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Happy Holidays from OwnerRez! Some end of year presents - Automatic 5-Star Reviews, New Forums, SMS Brands, New Airbnb Fee Types

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Happy Holidays from OwnerRez! Some end of year presents - Automatic 5-Star Reviews, New Forums, SMS Brands, New Airbnb Fee Types

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Hey everyone!  Sorry for butting in on your holiday break, but I wanted to mention a couple of things.  First, the OwnerRez team would like to wish you a wonderful holiday season!  However you celebrate it, enjoy the downtime with friends and family! 🤟🍷

But also, we have some last-minute presents you can unwrap!

Last Monday, we put out a big release of 44 updates with some exciting new features that we've been working on for a while like Automatic 5-Star Reviews, SMS Brands, and the forums overhaul. Have you noticed the forums yet?!

A few days later, we released another 11 updates that were mostly bug fixes but also added a new enhancement to the property photos area.

Why all these changes right before Christmas?  Because we couldn't chase our team out of the office of course!  But hey, now they're finally gone, things are quiet, and I have a few minutes to write about it all. Let's get started.

New Features

Automatic 5-Star Reviews for Airbnb

As a smart vacation rental PM or homeowner, you probably already know that most guests who would a leave great 5-star review also tend to be the ones that forget the most. If the stay was bad, they are more likely to leave a review because the sting of it stays with them or they want to get even by hurting your business.  But many would-be 5-star reviews get completely dropped after the guest has gone. Out of sight, out of mind!

Airbnb proactively nudges the host and guest to leave a review, but many guests still don't write one.  As you may have noticed, the biggest thing that pushes the guest to leave a review is when you, yourself, write a review first.  When that happens, Airbnb will send the guest a message saying "Read what the host said about you" or "See your rating" but first makes the guest write their own review.  This is extremely useful because it pushes most guests to write a review who would otherwise not have.

Over time, many hosts that have discovered this trick will quickly run through their Airbnb bookings, every few days, and write a few quick sentences like "Thanks for coming out, great guest, would host again!" in different variations.  If you're a PM managing dozens of properties, you probably don't have detailed information to leave on each guest, but if nothing negative happened, you want to prompt all of them to write a review.  So you run through them and leave some generic happy words.

Now, OwnerRez will do that for you.  That's right - you can now configure OwnerRez to automatically write 5-star reviews for your Airbnb bookings as long as your Airbnb bookings don't trigger certain negative indicators.

To see it in action, go to the CRM menu > Reviews and click on Host Reviews.  The Host Reviews tab will only show if you have an Airbnb channel integration in place.  You'll see a button called Automatic 5-Star Reviews on the top right of the Reviews list.  If you click the button, you'll notice a couple of options that are self-explanatory.

If you click "Turn On", it will take you to the same page as the Configure Settings if you've never turned it on before.

The configuration page is simple.  It asks you how long you want to wait after the booking to write the review (we recommend just a couple of days - no more than 2 or 3), what review template you'd like to see, and the negative indicators that you want to flag so that the system doesn't accidentally write good reviews for bad people.

If you've never created any Review Templates, it will ask you to write one directly in the settings you're configuring.

That last "Bookings to Skip" part is especially important to understand.  You don't want OwnerRez accidentally writing good reviews for bad guests.  This could push an irritable guest to leave you a bad review if they anticipated that you did that to them first.  So make sure to read through the "Bookings to Skip" section and select the negative indicators.  Each of the options is an indicator that the booking may have been a bad or negative experience.  For instance, if money was collected from the security deposit, you may not want to write a 5-star review because (a) the guest might have caused damage or (b) the guest might be upset about the extra charge and you don't want to encourage them to write a review.

You can also use tags to stop specific bookings and guests from being reviewed.  For instance, you might have a "bad guest" tag that you proactively add to the booking in the middle of a stay.  If so, simply use the "is tagged" criteria to select those tags.

 

If you'd like OwnerRez to rotate between different types of responses, you can do that. Simply go back out to the Host Reviews area, click on Manage Templates and write as many templates as you want.

These are the same review templates that you use as "drafts" when writing reviews on the booking.

By their nature, review templates should be short - no more than a couple of sentences.  The point of automatic reviews is that they aren't detailed and don't talk specifically about the guest's stay.

If you want to write detailed reviews, then you shouldn't use automatic reviews.  You should continue writing reviews manually one by one as the opportunity arises.

After saving your review templates, the Automatic 5-Star Review settings page will show the list of templates and let you select the ones you want to send as automatic if you don't want to use the entire list.

