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Custom Redirects on Websites, Inquiry Parsing for SMTP Headers, Big Houfy Improvements, FindRentals Coming Soon, and Bug Fixes!

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Happy Thursday, everyone!  We took last week off on writing the product update, but the updates never stopped!  So today we'll cover two weeks which includes 8 updates last week and 13 the week before.  Let's get to it!

New Features

If you use OwnerRez to host and manage your website, you know that there's a "redirect" feature on every website.  This allows you to handle old pages and make sure that your SEO concerns are managed properly.  Our redirects features is powerful - you can do partial or exact matching, and you can redirect to dynamic pages, properties or custom pages.  But there's a different scenario that users have been asking for and that's the ability to create a custom URL that redirects to a page outside of your website.  You might want to create a dummy URL on your site (like http://www.mysite.com/Special2021Campaign) to give out in mailings and look professional, but you want that to redirect to a completely different website.  You can now do this.  Go to the same Redirects tab in your website settings and you'll see a new fourth option for Custom URL.

A great new feature we're happy to talk about is that our first-class channel integration list is about to grow again! The team at FindRentals.com has been working with us for a few months to become a first class channel, which means you can push all your content, rates, rules, etc directly to your Find Rentals listings and keep everything up to date.  All booking/inquiry traffic comes back to OwnerRez directly.  In other words, like Vrbo.  Now, the Find Rentals integration won't provide direct bookings and guest credit cards like Vrbo, but it will send inquiry emails directly into OwnerRez for you to process.  It's a great integration, and we're excited to add Find Rentals to our channel management family.

Find Rentals logo

We'll have more information coming out shortly about the Find Rentals integration and how to get started in a standalone blog post.

If you're a DIY'er, you might be sending inquiry emails from your own website or local/regional listing site and need to route those inquiry emails into OwnerRez.  We've had custom parsing for inquiry emails around for a long time, which looks for a special text format in the email body, but we wanted to add a more-durable option that allows custom emails to be parsed even if the body or design of the email changes.  So we added a new parsing feature that will identify inquiry emails by looking at the SMTP headers in the message.  If this sounds like technical mumbo-jumbo, that's because it is!  Most of our users won't ever need to know what this is, but if you're a techie or DIY'er and like to roll your own code, check out our new support article about SMTP headers and custom parsing.  If you pay a local/regional website to send inquiry emails to OwnerRez, tell them to update their emails to send in this new format.

Enhancements & Tweaks

Can you believe it - only two enhancements to talk about this week!

First the big one. We've been working with the Houfy team on updating our Houfy channel integration to be more of a seamless first-class channel experience.  In particular, we've identified several keys areas that would make the integration seamless which are:

  • Making sure the Houfy listing is up and fully active after doing the initial mapping
  • Don't require the user (you!) to set a base rate on the Houfy listing, but pull that from the OwnerRez rates
  • Have the Houfy listing pull in more rates and fees from the OwnerRez connection (pet fees, extra guests, cleaning, etc)
  • Include more OwnerRez amenities on the Houfy listing
  • Make sure that Houfy listings send inquiry emails to OwnerRez and not do bookings on the Houfy side that don't come into OwnerRez

We are happy to announce that these items are now finished.  The Houfy team has worked hard and we are happy to see the results.  If you had listings on Houfy previously that were incomplete or partially mapped, go back to the Houfy control panel and take a look.  They should now show as complete.  Or you can use the channel manager page on their site to do a fresh pull.  Your amenities and rates should be much more complete and inquiry emails should be flowing into OwnerRez.

We'll be covering more of the Houfy changes in an upcoming special blog post, and reaching out to Houfy users specifically, but we wanted to share this exciting news here in the product update post as well.

Finally, we shortened some of our field codes.  The part of the field code that you can see (like "{BARR}") is not supposed to be easily readable or recognizable as the primary goal.  Field codes are designed, first and foremost, to be short so that they fit well in templates.  We noticed that in some recent updates where we added field codes, they started getting pretty long.  For instance, booking cancellation text was using "{BCANCELLATIONPOLICYSPECIFIC}" which eats up way too much room in the editor.  We shortened that the cancellation ones to BCANPOL, BCANPOLFULL and BCANPOLDATES.  If you don't know what a particular field codes will render, check our our field code list for names and detailed descriptions.  When we shortened these, we also updated all your templates and documents to use the new shorter ones, so don't worry about anything that referenced the older longer format.  You should be good to go!

