Friday, November 22, 2013

Enhancement: Reservations Tab Saves Search Settings

Recently a few users posted requests that that Reservations Tab save their search criteria. This would make it easier to do a search for a group of reservations, open one, and then be able to click Reservations again and go back to exactly the same search results.

We've just added this capability to the Reservations Tab. Now, all of the fields should save for when you return to the Reservations Tab. This includes all the options under the Advanced Search settings, plus From/To Dates, Date Type, and Search terms.

Click on the reservation to view it, and then whenever you click Reservations again, your search will be saved.

Also, a new feature in Reservations is the ability to hide reservations that have been set to a status which doesn't block the calendar (such as Cancelled). Click Show Advanced Search to see this option.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

TripAdvisor TripConnect Certification Complete

We are pleased to announce that ReservationKey has been certified by TripAdvisor as a Plus Partner. Here is the message we recently received from TripAdvisor:

"Great news, everything runs fine and you are now certified and your customers will be able to use the TripConnect within 48 hours."

This means that any of our clients that also have listings on TripAdvisor will have the option to have guests click directly to their booking page on ReservationKey, potential avoiding having to pay commissions that might result if the guest clicks through to one of the big Online Travel Agents (OTA) that the property is also listed on.

While working with TripAdvisor in the certification process there were a few things we had to change from how we originally envisioned this connection would work. Instead of being able to send guests to the hotel's website, we have to send them directly to a ReservationKey booking page, with the dates they guest searched in TripAdvisor pre-filled when they open the ReservationKey booking page. This actually creates some interesting options, since ReservationKey users could set up a booking page specifically tailored to TripAdvisor visitors. Or you can just direct TripAdvisor traffic to your primary Reservation Page in ReservationKey.

Also, since we have to show availability to TripAdvisor which matches that on the Reservation Page that TripAdvisor traffic will be sent to, it isn't necessary for users to select which units to make available to TripAdvisor. The inventory being set to TripAdvisor will be those units which are selected to show on the Reservation Page that is being used with our TripConnect link.

For our users that want to use this TripAdvisor connection, we recommend that you go to the Settings Tab, External Connections and add TripAdvisor. If you already did this, please double check your settings there, and make sure your correct ReservationKey ReservationPage is selected.

Note: If you want to add multiple properties to TripConnect in ReservationKey, this is no problem, but each property must have its own Booking Page. TripAdvisor does not allow multiple properties to all point to the same booking page.

We look forward to feedback from users about how well this works, how many reservations they are receiving, etc. If there seems to be strong demand for this, in the future we may also work on integrating with TripAdvisor's Review Express API.

Advice on Vacation Rental Email Correspondence

ReservationKey is proud to have Matt of fame as one of our long time users. Matt does a great job with his blog of helping vacation rental owners market their properties with many creative methods and common sense advice.

The 14 Do's and Don'ts of Vacation Rental Email Correspondence

Because many vacation rental owners and managers are new to hospitality, I have noticed that it can be easy for us to overlook the tenants of hospitable and professional email correspondence.

While many of these do's and don'ts may very well fall into the larger category of "good email etiquette," I wanted to outline some of the most influential habits that I'm seeing in vacation rental emails.

Embrace the good, break the bad, and get the absolute MOST out of your hard-earned inquiries.


Write in short sentences: If you've ever noticed in my newsletter emails, short sentences are always more engaging than long, wordy paragraphs. Mark Twain once said, "if I had more time, I'd have written a shorter letter," which is to say, be thoughtful with your words and consolidate them to as few as are necessary.

Proper spacing: Hand in hand with short sentences, remember to use spaces in-between your words. A poorly written vacation rental email looks cramped and messily thrown together, whereas an effective one is simple, short, and well-spaced.

Season's greetings: Always remember to start your email with a kind greetings of "Hello" or "Hi." Any email that jumps right into the content body without a proper salutation can be misconstrued as unprofessional and even offensive.

Offer a call to action: Do include a call to action in most of your vacation rental emails. This could be a way to book, a phone number to call, or a Paypal account to deposit in. The point is, if you don't offer a concrete action for them to perform, they won't perform any.

Embrace the P.S.: As carefully explained in Two Little Letters That Squeeze Inquiries Into Bookings, the P.S. portion of an email can be the most effective place to generate bookings. Make use of it properly and your email has a giant advantage.

Include a perfect signature: Remember that you're operating a business and any cordial business email should have a clean, informative signature with your phone number, website, and perhaps Facebook or reviews page for engagement. Any vacation rental email without a signature just reeks of amateurishness.


