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The OwnerRez Blog

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The OwnerRez Blog

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

Introducing the "Vacation Rental Tools" project and importing reviews in bulk

As great as our new Reviews feature is, we knew from the moment we released it that we would have to follow it up with some tools to help get reviews into the system faster.

Manual entry sucks! You don't want to have manually copy/paste every review you get into OwnerRez, so we set out designing ways of making it easier.  To that end, we have two big things to announce.

You can now import reviews in bulk using Excel.

The import screen is similar to, and located near, the other import screens and pretty self-explanatory.  Take a look at this support article for all the details:

Storing Reviews by Importing Them in Bulk Via Excel

But even though you can import via Excel, that still means you have to manually fill in the Excel spreadsheet, right?  That's where the next part comes in!

Introducing the new "Vacation Rental Tools" lab project!

For awhile now, we've been dreaming up a way of providing better tools and tighter integration with listing sites while not having to wait on listing sites to develop that access on their own.

"Vacation Rental Tools" is our answer to that problem.  It's a Chrome extension you can install in your browser that will provide you extra features for the listing sites you work with.  And it's free for everyone to use whether you're an OwnerRez customer or not!

Visit the new website at http://VacationRental.tools or take a look at these support articles:

If you use TripAdvisor, you'll be able to use Vacation Rental Tools to download an Excel file of all your TripAdvisor reviews in a click of a button.

That same Excel file can then be imported into OwnerRez in another click, meaning no manual entry.

Hundreds of reviews moved from TripAdvisor to OwnerRez in just a few seconds. Awesome, right?!

Get ready for more great browser tools coming to Vacation Rental Tools and help us spread the word!

Another month, another Gallimaufry

Following up on the Gallimaufry post from June, and July/August, here's what we've got for September.

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

One of the bigger features we've already announced was tracking and displaying reviews. We've got more to announce on reviews in the next couple of days, so keep your eyes peeled for that!

New listing sites

Overhauled renter agreement section

More docs on renter agreements can be found in our Renter Agreements and other legal agreements support article.

  • Allow setting agreement to sign when generating a link for the guest
  • Add listing site criteria on renter agreements so language can be altered for different listing site policies
  • Add verify contact info page on signing link (including booking checkout custom fields)
  • Require email address to be not a listing site double blind on contact info verification
  • Apply theme header/footer on booking forms

Portal access

  • Make calendar permissions a set of flags vs a level so they can be independently selected
  • Add allow all properties option
  • Add guest name permission for calendar and owner statements
  • Add notes button and permission

Hosted website

  • Enhanced loading snappyness on photo slider
  • If too many menu items to fit, put them in a more menu
  • If site name too wide, give it an ellipsis
  • Allow setting book now button caption via tab name

Mobile responsive enhancements for Bookings tab

  • 15 day view for ribbon mobile portrait
  • Allow left/right swiping to switch months
  • On ribbon, measure text and tighten up layout on small screens to save space
  • On month, make rows scrollable if too many bookings to fit
  • Layout buttons and filters to fit on one rows
  • Grid responsive to hide/show columns


And all of the other stuff...

  • Overhaul booking payments and refunds into new Transactions section
  • Add booking cleaning date
  • Hover headers on grid to make sort visible
  • Add datepicker to booking calendar picker
  • Show cc icons on booking forms if PayPal only
  • Export all season rates in their own season even if there are other seasons
  • Add listing site fee report
  • Add travel insurance filter on bookings grid
  • Update RemoteLock codes instead of new each time
  • Allow setting RemoteLock code
  • Add address to convert block to booking form
  • Add Airbnb transaction history import
  • Clarify that Air can do calendar sync
  • Add non commissionable amount on booking charges
  • Add booking charge linked expenses
  • Add nightly taxes
  • On date or property change on quote or booking, ask if charges should be recalced
  • If there are guest fees, ask to recalc charges when occupancy changes for quote or booking
  • Default expire and pending day extension box values
  • Add payment and secdep request email templates and compose buttons
  • Add merge fields for listing site
  • Order season selectors by date vs. name


Have you ever looked at the reviews you get on TripAdvisor, VRBO, Airbnb and Facebook, and wished you could collect and store those in one place?  And show them on your own personal website?

Now you can collect, store and display your reviews in OwnerRez through widgets and hosted websites!

One of our users stored 20 reviews and put the widget up.  Take a look.

We've built quite a bit of functionality into this, based on forward-thinking, and we have some upcoming features designed where we will be making the storing/entry part of this vastly easier (automatic imports, etc).  But no need to wait!  You can get started with this feature right away!