This will allow you to separate the generic "good guest" reviews from the others you might use for more detailed responses or bad/negative responses.

A couple of important notes on automatic reviews:

  • Automatic reviews are always 5 stars, nothing less.  If you want to write a 3 or 4-star review, that's something you need to do manually.  By their nature, automatic reviews are always 5 stars because you don't care about the detail and are just trying to push guests to write you a review in return.
  • Automatic reviews are only attempted one time.  Once the review day has arrived, if the booking has criteria that make the booking get skipped, then the system will not try again if the criteria changes.  For example, if the booking has a "bad guest" tag on it that causes the automatic review not to go out, then a week later, the "bad guest" tag is removed, the review still won't be written.  You'll have to manually write the review yourself.  This is a safety precaution so that bookings aren't accidentally reviewed, after the fact, if the bookings.
  • Automatic reviews are the same as manual ones.  They are just like the manual reviews you write yourself on the booking and are subject to all the same rules.  For instance, an automatic review cannot be changed after the fact once it is submitted.
  • Automatic reviews only work for Airbnb.  While we anticipate adding them for Vrbo (and by the way, Vrbo has recently re-started their efforts to have Reviews via API) at the moment only Airbnb has a way of doing this.
  • Automatic reviews only work within the 14 day review time period.  As mentioned previously, automatic reviews work the same as manual ones.  Once it has been more than 14 days, an automatic review is no longer possible just like the manual type.

SMS Brands

A few days ago, I announced that our SMS pricing was changing again (for the better).  In that blog post, I hinted at a new "SMS Brand" feature, so let's take a minute to walk through that.

This feature is small in size but very influential in purpose.  Every current SMS user needs to take advantage of this as soon as possible.

Overall, an "SMS Brand" is basically just a profile (ie. business name, phone, and address) that you provide to carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile that identify you when they are sending your SMS messages to their customers.  It's basically like Caller ID for SMS.  It tells the world who you are and continues to ride along with your SMS messages even if you change your SMS phone number.  It establishes a sending reputation so that the carriers know you're legit and don't flag your messages as spam or slow down their delivery.

To create your SMS Brand, go to Settings > SMS Phone Numbers and drill in. We will automatically show you the "Create a brand" page right off if you haven't done it before.

After filling it out, click Save and Submit, and the form will disappear with a message telling you that it's pending review.  Our carrier will notify you, typically within an hour, if it was approved or rejected.  If rejected, you can try submitting it again.

Beyond the value that this brings to your SMS delivery, please know that the industry (and US government) have enacted rules that will soon require SMS Brands to be in place for all "A2P 10DLC" messaging.  That might look like a bunch of gobbledygook, but it basically stands for "application-to-person messaging using regular 10-digit phone numbers" which is what OwnerRez does.  You have a 10 digit phone number, and it's used to send SMS messages from an application (OwnerRez) to a person (the guest).

Don't want to create an SMS Brand?  You don't have to, and we will continue sending SMS messages on your behalf.  But very soon, if your SMS Brand is not established, sending may no longer be possible.  Even now, many carriers are slowing down delivery or blocking numbers entirely if a sender is unrecognized and sends a lot of messages.

Here are some interesting things to know about SMS Brands:

  • The brand info (profile name, number, address) cannot be changed after submitting it.  Yes, I know, what happens if you move addresses??  The answer is: we're not sure yet.  SMS Brands are a new thing based on new regulations, and we've built according to the latest specs that have been published.  We should have an answer for that in the future.  If you need to change your brand info, contact us and we can reset your entire SMS Brand and have you start over.  But generally speaking, once you submit the brand, you're done, and it's locked in place.
  • Nothing is sent to any government.  While there are government rules in the US about the adoption of Brands and A2P sending, the information we submit is only used by our SMS carrier to prepare your "Caller ID" stuff with the carriers.  We cannot say what happens to it beyond that, but OwnerRez does not transmit anything to any governing bodies, which we would not do anyway based on our Privacy Policy.
  • Where did the SMS Brand button or page go?  After submitting your brand and getting approved, we purposefully hide the SMS Brand area so as not to confuse or frustrate you when you can't change the information.  Don't worry, your SMS Brand is still there under the covers, and we'll use it when sending your messages.  In the future, we may show approved SMS Brands if there's something you can do with them.

New Airbnb Fee Types (Pets, Short Stay)

This one doesn't need much explanation, but it's been anticipated by OwnerRez users for several weeks now as a coming feature.

