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.