Take a look at the following support docs to get started.

Deep Thoughts on Security Deposits and Insurance

We get a lot of questions about the best way to set up security deposits, when to use damage protection insurance, travel insurance, etc. I've seen a lot of different scenarios over the years, both with OwnerRez clients and my own properties, so here are my thoughts (I'm not a lawyer, standard disclaimers apply, bla bla bla)...

Security deposits are the first line of defense, whether you do a security hold on a card or a refundable deposit charge. I'd recommend taking a secdep even if you also have separate insurance. Not only do you have access to the funds immediately rather than having to file a claim, it also gives the guest some skin in the game so they tend to treat your property with more respect. You can also charge a deposit for other items covered in the renter agreement -- undisclosed extra guests, pets, etc. "covered in the renter agreement" is the key phrase there -- if the guest didn't agree to it prior to the charge, you'll loose a chargeback if they do one.

That said, there are issues that a secdep won't cover. Damage for an amount more than the secdep for one. There's also a risk of chargebacks unless you're taking the deposit by check. You can win chargebacks, but it's a capricious system. If the bank doesn't like you and the guest denies having done the damage, the bank sometimes just ignores the renter agreement and tells you to take the guest to court if you don't like it. I wouldn't recommend doing an additional charge for more than the security deposit for that exact reason -- if you don't have documentation that the guest specifically authorized an additional charge, you'll loose the chargeback. For secdeps, they specifically authorized the charge so that'll typically stand up, but language in a renter agreement about charging an undefined additional amount if necessary doesn't meet the banking requirements -- you'd have to take the guest to court.

The biggest thing to do is document, document, document. Pictures of damage, video of more cars than guests authorized on the booking, statements of neighbors or staff who witnessed, etc. If possible written admissions from the guest. Police report if relevant. Take pictures from time to time of everything so you'll have a recent "before" photo. Timeliness is key here -- the closer the documentation is to the time of the incident, the more weight it will carry. When I encounter damage, I'll get copious pictures and send the guest a professional email asking if they know what happened. A good deal of the time they'll admit it and we can work out a solution.

All of the above is basically to keep honest people honest. It sounds like I'm suspicious of guests, but I'm generally not -- 95% of people are good guests and everything will go smoothly. The point of the above is to establish a process beforehand and know what you'll do, know how to collect all the documentation you need, and be ready to work through it.

The second line of defense is accidental damage insurance. A couple of clarifying points here... First off, damage insurance doesn't cover intentional damage. Sometimes there's a fine line between negligence and intent, but no damage insurance will cover intentional damage or vandalism. That's why I recommend taking both the secdep and the insurance, so you're covered in both cases.

Secondly, the insurance offered through Airbnb, VRBO, CSA, etc. is insurance for the guest, not for you, the owner. That's why the guest has to admit fault with those insurances, and the insurance won't pay out if they don't admit to doing the damage.

We did a bunch of research on different companies when choosing the damage protection product to offer through OwnerRez, and that's why we went with TravelGuard/AIG's ARDI. That insurance is for you, the owner, not the guest. You submit a claim directly to TravelGuard, not a third party. The guest doesn't have to admit fault -- they don't even need to know about the insurance. Of course, if you want to surcharge it back to the guest, you can.

To find out more about how our damage protection works and costs, check out our article on ARDI & Damage Protection.

Another option is to self insure. Charge $50/booking for a damage waiver and put that into a separate account, which you tap into when damage occurs. Of course, in that case any issues or amounts over the balance are on you vs. the insurance company. If you've got a high volume so your risk pool is larger, and a high risk tolerance, that can be a more economical option than a damage insurance policy.

Finally, there's also the option of offering travel insurance for cancellations because of weather, sickness, accident, etc. This is insurance for the guest, but offering it can also help you out as the owner. If you don't at least offer travel insurance, enforcing a strict cancellation policy can be awkward. For my personal properties, I offer travel insurance during checkout, and then also have a triggered email go out through OwnerRez after booking reminding them of the option. If they're booking during higher risk times of the year (in my case, snow in the mountains during winter), the email template language changes to identify the risk and strongly suggest they purchase the travel insurance if they don't feel comfortable in snow etc. That way, I feel I've done my due diligence in offering coverage options, and in the event of a cancellation I can hold strong to my policy. For travel insurance, we also use TravelGuard -- their All Seasons Travel Plan. 

If the guest didn't buy travel insurance, suggest they check their credit card policy. Some cards include travel insurance/cancellation coverage for trips bought on the card.

Do you have anything else to add? I'd love to hear your thoughts and experiences in the comments.

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.