Airbnb recently announced some new fee types for pets and short stays.  Airbnb supported these in the control panel, but there was no way to set them via API.  Because of this, all of our API integrated users couldn't set their fees.

Now you can!  On the OwnerRez side, there's nothing to show in terms of screenshots or pictures.  And there's nothing to do in terms of configuration.  If you have pet fees or short stay fees configured, we will now automatically push those fees to Airbnb.

On the Airbnb side, when a guest goes to book, they can now select the number of pets they are bringing.

And the instant price quote will automatically adjust to include the pet fee.

Please note that the pet fee is not enumerated separately like cleaning or service fees.  The pet fee is added to the nightly rate like linen, resort, and other types of fees.  If you're looking to double-check that your pet fee is working, first select some nights without any pets and record what the nightly rate is.  Then select a pet and compare the new nightly rate.  You should see the price per night increase exactly by the amount of your pet fee.

The "short stay" cleaning fee is pushed to Airbnb only if you have multiple cleaning fees and one of them has maximum night criteria less than or equal to 2.

Forums Overhaul

Have you visited the OwnerRez Community Forums lately?  That's the same ole "forums" that we link to all the time.  Nothing new about the location or purpose.

But if you've been there lately, you might have noticed that the design and feel have significantly improved.  While this might not seem like a new feature exactly, the overhaul involved a lot of work by our team, and I wanted to highlight it.

The topic threads have improved to get rid of ancillary information, devote more screen real estate to the conversation and highlight what matters.

You can also link to specific posts, and when using the link, the post is highlighted so that you know which one the link is referencing.

All forum pages now work well on mobile and tablet devices.

Best of all, we've improved the post editor, so that you can use rich text (bold, underline, italics) and attach files and pictures to your posts.

Have a problem that a pic would help clarify?  Just drop it right inside your post!

There is also a profile page that will show your posts and avatar.

If you don't have an avatar, use the little pencil button on the photo to upload one in a few clicks.  By default, we use the public Gravatar associated with your email address (if you have one) but any uploaded avatar image will take priority over the public Gravatar one.

Again, this forum overhaul may not seem like an important change, but we take support very seriously here and consider it to be one of our best attributes.

As we look ahead to 2022 and beyond, our forums will continue being used to promote community ideas, gather feature requests and handle support.  We have talked about moving our help-desk and ticket systems into the forums area as well to better streamline our processes, so look for potential updates on that in the future.

Enhancements & Tweaks

Show Airbnb Guest Fee and Pet Number Automatically

While adding the new Airbnb pet and short stay fees, and working on Channel Bridge, we noticed that there was additional booking data we could retrieve for Airbnb bookings.  Specifically, the guest fee and the number of pets on the booking.  Now that guests can select the number of pets (which triggers the pet fee) the booking can also display the exact number they select.

We updated this for both API bookings and Channel Bridge bookings, so whether the booking comes in automatically or is downloaded via Channel Bridge, the number of pets will be included.

See Property Photos Grouped By Room

We recently added the ability to add room and amenity associations to property photos.  While the feature has been widely adopted, it's been difficult for users and our own support team to know which room a photo goes with after the fact.  When arriving at the property photos page, it shows all photos ordered by number with no clear indication which rooms go with which, or even if a photo is associated with a room.

This past week, we released a new overview page for property photos that shows a read-only layout of photos grouped by rooms.  Here's a quick example of how it looks after running through and associating some photos with rooms.

Each room will display as a section with the photos that are associated with it inside that section. If a photo isn't associated with a room, it will fall under the top "General" section.

Notice that the photos on this page are read-only.  This is meant to be an overview page, not an editable form.  You can't upload new photos, change captions, or re-arrange the photo order here.  To do those things, click the Change button at the top and you'll see the familiar photo editing area.

While we were messing with photos, we also added "Size" to the details that show when you hover over the "i" icon on each photo.  Dimensions, Size, and Uploaded Date are all there now for easy viewing.

To clarify, the "Size" that is shown here is the full-sized image you originally uploaded, not necessarily what OwnerRez or channels will use for a particular purpose.  We take smaller cuts of your photos, automatically, to use as thumbnails on quotes or carousel images on listings.

Global Setting for $0 Bookings on Owner Statements

Last month, we updated our PM module to begin including $0 bookings in owner statements.  This was done because $0 bookings are often relevant to the owner, and PMs need the ability to include or exclude them according to preference and not have them all summarily hidden.  Our intentions were good, but we stepped it in a bit while getting this out the door.  What do they say about good intentions being used as paving material? 😟

Over the next couple of releases, we navigated through "fixing" this a number of ways as PMs found zillions of old bookings appearing.  We attempted to auto-hide some old $0 bookings but then hid too many and had to roll that back.

