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The OwnerRez Blog

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

The OwnerRez Blog

Integration with PriceLabs

We're very excited to announce our integration with PriceLabs! We've been hard at work on features to support this integration -- like the new Spot Rates concept that lets you "paint on top" of seasonal rates to set rates for specific days.

To learn more and set up the integration, follow the instructions in our PriceLabs Integration Guide.

PriceLabs is a powerful revenue management & dynamic pricing solution for vacation and short-term rentals. A data-driven approach, automation rules, and customizations to manage pricing and minimum-stay restrictions help vacation rentals increase revenues and save them hours in the process.

The customization options layer on top of market data help you automate things like cascading minimum stays (e.g., lower min-stay as a date gets closer, reduce min-stay to fill gaps), last minute discounts, orphan gap discount/premiums while still giving you good control over your pricing strategy. Learn more in this short video demo!

Introducing OwnerRez Channels

You may have wondered why it's been so quiet around here recently. We've been hard at work on a huge new feature: direct channel integration!

We've had two-way iCal sync and inquiry parsing for years, which provides the basic availability updates and inquiry quoting and auto response.

Direct channel integration has so much more potential: updating channels with rates, listing description, amenities, photos, receiving bookings with full financial and guest information, two way messaging with guests... and the list goes on from there.

In typical OwnerRez fashion, we evaluated the third party channel manager options and ended up developing our own direct channel sync engine which powers all of these integrations. There are four reasons we chose to build it ourselves instead of teaming up with a channel manager partner to save time:

  1. We directly control and are responsible for the integration with each channel. This means that we can deliver our trademark power and reliability rather than having to play telephone through a third party to get to the channel.
  2. Channel managers are EXPENSIVE! Some charge 3-5% of the gross booking total on top of the already large commissions that each channel charges. As vacation rental owners ourselves, we know how steep of a price that is. They justify it by saying, "just build it into your rates", but that means your booking volumes go down. Building direct integrations takes longer but lets us price on a simple per-property flat rate (see below).
  3. Many channels require a minimum of 5 properties to access any direct integration. For smaller folks, we've developed a channel bridge tool that links into the same channel sync engine but bypasses the 5 property limit.
  4. The promise of being on "hundreds" of channels rings hollow. The key is to be on the big 5 or 10 channels in your area and the rest are a distraction. More channels means more work and more things that can go wrong -- even with a channel manager you still end up running around doing little one-off fixes... and you end up being limited in pricing and policy decisions to what is supported by the lowest common denominator channel.

You've seen a lot of "coming soon" language on OwnerRez this year, and we recently centralized the direct and synced channels into a main Channels area. All of that is currently free while we're in beta. Synced channels (iCal and inquiry parsing) will always be included with the base OwnerRez subscription. As of 1 December, direct and channel bridge channel integrations will become a premium feature, which will cost $9.99/mo for the first two properties and $1/mo for each property after that.

Here's what the premium channels feature will include as of 1 December:

  • Booking.com rates and availability push and booking and credit card processing integration
  • TripAdvisor listing content (description, photos, amenities), rates and availability push, booking import, and inquiry import
  • CanadaStays listing content, rates and availability push and booking import
  • VRBO/HomeAway channel bridge booking download with full charges, payments, and guest contact info
  • Airbnb channel bridge booking download with full charges, payments, and guest info

As a bonus for our customers, whether you've new or have been with us for years (those of you around since 2009, thanks for making this all possible!) we're waving the $9.99 fee for the first year for anyone who signs up by 1 December. You'll just pay a flat $1/mo per property for premium channels until December 2019.

We've got great plans for more channels and more channel related feature throughout the rest of the year and into 2019.

As vacation rental owners ourselves we're salivating over the possiblities and can't wait to get all of this stuff done! The current roadmap starts with booking.com content push, then into VRBO/HomeAway and Airbnb content push (both via channel bridge for everyone and direct integrations for 5+ property users). After that we'll branch out into additional channels like Expedia and Agoda, and then fully integrate seamless messaging through all sources (channel direct, SMS, email, phone, etc).

OwnerRez co-sponsoring the Santa Cruz Vacation Rental Bootcamp by VR Mastered

Santa Cruz Vacation Rental Bootcamp

Don't miss this OwnerRez-sponsored opportunity!

Our friends Tyann Marcink and Alanna Schroeder teach the VR Mastered #vacationrentalbootcamp only once a year. This year it is in Santa Cruz, California in October.

Here's a little note from Tyann and Alanna:

Are you new?
Seasoned?
Uninspired?

Looking for a weekend getaway with like-minded individuals, or simply ready to make your short-term rental business soar?

It's time to level up your vacation rental and short-term rental business!

Join us in Santa Cruz this October for the highly anticipated exclusive #vacationrentalbootcamp.

5 days
4 experts
1 amazing location

When we say EXCLUSIVE, we mean it!

Seats are limited to 20 attendees so that each and every one of you gets valuable hands-on instruction that is not possible at large events.