Ignore emails that don't fit calendar: In my book, the only vacation rental emails you should be ignoring are offensive ones. If a guest's inquiry doesn't correspond with your calendar, as demonstrated in VR Referrals: The Forgotten Revenue, learn to leverage them elsewhere (or politely request them back in the future). You've paid for these leads and ignoring them makes no sense.

Use various fonts: No matter how creative or funky you think you are, please use one normal font throughout all your vacation rental emails. The moment you start introducing different fonts, you devalue your position as the professional host.

Use various colors: Hand in hand with fonts, all vacation rental emails should be in black text. Don't try to get cute with reds and greens. It doesn't look professional.

Use obviously canned templates: Canned messages can be used effectively in vacation rental marketing, but overtly obvious templates that sound generic and impersonal are a surefire way to turn away interested guests.

Use ALL CAPS: It's very rare a case when using all capital letters in a vacation rental email works to your advantage. Whether you intend it or not, caps come off as SHOUTING. And no one likes shouting, especially when booking a vacation.

Forget introduction: It can be easy to dive right into your response of a vacation rental inquiry, before remembering to start with a friendly salutation. "Firstly, thanks so much for your interest in our rental!" is all it takes.

Be wordy: A sure way to turn off potential renters is to write a long essay in your email body. Like a retail storefront, nothing should be in the email that doesn't absolutely have to be there. Eliminate everything you possibly can. Consolidate your content. And enjoy more concentrated results.

Hit "reply" using an ugly subject line: If you're receiving leads from listing sites or elsewhere, be sure that the subject line of your email is appropriate (and ideally juicy) to encourage more opens. Believe it or not, many vacation rental emails go unopened simply because the subject line is either spammy or just unrecognizable.

Friday, November 8, 2013

New Feature: Filter by Amenities in Online Reservation Pages

It is now possible to give your prospective guests the option to filter their search results by amenities which have been linked to your rooms/units. Whether or not you want to use this is up to you. For many users it may be better to just leave the search form as simple as possible (just the checkin/out dates) and add this additional information in the room/unit descriptions. Putting your amenity information in your descriptions may be simpler because it allows guests to quickly scan all your availability and compare prices for rooms/units with different amenities.

But, if you feel it is important that guests be able to filter by amenities along with their search, here is how to set this up.

1. Add Your Amenities
- go to Settings Tab, Lists
- scroll to the bottom of the page and and find the Amenities section, and add all possible amenities that are found throughout your rooms/units

2. Link Amenities to Rooms/Units
- go to Properties Tab, and edit each Room/Unit and Fraction and select which amenities apply

3. Turn on Amenities in Reservation Page(s)
- go to Website Tab, Reservations pages
- edit each of your public booking pages that you want guests to be able to search by amenities and set "Show Amenities" to YES

1. Availability results will show only units that match ALL of the amenities searched for.
2. If no amenities are selected, all available units will show.
3. This new amenities feature works in the multiple unit pages (both Availability Search and Calendar Page modes) and in hotel style pages. It is not enabled for single unit pages and for the search single unit pages page.
4. Future Enhancement: we likely will enhance our search widget code so that users can select amenities on search forms embedded in your website (that they complete prior to reaching the booking page).

Monday, November 4, 2013

New Feature: Create Bookmarks, Notes in ReservationKey

Now, keep all your links and other notes associated with your business, right in ReservationKey. This is a convenient way of organizing your links, and having a place to store information that you often need to access.

This feature was originally envisioned as a way to bookmark links you often visit, with a notes section for password reminders, etc. But this area could also be useful for holding important information that isn't necessarily a website URL

To open the Notes area, click the reminder icon in the top header of ReservationKey,and then click Notes.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

New Feature: iCal Import and Export Links

For those who use ReservationKey to manage vacation rentals, we are happy to announce that we now have full connectivity with external systems using iCal links. It is possible to import reservations into ReservationKey by adding the link from an external system to ReservationKey, and it is also possible for external systems to update their calendars if you provide the system with your iCal link from ReservationKey for each of your units. This means that ReservationKey can be updated automatically when a reservation is added to VRBO, or when a reservation is added to ReservationKey, sites such as FlipKey and AirBnB can be automatically updated.

Both Import and Export links are access from the Properties Settings, Rooms/Units, and click the link at the bottom right of the page.