Bug Fixes

MasterCard numbers can start with 2. Did you know that MasterCard credit cards can be issued with a number that starts with "2"? Yep, it happened recently, and we saw some MasterCard transactions failing because our accepted-card logic was rejecting them out before they could even hit the processor. That is updated now, so your newfangled MasterCard will now work.

WordPress Plugin is premium too. We noticed that our pricing page did not mention the WordPress Plugin, so we updated the language on the Websites tile to mention WordPress as well.

Hosted website page Facebook image setting should fallback to the site setting. In some cases, hosted website pages were not properly using the site configuration for the Facebook image, even if the "Site setting" option was selected.

Gap night rules are more important than weekend night rules.  We found an issue where date validation (ie. the code that checks to see if the guest is allowed to book certain nights based on your rules) was not allowing a weekend to be booked because the weekend required 3 nights.  However, there was a gap night rule that allowed 2 nights during that period, and that should have taken priority.  Now it does.

"Rollin" -> "Roll-in"  While we were rollin' along, a savvy user pointed out that it's a "roll-in shower" amenity, not a "rollin shower." A shower on wheels sounds dangerous to us, so we fixed that.

Update Converge integration to reduce intermittent void errors. We've been chasing an error that sometimes occurs on voiding security deposit holds with a Converge (Elavon) payment method. While we can't be absolutely certain we've buried this particular bug, we are hopeful that the changes here will reduce or eliminate them going forward.

Consider excluded strings when skipping cancellations on calendar imports.  Did you know you can configure "excluded text" on calendar imports (iCal) in OwnerRez?  I didn't either.  But you can!  Basically, this means that you can define special pieces of text that, if found, will make our calendar import engine skip over the block or booking.  This is extremely useful in combating irregularities or errors with certain channels and calendar systems (who shall remain nameless). We found a small issue where the excluded text wasn't being considered when evaluating cancellations.  That is now fixed!

Missing Airbnb cleaning fees. For some reason, Airbnb started dropping cleaning fees on a few bookings, and we've been struggling to find the pattern.  The fees were being charged to the guest and shown to the guest, but the Airbnb control panel stopped showing them on the host side, so Channel Bridge wasn't picking them up.  You might have run into this recently if you ran a Channel Bridge import and got the nasty "Total owner amount doesn't match total charges amount" message.  To get around this, we started detecting if the difference in amount matches the cleaning fee and now create a cleaning fee to match if our import believes that is the issue.

Airbnb percent charges incorrectly calculating on discounts.  We noticed that when Airbnb charges have multiple surcharges or discounts being "backed out of" rent, they would create high percentage amounts that caused the lower charges to be higher than they should be.  We redesigned the Airbnb "back out of rent" process to tally up the total surcharge and discounts, and figure out the total percentage before attempting to back anything out of rent, then distribute the amount backed out of rent evenly across the multiple surcharges or discounts.

PM and owner statements use your preferred date format now. We've allowed you to select your preferred date format in Settings > Culture for some time. However, there are places in the system that don't yet honor that selection. PM Statement rendering was one such place, but that has now been fixed.

Disallowed gaps on the last booking. What makes a "gap" exactly?  It's the space between two bookings, which means that the last booking that a property has (ie. the one furthest in the future) has no gap after it.  We found a scenarios where our "disallowed gaps" rule was kicking in after the last booking, so we fixed it.

Vrbo payments not de-duping during Channel Bridge import. Recently, Vrbo stopped including a reference number on their payments in the control panel which is what Channel Bridge finds when it crawls through the Vrbo interface. Previously, we used that payment reference number to know whether it's a channel-managed payment so we can de-dupe it (ie. not include it) if the date changes.  When they dropped the reference number, our code would still de-dupe if the date and amount were the same but not if the date changed.  To fix this, we're not creating payment tokens ourselves to identify which payment was the same from before.

Commission on Booking.com charges.  We noticed a bug where the default commission percentage wasn't being applied to charges on Booking.com bookings.  This is now fixed.

Change BTBAL to BTTRANS and BTNETBAL to BTNETTRANS. These two merge fields were causing confusion, and rightly so. Balance is the wrong term when they actually represent what has been received. We've renamed them so they are less confusing. We also updated all templates system-wide to use the new names.

Channel bridge warnings could be clearer. Some users were confused by the warning on the channel bridge rate pushing page. We've softened up the warning so it should be more clear that rates can still be pushed for non-API integrated properties.