know if you have any other questions.
I'm curious as to what you've decided or have you made any changes yet in the past few weeks?
 

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