Add as many links as you need for each property. For example, if you list your property on both AirBnB and VRBO you can have ReservationKey import reservations from both those systems.
- If any of the days of a reservation to be imported is already booked in ReservationKey, that reservation will not be imported.
- We will run the import process nightly, so reservations will import once per day (we may run this process several times per day in the future).
- Create a generic status to use for the imported reservations, such as "Import", or if you want to track different sources, create a status for each source, such as "VRBO" and "FlipKey".


Each unit you have entered into ReservationKey has a unique export link. Just copy this link into all the external systems that you want to update from ReservationKey. Reservation data is generated dynamically, so this information is provided to the external systems in real time.

For example, to import data into FlipKey:

And now your FlipKey calendar is updated:

Monday, October 28, 2013

Set up Reservationkey's TripAdvisor TripConnect link

Although our connection to TripConnect is not completely finished, we have completed the part where you can create the connection between ReservationKey and TripConnect.

For those that are planning on using TripConnect, it would be great if you could now set up this connection in ReservationKey. As we continue to build and test this integration, it would be very helpful to have some real users already signed up for the system. Since we haven't completely finished this project, signing up in ReservationKey doesn't mean your listing will start appear in TripConnect right now, but once we finish the integration it will, and you won't need to do anything further.

NOTE: this project really is only for bed and breakfasts, hotels, motels, etc., at the time (not for vacation rentals).

To set up the connection follow these steps.

1. Go to Settings Tab, External Connections and click Add Connection. Select TripAdvisor TripConnect. Click Save Changes.

2. Now the connection has been added, but you still need to add the property(ies) you want to link. Click Enabled Properties. Click Add Property. Select a property to add.

3. You can now edit the data which will will be sent to TripAdvisor. Also, you can set which rooms/fractions that are part of the selected property that you want to make available to TripAdvisor. We have pre-filled many of the fields based on data found elsewhere in ReservationKey. But feel free to change these as needed. This will only change the data to be sent to TripAdvisor, not for all of ReservationKey. Then click Save Changes at the bottom of the page.

If you have more properties, just repeat steps 2 and 3.

Thank you for setting up this connection. Once our link to TripConnect is live, your property link should appear automatically. You shouldn't need to do anything further in order on our end.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Enhancement: Balance shows in reservation info box; information about IE Compatibility View

Thanks to user suggestions (yet again, thanks!), we've added outstanding balance information to the informational box that appears when hover over a reservation on the internal calendar.

Also, we've fixed a bug with this box that appeared with newer Internet Explorer browsers. Previously Compatibility View had to be turned on, but now this is no longer necessary. In fact, we recommend switching Compatibility View to OFF, since it causes ReservationKey to not display exactly as intended.

To set Compatibility View to OFF, just click the icon in the address bar, as seen here:

If you leave Compatibility View turned on, here is how the header looks:

Here is how it is supposed to look (Compatibility View turned OFF):

New Feature: Reminders

Now you can use ReservationKey to track your daily to-do list, by using our new reminder feature. Reminders can be created from within the Reservation Details page, in which case they will be linked to a reservation, or they can be created on the fly, without a link to a reservation.


To access the reminder list, click the new icon in the header. The icon shows the number of reminders due for the current day that have not yet been marked as completed.

Clicking the reminder icon opens the reminder window, which shows the daily reminder (or select a different date range). Click the check mark to mark the reminder as completed (the check mark changes to green).

Click the reservation number or guest name to open the reservation, or click the reminder description to edit or delete the reminder.

Reminders can also be created from with the Reservation Details page. Just click the Add link in the new Reminders section.

Reminders can be marked as completed by clicking the check mark, which will turn it green. Hover over green check marks to see notes about when the reminder was completed, and which user marked it as completed.

Future Enhancements

We likely will add some enhancements to the reminder system. Here are a few ideas we are thinking about:
- have the system set up reminders automatically based on what items for sale are added to a reservation
- be able to filter the reminder list by user (such as only show mine, show all users in our account)
- restrict users to only seeing their reminders

Monday, October 21, 2013

Enhancement: Hover over stars to see description

Now it is possible to add descriptions to the star icons, and when you hover over the star with the mouse, the description will appear as the image title.

To set the descriptions, go to Settings, Preferences:

Then, when you hover over the star, on both the internal calendar, and also in the Reservation Details page, the description will appear.