A common complaint from PMs is that there was no way to turn this on or off globally. If a PM wanted the original way of not showing $0 bookings, they'd have to manually exclude them on every statement, which in turn means not being able to create multiple owner statements in batch since each and every statement would have to be checked in Preview mode first. That's a pretty legit compliant!

To solve this, we've added a global setting to owner records where you can specify, owner by owner, if you want $0 bookings included.  This little guy right here:

By default, all owners will have this turned off, but check your owners to make sure it's set the way you want it.

As with the owner statement generation settings, this option will propagate to the statement creation form where you can select or de-select it there as well.  So if you want an owner to see $0 bookings only on one particular statement, you can select it once just for that statement.

Portal Access Becoming "Login Only" Users

There's not much to show on this next one, in terms of pictures, but it's a great update because it paves the way for some coming changes in 2022 that everyone is going to want to get in on.

The way our Portal Access area has always worked is that each user account can have child "portal access" users inside their account.  Those portal access users can only access the properties and information shared with them by that one parent user.  But this isn't practical.  You might give access to a housekeeper, who becomes one of your portal access users, but then that same housekeeper needs access to a different user's account because the housekeeper cleans houses for both OwnerRez users.  This happens frequently and, when it happens, the housekeeper has to have multiple portal access accounts created, each with a different email address. Yuck!

This past week, we released an update that changes portal access users to a new "login only" type of user account.  This will allow all users, whether regular or portal, to be at the same level so that portal access users can access multiple users' accounts in the future from the same single login.  A portal user won't pay for their OwnerRez account, and they still will be limited to only what was shared, but they can access multiple different user's accounts from the same login instead of having multiple portal accounts.

We've just started here, so don't look for any visual changes in the app yet, but know that we're transitioning in this direction so that portal access can be developed in much deeper ways.  The next update will include an invite system where portal users will be able to be invited to your account so that they can be assigned access to stuff.  Portal users will be able to see all the accounts they have been granted access to but manage their own profile and security individually.

Upgrade Code Editor

Do you have any special styling on your widgets or hosted website pages?  If so, you might know what I mean when I say "CSS".  The CSS field is common in a number of places in OwnerRez.  CSS provides users with a way to customize the styles (eg. font, color, size) of the content that shows on widgets and hosted website pages.  You may also use the source code window (ie. HTML editor) when crafting renter agreements or email templates.  The CSS and HTML fields use a special editor called Ace to provide a programming-like interface for doing CSS, HTML, and other types of code.

We recently noticed that this code editor was not mobile-friendly as our version of Ace was a couple of versions behind the latest, so we upgraded it.

It looks cleaner now and works on mobile devices. This wasn't a big update, and many of you will never use it, but we wanted to get it done anyway.  It had been overdue for a while.

Populate Pre-Payment Info for Booking.com

We are often at the mercy of the channels when it comes to what we can show on bookings.  Over time, as the channels add or remove information, we update our systems to work with their updates.

Booking.com recently started sending pre-payment information for bookings.  This is the information that tells us that the guest already paid on Booking.com even if a real credit card wasn't included.  If you read the long-form booking description from Booking.com, you might have noticed blurbs like this:

"This reservation has been pre-paid..."

Or like this:

"...paid by Booking.com Payment"

While those blurbs might be helpful to human eyes, they don't help our computer systems whatsoever.

Fortunately, Booking.com updated the information they send to enumerate the pre-payment information in a computer-readable way.  We updated OwnerRez to store the pre-payment information which helps us make better decisions about what to schedule (or not) regarding payments and what emails to send.

Show Payment and Refund Times In Preferred Time Zone

In our ongoing effort to normalize time zone and culture settings, we noticed that our financial transactions (payments, refunds, etc) were using our older method of storing time, so we updated those areas to our new methods and now show all payment and refund times in the account's preferred time zone.

If you're wondering why payments times are still showing in a time zone different than yours, check your Time Zone settings in the Culture Settings area.

If you have per-property time zones configured (ie. your property is in a different time zone than your account overall) please note that payments and refunds will only show in the account time zone, not in the time zone of the property.  In general, property-specific time zones only apply to what is shown to guests publicly, not the stuff inside the app.

This update only fixed payment and refund times.  We are planning to correct security deposits, CC processing requests, and other financial records soon.  To be clear, the times for those financial transactions are correct, but the time zones might still not be reflecting your preferred account time zone.

