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API Integrations - Preparing to go API

Our Channel Management feature is extremely powerful and can greatly simplify your channel advertising. Learn how it works by reading our Channel Management Overview article.  The most powerful part of our Channel Management is the API Integrations we have with certain channel partners.

Each of the API channels we integrate with has differences in how you connect and manage the API integration. We have individual support documents devoted to connecting and managing each channel.  However there are some general things you can do to make the process easier, no matter which channel you are integrating with.

Make sure you qualify

No matter how much warning we give, there are always users who jump into API integration without, actually, being allowed to use a certain API channel down the line.  This leads to a lot of wasted time and frustration.  In general, we have Channel Management features that work for all users, no matter the size, but certain API integrations are limited by the channel and there's no way around that.

Make sure you check our API technical differences article to see if the channel you want to be on will actually allow you to connect.  If the "Minimum Properties Required" number is larger than the number of properties you own or manage, you will not be able to integrate with that channel.

That being said, some users have added dummy properties to their account to get past the 5+ limit with certain channels.  For instance, if you have 4 properties and one is a large house, you might add a 5th property called "Upstairs Loft" that uses the same photos and amenities of the large house but has a blocked-off calendar whenever that large house is blocked (so that it isn't double booked).  We actually have a Mutual Block-Off feature that will automate the calendar process for you so that two virtual properties are always properly blocked for each other.  If you are able to do this, you can successfully achieve the 5 property minimum but be aware that the channel has final approval.

Understand what functions each API channel actually supports

Like being qualified, it is also important to understand the functional limits of what each API channel supports.  You might want to only take credit card payments yourself, and not have the guest make payment through the channel, but only some API integrations allow that.  Check out our API functional differences article to see what the channel supports and what exactly will be pushed or pulled from OwnerRez regarding bookings, guest data, credit cards, rates and so on.  In some cases, the channel may support a function with caveats.  There are help bubbles on that article that, when you hover, will show you those caveats.

Fill out your property content

Make sure your property content (descriptions, amenities, photos, house rules, etc) are all filled out.  When you click into a property, in OwnerRez, there is a list of tabs in the sidebar under the property.  Some of those tabs are under a "Listing Content" section, see pic below.

Run through each of these tabs and fill out the fields that are inside.  If you're wondering which description fields are used by which channel, consult our comparison guide for property fields.  Even if a particular channel does not support or use a certain field, fill it out anyway.  You may turn on future API integration that will use that field.  It doesn't hurt to be complete.

Fill our your rates and rules

The longest and most detailed work you will face, while preparing for API integration, is your rates and rules.  We've spent a lot of time making sure our rate and rule engine pushes correctly to the channels, but that only works if you take the time to really fill out your rates and rules correctly.

Take your time to check your rules at the channel, season and property level for each property.  Run tests and double check that the system is properly verifying and validating what it should be based on your business workflow.

When filling out rates, work on one property at a time.  If you use seasonal rates, filter the global season and rate lists for just one property so that you verify that one property before moving on to another.  You can also edit seasons and rates for a property from the property's overview/general info page.

If you use spot rates, check out the new Rates Calendar editor under the top Tools menu.  This will show you a month-calendar view with your availability over top and the current rate amount and minimum night rule on each day.  You can use that calendar to set new spots rates by selecting dates directly.  Please be aware that this will set spot rates that are not recurring and will only affect the days you select.  Spot rates override seasonal rates.

For more about rates, please read our Rate Engine Bible support article.

Use the Rate Checker and Rate Tester tools

You cannot know that your rates and rules are correct unless you spend some time testing them.  Do not take this lightly!  You need to hammer your rates and rules to make sure they are coming out as expected. To aid in testing, we have several tools (under the top Tools menus) that will provide detailed feedback about your property.

Rate Checker will show you the nightly rates for an entire year for a specific property and the rules during that period as well.  You can select a specific channel and it will adjust for the channel if you've configured rates differences based on the channel.

Rate Tester will give you a detailed quote and show you why each line item was generated with a link to the season, rate or surcharge that kicked in.  You can adjust party size, dates, channel and more to fine-tune the quote.

Pay attention to the red alert box in the middle that tells you what would really happen if the quote or booking was attempted live.  This shows you party size violations, minimum or maximum night rules and many other things.

Make sure to test many things:

  • Test that your basic per-night rates are correct across the year.  Look at nights in off seasons, weekends, high seasons and holidays periods.
  • Test length of stay rates by grabbing weekend, weeks and months and verifying that your discounts are factoring in properly.
  • Test fee variations for things like pets, cleaning, extra guests, maintenance and so on.
  • Test that taxes are correct.  If you had taxes turned off for a channel previously (like HomeAway because they were remitting taxes for you) make sure to turn them back on before going API.  Some channels stop remitting taxes for you once you go API, so you need to make sure they are being collected.  Consult the channel documentation we have for each channel to verify the specifics.
  • Test special discounts for things like last-minute bookings.  The Rate Checker and Rate Calendar tools will show how the nightly rate drops on upcoming recent nights while going back up as the date gets farther away.
  • Test minimum nights in regular periods versus weekends, holidays or other periods where you require a longer stay.
  • Test gap night rules to confirm that gap nights are allowing fewer minimum nights depending on the size of the gap.
  • Test hard limits for things like pets or guest numbers.  If you disallow pets, does the Rate Tester show that when you put a pet on your quote?

After the API integration is connected for a channel, make sure to test all of the above on the channel side as well.  Even though our tools, in OwnerRez, may confirm a certain rate or rule, there may be situations where the channel does not show that to guests properly.  Don't assume anything - always test every side.

Use the Listing Quality Analyzer tool

If you do nothing else to prepare, make sure you run our Listing Quality Analyzer tool.  You can find it under the top Tools menu.  This tool was specifically built to help prepare users for API integration by running through all of your properties and looking for errors or inconsistencies.

It flags certain things as errors - things that the API integration will fail on - that must be fixed before moving forward, but it also shows warnings and general info that can be useful. For instance, if you have Pets Allowed in your amenities but then have your pet rule set to a max of 0 (effectively blocking pets) it will point that out with a warning.  Or if you have photos, but they are low resolution, it will point that out.  We have spent a lot of time working on this tool, so please make sure to run it and read through the information it provides you.

Turn on the premium feature

All API Integrations in OwnerRez require the Channel Management "premium" feature to be turned on which adds a small monthly fee to your account.  If you haven't done it already, make sure the Channel Management premium feature is turned on in your account.  If you've already connected other API integrations, the premium feature should already be turned on.  You won't need to turn it on more than once.