Get Direct Bookings With Host Tools: Introducing the New Houfy Integration

Host Tools and Houfy-integration

I’m thrilled to announce that Host Tools users will now be able to take direct bookings through our new integration with Houfy.

This will bring you a host of benefits including:

  • The ability to create a vacation rental website in a simple way

  • It will enable you to start accepting commission-free online bookings today

  • And it will ensure you prevent double bookings through synchronization of your calendars across all channels

  • Use all the features that Host Tools offers for direct bookings, including automating your messages and reviews, setting intelligent prices and syncing them to your channels, and automating your check-ins via smart locks.

This is an opportunity that you don’t want to miss out on. Once you’ve connected Houfy with Host Tools, you’ll have a new channel where you can advertise your vacation rentals with zero commission fees. And you can keep your availability calendars in sync across all your channels so you never get a double booking.

Keep reading to find out more about the new Host Tools - Houfy integration and why direct bookings should be part of every short term rental property manager’s strategy.

Host Tools is an affordable, intuitive tool that allows hosts to sync their calendars across Airbnb, Vrbo, and Houfy. Try it now – it’s free for 30 days.

What is Houfy?

Host Tools and Houfy integration


Houfy is a platform that connects guests with property managers and owners. It enhances the experience of listing and booking vacation rentals by cutting out the middleman. On Houfy, there are:

  • No commission fees. It’s free for both hosts and guests.

  • No communication restrictions. Members are free to communicate with each other outside the Houfy platform. 

Houfy does not act as a broker or a travel agent: as a result, everything is in the hands of its members, from contracts and payments to communication. 

Furthermore, Houfy is a “market network” which means that it brings together the elements of a marketplace and a social network. This unique combination of business models is what differentiates Houfy from other vacation rental websites.

While marketplaces like Airbnb simply aggregate demand, Houfy creates a real connection between hosts and guests. This way, Houfy is able to maintain higher user retention rates and engagement levels.

In contrast to sites like Airbnb, Houfy aims to elevate the individual property manager’s reputation and direct guest loyalty toward them instead of the Houfy brand. This allows hosts to establish meaningful relationships with guests that drive long-term business benefits.

And here’s the best part: by embedding your Houfy listing into your vacation rental website, you can take advantage of all the features that Houfy offers and start accepting commission-free direct bookings.

Once you’ve embedded Houfy into your website, all you need to do is connect Houfy to Host Tools and our channel manager will keep your availability calendars in sync across all your channels. 

We’ll get into how all this works later. But first, let’s look at why you should be aiming for direct bookings in the first place:

Why direct bookings should be a part of your short-term rental marketing strategy

As a property manager, relying on one or two booking sites for all your reservations is risky.

Here are a few reasons why:

  • Sites like Airbnb use algorithms to rank listings in their search results – similar to how Google ranks web pages. And those algorithms are always subject to change. For example, if Airbnb decides to modify its algorithm overnight, your listings could suddenly slide down in search results – which leads to decreased visibility and fewer bookings. 

  • Booking sites are also free to change their commission fees whenever they see fit. So, when the platform that’s your main source of bookings decides to increase its rates by a large margin, you could end up with less money in your pocket (unless you add a markup to your nightly rates). For example, Airbnb host fees have recently increased for many property managers worldwide as the company started rolling out its host-only fee structure.

  • Last but not least, booking sites are businesses too – and they can go bust or lose their market share at any point. The short-term rental industry is extremely competitive and booking sites are constantly vying for the attention of travelers. So what happens when your platform of choice loses out to a competitor?

Considering these factors, it’s important for property managers of any size who want to build a sustainable marketing strategy to choose a multi-channel distribution strategy for vacation rentals. And a pillar of that strategy should be your vacation rental website where travelers can make direct bookings.

The benefits of direct bookings

The most obvious benefit of direct bookings is that they are commission-free, which means more money in your pocket. But direct bookings also:

  • Give you more independence and control. You don’t have to rely on other businesses (like Airbnb, Vrbo, or Booking.com) whose interests may not always align with yours.

  • Allow you to build brand awareness and loyalty. You get to tell the story around your business and encourage guests to come back to you and refer their friends to you instead of a booking site like Airbnb.

  • Enable you to get more bookings by offering better deals. Since you’re not paying commissions, you can set your prices lower than you would on a booking site and attract travelers who shop around for the best deals. 