"Calls" Tab in Communication History

Did you know your SMS phone number can receive regular phone calls?  Of course it can.  It's a regular phone number like any other!

There are settings on SMS phone numbers that let you determine what happens when someone calls the number.  You can forward the call to a different phone number, such as your own cell phone, or you can direct it to a voicemail for the person to leave a message.

When someone does leave a voicemail, what happens to it?  We send you an email, but what if you delete or miss the email?  For that matter, what happens if you want to look back at a record of incoming calls, even those that forwarded to you and you talked to?

To handle this, we added a new "Calls" tab in the Communication History area under Tools which shows a record of all calls to your SMS phone number, no matter if they forwarded through to you directly or left a voicemail.

If the caller left a voicemail, we show a link where you can download or listen to the original recording, and a transcript of the voicemail if the call was clear enough for our carrier to decode.  Please note that the transcript is automatically created via software, so the grammar is typically incorrect.  If the call wasn't clear, the transcript might be unreadable.  Regardless, you can always listen to the original recording.

Bug Fixes

Partially Paid on PM Statements.  Last time, we talked about how we fixed owner statements to properly differentiate between unpaid and partially paid when looking at the Owner Statements list.  But what about PM Statements?  Those needed the same tender love and care, so in this release, we did the same fix to the PM Statements side.  You can now correctly see 'Unpaid' versus 'Partially Paid' statements and filter by that as well.

Communication history gone wild.  Our Communication History area is pretty cool. You can see an archive of all email, SMS, and Airbnb messages in one spot and filter for different things.  If you don't know what I mean, look for that option under the Tools menu.  There are different places in the app that link to the Communication History with predefined filters.  This allows us, for instance, to show you all of the email history relevant to an individual booking.  However, when linking to specific Communication History tabs with predefined filters, we noticed that the other tabs would go to "all time" (ie. no filters) when clicking away from the current tab.  This was confusing as many users would get to this area by clicking from a quote or booking to "Email History" and then clicking on the SMS tab.  We fixed the tabs to maintain the same quote, inquiry, booking, or guest filters when deep-linking into the Communication History area.

Forum alert images.  After doing the new forum overhaul (yes, the one we just mentioned above) we noticed that all of our new system alerts for forum activity (eg. "New reply to a topic") were showing broken images.  Those images have now been fixed.

Cancellation refund should round first.  Credit card processors don't support payments in partial cents. But our cancellation form was still calculating the refund amount to 100th of a cent! This was causing the validation confirmation to think something was amiss because the final refund amount was less than the expected refund amount... by $0.0001. This is now fixed (for USD and all other currencies)!

Change the charges if the descriptions change.  If you move a booking, you may not change the price at all if the new dates have the same rates as the old dates. But if the charge descriptions include the booking dates, you might still want to update the charges so that the correct dates are reflected on the final invoice.  Previously, we only looked at the amounts and recommended changes if the amounts changed, but now we look at the descriptions too.

Damage Protection batch update.  After a recent update to our Damage Protection area, some users reported that the Batch Update was no longer working.  We found and fixed the issue.  If you're wondering, the Batch Update allows you to target current and future bookings that need to have Damage Protection applied after you make a change to your property coverage levels.

Trying to "reanswer" an inquiry?  We recently introduced a bug that prevents you from selecting a different template when answering an inquiry that is already answered. We've recently fixed that bug.

Marking an inquiry as answered...  ...should do so.  And now, it does.

Total paid amount on guest form.  When guests go to use the "fix up" form in OwnerRez, they are greeted with some information about their booking and party size.  Only sometimes, that information is confusing because the guest paid on Airbnb or Vrbo and the amount they paid (on the platform) is different than what is recorded on the booking in OwnerRez.  To reduce the confusion, we removed the total amount paid from the form.  Showing the amount paid really isn't important in the "fix up" context anyway.

Make Channel Bridge faster and get payout data on Airbnb.  Channel Bridge works by crawling through your Airbnb or Vrbo account, just like you would do manually, clicking links and reading information on the page.  Recently, Channel Bridge was no longer able to read the "Transactions History" page on Airbnb because Airbnb's page structure changed, so it stopped download payouts.  At the same time, we noticed some new things, under the covers, that gave us access to faster better payout information.  We switched Channel Bridge over to the new stuff, and it now downloads payouts again, as well as being faster overall.

