Today we are going to talk about what I call the Airbnb/disrupter coming to the property management software landscape we all have been waiting for. How this company has managed to fly under the radar is a mystery.
What I am going to show you is innovation the PMS world has never seen before. What is so exciting about this innovation is how it applies itself to the property owner with a single property to property managers with thousands of properties.
Before we dive into this we need to dispel a few myths.
Myth number one. “Enterprise software”
I was sitting in a room at VRMA in New Orleans in /2019 when someone was trying to identify where enterprise software starts. It was a random number picked out of the air starting at five hundred properties. Keystone award winning software of the future (Track) says enterprise software starts at fifty properties which would explain their fifty minimum property count. Our data shows the need for enterprise software starts with as little as six properties.
Myth number two. “Old Legacy Software”
The dreaded label people love to throw around “old legacy software” loosely defined as a software being between nine and nineteen years old. Okay we have TravelNet Solutions (a 20 year old award winning software), Streamline (a fifteen year old software — no other software has scored higher than Streamline in our algorithm), Avantio (a 10 year old software), and Maxxton (a twenty year old software). Try and find four better softwares. Old legacy software has nothing to do with the age of the software it has everything to do with lack of innovation.
Now let’s talk about the new innovative software called “LightMaker” or LMPM who refers to their software as the Tesla of vacation rental software. I could not think of a more applicable tag line.
Let’s start with looking at the innovation of building beautiful functioning WordPress websites yourself that a developer would charge thousands of dollars to create and take two to four weeks to complete. The only other platform I have seen come close to this is Vacation Soup website builder which is not tied to a PMS but deserves honourable mention.
With LMPM, it is as easy as picking from various themes, dragging and dropping a logo, choosing varies widgets from a dropdown menu, drag and drop widgets from a different menu, simply fill in the header and footer fields, enter your description, create headers, sub-headers, descriptions, add rooms, drag in images in any size which the platform resizes, add matterport, videos, enter rates and rate rules straight from the properties page, add custom fields, add amenities in minutes and pick your distribution channels from the properties page. Building a world class website yourself has never been easier. LMPM gave me access to their platform and I uploaded properties in minutes:
What LightMaker calls awesome trip manager or complex trips is innovation I have not seen before. Let’s say you have three or four properties or several hundred properties. A guest contacts you and wants to book several properties for their family or friends but they all have different needs such as accommodation types, amenities needed, different excursions and more. With LMPM, it’s as simple as inputting the desired dates, selecting available properties and this is where we see innovation starts flexing is muscles. Next you start creating options. House one is optionA, house two is option B and house three is option C. Now you start adding products, services and experiences to each option. Option A has airport pick, a walking tour and grocery delivery, Option B has jet ski rentals, a kayak tour and sunset tour. Option C has a boat rental, scuba diving lessons, bicycle rentals and a pet fee. Now click one button to send the quote the guest and the guests clicks one button and goes directly to the booking page.
LightMaker has one of the most user friendly CRM’s I have seen. Easy to set up with your own branding, fifteen preloaded professional looking templates easy to add and more customized templates. In the data we have collected, “automation” was the one feature that people desired the most. One of the attributes LightMaker likes to emphasize is do more with less. This is where it really happens which LMPM call running your business. With the CRM you can literally automate any component or process in the system. Preloaded default automations include inquiry response, booking response, PDF’s, E-signatures, quote response, owner booking response, follow ups, PDF invoice response, PDF itinerary response, review response, many more and a unified inbox.
The LMPM dashboard is, in one view, about as informative as I have found (displaying an occupancy report, sales performance by month, current year, past year, unconfirmed trips, need to follow up, payments due, un-responded emails, work orders) and the booking status view is beautiful. Small tabs that tell you everything about the reservation view the reservation, if it’s a back to back clean, payment status, rental agreement received, cleaning complete time of day and check the guest in all of this in one view all of this without even opening the reservation.
Adrian Barrett the CEO and developer of LMPM explained he comes from a banking background and it shows because their Trust Accounting Module might the most impressive module of the entire platform. What LMPM calls second to none, the QuickBooks of online trust accounting. Chart of accounts, journal entries, payments due & transactions, processing, owner statements, last night recognition, pro-rated recognition, live recognition (which I have never seen before where you pay the owner when the guest checks out), tax reports and accounts payable. Filters using the most granular data. Payments, transactions, where the money is coming from, where the money is going to, journal entries, payments transactions, LMPM claims it is impossible to make a double entry in their system. When I talk to people about LMPM they all want to talk the accounting module.
The owner portal is clean, with real time data and granular. Grafts, charts, statistics, details, bookings, charges against the owner, rates displayed on various channels, booking revenue, display invoices, monthly tape chart displaying owner booking, guest bookings, hold dates, booking source, clean and granular owner statements. They call it more of a banking app than an owner portal.
Direction channel distribution is Vrbo and Airbnb. All other channel distribution goes through Rentals United and RedAwning. Present integrations include Key Data Dashboard, BeHome247, Operto, VRScheduler and Safely.
LightMaker breaks down work orders/tasks into two separate categories one being the work and the second being the work order automation (yes at the top of everyone’s wish list — automation). The latter reflects the strength of their CRM. When a booking is generated eight to ten automations have already been created. Additional work orders such as maintenance work orders are a simple as clicking new and it is already assigned to the appropriate personal set up in the CRM.
Constant feedback we receive is PMS (and tech in general) is complicated and intimidating. LMPM may be the gateway to being a tech enabled property owner/manager. I have never seen a PMS easier to set up, populate and understand.
In summary I believe LightMakers innovative approach is a true reflection of the vertical the vacation rental sector is headed. We have witnessed tremendous innovation from smart home automation, cleaning/service, revenue management, channel management and more. The outcome? LMPM will push everyone to be better.
The review above is solely about software. However, I believe the people behind the software are very important in an emerging industry like ours. With Lightmaker, as with any software that requires a big investment, research the leadership in order to make your own judgements.