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The OwnerRez Blog

A blog about our thoughts, services, upcoming features and the industry at large.

The OwnerRez Blog

Full PayPal support is here!

You can now give your guests an additional form of payment when accepting quotes or making payments online - PayPal!

Start by adding a new Payment Method to your account.  You'll see a new PayPal option right at the top.

We've made PayPal easy as pie to add to your account.  Instead of copy/pasting API credentials, you can simply login to your PayPal account and link it to OwnerRez.  It literally takes one click after signing into PayPal.

Note: the PayPal account you use must be either Business or Premier type (not Personal).  It is very simple to convert your Personal PayPal account to Business under the Profile & Settings areas of PayPal, or you can sign-up for a new PayPal Business account.

After granting permission in PayPal, you are redirected back to OwnerRez where you can see your linked account and make changes to your settings like Currency and Statement Text.

That's it!  Now, on all your quotes, payments and security deposit forms, PayPal will show as an available payment option.

If you have a credit card or check payment method set up, those payment methods are not affected.  They will still display as available options, same as ever, according to the same rules and settings.  PayPal is simply an additional method that appears next to them.

The Other Types of Transactions

Taking payments isn't the only thing you can do with PayPal.  The guest can submit their security deposit with PayPal and you can issue refunds.

Security deposits work exactly the same way with PayPal that they do with credit cards.  Once reserved, you can view and release the security deposit exactly like you do with credit cards.  You will also get reminder emails about the security deposit exactly like you do with credit cards.  There's no difference to the workflow except that the transaction flows through your PayPal account instead of your credit card gateway/merchant account.

Likewise, refunds for PayPal are the same as credit card refunds.  When you need to send a refund, do the same thing you do now, and the refund will go back to the guest.

Limitations of PayPal

It is important to understand that because of how PayPal works in protecting the guest's card data, there is no way for second payments or security deposits to be scheduled automatically.  The second payment and security deposit have to be manually submitted by the guest - something they are asked to do by the system with a new reminder email template that we just released.  The reminder email should nudge the guest into submitting their payment or security deposit, but it's something you'll want to keep an eye on.

Reports: Compare with previous period, inquiry/booking volume

We've done two big improvements to the reporting section over the past couple of weeks. Reports, data exports, etc. are very important to us, and we try to continuously improve them. If you've got any ideas, or a report that you think would be cool, shoot us an email or post on the forums.

Compare with previous period

A common request is to be able to compare what happened this year with what happened last year, to see what movement was made and in what direction. For example, were bookings up or down, year over year, for a given month?

We've added a new feature that lets you compare periods on every summary report (Bookings, Payments, Booking Stats, Occupancy).

Look for the "Compare With Previous" checkbox near the bottom of the page. This will change the report mode to compare each column with the corresponding column from last year. For example, if you're running bookings by month for a year, you'll end up with something like this:

Notice how Dec 2015 is compared with Dec 2014, etc. You can also switch to showing absolute values vs. relative percentage changes.

Inquiry/booking volume report

We've had the listing sites report for awhile. That's good to get an overall idea of what listing sites are sending the most inquiries, or converting the best, but it doesn't give a good feel of what happens over time, month to month or year over year.

Enter the inquiry/booking volume report. This tracks inquiries or bookings by listing site over time, allowing you to see if listing changes are increasing or decreasing your inquiry volume. This report is also enabled for compare with previous period.

FlipKey inquiries are back, and the inquiry workflow has expanded to include status and resolution

Inquiry parsing for FlipKey/TripAdvisor has been restored

Over the past few weeks, you've probably noticed FlipKey inquiries being sent to you as "Unrecognized email" from OwnerRez.  The parsing/discovery code in our system has been updated and those emails are now, once again, being inserted as proper inquiries into OwnerRez.

What about the guest contact info?

For many users, FlipKey no longer shares the guest contact info (email address and phone number) anymore.  That information is completely locked down behind your FlipKey login. When that occurs, a "MISSING CONTACT INFO" status will appear on the inquiry with resolution options for you to login and copy the guest info out of FlipKey.  We've made the process as fast as possible where you can click a single button to open the inquiry on the FlipKey website directly and copy the guest info back to the OwnerRez inquiry.