Clarify channel booking "merge blocked" message.  When channel bookings come into OwnerRez, either the first time when we attempt to sort out your history or in an ongoing way for new bookings, we do a merge process to check if there are existing blocks or bookings that the channel booking is the same as.  You might have manually blocked the same dates, or the booking might have been imported via a different mechanism.  However, if we can't figure it out, we'll alert you that the dates are blocked.  We recently added some clarity to this, so that you know more about the conflict and what dates are blocking it.

Future time-based trigger time.  Previously, it was incorrectly showing some text from booking-created triggers.  We fixed it so that if the trigger will be sent, we show when it will occur.

Help with Facebook Pixel errors.  Many users have written in, pointing out that Facebook has sent them messages about their Pixel tracking not working or producing errors.  This is a known problem with limitations that Facebook has put in place, and there's very little we can do because Facebook has put onerous restrictions in place based on which domain names can use the same Pixel accounts.  It largely has to do with a spat with Apple.  😙  Anywho...  Lately, some of our users have been getting other Facebook Pixel error emails about pages not being tracked because of PII (personally identifiable information) being shown in the URL which Facebook has a policy against.  We noticed that we could actually target these URLs and exclude them from tracking without breaking the overall tracking pattern for our hosted websites and guest forms, so we put that in place.  Your Pixel tracking should now work on all guest forms from start to finish without any of those pesky error emails.

Require multiplier on pet fees.  Vrbo requires that all pet fees have a pet "multiplier".  A multiplier is the number of times a fee is calculated.  For instance, if you charge your pet fee for each and every pet, then your multiplier is "1".  We updated our surcharge settings to require a pet fee multiplier number if the "Pet Fee" category is selected at the top.  This will enforce good business practices while also making it so that Vrbo channel syncing doesn't crash for your listings with pet fees.

Converge gateway errors.  In the past several weeks, the Converge payment gateway suddenly started failing when OwnerRez issued "void" requests (eg. releasing a security deposit).  We dug into it and found that the Converge API had suddenly changed to no longer allow some of the fields they allowed in the past.  This isn't supposed to happen without a public API announcement, but...  it did anyway.  We quickly upgrade our end so that Converge transactions could resume cleanly.

Incorrect season wrapping when seasons start and end in different years.  Hold onto your hats on this one...  There was a scenario we found where if a season should start at the end of this year and wrap to the beginning of next year, but we were calculating for a period next year that intersects the season, it would skip the season entirely.  Need an example?  Let's suppose your season is "Winter Wonderland" and runs from December 24, 2021 until March 31, 2022 and today's date is sometime in November 2021.  And then assume we're excluding surcharges in the "Winter Wonderland" season.  A booking rolls in with stay dates of January 13 - 17, 2022.  The old logic was skipping past the "Winter Wonderland" period entirely and starting with the Dec 24, 2022 period (next year), so the surcharge wasn't matching correctly.  All better now!

Airbnb duplicate guest messages.  Airbnb transforms the Unicode non-breaking space character and other Unicode "white space" characters chars to normal spaces.  We didn't realize that before, so we were searching for the guest message on our side, it would not find it (since our characters were slightly different than theirs) and create a duplicate message that looked the same.  Now that we realize that, we are sanitizing our characters the same way before searching and creating guest records based on Airbnb messages.

Inquiry comments can allow angle brackets.  We used to allow this, but a recent update started crashing. We've restored this functionality so you can now use angle brackets (< and >) in your inquiry comments.  To be clear, the inquiry comments area won't show rich text (ie. HTML code) live, but it also won't error if you try to save it.

Show changeover restrictions even on departure/arrival days.  If there was a changeover restriction like "no arrivals" or "no departures" on the same day that a booking departs or arrives (or also in the middle), the restriction wasn't shown on the rate calendar.  We thought this might be confusing, so we tweaked it a little.  We now show the gray bar on the arrival side (ie. right side) if "no arrivals" and the guest is departing.  We now show the gray bar on the departure side (ie. left side) if "no departures" and the guest is arriving.  And the hovercard now shows the correct changeover restriction text in all cases, including in the middle of a booking.

Agreement preview property drop-down now useful!  The property drop-down in the agreement preview was getting cut off... We asked the kid with the scissors to leave.

Import Airbnb listings again.  Some newer Airbnb listings were not compatible with our property importer because of some really long listing numbers.  If you haven't noticed, Airbnb has started using really big listing numbers for all new listings.  That's been fixed

Arrival days from now...  This is a confusing one, but in short, the arrival days from now criterion on triggers wasn't actually looking at "now." (ie. today) This could result in false positives or false negatives depending on your rules and settings.  We fixed this so that all comparisons of "now" are using today's date.

