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Multiple-Account Switching, Date Options for Automatic Expenses, Custom Payment Times, HomeToGo Property Overrides, Houfy Video

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Happy Thursday, everyone!  The weekend is closer than you think, so hang in there!

This blog post covers a release we did a couple of weeks ago - a monstrous 42 update release which includes everything from new features to a new video - so let's get started! 🚀

New Features

Multiple-Account Switcher for Login-Only (Portal) Users

A couple of months ago, we updated portal users to be "login-only users" which set the stage for additional stuff coming in the future.  Now you get to see why that update mattered.

Previously, if someone else's OwnerRez account had already granted access to a person you want to grant access to, the person had to use a different email address to access your account. So the same housekeeper or maintenance person would have to have two different OwnerRez logins, with different email addresses, just to see two different owner's properties. Now, when you grant access to a portal user, that person can access multiple OwnerRez accounts from the same login without running into conflicts on which OwnerRez account is their parent or "master" account.

In this release, we added multiple-account switching directly in the menu bar.  When the portal user logs in, they will now see all the accounts they have access to and be able to switch to the account directly.

The portal user can see all of the accounts they have access to, what kind of access they have (limited or full), and switch to the one they want.

Then, from anywhere in the app, they'll be able to see and switch accounts again using the "Switch Accounts" button on the top menu bar.

Simple, easy, and your cleaners can see both of the PMs they work for in the same spot.

Date Options for Channel and Surcharge Expenses

This is a great new feature that will solve a common problem some PMs have.

Previously, if you mapped an expense to a surcharge, the expense would be created with an expense date that was the same as the booking's arrival date.  For instance, let's assume that you have a cleaning fee of $100 that also creates a cleaning expense to the owner of $100 on the booking.  The cleaning expense would always have an expense date that was the same as the booking's arrival date.

That made sense in a lot of situations but was not always what PMs preferred, or it needed to be different on a case-by-case basis.  In some cases, PMs want the expense to be dated the same as the initial booking date.  In other cases, PMs want the expense date to be the same as the booking's departure date.  This helps owner statements pick up expenses that align with the PMs' statement generation process.

We are happy to announce that you now have those options!

Anywhere you can configure an automatic expense to be created, you can now select what the date should be - the booking's initial booked date, arrival date, or departure date.

To be clear, there are currently two places where you can configure automatic expenses to be created:

  • Surcharges - when creating surcharges, there is a bottom "Expense" section that lets you link an automatic expense against the surcharge. When a booking uses that surcharge, an associated expense is automatically created and the expense will be dated according to the "Date To Use" on that surcharge.
  • Channel Fees on Owners - when specifying how channel fees (which also include credit card processing fees) are created against an owner, there is a section that allows you to specify whether the owner is charged and, if so, what the expense should look like.

Both of these sections now have the "Date To Use" option.

In the near future, we are planning to add an "Automatic Expenses" feature that will allow you to create automatic expenses for a variety of scenarios, including based on calendar time (weekly, monthly expenses).  When that comes out, it will have a Date To Use option as well.  That work has been tasked but not yet scheduled.

Enhancements & Tweaks

Record Multiple Owner Payouts with Fine-Tuned Statement Selection

Did you know that you can record multiple owner payouts in one click?  And then, send them all into QuickBooks (as checks or bills to pay) in one click?  Yeah, it's pretty sweet!

Unfortunately, we've noticed that a lot of PMs didn't use this feature, and often the reason for that is because they tried to use it once and couldn't move forward because there were too many historical payouts to deal with.  Previously, the way the page worked is that all of the payouts showed together and you either selected the owner (with all their unpaid statements) or not.  There was no way to select just some of the owner's statements to fix previous payouts.

We updated this page so that you can now select specific statements to match the payouts you want to record.  And we added a "Specific Statements" selector to target the "earliest" or "latest" statements for all owners to make this easy.

In the above example, it is showing all statements for all owners, just like before, but now you can quickly grab just the earliest or latest statements (for each owner) to record payouts that match your actual records.

