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The OwnerRez Blog

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

The OwnerRez Blog

Rates, tables everywhere!

Folks have been asking for a rates widget for a long, long time. Now it is finally here. Go into Settings > Widgets (under the Integrations section). Click "Create Widget" and pick "Rates (Single Property)" at the bottom of the menu. Voila:

This is based on rates we added in other locations during the last release. First, we added rates (and other rollup info based on your listing data) inside each property on the info page:

We also added a rates table to hosted websites:


Initially, this shows rates only -- no surcharges, taxes, addons etc. We will be adding those in future.

If there's anything else you'd like to see in the rates widget, let us know!

Add-Ons are here! (Also known as "Optional Surcharges")

Hey everyone, been awhile since we've chatted!  We've been pushing out release after release, working with users on quality-of-life enhancements all over the app, as well as continuing to develop some of our big upcoming changes.  However, I wanted to take a quick second to show something that a lot of users have asked for: Add-Ons (sometimes called "optional surcharges").  This is something you're going to want to take a look at.

Let's get right to the fun part of it, and then I'll back up and show how the linkage works under the hood.

Imagine that you've sent a quote to a guest (or they came through your Book Now widget on your website).  You want them to be able to "add on" some optional thing - pool heat, linen service, flowers, whatever.  Now you can.  Here's a live quote I just created:

(click images for full-size view)

Next to each of those Add-Ons, you can place a "What is this?" link.  When clicked, the Add-On expands to show a large rich-text explanation.

In the following picture, I've just clicked "What is this?" link next to the Bounce House Add-On.

Not only can you include a rich-text explanation with picture and formatting, but you can also insert field codes.

Field codes allow you to merge in information about your account or property so that the Add-On explanation is customized to talk about the current property the guest is looking at.

Notice the property name "Acme Retreat" in this explanation.  That's coming from a field code which changes the output based on which quote the guest is looking at.

Pretty cool, right?  I know!

Now how does this thing work?

At the moment, we've placed Add-Ons in the Surcharges area and used an "Optional" flag on the Surcharge to denote that it's an Add-On.  We will be creating a separate settings area for Add-Ons soon, but for now it lives as an "Optional" Surcharge.

So head over to Settings > Surcharges and create a new Surcharge.  Set the Applied field to Optional.  You'll notice an Explanation field appear with a rich-text editor.  The Explanation field is optional.  If you don't enter anything, the "What is this?" link won't be shown to guests.

Some items are self explanatory and don't require an explanation.  Others, like pricier options, should get an explanation with pictures and formatting so that you can draw the guest in.

Use the Property criteria to decide which properties get the Add-On, and that's pretty much it.  At the moment, the Seasons and Bookings criteria do not affect Add-Ons.  Only the Property criteria determines whether the Add-On will be displayed.

Charge Linkage

There's another important part of this, and that's how surcharges are now linked to charges.  Previously, there was no strict linkage between surcharges and charges.  When a surcharge was entered into a quote or booking's charges, only the description and amount were entered.  There was no way of knowing which bookings had which surcharges.

We've changed that.  Surcharges are now similar to Taxes in that you can see them in the charges grid directly, select the one you want and it creates linkage that can be reported on later.

If all that sounds confusing, take a look at this picture.  Notice that instead of just "Surcharge" in the drop-down, you can now see a specific list of surcharges.

When saving a surcharge, the charges grid now makes sure that the row is linked, under the covers, with your list of surcharges.

Why is this important?  This might sound like just a bunch of technical mumbo-jumbo, but it's actually quite important.  As we continue iterating on Add-Ons, and other charge types, it's important that you know which bookings have paid for which surcharges.  Reporting and fulfillment will require it.  Imagine if there was no way of knowing "how many guests have rented bounce houses this month?".  It would also mean no way of triggering off that logic.  If a guest rents a bounce house, you might want a special trigger email sent to your staff so that they know to get it ready.

Happy February, everyone!

Logos and Themes and Booking Files, oh my!

We added a merge field for property image a few months back. Since then, we've been getting more and more requests to customize email templates, renter agreements, and the checkout process by adding your logo and other information to get merged automatically for display.

If you missed the property image, here's a quick rundown. Add images to your properties, and then use the {PIMGURL} merge field to insert them into emails. This will show the first image for the relevant property:

Logo

We've added a new Logo field on your profile. To populate it, go to your user profile page and select a logo file to upload:

Once uploaded, you can reference it in any template using the {MYLOGOIMGURL} merge field.

Theming

The logo upload is the first step, but if you had to go to every template and insert it, that'd be a lot of work. Instead, we've added a new Themes section in Settings that allows you to define headers and footers that will be applied across everything. You can define individual theme header/footers for emails, guest forms, and legal agreements.

To do this, go to the Theming section in Settings and hit the Change button next to the section you want to change. Inserting the logo here is a good start, but you could also add contact information or anything else you want applied everywhere.

Another quick mention of a related feature is Form Messages. These allow you to control the wording of messages during checkout, the messages in the blue boxes at the top. You can also add some confirmation information to be shown on the booking complete page.

Booking Files

Last but not least is the new booking files section. In each booking, you'll now see a Files tab that will allow you to upload files to be associated with the booking. You can upload anything relevant you want to store with the booking, like scans of ID's, pictures of property damage, or additional agreements sent. You'll also see the renter agreement signed during checkout here as well, if that was generated for the booking:

All files are stored in Amazon S3 (Simple Storage Service). They've got 99.999999999% durability, so you can rest assured that any files you upload will be stored safely and securely.