Show the real collection date always.  A scheduled security deposit that has already been collected or held, should show the date it was processed, even if the booking changes.  Before it wasn't, but now it is.

Don't show rates the guest can't book!  On the calendar rate widget, we noticed that rates were showing on days when the rules prevented the guest from actually booking.  For instance, the Max Days In Future or Booking Window rules might not allow a day to be booked.  Why show a rate?  That's misleading.  We now hide rates on dates beyond the "max days in future" rule.

Manual payments alert for Booking.com and "card on file" status.  We found and fixed a small timing bug with Booking.com bookings where our "manual payments" alert would be sent out without showing a card on file, even though the guest provided one.

QB Sync should use dumb quotes.  Do you know what smart quotes and dumb quotes are?  No?  Smart quotes look like “this” and dumb quotes (or normal quotes) look like "this".  Smart quotes basically look fancy, and sometimes they're called "curly" quotes.   When syncing information to QuickBooks, we found out the hard way that QuickBooks chokes on smart quotes.  We fixed it by detecting smart quotes and auto-converting them to normal ones on the fly.

What about quotes that do hold dates?  There's a blurb on the bottom of our quote emails that says "This quote does not put a hold on the dates requested. The dates will not be reserved until this quote is accepted".  It's been that way for more than a decade, going all the way back to the original quote emails that OwnerRez sent in the times that were before.

But that's not true anymore, is it?  Back in September, we released an awesome little update that gave quotes the ability to block dates until either the quote expired or the quote was booked.  So the email blurb was wrong.

We fixed this to automatically detect if the quote is holding dates and show the correct message on the fly.  Note that this blurb is inside the {QHCTAB} field code, so the entire paragraph can be removed or re-styled at any time.

Shiny new alerts!  We upgraded the design of the "Scheduled Payment Failed" and "Scheduled Payment Skipped" system alert to use the new alert style and to have an on/off setting like all of the others.

This wasn't really a bug exactly, but it definitely needed to be fixed.  We're getting pretty close to having all system alerts converted over.

Statement views grouping.  In the previous release, we added some new layout settings to Statement Views and moved the grouping setting to the statement view.  However, in the process, we accidentally set everyone's "Group By" setting to "Do not group" even though the majority of users prefer to group by property, and grouping by property is the default.  We fixed this to flip statement views back to property grouping.

Prefer booked or blocked color to changeover restriction color on rate calendar  On the rate calendar, the gray strip showing booking window restrictions was appearing on top of existing red bookings strips. The red booking strips are higher priority and should be shown instead of the window restriction if both are present.

We fixed this to always show the red booking strip if both are present.

The hovercard will always show the correct information, including Minimum Night or Changeover Restriction

Did we repeat ourselves?  Looks like we did! We've removed the double reviews help text on Vrbo channel settings.

Typos!  When batch copying rates, there was an extra "to" in a section header.  When deleting blocked-off time, the confirmation message referenced "booking".  In the Property Sharing area, we called the plural of property "propertys".  All have been fixed.

Editing disabled bookings.  Ever tried to edit a booking at a disabled property? Doesn't work very well. Well, now it does!  We show "[disabled]" wording around the property name, but you can make your edits.

Discounts versus negative amount.  Our Line Item Summary report breaks up revenue into general rent, surcharge, and tax buckets with totals at the end.  However, we recently realized that we were showing positive and negative amounts for each column with "Discount" as the negative heading.  That's confusing.  After all, discounts are an actual thing in OwnerRez.  If you see a  "Discounts" column, you're going to naturally assume it's one of the real ones (eg. last-minute discount or promo code) and not just a negative rent amount.  So we did two things to clarify this.  First, we added Discount columns to actually show those.  Then, we changed the other revenue types to have "Negative" columns.  For example, there are now "Rent" and "Rent Negative" columns side by side.

"Sleeps" language.  Do we all understand the difference between Sleeps Min and Sleeps Max?  Looks like a bunch of people didn't, and for good reason - our property info tab was awkwardly worded.  Sleeps Min means "number of unique beds in all rooms".  Sleeps Max means "number of sleeping spaces in all rooms based on 1 or 2 people per bed depending on the bed size".  We updated our property info tab to say exactly that.

Channel Bridge date should set the correct time zone.  In recent times, we've done a lot of work to support user time zones correctly.  We noticed another time zone-related issue that needed to be corrected in Channel Bridge.  Channel Bridge was overwriting the booking's correct booking time (set in the user's preferred time zone) with a different time from what it crawled and found on the listing site, even though the time and time zone were both already correct.  This has now been fixed.

