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Midsummer Updates Part 7 - New Listing Discount for Vrbo, Link to Filtered Property Searches, Booking.com Payment Fees

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Are you enjoying the daily barrage of update posts as much as I am? 😀 Of course you are!  Here we go on Part 7 of the Midsummer Updates series.  This one covers 25 updates from the week of August 16th.

New Features

Have you heard about the "new listing discount" that some channels provide?  Basically, you add a new property (ie. listing) and there's a period of time when you can elect to show a "20% off for new listing!" or something similar on the channel side.  Vrbo offers this for new listings, and (since OwnerRez is an elite partner of Vrbo 😇) they provided us with a New Listing Discount API that our users can use to check your eligibility and enroll in the discount right from the VRBO channel dashboard in OwnerRez.

To get started, go to the Vrbo dashboard in OwnerRez and look for the Actions menu on the right side of each property mapping.  Inside, you'll see a "New Listing Discount" option.

Click that, and a window will open that will show your listing's eligibility and allow you to enroll (if eligible) in the New Listing Discount program.

As the name implies, this is for new listings only.  If you try to enroll a listing that has been live for more than 90 days or a listing that has more than 3 reviews, it's not considered a new listing and enrollment isn't available.  Our window will show you that.

If your listing is eligible, the window will show that and, if you haven't enrolled in the New Listing Discount program, there will be a green "Enable" button there as well. It will look like this:

On the Vrbo side, when a guest is searching for properties, they'll see the New Listing discount as a label on the search page like this:

Then, when the guest drills into your listing, they'll see the New Listing discount in several places on the property page as well.

Enhancements & Tweaks

If you use Booking.com to take bookings, you may have noticed that they sometimes charge fees on payments, not just the commission fee on the booking at large.  So we upgraded our Booking.com API code to detect and bring in payment fees in addition to commission.  Any new payment fees will be shown in the Fees area on the booking's Transaction tab.

If you use an OwnerRez hosted website, you know that there's a property search page where your guests can look for available properties based on dates and basic search filters (eg. bedrooms, guest size).  However, there are times where you need to link to different types of searches or where you want other pages on the same website to drill into the search page with specific search parameters.  For instance, you might want to link to all "3+ bedroom" properties from a different menu.  To support this, we updated the property search page on hosted websites to detect search values in the URL, so you can now pass your search values from one page to the next.  Like widgets, this is done with "or_xxxx" formatted search values.

For instance, if you wanted to have your search page load with properties that are available between June 1 - 5, for 10 or more guests with 4 bedrooms and at least 3 bathrooms, you could add URL parameters like this:

For a full list of search values, look at the Field References section of our Prepopulating Widget Fields support article.  The list of values is the same as what you see there.

Did you know we have a batch update page for Damage Protection?  Yep.  As with all OwnerRez settings, when you turn on Damage Protection, pre-existing bookings are not automatically updated.  This is a precaution so that pre-existing bookings are not unintentionally changed until you want them to be.  But you probably want many pre-existing bookings to have Damage Protection, particularly those that arrive in the future.  The Batch Update for Damage Protection page allows you to do that.  However, this is kind of a hidden thing, and we wanted to draw your attention to the pre-existing future bookings that are affected by your changes, so when you change Damage Protection settings, we now redirect to the batch page and highlight the future bookings that need to be fixed.

Bug Fixes

Redirect on adding existing domain.  Sometimes it's easy to forget what tasks you've already completed. We get it! So we'll smartly redirect you to the domain you already added if you try to add a verified domain a second time.

Channel booking windows now match property booking windows.  The booking window editor on channel settings was confusing for most people... so we made it the same as the one on the property.

Theme it up!  If no payment method is configured for a property, we were displaying the user's email address. But what if you had configured a theme with a different email address? Now we'll display that instead.

Use more accurate examples when previewing agreements.  When you preview an agreement, if there are no bookings to use as a sample, we generate filler values for all booking merge fields. Where appropriate, we now get what we can from the property.

Don't leave me dangling!  If you use our property search widget, you might have noticed that selecting a new page leaves your window scroll position at the bottom of the list. That's weird. We've stuck in a helping hand to pull you back to the top of the list in that scenario.

Security deposit "kept" amount in Net for Commission column. The "Net for Commission" shows PMs and owners what the final owner amount was that the PM commission was calculated on.  This is useful for a bunch of reasons, mostly for reporting.  We noticed that it was including the "kept" amount from security deposits even though that wasn't really true, so we removed it.

Allow refunding even if you no longer accept that card type.  Maybe you used to accept American Express or another card type. If you received a previous payment using that brand of card, you should still be able to refund to it, even if you've disabled it since.

External icon instead of magnifying glass.  In the hosted website settings area, we show links that will open the Live and Test website URLs in a new window, only the icon we were using was....  a magnifying glass?  That bothered us, so we changed it to the "open in new window" icon that we use everywhere else.

Don't reset the first Airbnb connection when trying it again.  We noticed an issue where the connection credentials (username/password information) would reset for an Airbnb connection when a different OwnerRez user attempted to connect to the same Airbnb account.  We fixed this to detect it, show a duplicate account warning and the original account will continue to work correctly.

