Channel bridge Jan 18, 2019 6:18 PM
1) I looked at channel bridge for the first time. OTAs - in the left hand menu, I see Airbnb & HA/VRBO.
How does this work with FlipKey, Booking.com and other OTAs?
2) Do you ever plan an OR app? :)
Re: Channel bridge Jan 20, 2019 9:51 AM
Sorry for the lack of docs around Channel Bridge and our channel management at large. We've been pushing updates faster than writing docs. ….A general problem around here.
Our channel integration varies based on the channel and what is possible (ie. what we've been approved for, partnership wise, or what the channel is technically able to do). Channel work is probably 75% of what we do so it's constantly being updated and worked on.
We have two basic types of channel management - API Integrated channels and Synced channels. Again, this is based on the limits of each channel (either technical limits or them not approving us yet for something more).
"API integrated" channels means we have a partner level agreement with the channel and our servers talk to their servers. The rates, rules, availability are automatically pushed back and forth and there's nothing you need to do manually. Bookings are sent over to our system automatically as well. In the case of TripAdvisor, the listing content (photo, amenities, descriptions) are all pushed across too, so if you change any of that in OR, it will change on the TripAdvisor side. We are finishing up a large API integration with HomeAway where all of that will happen with HomeAway as well. That's in the final stages of testing with a pilot group of users. Currently, we have API Integrated integration for Booking.com, CanadaStays, TripAdvisor and (very soon) VRBO/HomeAway. We're also working on API integrations for Airbnb, ECBYO and some others but those are farther out.
"Synced" channels is where we support calendar integration (iCal) and inquiry parsing where we support standards that all channels adhere to (like iCal) and import/export what we can. We've done a lot of work to make our parsing and iCal support as smart as possible for things like booking cancellations or moved dates but there are natural limitations.
Early on, we realized that:
1) We could not have API Integration with every major channel we wanted (or at least not as fast as possible), and
2) The "Synced" style with iCal and inquiry parsing wasn't going to cut it because bookings only come in with dates and guest name and everything else was left out. Also there are time delays between iCal updates.
So we built an in-house tool called "Channel Bridge" that simulates the user with the goal of copy and pasting data between their channel account and their OwnerRez account. The idea is to find and extract booking data from VRBO and Airbnb so that you can fully flesh out your bookings in OwnerRez and keep them up to date - guest email, phone, charges, payments and more. You want all that in OwnerRez so you can manage bookings directly without logging ina nd out of channel constantly, and you want your down-stream stuff (reports, search, QB integration, etc) to be accurate across all bookings whether channel or not.
Channel Bridge is a work in progress and it will be for a long time. It's a fairly difficult problem area to work in, but there is a lot of potential. At the moment, it involves some manual steps (eg. downloading bookings then importing those into VRBO) but our goal is to make it more automated.
We also recently added rate push to it so that, if Channel Bridge is installed, you can push rates through it from OwnerRez over to the channel.