11 Comments (add yours)

Dec 29, 2021 5:08 PM
Alece says:

Merry Christmas to US! Thank you for all these amazing enhancements -- and all your hard work always

Quick note that I'm not seeing the Airbnb pet fees working. I used the test you mentioned, to no avail. ("If you're looking to double-check that your pet fee is working, first select some nights without any pets and record what the nightly rate is. Then select a pet and compare the new nightly rate. You should see the price per night increase exactly by the amount of your pet fee.") The total trip cost remained the same with or without pets in my test. 

Dec 29, 2021 5:19 PM
Chris Hynes says:

Airbnb only supports per-stay flat and percentage options for the pet fee, not per night. Looks like your standard pet fee is per night, so you'd need to create another one just for Airbnb that is per stay.

Dec 31, 2021 5:13 AM
Le Touquet Holid says:

With the AirBNb automatic reviews settings "Any Notes Were Written"

Can you confirm which notes field this is checking, is it only the guest CRM notes or does it check the booking notes as well??

Thanks

Dec 31, 2021 8:10 AM
Joel P says:

With the AirBNb automatic reviews settings "Any Notes Were Written"

Can you confirm which notes field this is checking, is it only the guest CRM notes or does it check the booking notes as well??

Thanks

It only looks at the booking notes. Not the guest notes.

Jan 2, 2022 2:42 PM
Chris L says:

Small feature request...would it be possible to support field codes, or at least a very small subset of them, in the automatic reviews? I'd like to do something like "We loved welcoming {FNAME} to our home!" to make it slightly more personal and less obvious that these are automated.

Jan 2, 2022 5:06 PM
Le Touquet Holid says:

It seems odd to look at the booking notes as this field is more often used for logistic type messages and not generally derogatory. Typically thete are always some notes.

As the reviews are about the person it makes more sense to link it to the CRM notes.

Jan 2, 2022 9:26 PM
Chris L says:

I have a smaller pet fee ($40/stay) that applies to the shoulder/off season and a higher pet fee ($100/stay) that applies to peak season. It appears that OR is pushing the higher fee to Airbnb for all dates (a test booking on Airbnb for next week makes the rate jump by $100 if pets are selected). Does Airbnb not support a seasonal differential for this fee?

Jan 2, 2022 10:07 PM
Chris Hynes says:

Does Airbnb not support a seasonal differential for this fee?

by Chris L – Jan 3, 2022 2:26 AM (UTC)

Unfortunately, the pet fee is like other Airbnb fees such as cleaning and only supports a single all time setting, with no possibility to set amounts by date.

Jan 3, 2022 5:01 AM
Le Touquet Holid says:

I'm seeing some issues with the auto reviews. A review is tagged and marked in a several ways as a bad guest so I don't want a review sent.

Yet I have 2 system messages one saying it was sent/scheduled the other saying it was skipped.

I'm hoping it wasn't actually sent as it makes life very difficult with the guest.

Also if I look at the review in OR it shows a written date 14 days ahead so I assume something has been scheduled. Why would it schedule 14 days ahead  any guest review would be past the deadline. Can you explain the logic or what is going on here? I have sent a support ticket with the details.

Jan 3, 2022 5:33 PM
Shawn H says:

Small feature request...would it be possible to support field codes, or at least a very small subset of them, in the automatic reviews? I'd like to do something like "We loved welcoming {FNAME} to our home!" to make it slightly more personal and less obvious that these are automated.

by Chris L – Jan 2, 2022 7:42 PM (UTC)

You're reading our minds, Chris! This is already in the works for a handful of field codes. It should be out in the near future. Happy New Year!

Jan 3, 2022 8:54 PM
Shawn H says:

I'm seeing some issues with the auto reviews. A review is tagged and marked in a several ways as a bad guest so I don't want a review sent.

Yet I have 2 system messages one saying it was sent/scheduled the other saying it was skipped.

I'm hoping it wasn't actually sent as it makes life very difficult with the guest.

Also if I look at the review in OR it shows a written date 14 days ahead so I assume something has been scheduled. Why would it schedule 14 days ahead  any guest review would be past the deadline. Can you explain the logic or what is going on here? I have sent a support ticket with the details.

Hello! After looking at your account, the review was not sent but an erroneous system alert was sent to you. We'll get that fixed in an upcoming release.

Thanks for submitting a support ticket for us to look at all this specifically. We can continue the dialogue there.

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