You probably thought you were done with vocab words after high school! 

As a short-term rental host, there may be lots of terms floating around that have you scratching your head. We’ve done the digging, and created a vacation rental glossary of terms that you’ll see throughout your hosting experience.

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today! 


Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU): the “mother-in-law” suite or basement apartment you use for short-term rentals that are attached to your primary residence.

Accounting: hosts need to keep track of their expenses and income for tax purposes. Some property management software may offer this function.

AirCover: Airbnb AirCover provides hosts with up to $1 million damage protection and up to $1 million liability protection.

Arbitrage: renting out space as a short-term rental that you yourself rent rather than own.

Automation: the ability to manage your Airbnb remotely by automating your communications, cleaning, check-in, and more.


Back-to-back booking: a guest checking out and another guest checking in on the same day..

Booking: a guest has reserved your rental. Also referred to as a “Reservation”.

Booking confirmation: the notification a guest receives from the host after the booking request has been confirmed. Usually just a message thanking them for booking and letting them know they will receive more details closer to their stay.

Booking request: a potential guest has requested to stay at your property. A host can automate approval or approve manually. 


Cancellation fee: the fee a guest will pay if they cancel their booking after the established deadline. 

Cancellation policy: the set of rules the host has established in the event of a guest cancellation. Examples include a full refund if canceled in 24 hours, a 50% refund if canceled a week before, etc.

Categories: Airbnb Categories are a set of special categories created by Airbnb to help hosts better present their properties

Channel: the websites where hosts can list their properties. Such as Airbnb, Vrbo, and 

Channel manager: a third-party tool that manages your listings and communications across all channels in one place. (That’s Host Tools!)

ChatGPT: ChatGPT is a powerful language processing tool. In human terms, that means it's a robot that can talk to your short-term rental guests as if they were a real person.

Check-up message: a message the host sends the day after a guest’s arrival to see how the guest is enjoying the property and if they need anything. This communication can be automated.

Cleaning fee: a one-time fee the host charges to cover the cleaning of the unit upon a guest’s departure. Generally between $50-$150 per stay.

Cleaning management: hiring a cleaning crew and automating scheduling.

Co-Host: a person that the host knows or hired to help manage the listing.

Comparative market analysis (CMA): a report on similar homes in the area that is used to determine the value of the home in question.

Contract: the rental agreement between the host and guest.


Deposit: An amount of money collected from the guest to cover the cost of any damages to the property. This money is refunded once the guest leaves your property in good condition. serve as a refundable deposit in the event of guest damage to the property.

Direct booking: A guest books a vacation rental directly through the property manager or host rather than a third-party site like Airbnb or Vrbo. Great for both hosts and guests to save on fees!

Double booking: When a property is accidentally booked by separate guests for the same nights. This can happen when properties are not synced across channels.

Dynamic pricing: Changing a property’s nightly pricing to match demand. For example, a property may become more expensive per night if there is a popular event in the area bringing in more tourists than usual. Or, lowering prices for low-season.


Guest Experience: an open-ended term derived from the hospitality industry. Generally, the guest experience begins at booking, through their stay, and communications they receive past check-out. 


Home Owners Association (HOA): a group that governs an area of the property that is part of a complex or community.

Host Fees: a host fee is a percentage taken out of a booking from third-party sites that a rental is listed on. It is essentially a service charge. (Info on Vrbo and Airbnb host fees).

House manual: a step-by-step guide to the house. Items include wifi information, how to take out the trash, washer/dry usage, etc.

House rules: a set of rules determined by the host to let guests know what is and isn’t allowed on the property. The rules will explain the fines and actions taken if these rules are broken. Example: no parties or unregistered guests on the property.


iCal: the standard platform for sharing calendar information

Inquiry: a message from a potential guest with questions about the property.

Instant book: allows guests to book a property instantly rather than wait for host approval.


Keyless entry: access to the property without the use of a physical key. A keypad or smart lock is generally used for self-check-in.


Length of Stay (LOS) pricing: a pricing strategy that encourages guests to book longer stays. Example: a 10% nightly discount for a 7-day stay.

Listing: the profile of the rental property. This generally includes photos, prices, availability, and location information.

Lockbox: a secure case outside of the rental property that contains the entrance keys for self-check-in. Lockboxes are accessible by code.

Long-term rental: stays that are longer than 30+ days.Usually rented by the month instead of the week or day.

Low season: the time of year where travel is less common in the area. Hosts generally lower their nightly rates to attract travelers that are in the area. Also known as off-peak season.


Market research: active research about the habits of a customer base and what is available to rent in a certain area.

Minimum stay: the least amount of nights a guest can book a property for. I.e: 2-night minimum stay.

Multi-calendar: a single calendar that contains all the bookings of a listing across different channels. This avoids double-booking.

Multi-channel: Advertising and synching your property details across multiple platforms (i.e. Airbnb, vrbo, and so it is as exposed to as many guests as possible. 

Medium-term rental: a property that rents over 30 days but less than 365 days.


Noise detection: a system that can sense noise levels and alert the host if it exceeds a predetermined volume. 


Off-peak season: the time of year where travel is less common in the area. Hosts generally lower their nightly rates to attract travelers that are in the area. Also known as low-season.

Orphan days: a period when you just have a few empty nights in between bookings. With minimum night requirements, sometimes there may be a few days in between week-long bookings. 

Owner’s closet: this is where you store extra toiletries, cooking essentials, garbage bags, or personal items, etc. Some hosts choose to keep this as a locked room.

Owners portal: for owners who outsource their property management, this portal serves as a dashboard for easy viewing of how your property is doing. 


Party prevention devices: generally devices that monitor noise levels. Some devices can also monitor temperature, movement, and humidity without compromising the privacy of your guests.

Pet-fee and deposit: an additional amount of money to the nightly rate to cover pets. Pet fees are non-refundable, but deposits can be returned upon departure if there is no damage to the property from the pet.

Pet friendly: a property that accepts guests with pets for an additional fee.

PMS: the shorthand for the property management system. It’s software, like Host Tools, that synchronizes listing calendars.

Pre-approval: a way for hosts to let guests know a listing is available when guests send an inquiry.

Price per guest: a pricing rule based on the number of guests in the reservation.

Property manager: a person hired by the host to manage the day-to-day tasks of the listing.


Quick replies: Quick replies are pre-written responses that you can easily insert into your messages to guests.


Regulations: rules that are specific to the location of the listing. I.e: how many rental days per year is considered a short-term rental.

Repeat guests: guests who loved your property and have returned for another visit.

Return on Investment (ROI): how much money you make from your property, after expenses. 

Reviews: a guest will leave public feedback on a listing for other potential guests to see when browsing listings. Hosts also have the opportunity to review guests. This keeps the short-term rental community safe and accountable.

Room type: the specific type of property a host is renting. Examples include renting a private room in a home, shared room, or an entire property. 


Screening: a process used by hosts and channels to pre-check a guest's background before approving a rental. Airbnb’s screening process includes verifying identity through a valid I.D.

Self-check-in: a check-in process where the guest can enter the unit on their own. This generally requires a keyless entry.

Short-term-rental: a property, generally rented for vacations, that is rented less than 30 days at a time.

Short-term rental insurance: Separate insurance from home insurance that specifically covers properties rented out as short-term rentals.

Smart lock: a WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled lock that allows for keyless entry

Smart lock hub: a tool that links your smart locks to the internet. A hub will also let you automate your lock. 

Split Stays: Airbnb Split Stays is an innovative feature that allows travelers to enjoy a 14-day or longer trip and book multiple Airbnbs

Superhost: a term coined by Airbnb that signifies a superior guest experience and excellent hospitality at a listing.


Taxes: income earned from your short-term rental is taxable under Form 1040 unless the non-taxable rental exception applies.

Templates: pre-written responses to common guest questions.


Vacation rental: renting out a property for short-term stays (under 30 days).

Value-added items: features that are unique to the space, and can allow you to charge more. i.e.: hot tub, basketball court, kids toys, pool, etc.


Weekend pricing: nightly rates that are specific to the weekend. These rates are generally higher due to an increase in demand.

Welcome book or binder: a house manual. Welcome guests to the space and provide answers to common questions and local recommendations.

Welcome letter: a brief letter introducing your guests to the property.

So there you have it! A helpful list of words you’ll hear in the travel biz. 

Host Tools provides an automated, unified calendar for short-term rental hosts, allowing you to seamlessly list on all major channels. Start your free trial today! 

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