Rounding on cancellation policy long form.  Previously, the spelled-out form didn't include fractions and the numeric form rounded-off decimals, so a 96.7% cancellation fee can end up reading "ninety-six percent (97%)".  This has been fixed.

Booking.com bookings need a correct property.  We noticed that when a Booking.com room was linked to one property and a booking came in, then that property was disabled, and a new property was linked to the same hotel... the system wasn't properly moving the booking to the new property, or at least creating a duplicate booking.  This has been fixed.  The booking will now properly update, in this situation, to move to the new property.

Airbnb bookings with "unknown" cancellation policy.  When Airbnb released the Firm cancellation policy, they were sending "unknown" as the cancel policy for several months... until we reported the bug and their dev team fixed it. 😜 They fixed it a couple days ago, so we updated our system to detect the correct "firm" code and update existing bookings to have the back-correct the cancellation policy.

Better door code error messages.  We already send out an email when door codes can't be generated, but we noticed some situations where we could provide more information.  For ResortLock, we are now detecting "pin already taken" as the failure reason and changing the "What should I do?" bullets to be correct (rather than suggest regeneration which won't work).  We're also detecting "phone already taken" and suggesting that the user try again without a phone number.

Gracefully handle deletion problems when deleting Verified Sender Domains.  When you create a Verified Sender Domain in OwnerRez, you're also creating domain names with our underlying email provider.  Our system works with theirs to verify DNS records so that delivery is more successful.

Stripe restrictions.  Sometimes Stripe may restrict accounts from making live charges. We now detect this during the test phase when adding a payment method, so those restricted accounts can now test their connections same as everyone else.

Tighten up the Airbnb in-rate tax setting.  We noticed that people were turning on the Airbnb in-rate tax setting when they shouldn't. According to the Airbnb dev team, in North America at least, taxes are only ineligible in NYC and Vancouver. So we made the in-rate tax setting harder to set.

Don't preempt Airbnb quotes before they are booked.  The way we originally built it, when an Airbnb quote occurs, we were issuing a block and switching it to booked after Airbnb notified us of the booking.  But doing that meant that the quote was set to "preempted" status which was incorrect.  We changed this to detect this scenario and stay in a pending status.

Friendly message on Channel Bridge when trying to download ORB's.  When using Channel Bridge, users often try to download reservations by "ORBxxxx" number which errors during the download as there is no such booking.  The "ORBxxxx" number is an OwnerRez number.  We fixed this so that if the number starts with ORB, we show a friendly message on the page immediately before even attempting to start the download.

Allow pending dates to be changed for Booking.com bookings.  I'm not sure why we didn't allow this before, though it probably was because Booking.com is a bit opaque about when/how they do things, and we didn't want to upset the apple-cart.   We've changed this so that you can now change (ie. increase) the "Pending Until" date when bookings auto-cancel, even if they are Booking.com bookings.  Booking.com bookings still have to be cancelled on the Booking.com side, but this affects what OwnerRez does in terms of sending emails and warnings.

Don't merge channel bookings into direct bookings.  When channel bookings come in, we attempt to find and merge them with existing bookings.  This occurs both at first connection and when new bookings come in thereafter, depending on the channel and type of booking.  We noticed that it as occasionally trying to merge with direct bookings (ie. non-channel bookings) where the direct booking had payment and refund info.  We put an end to this, so that direct booking info wasn't overwritten.

Disabled properties in Airbnb tax dashboard.  Previously, we were showing disabled properties if the disable property was linked to an Airbnb listing (even though it is now disabled).  We are no longer showing those.

Rapid-fire Airbnb booking requests and confirmation problems.  Suppose there's an Airbnb booking request that comes in and then a booking confirmation (for the same property and request) in short order, what happens?  Well, what used to happen is that OwnerRez would do an availability check and temporarily block the dates for the request but then a second later the booking confirmation would come in and crash off the block, even though the booking was for the same block and by the same guest.  We now detect this and make sure these rapid-fire scenarios are handled.

2 Comments (add yours)

Sep 20, 2021 9:27 AM
Joined Jan, 2020 140 posts

"Security deposit "kept" amount in Net for Commission column. The "Net for Commission" shows PMs and owners what the final owner amount was that the PM commission was calculated on. This is useful for a bunch of reasons, mostly for reporting. We noticed that it was including the "kept" amount from security deposits even though that wasn't really true, so we removed it."

Sometimes the kept amount DOES go to the PM. What's really needed is the ability to note how much (either $ or %) should go to PM vs. the owner of any security deposit kept amount.

Paul W
Sep 20, 2021 9:54 AM
OR Team Member Joined Jun, 2009 800 posts

Hi Alece,

That has actually been done in a (not yet documented) updated that went out a week or two ago. We did a massive overhaul of security deposits that included "refundable" types versus holds and also rebuilt the security deposit model to use actual payments and refunds that you can see after the fact. It also allows creates charges for you in the main charges grid for whatever the kept amount is with corresponding commission/expense settings.