Use this to quickly catch up recording your payout history, and then you can move forward, recording payouts for new months in the future.  And after that, give the "Send to QuickBooks" button a try.  That's a great way to move your payouts over to QuickBooks in bulk for fast check printing or ACH transfers.

Add Property Overrides for HomeToGo Channel Rules

We've supported HomeToGo as part of our channel management system for more than a year now, but we recently noticed that there were no property-specific override settings for HomeToGo like there are for Vrbo, Airbnb, TripAdvisor, and Booking.com.

This past week, we released an update for the property > Channel Rules tab that includes HomeToGo under the Cancellation Policies and House Rules sections.

Using these new options, you can now select a unique cancellation policy and set of house rules for HomeToGo that is different for one property than another and only on HomeToGo.

Support OpenEdge Security Settings

Do you use OpenEdge?  If so, you might have noticed some strange behavior when it comes to security settings when processing guest credit cards.  We noticed this too, and so we dug in and studied what was going on.

What we noticed is that OpenEdge has an "Auto-Decline Security Settings" area in their control panel where users can define when they want credit cards declined.  For instance, you might want a higher or lower level of verification when it comes to the guest's billing address or security code.  Previously, we were forcing a high level of verification that some guests were running afoul of even though their billing address and security codes were good.

We changed our integration code for OpenEdge to no longer require a high level of verification.  Instead, as an OpenEdge user, you now have the ability to control the level of verification on your own.  Find the "Auto-Decline Security Settings" section in the OpenEdge control panel and select the options that you want to require.

Set Time on Payments and Refunds

A while back, we did some maintenance work on our payments and refunds (and hundreds of other record types) to update the payment and refund times to UTC (London) time zone.  UTC time zone is under the covers of course.  What you see in the interface is based on your own personal time zone preferences. And by the way, if you didn't know about that, go to the Settings > Check-In/Out page to see your account and property-level time zone preferences.  You can set an account level time zone and a different one for each property, though the property one is only used for guest-related details.  This is useful for PMs that own or manage properties in different regions (such as a house in Mexico and also properties in Florida or the Carolinas).

However, we recently noticed an issue with manual payments and refunds.  When automatic payments and refunds are created (such as when a channel or direct booking comes in, or when you run a credit card) the time is recorded as of the time the payment or refund was made.  But what about manual payments, such as when a check or cash payment is recorded?  Previously, our system would lop off the time and just record a date value, but that really meant that the time was stored as "00:00:00" which is the same as 12 am midnight.  After the system was changed to store dates in the UTC time zone, that 12 am midnight time was being displayed as the day before for all users in the western hemisphere (because UTC time occurs several hours before the time zones of the western hemisphere).

To fix this, we updated the payment and refund areas to allow the time to be set when entering manual payments and refunds. By default, the Collected date defaults to the current time so that you don't need to set anything unless you want to.

Then, if you need to change it, click the "Change" button, and you'll see both the date and time available to set.

If the payment came in a few days before, no worries.  Just set some time in the middle of the day like 12 noon.  It's really not a super important detail, but we wanted to upgrade this to help our users that enter a lot of manual payments.

Bug Fixes

Deleted bookings with Damage Protection making invoices crash.  When user invoices (the invoices that you see when you pay your monthly OwnerRez bill) include Damage Protection policies, we make sure to show the specific bookings that are related to those policies.  We recently noticed that if a booking is referenced on an invoice, then the booking is later deleted, the original user invoice fails to load in the future.  This could happen for a number of reasons, so we fixed it to detect if the booking is gone and not crash.  If you're curious, later invoices will always return the Damage Protection credit back to the user whether the booking exists or not.

Spaces, please!  The category on the surcharges list was showing a typo (no spaces) for the following categories: Baby Bed, High Chair, Hot Tub, Property Fee, Water Craft, and Water Craft Mooring.  The words were running together.  We fixed this so that they now display properly.

