by Sam Westcott - October 21, 2016
Right on the heels of the big HomeAway downtime, this morning we have a bunch more major outages around the internet. This time, it's far larger and part of a coordinated DDoS attack.
Major sites like Twitter, Spotify, Soundcloud, Airbnb and many others are down. Some of them are coming back but are limited in what they show. For instance, Twitter pages work, sort of, but images and video content are down.
OwnerRez is not affected by this. We use a distributed DNS provider with very solid uptime that actively works to watch for, and eliminate, DDoS attacks. This is not to say that we are impenetrable - no one is - but this particular attack did not affect our provider.
That being said, please bear with us as our email and payment systems do use other 3rd parties who, themselves, may have been affected. For instance, this morning our email provider went down as part of this and we had to quickly change our email routing to compensate until they come back online. Because of this you may have seen some "failed to deliver" emails between 7-8:30 am Eastern Time. If so, we apologize. You will need to send those emails again. We are also looking at putting in secondary "try again" email systems that monitor for this specific type of issue and try a secondary provider.
by Sam Westcott - October 19, 2016
UPDATE: HomeAway's systems just came back up after about a full hour of being down, but please read the below. The point is still well made.
The entire HomeAway empire - all their websites, payment systems, administrative panels - are down right now, and they've been down for a long time. You can't get to any of it.
This is why it's really REALLY good to not put all your eggs in one advertising/payment basket. Particularly when that company isn't a software company but an advertising company.
Long unannounced down-times like this are unacceptable for a company of HomeAway's size and position. Even if it were announced, it's too long to be acceptable. (And we're quite sure this wasn't planned.) HomeAway has almost 2,000 employees of which many dozens or hundreds are engineers. They should be prepared for contingencies with offsite servers ready to go online and read-only snapshots prepared.
Here at OwnerRez, we have watched HomeAway flounder, from a engineering perspective, for a long time. They have asked the entire vacation rental industry to put their trust (and all your properties, money, guests) into a system that is not supported by the type of software/engineering mindset that such a system needs.
Just ask yourself...
If you're using their "double blind" proxy email address, and you have a guest about to check-in, how do you communicate with that guest right this second or even an hour from now? What if that guest is trying to communicate with you??
Always use independent software to manage your vacation rentals, guests and payments. Always spread your advertising across different listing sites. And above all else, build your own website and brand and collect guest information (contact information) so that you can market and communicate with them directly.
by Sam Westcott - October 17, 2016
Hi everyone, quick little Monday update...
You can now create bookings and quotes to your heart's content without an email address.
We've always required the email address because a lot of the power of OwnerRez is in the automation and communication that occurs between you and your guests - triggers, payment follow-up etc.
With the increase in calendar syncing, the email address quickly became a hard gating item to creating bookings. So we tweaked a bunch of things so that you create bookings or quotes without entering an email address. This also allowed us to import bookings from HomeAway/VRBO as full bookings and not blocked-off time.
That being said, the quote acceptance and Book Now widget still do require the guest to enter an email address, and email addresses are required any time a credit card payment is processed. That doesn't gum up the booking process though since you can record payments other ways.
And of course, if you want to send email to the guest from OwnerRez (triggers? receipts?) you have to enter an email address when sending the email. To make that part easier, we've added a little "Save email address" checkbox on the email editor so that when you get an email address, it's that much easier to save for the future.
Additionally, we are working on a lot of updates to further ease the transition between imported bookings, from listing sites, and OwnerRez. We hope to bring in additional name, contact info, party size and charges from the emails that are sent to you by the listing site.
by Sam Westcott - October 10, 2016
You can now specify exactly how each of your rates pro-rates in relation to the total number of nights in a booking. Before, pro-ration would simply be in every direction and it would only be used if the number of nights fit neatly inside the current season. You can now be more choosy about how pro-ration works.
And pro-ration now considers all of the nights in the booking even if a season line is crossed.
Suppose a guest wants 7 nights but it crosses the Spring/Summer season line. Previously, our rate engine would select 3 nights on one side and 4 nights on the other, neither side getting rated for a week even though it was in fact a week. Now, it will use pro-ration to smartly match rates against the entire booking at large intead of within each season split.
You can also specify a specific amount to use for the extra nights in a period when pro-rate is currently in use.
Suppose that you want every night after a week to be a flat $225. Instead of worrying if your other nightly rates will kick in at the right amount, or using a discount for 8+ nights, you can simply set 225 as your extra pro-rate amount.
When the season hits that pro-rate behavior, it will use that special extra night amount for every night thereafter.
Whenever we update our rate engine, we do a large amount of testing so as to make sure that we didn't upset the apple cart. Our rate engine is at the heart of our system and impacts almost every operation. Please let us know if this change negatively impacted your rates or produced results that you don't understand. Hit the widgets on your website and make sure you're getting what you want to see.
by Sam Westcott - October 3, 2016
Hi everyone! As usual we've been designing and working on code a lot more than we've been sharing information or writing blog posts. We tend to do that!
But I wanted to take a second to breathe and mention something pretty cool that we just put out there.
The next time you look at your ribbon calendar, you'll notice that a little green button appears as you hover over the empty cells.
Give that a little click, and bam - up pops a quick quote box with a bunch of stuff prefilled for you including the rates and any rules or warnings that might prevent the guest from booking.
You can edit the quick quote and instantly see the rate and rules change.
Just hit the ESC key on your keyboard to make the quick quote box disappear or X out of it.
There's also a new Quick Quote button at the top if you want to open it from there.
We're experimenting with making the ribbon and month views more dynamic. You'll notice that the property names on the right side of the ribbon view are clickable now as well. Our goal is to add a lot more functionality to these views to that you can quickly view what you want without having to click around so much.
What do you think?