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The OwnerRez Blog

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

The OwnerRez Blog

HomeEscape Listing Site Integration Added!

HomeEscape We've been excitedly watching the new crop of vacation rental listing sites that have been developing recently. HomeEscape is one of the standouts -- gorgeous design, well marketed. I've added my personal vacation rentals on HomeEscape and have already received inquiries from them.

OwnerRez just added full support for integration with HomeEscape. 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 HomeEscape, use the following guides to get integrated with OwnerRez:

Two Way Calendar (iCal) Sync and Convert Block to Booking

We've always supported exporting calendars to listing sites via iCal. We've received a lot of recent requests to be able to do the opposite -- import bookings/blocked off time from other listing sites via iCal. Today, we released an update that adds two way sync support!

To set this up, you'll need to set up calendar import and export in each property. Export is already covered in our Hook up iCal availability calendars to update listing sites article.

For calendar import, go to the property Calendar Import section and add a calendar import using the iCal feed from your listing site, like VRBO, HomeAway, AirBNB, etc:

When you create the import for the first time, it'll do an initial pull of items from the calendar, then automatically update every few hours. You can view the last status in the log under the calendar import.

Currently, only AirBNB provides enough information in their iCal feeds for us to create bookings. If you want bookings with guest info and charges from other sites, you'll need to add that information by hand. For other feeds, go into the blocked off time and use the new "Convert to Booking" button to convert the block off to a booking.

If you have any ideas or find iCal feeds that we don't support, let us know and we'll look into it.

Facebook Availability and Book Now/Inquire Widgets

Want to add your OwnerRez widgets to your Facebook page? We've had several requests for this, but we don't have our own Facebook app yet. Now you can, courtesy of the Thunderpenny Static Html app. One of our sharp-eyed users turned me on to this method -- Victoria over at Smoky Mountains Vacation Cabins.

NOTE: this post has been turned into an article in our support section: Adding OwnerRez widgets to Facebook -- that article will be updated with any changes to this process.

This technique doesn't require an OwnerRez Facebook app, but instead lets you embed your vacation rental calendar and book now widgets from OwnerRez into Facebook directly.

Here's what to do. First, go to https://www.facebook.com/StaticHtmlThunderpenny/. That's where the Static Html app is hosted. To install it, hit the Use App button. Select the app for your property or company.

Once you've got the tab set up on your Facebook Page, copy/paste the widget HTML from OwnerRez. If you have existing widgets, you can use them, or create a new one just for Facebook under Settings > Widgets in your OwnerRez account. If you want to learn more about OwnerRez widgets, check out our widget how-to article.

If you know HTML, you can add some descriptive text surrounding the widget. Something like:

Preview the widget. If it looks good, publish it and you'll be ready to go:

A couple of recommendations:

  • If you've got separate Facebook pages for each property, use the three month calendar widget and a book now widget for each one.
  • If you've got one Facebook page for multiple properties (like this example), create a new book now widget with Show Property Dropdown selected (so guests can pick the property), and use the ribbon calendar widget.
  • Create a new listing site in OwnerRez and set that listing site on the new book now widget so you can track that the inquiries/bookings are coming from Facebook.

Switch templates when sending email & send ad hoc email to the guest

We released an update earlier today that was mostly about Property Management stuff, but we slipped in a couple things for emailing that will make your life a lot easier.  We have a lot of changes coming for guest communication - responding to inquiries, dealing with guest responses, capturing a timeline/thread of everything - but we wanted to fix a problem that has been frustrating users for awhile.

You can now quickly switch to a different email template when sending an email.  No matter what kind of email you're sending, you can tell the email editor to load in a different template.

How do I see it?

Go to any place in the system where you would send a guest email.  Sending a quote, responding to an inquiry, sending the renter agreement to be signed, etc...

You'll now see a little "Switch to Template" selector at the top of the email form.  If you open the selector, you'll see all system and custom templates that are available for the current record you're on.  Upon selecting a different template, the email form will reload with that template loaded.

(click on this picture for a bigger view)

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There are a variety of times when you need to email the guest but a specific event or automation point can't take care of it automatically.  This ability to switch to, and prefill, a different template means you can take care of other ad hoc issues quickly right from the booking record.

No need to copy/paste information back and forth between OwnerRez and your email program for boilerplate issues anymore!

New "Send Email" buttons on the booking

As part of this, the other problem was that there was no simple "send email" form where you could just pull up the guest's booking and fire off something.  Sending email in the system is always tied to a specific event.

We took care of that problem too.  You'll now see buttons on the booking's overview page, yellow header bar and on the booking > email tab for "Email the Guest" which will open an email window where you can send ad hoc messages.

Our big conversation overhaul will also take care of these problems, but we wanted to slide in an update for this right now as we continue to work on the big picture items.

Damage Protection

Good morning, everyone!  You can now purchase damage protection for your bookings!  A few days ago, we put out a first release and we've been working closely with several early users who have been testing it for us.

Turning on Damage Protection

To get started, go to Settings > Damage Protection. It should be self explanatory from there how to turn it on.

Please read the introduction information when turning on Damage Protection.  It's important that you understand how it is applied.  For instance, the guest does not optionally choose to buy Damage Protection.  Damage Protection is something that is automatically applied to all of your bookings, once turned on.

Wondering how much it costs?  Take a look a the turn-on page for Damage Protection for costs.

Applying Damage Protection to already-created bookings

Turning damage protection globally will not affect existing bookings. You'll need to go into your existing (ie. already-created) bookings and turn it on for the ones you want to have it. To do that open any booking and you'll see a new Damage Protection tab. You can pick the coverage level and apply.

Filing Claims

On any booking, you'll see the claim form under the Damage Protection tab. It's a PDF you fill out and email or fax in. We are already working on making that form electronic so that you can fill out a claim online.

Enjoy!

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.