Be professional even when closing.  We hope you never see our Close Account screen, but if you do, we want to put our best foot forward!  We noticed some stuff that needed to be cleaned up like a few typos and a broken link.  All fixed now.  But again, you should never go to that screen. 😇

Images sent via Airbnb messages should not include bb code.  That was a relic of a forgotten past. So we removed it.

Unsupported characters gotta go.  Do you know what a "control character" is?  If you studied computer science you might.  For everyone else, it's a character that you can't see on the screen but can technically be copied/pasted or inserted if you copy the wrong bit of text. Sometimes, when computers encounter these characters and have to display something, you see these on the screen: ���.  We noticed that occasionally, characters like this were showing up in prominent places like property descriptions or headlines, so we now check and remove those characters before saving property data.

Rounding error on HomeToGo rate adjustments.  HomeToGo notified us that in certain (very rare) situations, quotes were not coming back correctly from OwnerRez to HomeToGo.  We dug into this and found that there were rounding issues with the first-payment amount that was causing the quote to think there was an extra amount due beyond the first payment.  This is now fixed.

"Guest Paid" percentage. If you use our PM module, you know that we track a "Guest Paid %" number so that the owner and PM's earnings can be adjusted to a point in time. In the days before the security deposit overhaul, the Guest Paid % number had to look at the booking's security deposits and include extra for the amount kept. During the security deposit overhaul, we changed security deposits to update the booking's charges and payments when any money was kept from the security deposit.  When we did this, the Guest Paid % number was not adjusted so the number was higher than it should have been.  This has now been fixed.  To be clear, your owner and PM statements would not have included extra money because of this.  Statements never remit more than 100% of the booking's earnings regardless of any pro-ration calculations.

No owner, no problem.  We noticed and fixed a bug on the Excel export for owner statements where a booking that didn't have an associated owner was making the export crash. Wondering how a booking can be on a statement even though it has no owner?  Yes, that does seem strange, but the answer is simple - because it used to have an owner, and then the owner was removed.  When that happens, the previous owner statements stay like they are, showing the original owner, and any new statements will show the same booking because the owner's earnings have to be negated to take the money back.

Bathroom spacing on hosted sites.  After some recent website tweaks, we noticed that the bathroom count and wording on hosted websites would sometimes display bathrooms with numbers running together like "5 bathrooms(4 full, 1 half)."  We fixed that.  But also, we removed the part in parenthesis if there are no half bathrooms.

Fee and Net totals on security deposit payments.  Now that we record Stripe fees on security deposits (thanks to this bug fix a few months ago), we noticed that we're not updating the fees section of the associated payment and showing the true "net" amount as we should. When you keep part of the security deposit, there is an associated payment that is collected from the guest.  That payment was where the fee and net amounts were not updating.  This has been fixed.

Don't use the rental agreement when composing an email to request a signature.  This one is rather convoluted, but the outcome is that in some rare circumstances, using the "Compose Email" button on the "Request e-Signature" page would request the signature on the wrong agreement template. We've added extra safety checking to prevent that.

Character counters that don't count.  When you type in a comment next to an amenity, under a property's listing content, there is a little character counter that shows you how many characters you have left as you type.  Or at least it's supposed to.  We noticed that in some cases, it wasn't updating, so we found and fixed all the places where this was happening.

If you're curious, we found this happening under the Accommodations, Amenities, Health & Safety, and Location tabs.  All better now!

Offset blue banner.  When you "login as" a portal user, there's a blue bar at the top that tells you you're logged in as someone else and gives you a link to go back. We noticed that in some places inside the portal account, the blue bar was offset with a bunch of white space to the left of it, so we fixed it.

Cancel button to nowhere.  There are two really-useful Batch Update features in the PM menu.  However, when inside those batch screens, the bottom "Cancel" buttons were redirecting to the top PM overview menu instead of going back to the previous batch options page.  We fixed this.