Boot camp is learning AND doing, a laptop and your attention are required!

Boot camp is not for the complacent host, owner, or manager, satisfied right where they are.

Boot camp will stretch your limits of knowledge, inundating you with ideas, skills, and processes that will one day become second nature to your workflow.

We will cover:

  • Social media
  • Photography
  • Videography
  • Graphic design
  • Best practices
  • Workflow
  • Guest experience
  • Hospitality skills
  • Headlines and descriptions
  • Email newsletters
  • Facebook pages
  • Facebook ads
  • Instagram
  • And much more

The four experts are names you have seen everywhere:

  • Alanna Schroeder of The Distinguished Guest
  • Tyann Marcink of Marcink Designs (and The Bank Haus)
  • Conrad O'Connell of Build Up Bookings
  • Jessica Vozel of Guest Hook

See the full agenda on VRMastered.com

VR Mastered Santa Cruz

Dates:
October 4-8, 2018

Location:
Paradox Hotel
Santa Cruz, California

Price includes instruction, several meals, flash drive of templates and goodies, hands-on help, and more.

Does not include transportation, lodging, some meals, and the optional tour. We do have special pre-negotiated room rates for VR Mastered attendees at the host hotel.

Pack your flip flops and sunglasses - we will see you soon!

Alanna & Tyann
VR Mastered | #vacationrentalbootcamp
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Trigger Enhancements and Forecasting

We just released a new update for Triggers that adds several powerful features and lays the groundwork for new criteria. Here's what's new:

  • Payment Status criteria
  • Send before triggers the first time criteria matches
  • Send create triggers on VRBO reservation import
  • Trigger forecast
  • Renter Agreement Signed trigger event
  • Exclude Listing Site/Property/Season criteria

Payment Status criteria

We've had a Paid in Full trigger event for awhile, and that works well for some situations. However, there were a lot of situations where you wanted to send the email on a certain date but only if the booking was paid in full. There were other cases where the booking got flagged as paid in full but wasn't -- like some listing site transaction imports.

The new Payment Status criteria handles those situations by allowing you to create a days before arrival trigger but only send it if the booking matches the paid in full criteria.

Combined with the next item -- send before triggers the first time criteria matches -- you can make a property details email that will go out a certain number of days before arrival, but only if the booking is paid in full. And if the booking were to be paid in full after that time it would send later rather than fizzling out.

Definitions:

  • Zero Booking Total: the total of the booking charges is $0. This can happen for bookings where you're not tracking an amount in OwnerRez, such as ones from listing sites, donated bookings, friends and family, etc. Using this criteria you can target those booking as well as the paid in full bookings.
  • Zero Paid: There is an amount due on the booking, but no payments.
  • Partially Paid: There is an amount due on the booking and some payments, but it's not paid in full.
  • Paid in Full: The booking has charges and they have been fully paid.

Send before triggers the first time criteria matches

In the past, date based triggers have always only executed once, on the day they are due. If they don't match the criteria for whatever reason on that day, or the booking is a last minute booking that was made after that day, the trigger is never sent.

We added a new option to run the first time criteria matches on before date events. This is the new default. This option will send the first time that the criteria matches between the initial day and the event day (i.e. arrival or departure). It'll only send once, but will have a chance to send after the initial day.

For example, if you have a trigger with this option enabled, for a welcome email template set to go out 14 days before arrival and a booking was made 10 days before arrival, the trigger would be sent the next day after the booking was made (9 days before arrival). Without this option, the trigger would never be sent because 14 days before arrival criteria would never match the booking.

Another example combined with the Payment Status criteria above. With a trigger set for Payment Status: Paid In Full, to go out 20 days before arrival, and send the first time the criteria matches. If the guest misses the last payment and doesn't make it until 15 days before arrival, that trigger would now be sent 14 days before arrival rather than fizzling out and never being sent.

Send create triggers on HomeAway/VRBO reservation import

Airbnb includes a proxy email address on their iCal feed, which our Calendar Import handles. This lets you set up a trigger for a request for contact info and renter agreement signature that goes out automatically.

HomeAway/VRBO does not include the email address in their iCal feed. Instead, we have an Import Bookings from HomeAway/VRBO function under Tools > Import/Export that populates the guest contact info.

We just added an option to send create triggers and/or booking confirmation emails when importing that file. You could always do that by hand before, but this will automatically send those emails when the guest email address is populated during the reservation import process.

Trigger Forecast

You've always been able to see the status of triggers on a booking by booking basis to see what's been sent, what will be sent later, and what can't be sent because criteria doesn't match, it was skipped, etc. But there was never a way to get a bird's eye view on what triggers were doing in the system and the overall emails that would be sent.

That changes today. While developing these changes, we started to build an internal debugging tool to check and make sure that all triggers were configured properly. We realized that it would be very useful for everyone, so we polished it up and added it to this release! To access it, go to Settings > Email Triggers and click the Forecast button.