It's been a great 2016 and we're looking forward to many more additions in 2017.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays from the OwnerRez team!

New regional listing sites added

Carolina Vacation Home Rentals
Spain-Holiday.com

We continue to be amazed at the volume and quality of new listing sites that have been popping up recently. I've found that regional sites can be just as important as the big national sites. A regional site can be much more targeted to sales in a specific area, and can get a boost in search rankings by going for a local niche rather than a broad market clientele.

In that vein, OwnerRez just added full support for integration with several new listing sites, including Carolina Vacation Home Rentals and Spain-Holiday.com. We receive inquiries through our email parsing engine. We also support two way calendar sync through our iCal calendar import and export.

Once you get your listings set up on these listing sites, use the following guides to get integrated with OwnerRez:

If you use or own a regional listing site and are interested in OwnerRez integration, let us know and we can explore that process with you.

Quick Quote enhancements, event triggers, trigger criteria, Blocked-Off Time messages, 'available property' field codes & more

Happy Tuesday, everyone!

Earlier today we released a large update. I want to quickly cover some of the bigger parts so that you can get a feel for what was rolled out.

Quick Quote enhancements

The ability to create a new quote, or just see rates and rules, right from the ribbon was a huge hit, and we've added a bunch more updates around that.

In addition to creating a quote, you can now create a booking or blocked-off time from the same pop-up when clicking on the ribbon calendar.

The Create Booking and Block-Off Time buttons above the calendar now open the new pop-up instead of going to a new page.

You can also open the pop-up from the Month view.  No need to switch back to ribbon or click a top button.  You can click on the day of the Month directly and open the pop-up from there.

We also spent a lot of time optimizing the yellow/blue instant-quote area in the pop-up to make it faster and smarter.  It now shows the rates and rules for the information you've entered very quickly, with less flickering and spinning.

And if you're somewhere else in the app, you can also get the same fast pop-up just by opening the Tools menu at the top.  No need to come back to the Bookings or Quotes menu.

New 'Create Booking' page

If you're on the Quick Quote pop-up and you tell it to create a booking, you'll notice that it takes you to the Create Booking page which has a new look and feel.  The layout is similar to the old one but the look has been updated.

One of the biggest goals in updating this page was making it responsive for tablet and smartphone sized displays.  The old design was difficult to use on small devices and required a lot of zooming in and out (or eyeball squinting ;-).  The new design works well on tablets and smartphones.

You'll also notice that the old "calendar strip" is gone when selecting dates.  In its place, we've put new calendar "date pickers" that reflect the same design we use in widget and other places.

These date pickers are easier on smaller devices and they facilitate better data entry because no matter which field you pick first (arrival or departure) the first thing you select will always be arrival before departure.

We will be adding and updating other sections to this Create Bookings page - such as the ability to collect a successful payment before creating the booking - but we wanted to get this out first so that we could move away from the old layout.

You'll notice that the Block Off Time page is similarly updated.  The Create Quote page will be getting the same update shortly.

Event Triggers

One of the big areas of the app we are overhauling is triggers.  The release brings the first update for that.

You used to be able to send triggers based on time - certain number of days before/after arrival or departure - but that was it.  We have now added the ability to attach triggers to certain events.  An "event" is an action that occurs in the system like "booking is created" or "payment is made".  These event-based triggers fire immediately at the time the event occurs with no delay.

The the moment, the only two events are "Booking is created" and "Blocked-off time is created".

We will be adding many more events in the coming weeks.  In fact, our goal is to do away with all other forms of emailing and make all guest-facing emails an event trigger.  That way, you can completely customize when and what messages are sent to the guest.

We are also going to be adding SMS (text) messaging as a type of template that can be sent for triggers.

More Trigger Criteria

As we move all email messaging to event triggers, and unify around the trigger workflow, we've had to expand trigger criteria.  And we've already started doing that.

Triggers now have a new criteria section where you can select adjacent night criteria or specific seasons.

Targeting specific seasons is a very useful thing for triggers.  After all, what if you want to send an email warning to guests that have booked Winter dates about a particular thing they need to know about?  You can now do that using the season criteria.

We will be adding a lot more criteria to this area so that you can really fine tune when you want messages sent.

Blocked-Off Time Messaging

Another thing we ran into when moving all the email messaging to triggers is what to do about things like Third Party Alerts.  This made us realize that Blocked-Off Time needed email templates and field codes as well, so we did both of those things.

You can now create custom email templates for Blocked-Off Time and have them sent on trigger events or specific times.  There is also a new set of field codes available for Blocked-Off Time.

So if you want to send a particular email out when time is blocked off to a third party, you can do that now using a custom email template and the trigger event "Blocked-off time is created".

Third Party Alerts will continue to work as they do now, and we will make sure to cleanly migrate the existing ones to trigger events in future months, but you can already start crafting your own custom stuff using trigger events now.

Available Property Field Codes

Have you ever wished that your email messages automatically showed the guest what properties were available when they request unavailable time?  Now you can.

We now have field codes (in bookings, quotes and inquiries) that will automatically insert a bulleted list of available properties for the current dates in question.

If the available property has a URL on file, it will include that as well so that the guest can click to open the property on your website directly.

You can pick a field code that includes or excludes the current property, based on the workflow you are trying to cover.

That's enough for now!

There were many other updates in this morning's release, but that's a big enough announcement for now.  I'll be posting some other things in the next week and wanted to get these updates out of the way before we move to the bigger items.

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.