Sites referencing old storage areas.  We've been working on updating our content storage areas for a while, so this is basically just a continuation of that.  Recently, we found some code in our hosted websites that was still referencing the old content storage areas, so we upgraded those places.  You would not have noticed any broken images or content because the old storage areas are still up and running.  This update was purely under the covers.

"Automatic" Security Deposits.  In our property rules area, we provide options for the type of security deposit you want to charge.  The options you can select are Hold, Refundable, or No Security Deposits.  But that one isn't quite accurate.  After all, you can still put a security deposit in place manually, and many users do just that.  We added the word "Automatic" there so that it's clear that the rule only limits automatic security deposits, not manual ones.

Global alerts design.  While the design of our user interface hasn't changed in a long time, we do endeavor to keep it consistent and clean as we make updates and add new features.  One of the things we changed last year, design-wise, is how alerts look.  Alerts were changed to be clean, flat, and condensed.  We recently noticed that our global alerts (the ones that show at the top of every page if there's a serious problem) were not following the latest design so we upgraded those to match.

Guest wasn't deleted, what happened?!  Previously, if there was an error while deleting the guest from the "Delete Guest" tab on the guest sidebar menu, the operation just fizzled with no indication of the error. Now, we show the error in the same window where you confirm that you really want to delete.  And we also show proactive (ie. early) warning messages in the same window if the guest cannot be deleted.

Message "sent on [date]" but disabled.  Recently, we noticed that the booking > Messages tab shows "This email was successfully sent ..." even when some of the alerts are disabled.  This was based on a bug that was created when we transitioned to the new Messages design on bookings.  We fixed this to show an accurate label depending on the status of the alert or the message that was sent.

PM Lock on security deposits.  Our PM Lock feature prevents bookings from being changed financially, in any way, after a booking has been fully remitted to the owner.  This prevents accidents from happening where a booking is changed and then shows up again on a future statement for the same owner, leading to confusion and frustration.  However, in the case of security deposits, we were allowing PM Lock to be ignored (ie. bypassed) when an active security deposit was being held.  This is because the booking is sometimes already fully remitted to the owner before the security deposit is released.  Typically, the bypass works fine because most security deposits are returned in full.  However, we noticed a bug where a kept security deposit was creating a payment that would half finish and then crash when trying to update some of the booking's financial stats.  We fixed this.  Now, if you try to keep money from a security deposit on a booking that was PM-locked, the system will first warn you about PM Lock and ask you to remove it before even attempting to collect the money.

Reviews for all.  Did you know we have an awesome reviews feature in OwnerRez?  Yep!  And not just direct reviews.  We also integrate with Airbnb and support Airbnb reviews for both guests and hosts.  Previously, the Reviews tabs were hidden if you didn't have Airbnb integration in place.  That's because the "Host" side of reviews isn't possible without Airbnb integration.  So we were hiding both tags and just showing the guest reviews by default.  However, our normal design pattern is to show users all available features but disable them when they aren't available with a message showing why.  This makes it less confusing when you read support articles or watch support videos about a particular feature.  We updated the reviews section to do just that.  The Guest and Host Reviews tabs now show all the time. If you don't have Airbnb channel integration configured, the Host Reviews tab will tell you that.

Where is the "Location Type" section?  Answer: nowhere.  We noticed that our Listing Quality Analyzer tool was recommending a change in the "Location > Location Type" section, but that no section longer exists.  We changed this to be "Location > Setting & View".

Rate table for 7 night season that overlaps the current month.  This is an interesting one that will make your head spin thinking about it!  If there was a recurring season that started last month and finished before today, and that season had a 7-night minimum requirement, and that season length was such that there were less than seven nights in the current month, then the property rate table wouldn't show the weekly rate.  Confused?  Heck, you can't even see it happen unless it's a certain day of the month!  Well, it's fixed.

