Thursday, January 26, 2012

Monitor Searches on Reservation Pages

We've just set up a way for you to monitor activity on your reservation page(s).  Now, whenever a search is made on a reservation page, the system automatically records this information to the Activity section.  We record the dates searched, number of nights, IP address of the person searching, and the reservation page from which the search was conducted.

In the above screenshot you can see searches were made on several different reservation pages.  Clicking on the blue links opens the reservation page.

Because this data could be overwhelming and clutter up the Activity screen we made it so that Availability Search activity is viewed separately from the rest of the automatic activity entries.  To view the Availability Search Activity simply select this as the activity type from the drop down field at the top of the Activity screen.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

New Waiting List & Inquiry Form

You never want to lose a lead, even if you don't have any availability for the dates your prospective guest was searching for.  A newly released feature addresses this issue.  Now when a search is run and you have no units available for the dates searched, a form appears where guests can send an inquiry, or be added to your waiting list.

The text that appears by default in the messages field of the form is editable under the Website Messages section.  Create your message, and then select it as the message to appear in the Reservation Page settings.  Use the codes {{checkin}} and {{checkout}} to include the dates searched in the message.

The message submitted through this new form is sent to your ReservationKey account email and added to the notes bar for the arrival date the prospective guest searched.  Adding the information to the notes bar is especially useful since it ties the request to a specific date.  If you have a cancellation and a room opens up, instead of trying to remember what dates you had an inquiry for, you can see that you have a note for that date already set up with the wait list guest's information. 

Click the orange blocks in the notes bar to view the notes.

This inquiry form now appears whenever no units are available, the page is offline, the dates searched are outside of the booking range, or bookings are disabled for the period searched.  This way you can capture the lead's details even if they are not able to immediately making a booking.

In the calendar search mode we added this form as a link, "Send Inquiry," since the system always shows a calendar.

Like with all system text, you can edit any of the labels on the form using the Custom Text feature.  This way, you could rename the form.  Instead of the default "Add Yourself To Our Waiting List / Send Inquiry" you could do whatever you like, such as "Join Our Mailing List."

If you only want to take inquires through your website, and not use the online booking features, now with this form you can do that too.  Just create a Reservation Page where you've set Online Bookings to be disabled for a big date range.  Then the inquiry form always will show.

If you don't want to use this new feature, it can be hidden by adding the following line to your custom theme:
#inquiryform_div {display:none;}

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Luxurious B&B In San Poncho, Mexico

The last stop on the ReservationKey Mexico tour was at Casa Obelisco in San Poncho, about an hour drive north of Puerto Vallarta.  John and Judi Levens graciously agreed to host me at their luxurious four bedroom bed and breakfast.  They built this villa about ten years ago to be their dream home plus give them something to do in their semi-retirement.  They live on the top floor and the four guestrooms are located on the lower, poolside, level.   As they Levens also ran a Mexican art gallerty, they are experts in the local handicrafts and styles which they used to decorate throughout the villa.  Especially unique is the large flower “obelisco” mosaic they commissioned for the floor of the pool. 

 Of course no visit to a client goes without a review of their use of ReservationKey and how they might better use the system.  In this case, Casa Obelisco is new to ReservationKey so we spent several hours reviewing the main functionality and discussing how to best migrate from their existing paper and Excel spreadsheets over to our program.    They really liked that the program will automate a lot of the email correspondence with their guests.  Also, they liked the automatic emails that can go out prior to and after a guest’s stay, which will enhance their guest’s experience.   Having a web based management program will work especially well in their case since they manage the B&B with another couple, trading off on which months each couple is responsible for operations.  With our real-time web system any of the managers can check in on things from anywhere.  No longer will they need to be physically present in order to review reservations and cash flow.

 In addition to the management features of ReservationKey, the Levens were happy to be able to easily add a booking engine to their website.  Now it will be easy for their guests to check availability and reserve rooms.  Personal contact with guests is important, so they will still include their phone number and email address in case a guest wants to talk to them first, but now the guests have an additional booking option, and can book online 24 hours a day.

Now that the Mexico trip is over, we will be back in full gear finishing up a few new credit card integration options, as well as a number of other interesting features.  We also are welcoming the many new users that have recently signed up with our service, and helping them get up and running.  Lots of former Webervations users (especially Webervations 2.0) are finding us to be a great replacement for that system, as it is being discontinued.   And many Webervations users that are on 1.0/Pro are also switching over since they are looking for a more modern system, and also one where they don’t need both a “desktop” backend system and web reservation system.  With ReservationKey, we offer a complete package so only one system is needed.  Most B&B’s are budget conscious, but still want a system that can handle the majority of their needs.  These users often feel like they are being forced to upgrade to systems that are much more expensive and often aren’t always exactly what they need.  So they are glad to find us, and we are happy to welcome them on board!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

San Poncho, Mexico - Best Clients Ever

In my previous career I worked as an attorney, and what a contrast in clients compared to the people I now work with. Maybe it is because they are in the hospitality industry, but my clients now are the best. Take Jane and Earl, proprietors of Roberto's Bungalows in San Poncho, Mexico. We had never met before, but we immediately hit it off. From our stroll down to the beach to watch the sunset, then dinner at Puerco Azul, and another dinner the next night at their home, they are the definition of hospitable.