Saturday, October 19, 2013

New Feature: {{roomurl}}

Thanks to a user request from the forum, we have created a new merge code for the email templates. The code is {{roomurl}} which will pull the URL for the room/unit. This feature will likely be most useful for property manager users, where the "rooms" are actually houses. The idea here is that you can included a link dynamically to the unit's website in your confirmation emails. Here is what the email could look like:

To add the url to your room/unit, go to the Properties Tab, Rooms/Unit, edit, and scroll to the bottom, and expand the Property Manager section, and add your URL:

Then, go to Website tab, Email Templates, edit, and add the code {{roomurl}} where you want the link to the website to appear in the email.

NOTE: if multiple rooms are reserved, the all URLs will appear, separated by spaces; the room/unit name will be used as the URL title; if there is no title entered, the URL address will appear as the link title.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Updates to User Community Forum

We've been busy adding a few new features to the user forum. You've probably already noticed the new, more prominent, link in the system header, but here are a few more features you might not have seen.

It is now possible to search all conversations.

A powerful feature, is that we now have hash tags to help sort conversations. Just click on a tag to run a search for all messages marked with the same tag. For example, to see all messages that have been tagged as a new feature request just click #newfeature . When creating a new conversation, we give the option to easily click whichever tag applies to your message. You also can add your own tags by just writing them in the text of the message, such as #announcement for example. We plan to build one additional feature, where you can follow tags, which will create convenient links to these tags next to the Forum search box.

Email Notification Link
We send a notification email to the original poster whenever a new response is posted. To view the response, and respond, just click the link in the notification email. Logging into ReservationKey is not necessary. And also, this viewer formats nicely for mobile devices.

Larger Font
We've increased the font size and changed the font face of messages in order to improve readability.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

New User Forum

We are happy to announce that our new internal user forum has been launched. This is a project that has been on our list of things to do for a long time, and now that we are approaching 1000 users, it seemed that the time is ripe for creating an internal forum.

It is our hope that this forum will allow our users to benefit from questions asked by other users, that users can talk directly to each other, and that users can feel free to help other users by responding to posts.

We (ReservationKey Support) will of course also be closely monitoring all the forum activity and will respond as well. It is still possible to message Support directly, but we may move the conversation to the forum if it seems to be something that other users may benefit from. It is our goal to move as much support traffic as possible to the forum and internal messaging system. This way the entire Reservation Community will benefit from the correspondence.

Of course we plan to introduce a number of additional features to the forum (such as search and conversation tagging), but we think the basic feature set is developed to the point where the forum can now be of real use.

Quick Walk Through

- click All to see all public forum posts, any private conversations you were a part of, plus any ReservationKey Announcements
- click Only Mine to see only conversations that you started or were a part of
- click Announcements to see only announcements from ReservationKey

Private messages will show the lock icon next to the title. We may move private messages to the forum at our discretion.

Click the conversation topic to open read the full message, read the responses, and to post your own response.

Friday, September 27, 2013

New Events Bar on Top of Internal Calendar

Thanks to suggestions from a number of users, we have added a new bar at the top of the internal calendar. The idea with this bar is that it is a place to keep track of special events, holidays, or any other notes that you want to make especially obvious. Unlike the notes bar (black line just below the events bar), the title of your event will show in this new events bar.

Here is an example of what the events bar looks like:

To see the event details, just click the title:

To create a new event, first click open dates on the bar, and then click Add Event:

Then add a title and notes, as necessary, select a color, and click Save:

To delete an event, click the event title, click Edit, and then click Delete in the lower right corner of the edit window.

By default, we have enabled this feature. If you prefer not to use it, the events bar can be turned off under Settings tab, Preferences:

Thursday, September 19, 2013

New Bulk Printing Option

Now there is a way to quickly print templates for many reservations at one time. This feature can be used for printing registration forms for all arriving guests for the day, week, etc. First, just create your registration form (or whatever you want to print per reservation) in the Website Tab, Email Templates section.

There are two ways of accessing the bulk printing option.

Print From Calendar

One way, is by clicking the button at the bottom right corner of the internal Availability Calendar.

When using this option, you can select which property to pull reservations from (in case you are managing multiple properties with ReservationKey), what date range to search, which template to print, and a few other options. You also can set whether to select reservations by Arrival, Departure, or Booking date.

Print From Reservations Page

This option allows you to select exactly which reservations you want to print. Just check the boxes for the reservations you want to print, and then click Print Selected.

Since you have already selected which reservations to print, we don't show the property and date range options in the print settings box. Just select which template to print.

If you choose to print up to ten reservations at a time, during printing page breaks will automatically be added between each reservation.