And now, let’s go through the steps you need to take so you can start raking in commission-free direct bookings with Houfy and Host Tools:

Start getting direct bookings with Houfy and Host Tools

1. Build a vacation rental website

The number one prerequisite for getting direct bookings is having a vacation rental website. 

There are several ways to build a website. You can use a website builder tool like WordPress or Wix. Or you can hire a development team to build a custom website for you. 

If you want to get your website off the ground as quickly as possible, we recommend the following process:

  • Use a website builder tool to create a website.

  • Choose a simple, customizable template.

  • Embed your Houfy listing into your website.

At this point, all you really need is a domain. You can choose any template you like – it doesn’t even need to have specific capabilities like an availability calendar and a booking engine. You will get access to all these features once you integrate your Houfy listing.

You can simplify the process even more by talking to Houfy and asking them to create a website for you. Houfy charges $59 per year for a self-hosted website and $99 per year for a website hosted by Houfy. If that sounds like a good option, check out a few samples of websites Houfy has created

Example of a Houfy listing on the owner’s vacation rental website

Example of a Houfy listing on the owner’s vacation rental website

2. Create a listing on Houfy

Creating a listing on Houfy takes only a few minutes.

There are two ways to do it:

  • Import an existing listing from Airbnb or Vrbo. For this, you just need to copy your listing’s URL and paste it into Houfy. The import tool will add the entire listing to Houfy in about 10 seconds, except for the calendar and rates, which you will need to set up in Houfy.

  • Create a new listing manually. Simply click ‘Add listing’ on the Houfy website and enter your property details. 

Once you’ve added a listing, make sure to go through this checklist to complete your Houfy listing. For example, you need to set up your rates, select a booking cut-off date, import your reviews, etc.

Don’t forget about setting up online payments. To start accepting direct bookings, you need to get set up with a secure online payment provider. Houfy supports Stripe and Square. Here’s a step-by-step guide to setting up your payments on Houfy

For online payment to work, your listing needs to be verified by Houfy. You can do this either by providing Houfy with a link to an existing listing on Airbnb, Vrbo, Booking.com, Expedia, or Tripadvisor, or your latest utility bill. 

3. Embed your Houfy listing into your vacation rental website

Once you have a vacation rental website and a Houfy listing, you can embed your entire Houfy listing into your website. 

Your listing will then appear on your website exactly as it does on Houfy, including your property description, calendar, reviews, pricing, etc. All guests need to do is click the “Book now” button and they can place a reservation. 

This way, you can use Houfy’s booking engine and accept direct bookings on your website. 

Embedding your Houfy listing into your website isn’t difficult – you can ask a developer to do it for you but it’s simple enough to do it yourself.

You can find step-by-step instructions for embedding your Houfy listing into your website here.

Example of a Houfy listing on the owner’s vacation rental website

4. Connect Houfy to Host Tools 

To complete the process, you need to take one last, very important step. And that is to synchronize your Houfy calendar with your calendars on other bookings sites by connecting Houfy to the Host Tools channel manager. 

This step is crucial because if your calendars aren’t in sync, you risk getting double bookings – when two guests book your rental for the same period of time on two different platforms. 

To ensure that guests can always see your up-to-date availability in real-time and avoid double bookings, you need to use a channel manager.

If you connect Houfy to Host Tools, you’ll never have to worry about overbookings. The Host Tools channel manager will automatically update your calendars across all your channels as soon as you receive a new reservation.

Host Tools has direct API integrations with Airbnb, Vrbo, and Houfy, which allow for instant calendar synchronization with no delay. You can also add other channels via iCal links – however, these may take a couple of hours to update. 

Once the connection between Houfy and Host Tools is complete, you’ll have a new channel where you can take direct bookings without worrying about getting overbooked. 

Furthermore, you’ll be able to use all of Host Tools’ suite of features for your direct bookings, including:

  • Automating your messages to guests and cleaners

  • Automating your reviews 

  • Automating your check-ins using smart locks

  • Setting intelligent prices and syncing them to your channels 

Host Tools has all the tools you need to incorporate direct bookings into your strategy and efficiently manage your rentals. Get started now

Host Tools is an affordable, intuitive tool that allows hosts to sync their calendars across Airbnb, Vrbo, and Houfy. Try it now – it’s free for 30 days.

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