Their charming ways also pays off in their business where they guests love them and they have an 80% occupancy rate, which is really good for this area. I enjoyed spending the morning with Jane showing her some of the more advanced features of ReservationKey. She actually wasn't aware of the occupancy report, so we took a look at that, discovering how to run a report for several months at time in order to get a nice overview of guest activity. We also built a few custom fields - one to track how guests found their B&B and another for internal use, to leave notes for the maid which show up on the housekeeping report. And we tweaked one of the income reports to add a column for the memo section of the payments area.

My Tour de Mexico is almost over, but not before I visit one more B&B, voted the most romantic B&B in the world. More on that in the next post. Meanwhile, I am still pinching myself as I still can't believe how lucky I am to be able to work with such great people and work from such great places.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Punta de Mita, Mexico - The Utmost in Relaxation

Next up on my client visit itinerary was spending a few days at the incredibly relaxing Punta de Mita area, at the outer edge of Banderas Bay, just north of Puerto Vallarta. I was hosted by ReservationKey user Hotel la Quinta del Sol, by far the most charming boutique hotel in the area. In an area with lots cookie cutter condo buildings, staying at a more typical Mexican hotel is a real bonus.
Although Punta de Mita is meant for relaxing and surfing, thanks to great internet connections I kept busy working with new accounts and tweaking features on the system. Spending mornings with Larissa, the hotel manager was a real treat as I was able to get a very first hand look at how she uses ReservationKey to streamline her hotel operations. There is no replacement for meeting with clients in person to get feedback and ideas for new features. Also I enjoyed showing Larissa some tricks and some features she wasn't aware of. And a sneak preview at a few new things in the works...

I also was fortunate to meet some people with condos in a very nice building across from the hotel. Terrific pool and ocean views and a new ReservationKey user!

Monday, January 16, 2012

On The Road, in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico

One of the best parts about running ReservationKey is all the great clients we have. And it doesn't get much better than being able to meet them in person.

This past week I've been lucky enough to be able to work from Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, while being hosted by the PVkid, Jeff Musto - He also happens to manage rentals for 45 condos in the Puerto Vallarta area, and is an avid user and promoter of ReservationKey. With ReservationKey he has been able to cut his average time spent per reservation from 30 minutes to 5 minutes. It is amazing how much time can be saved by automating as much of the routine tasks as possible.
Jeff, the PVkid, owns a few units in Plaza Mar, a top notch condo building, and manages quite a few units for other owners there. This is a choice location, right on the beach, with everything you could need for a great vacation, with even a nice pool way up on the roof. My timing was perfect for attending the opening of a new luxury condo project in old town Vallarta. With Jeff, and his wife, we enjoyed touring some new units (for sale at some pretty darn good prices).
The beaches surrounding Puerto Vallarta are great. It is amazing the variety you can find in a short distance. On one end of town there are isolated coves, and tiny boutique hotels. In the middle of town are huge hotels, and then on the other end things start to get smaller.
With it being only a few hours flight from the USA, the dollar being stronger than it has in years, amazingly friendly people, and a great climate, I can see why lots of people from up north move here and vacation here year after year. What a great spot! And lucky me to be able to be here on a business trip.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Automatically Reduce Minimum Stays

We've just added a new feature where minimum stay requirements can be automatically reduced if they cannot be met.  For example, you have a two night minimum stay set for Friday and Saturday reservations.  Your room is already booked for Saturday and Sunday, which leaves a single Friday available.  With this new option enabled, the system would allow the Friday night stay since it is not possible to book Friday and Saturday (since Saturday was already reserved). 

Note, this only looks at availability past the requested days.  This means, in the above example, that even if Thursday was available, the system would not require a two night minimum of Thursday and Friday.  The system does not check to see if dates before the first requested date are available when deciding whether to reduce the minimum stay requirement.  This might be something we look at expanding to in the future, but for now we are starting with just looking forward for this feature.

This feature is disabled by default.  To enable it, go to Properties Tab, Rate Plans, and then edit your plan and a a rate rule.  In the rate rule screen you will find the following setting, which you should set to Yes, and save changes.

 A Further Example

Here we have a five night minimum stay set for all of January.  This guest wants to start their reservation on January 17.  Since January 20 is reserved, the maximum the guest could reserve is three nights, so the system adjusts to require a 3 night stay instead of a 5 night minimum stay.

The system does not still require the five night minimum stay even though there is space available prior to this guest's request start date. 

Have an opinion as to whether this is the right way to handle this situation?  Leave a comment or email us. 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Converting to ReservationKey - Importing Data

It seems this year a lot of people have made new year resolutions to switch reservation systems.  Activity in the new accounts department is definitely picking up.  One question we often are asked is whether it is possible to import data from a prior reservation system.  No matter what reservation system you used, if you can get your data into an Excel file, with one line per reservation then we can import it. 

In the Excel file there needs to be a column for room name so that we can match the room from your prior system to rooms that you have set up in ReservationKey.  Under the Settings Tab, Import Data, we provide complete instructions on how the Excel file should be formatted.  Those instructions are pasted below.

We also can import guest data only if you do not have reservation data.  We have separate instructions on how to format your file for this. 

Due to increased maintenance overhead and storage limitations caused by adding a lot of extra data into our database, we ask users to limit their data to a few thousand records. 

Finally, a bit off topic, but can't resist, here is a screenshot of an integration we built recently for a new user: