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Hosted Header Styles & Menu Buttons & Links, Condensed View Fixes, Pool Icon, SMS Sees Limited Daylight

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Hosted Header Styles & Menu Buttons & Links, Condensed View Fixes, Pool Icon, SMS Sees Limited Daylight

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Happy Wednesday, property managers and owners and hosts and clients! That's right - you were all over the place as to what we should call you.  24% said "property manager".  22% said "owner".  "Host" got an honorable mention at 18% but the rest was a mix of craziness.  So, as expected, there is no single word that handles everyone.

8 solid updates were put out this week all of which were enhancements or bug fixes. I guess we liked the last clean-up week so well, we decided to do another one.

Enhancements and Tweaks

After a couple weeks of watching how you were using the new hosted website header/menu area, we noticed a number of things and made some tweaks.  First, we added some new style options for headers:

  • You can now set a background image on each header line
  • There is a new font option also on each header line
  • We added a button color option that makes buttons show the correct background color and border outline when hovering versus not hovering
  • We fixed the default button text and border colors to match the text

Additionally, we changed how the Site Menu option is rendered and allowed it to be mixed into Links & Text sections.  This allows you to create buttons and ad hoc links right next to your menu without choosing one or the other.

We also removed buttons from the Site Menu so that you could define those where and how you want right in the header line section. The process for creating and managing button is now much more intuitive.

Across hosted websites and widgets, you'll notice that icons (on buttons or call-out amenities) look new.  This is because we upgraded our icon library to use FontAwesome 5.  We are in the process of upgrading that to FontAwesome 6 and then doing the same across our main app as well, so you'll see more on that soon.

By the way, fun fact - did you know your Links & Text items on hosted website headers can reference any icon in the FontAwesome library?  There almost 8,000 icons available, all of which can be any text color and size.  And yes, we support all the "PRO license" icons in their library too. šŸ˜‰

While we were updating the icon library, we took the opportunity to add more call-out amenities on the widget and website property pages.  For instance, pool and hot tub are call-outs amenities now and have new icons.

Awhile back, we added a cool feature to email templates where an active template would show you where it was used with links to those items.  So you could instantly see what trigger or system message, for instance was using the current email template in view.  This was cool but a little to verbose.  Overtime, we noticed that scheduled emails and other things were filling up the "used by" area and creating a lot of needless information.  We simplified the "used on" section of email templates to only show highly relevant information.

Now let's see who's still reading...  SMS (ie. text messaging) is out.  Yes, that's right - the system now will allow you to register your own phone number (in your own area code), send SMS messages in guest conversation threads (along with images) and even create SMS-based trigger that will send SMS templates automatically.  However, major caveat - this is a private feature that only some users will gain access to up front.  We will be selecting small groups to email over the next week or two as we expand the feature to include more users.  If you would like to be targeted for inclusion, please drop a comment on this blog post and we'll make sure to put you in the first groups that are emailed.  Couple of important notes:

  • SMS is a premium feature that carries a cost because of the large telephony integration that was required to get it off the ground and the ongoing cost of registering and using phone numbers.  It will roughly cost $15 per month to turn on the SMS premium feature, register your own phone number and have 300 outbound messages included.  Past the free ones, there is a cost of a couple cents per message.  Usage will be shown on your monthly statements.
  • SMS is only available for US/Canada phone numbers to start.  Our infrastructure supports the ability to add other country codes in the future, but we'll be starting it off with the US/Canada limit in place.  If you're a European or Asian client, you could still use it, but the phone number you select would have to be US/Canada based to start.

Some of this might change, but that's the broad strokes.  Again, drop a note in the comments if you want early access; otherwise, look for emails about this in the coming weeks.

Bug Fixes

Condensed view empties.  Our new condensed view feature was a little too aggressive and was condensing away $0 line items.  Sometimes you need a $0 line item to brag on yourself a little (eg. "Including free pool heat!!!").  This is now fixed.  Back to bragging about free pool heat!

Condensed view order.  It was also not honoring the standard order when not collapsed.  This is also now fixed.

36 Comments (add yours)

Jul 22, 2020 9:53 PM
Scott K says:

Please include me in Sms...
Scott Knight

Jul 22, 2020 10:04 PM
Rent In Myrtle says:

We would love to trial SMS :)

Jul 23, 2020 9:27 AM
BlueMtnCabins says:

yes to SMS!

Jul 23, 2020 9:55 AM
John H says:

Yes, I'd like to be included in SMS!

Jul 23, 2020 10:18 AM
Misty T says:

Please add me to SMS!

Jul 23, 2020 10:31 AM
Le Touquet Holid says:

Its good to see the introduction of SMS. A little disappointed the way the ongoing payment has been structured which will effectively make it expensive for smaller users who probably won't use it for that reason. It is a shame because it's a powerful feature. I would prefer to have a credit arrangement where you buy credits in advance, top up as required and maybe have a slightly higher cost per message to cover the costs. In other words pay per usage not a fixed monthly fee. Or Have 2 systems pay monthly for larger users and PAYG for others.

Jul 23, 2020 10:46 AM
Tim says:

Does the message appear to come from our own phones, or a different number? Also, what happens if the guest responds to it? The LAST thing in the world I want is guests being able to reply!!!

Jul 23, 2020 10:58 AM
Michele W says:

Please include me in the text beta program. Jim Willis

Jul 23, 2020 11:16 AM
Paul W says:

@Tim: You'll register a new phone number which you can pick from a list of available ones in your area code. You will essentially "own" that number on your account so pick a good one. Later you'll be able to use the same number to make calls, etc. Guests will fully be able to respond by SMS and the message will come into OwnerRez and show in the guest's conversation thread and inbox. Guests can also call the number and they'll get a voicemail message that you can see and configure on your account. If they leave a voicemail, you'll be emailed the message. In the future, you'll be able to use the number to make and receive live calls as well, so pick a good number that you want to use moving forward.

Jul 23, 2020 11:21 AM
Paul W says:

@Le Touquet Holid: The cost is both monthly and usage based combined for all users. There is a monthly fee to have the service connected and running (which covers your phone number and the premium features built into OR). And then the usage is billed as you use the number in excess of what is included for free. Larger PMs will have a usage charge in addition to the monthly. Smaller owners may end up paying the monthly fee only. The telephony costs and features are too expensive to operate going purely on credits as this point in time. That may be something we're willing to look at in the future.

Jul 23, 2020 11:33 AM
Le Touquet Holid says:

Thanks Paul i understand you have to cover the back end costs for such a system - Just to give you an idea my previous PMS did this for around 10 UK Pence per text on straight usage system. :(

Jul 23, 2020 12:09 PM
Paul W says:

Wow, your old PM was pretty expensive! That's about 13 cents (USD) per message that your old PMS was charging. At that rate, the base fee $15 we are charging would barely cover 100 messages.

We are including 300 outbound messages and unlimited inbound which works out to 2-3 cents per message depending on your ratio of outbound/inbound. It's 3 cents/outbound after that.

It's not hard to hit 100 messages. 1 trigger on each booking plus some back and forth small conversations. Consider a simple trigger with some polite responding...

Automated trigger: "Make sure to read the welcome packet email we sent for your stay at [x]"

Guest: "Got it, thanks. Who should I call if I have a problem?"

You respond: "You can call this number or my cell. Have a good stay"

Guest: "Will do, thanks"

You're at 4 messages, even without having an actual extended conversation. In testing, we saw this routinely. It's not hard to hit 100 messages in a month even with 1 or 2 properties.

Jul 23, 2020 12:12 PM
Chris A says:

Please include me in Sms

Jul 23, 2020 12:13 PM
Chris A says:

Please include me in SMS

Jul 23, 2020 12:15 PM
Brendan C says:

Are you still working on being able to send messages directly to the AirBnb/VRBO inboxes? Also, are we able to pick times that triggered emails get sent? I would love those features.

Jul 23, 2020 12:18 PM
Paul W says:

Apologies, I forgot to include another important note in the blog post. I just added it:

"SMS is only available for US/Canada phone numbers to start. Our infrastructure supports the ability to add other country codes in the future, but we'll be starting it off with the US/Canada limit in place. If you're a European or Asian client, you could still use it, but the phone number you select would have to be US/Canada based to start."

Le Touquet Holid made me remember this when he mentioned GBP currency. Apologies for not mentioning that up front!

Jul 23, 2020 12:20 PM
Paul W says:

@Brendan C: Yes on both. The time of day option is already through development and in testing. Look for that in a month or so.

Jul 23, 2020 12:27 PM
Chris L says:

Iā€™m sure you already know I want to be in the early round of SMS testing, but just in case... ;)

Jul 23, 2020 12:33 PM
Le Touquet Holid says:

Thanks Paul
Guess why i left my old provider amongst other reasons! I think its going to depend on how people envisage using the service? Personally i look at it as more of a push only service rather than a 2 way chat. For sending those important message such as key codes or don't forget to do this etc. A text provides more confidence that such messages have not been blocked by a spam filter. More in depth conversations would be via email or direct text. It would be nice if there was some scope for lighter users. Typically 2- 3 messages per booking is all that's needed.