This opens up the Forecast grid, which shows all triggers that may go out in future, when they will go out, or why they won't go out. You can click into any booking, template, or trigger to make changes.

You use the Batch button to do bulk skips or un-skips of triggers. The Filter button will winnow down the list to a specific template, trigger, property etc. and only view triggers sent for those specific options.

Renter Agreement Signed trigger event

We've had a trigger on renter agreement signed for a few months, but haven't announced it yet. This dovetails nicely with the option to send create triggers on HomeAway/VRBO reservation import. You can now create a request for contact info and renter agreement signature, send that out on booking create for Airbnb and HomeAway/VRBO, then create an additional booking completed template and send it out when the renter agreement has actually been signed.

Exclude Listing Site/Property/Season criteria

We've had these criteria on triggers for awhile, but there were only two options: All or Specific. Many times you want to target everything but a couple of listing sites or properties. So we split the criteria options for all of these to "All", "Everything but" and "Only". That lets you target everything you used to (All is the same as the old All, Only is the same as the old Specific). The new "Everything but" lets you target everything but a few listing sites, properties, seasons, etc.

This is currently available on Triggers and Taxes but will be applied to other items like Rates and Surcharges over time as well.

More Gallimaufry

We're now well into Fall, with the nights longer and the mornings crisper. Leaves are changing to brilliant colors, or perhaps already have. The perfect time for our monthly Gallimaufry.

Gallimaufry (n): A collection or hodgepodge of things with no apparent unifying theme.

Previous gallimaufries: June, July/August, September.

We've already announced Vacation Rental Tools, with TripAdvisor reviews download and import reviews from Excel. If you missed it, go read up on that and try it out!

New listing sites

Quote overlay for Ribbon

We added an overlay for the ribbon view that lets you view all quotes or open quotes. This gives you a visual indication of what periods are in demand and helps inform discounts, minimum stay rules etc.

Numbers & Imports

Building on our experience with the Airbnb transaction history import, we've added two new imports for HomeAway/VRBO: reservations and payment data. No longer will you have to copy/paste contact info or add numbers by hand. Instead, grab the export from HomeAway/VRBO, upload it into OwnerRez and everything will be merged and updated.

We also fleshed out the financial section for this so you can track payment fees and guest/host fees and roll up totals on reports. If you're a property manager, you can also track fees as non commissionable amounts and expense them back to the owner.

 

PM & Portal Access

We revamped the owner statements and portal access with a new Owner Revenue view and permission that shows commission and owner relevant amounts rather than full guest amounts. We also fleshed out the other permissions, added capabilities to move/delete blocked off time, and added header/footer theme templates and PDF download for statements.

  • Add owner revenue statement view with full commission tracking
  • Add owner statement header/footer templates (Theming section)
  • Add owner statement PDF download button
  • Add owner statement merge fields
  • Put block reason/title on popover behind portal access permissions
  • Add separate financial permission to give levels of access to view financial info on overview and statements
  • Honor add notes permission for creating blocks
  • Add move/delete block functionality on portal with permission

iCal import

  • Add option for importing only bookings. Default airbnb to true.
  • Add option for warn on cancel, always cancel if not
  • Add option for setting booking pending flag on create
  • Add option for skipping create triggers
  • Allow IncludePastBookings on edit
  • Don't send email on past bookings
  • Store related booking ids on calendar sync issue and display links in email
  • Collect emails on sync and only send if no exception
  • Reactivate canceled bookings instead of adding new if uid and dates match

Widgets & Hosted Sites

  • Add option on hosted single home page to show overview
  • Add option on hosted single photos page to show slider
  • Minify widget resources
  • Add message directing guest to send an inquiry when rates aren't found on the booking widget
  • Show errors immediately for quote without occupancy
  • Don't show holiday circle on booked multi month calendar days
  • Don't autopopulate departure date on book widget
  • Fix issue with zoomed in browser cutting off widget sizing

Everything else...

  • Add agreement selection to quote rules to select specific renter agreement
  • Allow checkout with no payment without going pending
  • Clarify how confirmation required works
  • Add form messages for checkout custom fields
  • Overhaul booking overview page
  • Add listing site criteria to tax
  • Add min nights column on seasons grid
  • Show existing custom field values on agreement sign
  • Expand multiline custom fields on checkout
  • Use standard date format for inquiry email subjects
  • Add French synonyms on inquiry parser
  • Add booking Created, Arrival and Departure as date-based fields to surcharge criteria
  • Add paid in full booking trigger event
  • Add nights summary field to booking summary report
  • Add option for showing canceled bookings on booking detail
  • Add cleaning date to stay reports
  • Fix total paid column on booking export, add refunded column
  • Add phone, state, country to search
  • Search all phones/emails/addresses on a guest not just the first
  • Show all phone/email on search results
  • Wire in booked type for OwnerRez iCal feeds
  • Link call log from call center dialer
  • Embed search in call center dialer on call connect
  • Show proper description on outgoing call dialog
What is OwnerRez?

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.