New Inquiry statuses and resolution

We are expanding inquiries in the near future and developing a method to retrieve all information from the walled-garden listing sites (FlipKey, Airbnb, etc.).  To that end, we have laid the groundwork for inquiries that have partial information, malformed information, rule violations, etc. so that you have a clearer understanding of the status of the inquiry and the steps you need to take to resolve it and respond.

You will notice that there is now a Status column on the Inquiries grid and a new Resolution section on the overview page of the inquiry.

The Status of the inquiry changes as activity occurs throughout the system.  The Resolution section will always show action buttons relevant to the current status.

Here are the inquiry statuses:

  • Missing Contact Info: The inquiry has no email address or phone number for the guest so there is no way to respond or send a quote until you find that information
  • Missing Info: There is guest contact information, but the inquiry has other missing information (no property, missing departure date, etc.) such that a quote is not possible
  • Unavailable Dates: The requested dates are already taken by one or more other bookings
  • Rule Violation: The dates are available but something about the inquiry violates one or more rules for the property
  • Quotable: Everything (dates, rules, info) is fine for the inquiry but no quotes have been created
  • Quoted: One or more quotes has been created for the inquiry
  • Booked: The inquiry ended up converting into a booking


Reporting: Analyzing your booking data, forecasting, and increasing bookings

At OwnerRez, we track a lot of data about your bookings -- where they come from, when they were made, how many guests were there, how many nights they stayed, etc. We believe that you own your data and should be able to export it at any time, so we provide Excel and CSV exports of all main data elements -- Bookings, Quotes, Inquiries, Properties, etc.

We're taking a step further and providing reporting views for these statistics about your vacation rental properties, analysis that will give you actionable metrics to help increase bookings and increase profit per bookings. This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of posts about how to slice and dice your data to get a look at different perspectives.

Today, I'm going to show off the booking statistics and occupancy reports, particularly the Days in Advance and % Occupied reports. You can find these reports in your account under the Reports tab -- the Bookings statistics and Occupancy reports. Separately these reports are full of good information, but together they can help analyze your current bookings and future bookings to see if your rates are about right, too high, or too low.

The Days in Advance report provides a measure of how many days before the arrival date the booking was booked. It shows the average number of days between booked and arrival. A last minute booking might be 2 or 3 days, while a large planned event might be booked months in advance.

Here's an example report for this year:

Notice the variance between properties in the same month, and between different times of the year. Larger properties tend to book farther in advance, because larger parties have more planning to do and think farther ahead.

Very high days in advance numbers (note those 150-200 days in the example) indicate that your prices might be too low. If people are booking hundreds of days ahead, you're probably the lowest comperable price in the area, so you can increase that price. If its nearing high season and you haven't booked up, you can always discount the rates back down to fill up the calendar.

In this example, the owner would be well served to add a super high season in summer and nudge up the holiday rates.

The % Occupied report shows the percentage of booked nights to not booked nights. You can break this down by different time periods to give an idea of which months or years book more solid than others.

Here's an example report for this year:

This is a pretty typical level of occupancy -- more in the summer on season, less in the winter except holidays. Notice how the same properties with high days in advance from the other report (names removed to protect the guilty) also have high occupancy percentages. This confirms that raising the rates is a good idea.

You can also see that dead winter months are lower (Jan, Feb). This could be a good target for discounts and/or newsletters encouraging repeat guests.

Is the Expedia takeover of HomeAway going to be good or bad for vacation rental owners/managers?

Big news!  HomeAway is now a part of the Expedia family. The official announcement by HomeAway explained that this would be a "good thing" for vacation rental owners and their guests. They anticipate more quality bookings, more travelers, peace of mind and a better value.

But there is a bigger problem here. You the vacation rental owner have to filter through more vacation rental inquires and it can be hard to manage your rentals across multiple sites. What causes the most headache for you - the book now feature or the task of going back and forth with the guests?

Furthermore, do we trust Expedia to understand the vacation rental market enough to address our needs?  Expedia knows the hotel and airfare side of the travel world.  They understand instant bookings where they can set policies for both sides - where have we seen that before (Airbnb!).  This acquisition could easily mean the locking down of guest data on HomeAway even more.

We would like to know what you think.  Is this a "good thing" or do you see more headaches, delays and hidden fees in your future?