Monthly rates on rate tables.  If you only allow monthly stays (eg. a minimum night requirement of 30 nights), do you have a monthly rate?  Well sort of.  Maybe you didn't actually specify that anywhere, and maybe you have "Show Monthly" turned off on the rate table.  But we realized that you still have a monthly rate - after all, no other types of stays are allowed!  So we fixed the rate table to now detect if your rate requires a monthly stay and if it detects that, force-show the monthly rate column.

LOS and monthly rates for February.  Every year during February we see a couple of new February-related bugs in OwnerRez - things that normal months don't show.  Well, last month was February, and it happened again!  We noticed that we were calculating 28-night LOS (length of stay) discounts based on 30 night months which would sometimes leave out February.  It depended on where the booking stay dates started and ended, particularly if it started on February 1.  We fixed this to check for a couple of things when the stay dates are around February, so this shouldn't happen again.

Go by listing active for Vrbo push.  A while back, we switched out Vrbo channel property mapping code to update listings to "active" status automatically.  Recently, we realized that this "active" indicator is a better way of knowing if a listing can be pushed to Vrbo rather than when a booking comes in.  So we switched those push processes over to check the active indicator instead.

The review's source.  Have you noticed our awesome What Our Customers Say page?  It's full of awesome reviews and testimonials that our users have posted on various software websites.  When copying the review content to our website, we also make sure to credit the original place it was listed so that anyone can verify the authenticity of the review.  However, we noticed that the source was not linking across, so we fixed it.  You can now click on the source (eg. Capterra, Facebook) and see the original review yourself.  And hey, if you love OwnerRez, why not leave us a review yourself?

Damage Protection for last-minute bookings.  Our Damage Protection program is pretty awesome, and after users turn it on, they realize that they need to use the batch update tool to update all their pre-existing bookings to have the same coverage.  We noticed that the batch update tool was excluding last-minute bookings that were still eligible for coverage, so we changed that to validate based on arrival date instead of departure date.

Is "up to" more than or less than?  A savvy user pointed out that our cancellation descriptions (ie. the long-form sentences that are rendered in renter agreements) use "up to" wording even though that is grammatically incorrect.  For instance, saying "up to 30 days before arrival" actually means anything 30 days or less since it's "up to".  That would mean a cancellation at 15 days is valid since 15 is "up to" 30.  We fixed this by replacing "up to" with "at least".  So the same example would now say "at least 30 days before arrival" which means 30 days or more.

Decouple "watch topic" from alert.  Have you enjoyed our new forums?  We noticed that there was some confusion between the system alert setting that sends you an email message when a thread is replied to versus the "watch this topic" button.  You might want to watch a topic but not get the alert.  In the near future, you'll see your watched topics appear on your forum profile page.

We fixed the "watch topic" part to not care about the system alert so that you can now continue watching topics without being automatically emailed for them.  To be clear, any watched topic will still send you an email message unless you turn off the system alert.

Max nights rule on taxes.  It's rare, but there are situations where users have to set a maximum night setting on taxes.  In other words, tax should not be charged if the booking is longer than [x] nights.  This mostly happens with long-term stays like a 30 days.  There are jurisdictions where tax is not required if a stay is 30 days or longer because it's considered a long-term residential-style rental.  In OwnerRez, you make this work by simply changing your tax to have a "Max Nights" setting of 30.

We recently noticed that some users had really low numbers in that Max Nights field, like 2 or 3 nights.  When asked, the user admitted that this was a mistake.  Further complicating the situation, Airbnb does not allow less than 10 nights when it comes to Max Nights settings on taxes, so these users had channel integration problems as well.  To fix this, we now require that the Max Nights for taxes be 10 or greater.

Rate Calendar link on property loads the wrong property.  On the property's > General Info tab, the "Rate Calendar" link is supposed to load the calendar for the property, but instead, it always loads the calendar for the property at the top of the drop-down list.  We fixed it!

New Videos

We thought that we should do a Houfy support video on how to setup & connect. So we did!  Houfy is a great channel for you to list your properties on (and completely free) so if you're wondering how to get started, check out this video.