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The OwnerRez Blog

A blog about our thoughts, services, upcoming features and the industry at large.

Payments by check, pending bookings, Sage integration and more

Monday evening, we released a large update that wrapped up four months of development.  Here at OwnerRez, we dislike sitting on development for months at a time.  Our goal is to release at least one update every three weeks.  As Michelle mentioned, this update took a lot more time because of all the areas of the application that it affected.

You can look at the technical details on the update page, but here's a quick breakdown of the big stuff.

Accounts can now have multiple payment methods

Look at your account overview page, and you'll notice that the text is different in the payment methods section.  Click through to view your payment methods and you'll notice that the area has been completely redesigned.  If you click the 'Add Payment Method' button, you'll get options for adding more payment methods.

There is no limit to the number of payment methods you can have in your account.  Suppose you want to have a unique merchant account for each of your properties so that the guest sees the name of the property on their credit card statement.  You can now do that.  Simply set up integration for each of your merchant accounts and select which properties each one is used for.  The system will not allow a property to be linked to more than one payment method of the same type (check, credit card, etc.).  I'll be covering this area in more detail in the next few days.

Guests can now accept a quote while paying by check

As you dig around in the new payment methods area, you'll notice that 'check' is now an option.  While the system always supported recording manual payments as check or cash, we now allow the guest to accept and finalize their quotes while picking payment by check.

Building this functionality created myriad ramifications throughout the application.  Checks necessitate rules.  How many days will you (the owner) wait on the payment to arrive before the booking should be canceled?  How far in advance of the arrival date do you want check payments to be available?  Can you tweak how long a booking is pending, or remove it altogether for guests you trust?  Over the next few days, I'll explain these issues and how OwnerRez satisfies them.

Pending bookings and auto-cancellation

The new payment by check feature created the need for a 'pending' status on bookings which we opened up as a feature on all bookings.  You can now set bookings to be pending for a certain number of days, or until a specific date, which will automatically remind the guest to send a payment.  The pending status is linked to the booking's payments such that when any payment is recorded, the pending status is automatically removed.  Likewise, it is not possible to set the booking as pending if the booking has at least one payment recorded.  You can also remove it yourself under the General Info tab.  More on this to come.

Quote acceptance forms have been overhauled

The next time you look at the payment form for a quote, you'll notice that the design has changed.  While the design is not drastically different, you'll notice that some text has been moved around, the buttons have changed, the pages are faster and your payment methods are more prominently displayed.

We'll be making more changes to this area in coming development sprints.  We've long considered these forms to be too dry and uninviting (you guys have pointed that out too!), and we know they need more dressing for your properties.  We'll be adding a nice header across the top that shows an image of your property, your property name, other information you want to include and a link to your website.  During this update, we overhauled the page architecture to prepare for those coming changes.

New legal agreement page during the quote acceptance process

Users have long pointed out that having a simple checkbox for agreeing to the Terms and Conditions - and not calling out the legal agreement in a more obvious way - is a bad approach.  We agreed with you, and now it's been changed.

Now, when the guest accepts their quote, the very first page they see is the legal agreement, prominently displayed with a warning of what they are agreeing to, the date/time, their public IP address and a box for them to enter their name.  This is a much clearer way of putting the legal agreement in their face and forcing them to understand their responsibilities.  Also, as the first page of the acceptance process, it allows them to jump out quickly if they disagree with something before wasting time entering their billing info.

Sage Payments integration for all users

We've added credit card integration for another gateway - Sage Payments.  Those of you that created a merchant account with us already use this gateway, and nothing has changed for you except that you can now see the integration details under your payment methods.

In the past, we've been approached by users that already have a Sage Payments merchant account, created elsewhere, that wanted to use it with OwnerRez.  You can now do that.  Simply go to your payment methods, click the 'Add Payment Method' button and select Sage Payments.  You should have your M_ID and M_KEY integration codes already on-hand, sent to you from Sage at some previous time.  If can't find them, contact Sage directly and they'll tell you what they are.

In addition to these major changes, we also fixed, updated and enhanced dozens of minor things.  For instance, you can now specify your Company Name on your profile and then insert that as a mail merge field into your legal agreement.

As we continue to push out releases, please tell us how your personal management style is made easier or harder by what we're doing.  Each owner has unique ways of managing their properties.  Feedback is key!

The fastest, most-professional way to book is with OwnerRez, the leader in online vacation rental software.  Sign up for your free account!

4 Comments (add yours)

Apr 25, 12
11:15 am
cp9293 says:

I would like to thank you and everyone that works for OwnerRez. You guys are doing a GREAT JOB!!!

I went in to a previous outstanding quote and sent an email to myself again (I am the customer). When I went to accept and saw the T&C on the first page and went to the second page, I did not see an option to pay via check. Is this because it was a previously quoted transaction? Do I have to enter another bogus quote, to see the pay by check option?

Maybe it has to do with one of the explanations above, which I didn't understand fully. Can the guest have the option of either paying via credit card or paying via check, during the acceptance of the transactions? I don't know which way they will pay, when I send the quote.

One of my townhouses, most are paid via credit card and some by check. My other townhouse is mostly by check and some by credit card.

Claudia

Apr 25, 12
11:31 am
Sam Westcott says:

You're very welcome. ~Sam

Apr 25, 12
12:01 pm
Michelle J says:

Hi Claudia,

That's most likely happening (you're not seeing the check payment method) because the arrival date of your quote is too close. Remember, the check payment method has a rule that restricts it from being used if the arrival date is too close.

To see what I mean, go edit your check payment method to make the arrival-date rule much smaller (say 15 days) and make sure the quote arrival date is more than 15 days from now. Then refresh the public quote acceptance form and you should see the check payment method appear.

The guest always has the option of choosing whichever payment method they prefer.

-Michelle

Apr 25, 12
12:32 pm
cp9293 says:

Great! Thanks, Claudia

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What is OwnerRez?

We are an online booking service for vacation rental property that helps managers and owners save time, create quotes and bookings faster, look professional and keep detailed records without needing an accountant or staff.