Jul 23, 2020 4:19 PM
Patricia Knight says:

Love hearing that SMS is being included into OR. $15/mo is so doable, considering I'm paying $60 plus per month right now. Would love to be included on Beta testing!!!

Jul 23, 2020 11:38 PM
Tim says:

For light use, you can always use an external email-to-sms service instead. I also, want one-way door codes and payment reminders, etc. I do NOT want to get replies, as that creates chatty guests who want to know where the spoons are and how to work the TV....

Jul 24, 2020 2:17 PM
Kara W says:

Yes, would love to be added to the SMS beta group. And I agree with others, I'd be using this to send key code and a "thank you" at check out. I don't want it encourage unnecessary back and forth with easier accessibility. It would be great if it was something like a Remind type of thing where guests wouldn't respond back--I think. I need to think about this more though. Excited to check it out. You guys are great! Thanks!

Jul 24, 2020 2:33 PM
Paul W says:

Thanks, Kara!

In general, there is no way to stop guests from responding to a text message. If their carrier supports it, they can always respond. There are no SMS or MMS specs for "not allowing a response".

However, to stop responses, you could simply say something like:

"AUTO-REMINDER: Booking blah blah blah. Please email [x] to respond"

So that it looks robotic and official.

And since you're using a separate phone number, nothing will come back to your own cell phone. The response would simply hit the inbox in OR where you could to ignore it. 😇

Jul 24, 2020 2:55 PM
Chris A says:

Paul, could you not set up the SMS service to send out and auto response to any texts that received a reply with the auto response saying this number not monitored and to contact via another method?

Jul 24, 2020 3:48 PM
Paul W says:

Sure. And I'm guessing we'll add some kind of auto-responder setting as the Inbox grows in use so that you can configure that yourself.

Jul 24, 2020 4:15 PM
BlueMtnCabins says:

Paul W said:

Sure. And I'm guessing we'll add some kind of auto-responder setting as the Inbox grows in use so that you can configure that yourself.

awesome. another suggestion is ability to shorten quote URL. I noticed the biggist issue is when people inquire and system auto responds with quote email, most of the time that email goes unopened. Would be great to auto-respond with text that inclused (shortened) link to quote. Something like " Hi <guestname>, thank you for your inquiry about <propertyname>. You can see your quote here <shortened quote URL>. Thanks, <propertyowner>

Jul 24, 2020 5:00 PM
Paul W says:

Short links for guest forms has already gone through engineering and is currently in testing/QA. 😇 Look for that out live by end of August.

What we're doing with Air and SMS messaging necessitated shortening those, but also Booking.com broke their message thread awhile back and any link beyond 100 characters or so is broken in half and completely unusable. So we had to change up how we do links.

As an example, the default link for quotes will look like this:


Which will auto expand to the current version that looks like this:


The short version will become the default output in messaging and field codes.

Jul 24, 2020 7:57 PM
Josh T says:

Absolutely awesome how you're constantly improving the product! I'd be honored to be in the first batch of SMS users.

Jul 25, 2020 10:49 PM
Michelle Z says:

Please put Australia on the list too. Understand it cannot be done straight away but it is something a lot of us do already outside of OwnerRez. Would be so much easier 'in' OwnerRez :-) Thanks!

Jul 26, 2020 11:15 AM
BlueMtnCabins says:

Great. here is another idea. A trigger that can be set up for un-booked inquiries.
Meaning, there was an inquiry, dates are available, quote or response was sent, but travelers has not booked did in <number of days>.
So something like this:

Inquiry quoted = yes;
Inquiry booked = no;
Days after quote created = <number of days>

So that we can create a triggered follow up email or text.

Jul 28, 2020 10:53 PM
Kismet Prop says:

PLEASE include me in SMS. I am so waiting for this feature!

Jul 29, 2020 8:42 PM
Bill M says:

I'd love to understand how the SMS works along with how you have updated the triggers to accommodate.

Jul 30, 2020 1:03 PM
Leonardo d says:

Hi! SMS is must for me :) I'm doing manually today, so please add me to SMS.

I'm also waiting for Airbnb messages trigger :)

Jul 30, 2020 3:03 PM
Renee H says:

Please add me to the SMS as well!! Excited to text instead of email!!!!!

Jul 31, 2020 1:20 PM
Ragip K says:

Please add me to the SMS

Nov 6, 2020 1:05 PM
CWV says:

Yes, Me, Yes....PLEASE include us reservations@coastalwavesvacations.com for SMS early group!!!

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