Sometimes, you need to verify that a booking is okay - perhaps you manage properties on behalf of other owners - before you make it permanent in the system, but you still want to take the booking, get a signed renter agreement and a verified credit card ahead of time. Well, now you can!
Pending Bookings with Credit Card Verification
At both the property and quote level, you can apply settings to make a booking "require confirmation" which makes it pending after it has been submitted. The guest still has to sign the renter agreement and give a credit card, and there's a very simple Confirm button that finishes the process once you're ready.
3-Calendar View for your Website
We've also released a great new widget for your website that shows a single property's availability across three small calendars at a time so that guests can get a faster sense of availability with less clicking. This is also more consistent with how the large listing sites (VRBO, FlipKey) show calendar data.
Few other changes we slipped into this release:
SF Couple Leaves For Burning Man And Their Hired Housesitter Airbnb's Their Apartment
Yikes! Do you know what or who is actually staying at your home or vacation rental when you are not there? A San Francisco couple might have gotten more than they bargained for by letting a professional house sitter watch their home. They put their apartment on AirB&B! They should at least gotten a cut of the profit.
Which brings us to our next topic, do your really know who is staying at your rental? Or better yet, what they are doing? Some homeowners use referrals, credit checks or only rent to friends and family. But these steps can be counterproductive, time consuming and just plain annoying.
So how do you insure that the person you are renting to says who they are? Cameras? Random “checks”. Maybe a larger security deposit is key. What do you think?
You can now select and customize holiday settings in OwnerRez! Go to Settings > Holidays to get started.
Holiday Lists for non-US Countries
Many users do not live in or manage vacation rentals in the United States. You can now subscribe to holiday lists from other countries other than the United States. We have prefilled holiday lists available for most of the countries that our users operate within, but if you need a different country just let us know.
It's entirely possible that our official lists of national holidays still won't cover the holidays you'd like to observe. We've got you covered. You can also enter your own holiday names, and the occurrence dates, directly - any holiday and any date you want.
Sometimes holidays occur on weekends. When that happens, it is customary to observe the holiday on Friday or Monday. Do you want your guests to be charged for the day-of, the observance day, or both days? It's up to you! We have settings for that.
Few other changes we slipped into this release:
We just released an update for Legal Agreements!
New Home for Legal Agreements
Field Code Consistency
The old legal agreements used an obsolete set of field codes. It was confusing to a lot of users why the full range of field codes (the ones you use in email templates) was not available for legal agreements, and why they used a different code pattern, so we switched that over to using the new normal set.
This also means you can use custom field codes, based on your global field definitions, like you do with email templates.
Upload MS Word Documents
Many users have legal agreements that they created in MS Word back in the day. Or perhaps you prefer the MS Word experience for writing/editing? Either way, you can now upload MS Word documents directly and the editor will convert them over with high fidelity.
While doing this upgrade, we took the opportunity to upgrade the legal agreements editor to something new. We think you'll like it. It has more features, is faster and more powerful, but it doesn't get in your way while editing. It also shrinks down to mobile/tablet size cleanly.
Let me start by introducing myself. I am Damon Stoddard. I co-own a vacation rental property on beautiful Lake Chelan in Washington State. My wife and I visited Lake Chelan in 2011 and by June of 2013 we owned a brand new vacation rental called Marina's Edge. When we opened in 2013 we knew nothing about vacation rentals. I am professionally trained as a Six Sigma Master Black Belt (simply stated, I have built my career on continuously improving the companies I work for through the implementation of systems and the analysis of data). It turns out these skills have really helped our vacation rental business. In our third year of business we are building a second building!
In the book the eMyth Revisited, Michael Gerber encourages everyone to "Work on their business, not in their business". It was this thought process that led me to OwnerReservations, and today I couldn't be happier with this vacation rental software system. I approached the purchase of OwnerReservations with the intent of using it as our booking SYSTEM (Saves You Stress, Time, Energy, and Money).
In this blog I'm going to talk about how OwnerReservations has helped us focus on continuously improving our customers' experience. We use an approach called Net Promoter Score (NPS) to gather customer feedback.
The email triggering mechanism in OwnerReservations allows us to automatically send a survey out to every customer. In this survey we ask 4 simple questions, compute a Net Promoter Score, and get feedback about what people like about Marina's Edge and how people would like us to improve.
We use the data from these surveys to continuously improve our customer experience. For example, in 2013 the feedback indicated three major areas that we needed to improve on (parking was confusing and guests didn't feel there was adequate room around the pool to sun bathe in, and guests mentioned the rooms were letting too much light in). We spent $50 and put up some parking signs, we also did a major landscaping improvement, adding a very large grassy area for people to enjoy. Finally, we added blackout cloth to our windows to darken the rooms. As a result, our Net Promoter Score in 2014 was 77%. For comparison purposes, a recent benchmark study showed Net Promoter scores ranging from -15% to 70% across multiple industries.
We also take the verbatims from this feedback and use a tool called "Wordle" to help us visualize the themes. Here is an example of the output from Wordle summarizing the words people use to describe Marina's Edge.
OwnerReservations makes it easy to automatically collect feedback from our customers. Tools like Net Promoter and Wordle make it easy to glean insights from the data. Marina's Edge will always use these insights to continuously improve our customers' experience while staying with us! If you would like to understand more about how we've configured OwnerReservations to collect this data feel free to email me using the link above.
I'll also be writing a few more blogs on how we are using the data and analytics from OwnerReservations to grow our business.
We are an online booking service for vacation rental property that helps managers and owners save time, create quotes and bookings faster, look professional and keep detailed records without needing an accountant or staff.