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Calendar Import/Export - Common Issues & Questions

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.  A core part of our Channel Management is the Calendar Import/Export process which keeps your OwnerRez calendar in sync with channel calendars.

This article provides a list of common questions and answers that are not covered elsewhere.  First read the Calendar Import/Export overview article about what calendar import/exporting is, how it works and how to configure it.  That article covers the typical workflow and most normal questions.

Do I need to manually run the import and export?

No, the calendar import/export process runs in the background throughout the day on both the OwnerRez and channel side. It is automatic and does not need any manual intervention once it has been configured. When the calendar import engine finds a change, OwnerRez will email you about the change that occurred.

How often during the day does it run?

OwnerRez checks all calendar imports about once every 30 minutes.  If there is a change on the channel calendar, our system should notice it in 30 minutes or less, typically much less.

That being said, the channel may not actually show the change in their calendar export link for awhile.  There are times, due to caching or other pending states, the calendar export doesn't actually update for an hour or two.  Because of this, it may take longer for OwnerRez to update since the calendar export isn't showing the change.

On the channel side, we have no control over the import frequency. Our research shows that most channels run every 4 to 6 hours, while some only run once or twice per day unfortunately.  So while changes on the channel side may show up in OwnerRez quickly, changes in OwnerRez may take a bit longer to update on the channel.

Forcing immediate updates

You may know that you got a booking and want it to show up in OwnerRez immediately without having to wait 30 minutes for the calendar import to run.

To do that, open the calendar import and click the Sync Now button above the Sync Actions log.  This will cause OwnerRez to do an immediate sync on the calendar import while you wait.

On the channel side, you may want the channel to update without waiting for hours until their system gets around to it.  Some channels like Airbnb and TripAdvisor have an option to run immediately.  You can find those options by going to the calendar import/export area and clicking the refresh or sync button that is provided.  Other channels like HomeAway don't offer this option.  For those channels, the only option is to completely remove the calendar import and re-add it.  That tends to do a full refresh while you wait.

There is no way for OwnerRez to force the channel side to update automatically.  We have no control over the channel's import engine.  How often it runs is entirely up to the channel.  However, again, you can typically force it to refresh by removing and re-adding the calendar import on their side.

Sideways syncing between channels (VRBO to Airbnb and vice versa)

You should think of OwnerRez as your "master" calendar. All channels (eg. Airbnb or HomeAway) should import into OwnerRez and then OwnerRez should export back to them as well. Don't sync any channels sideways (VRBO to Airbnb directly and vice versa). Only sync back and forth with OwnerRez as the central hub. That creates cleaner lines of syncing and allows OwnerRez to fix or expose conflicts better.

Never do manual blocks on VRBO, Airbnb or other channel calendars. Do your blocks in OwnerRez only - they'll be pushed out to the channels for you.

Bookings versus blocked-off time

Our calendar import engine will try to create bookings as much as possible. However, many calendar exports do not provide enough information for us to create an actual booking - no guest name or other information other than the arrival/departure dates.  Because of this a blocked-off time is created instead of a booking.  You can then manually convert the blocked-off times to bookings by opening the block and clicking "Convert to Booking" button.  You will be prompted to enter guest information and other details when creating the booking.

Currently, Airbnb, HomeAway/VRBO, and TripAdvisor all provide enough information in their calendar export for us to create bookings.  However, those bookings will appear empty with limited information.  The guest contact information will not be included, nor will the charges, payments or fees.  Because of this, we recommend running Channel Bridge tool to download the rest of those details and "flesh out" the booking in OwnerRez.

Empty bookings - where's the guest and financial data?

After new bookings come in, you'll notice that they look empty.  Specifically, they may just have arrival/departure dates and a guest name. This is because for calendar imports, that is the only information that is contained in the calendar (iCal) sync.

Our Channel Bridge tool was specifically built to deal with this problem.  Channel Bridge will find and download booking/guest information for HomeAway and Airbnb bookings.

The workflow steps are:

  1. The booking occurs on Airbnb or HomeAway
  2. A few minutes after, our system automatically imports it in, blocking the calendar in OwnerRez
  3. The booking in our system will have basic information such as dates, guest name and phone number if it's Airbnb, but not much else
  4. Later (the same day or later in the week) you then run Channel Bridge to download and "bring in" the rest of the booking info which you can do later at any time

Remember that we also have API integrations available for Airbnb, Booking.com, TripAdvisor, HomeAway/VRBO, and others depending on your size. Some like Airbnb and Booking.com will work for any number of properties. Others like TA require a minimum number of properties.

Importing from one OwnerRez property to another OwnerRez property

Some users have "combination properties" where a single house has multiple bookable units within it.  For instance, you might have a Duplex property that has Left Side and Right Side individually available for a total of three properties.  When the Left or Right side books, you need the whole Duplex property blocked; when the Duplex property is booked, you want both Left and Right blocked too.

If you have this type of scenario, do not configure calendar imports in OwnerRez from one property to another.  Instead, use our Mutual Blocking feature which is designed to handle combination properties.  There are virtually no situations in which you should be importing one OwnerRez property into another OwnerRez property.  If you find yourself needing to do this, please contact us first to explain the scenario.  There may be a better solution for you.

Removing all imported bookings and blocks

If you make a mistake - for instance, create a calendar import for the wrong property - you may need to quickly remove all the bookings and blocks that are created by the calendar import engine.  Go to the Calendar Import/Export area, find the calendar import and drill in.  Right above the Sync Actions log, there is a Delete Imported Items button.

Click this button and the system will remove everything that was created by this specific calendar import.

Please note that it may not remove all bookings for the channel at large because you might have multiple calendar imports configured for the same channel. For instance, you might have a VRBO calendar import configured for each of your properties.  Deleting the imported items will only remove them for the one calendar import you are currently working on.

Changing the calendar import URL

You might make a mistake and copy/paste the wrong calendar export link when creating a calendar import.  When you come back to the calendar import later, you'll notice that the URL cannot be changed.  This is by design.

However, no worries - you can certainly correct your mistake!  First, determine if you need to delete all the imported bookings and blocks, and do that first.  Then, disable the calendar import so that it will no longer run.  Finally, create a new calendar import using the correct URL.

Re-importing all the old/past events after the import is already running

By default, our calendar import engine does not import old events after they have been brought in once.  This is for several reason, one of which is as a security precaution against re-creating "new" bookings after they have been deleted or cancelled.

However, you may need to make the import engine bring old bookings in again.  For instance, you may have deleted everything and then determined that you need those bookings/blocks again.  Or you may have not imported them the first time and then changed your mind.

Open the calendar import, click Change and select the Include Past Events option.

Click Save and OwnerRez will do a fresh import of all the past events without skipping over them.

Syncing with other (non-channel) calendars

Our calendar export links will work in any calendar system that supports iCal, such as Google Calendar, Outlook, Yahoo, Apple Calendar and many smartphone calendars. If you go into your calendar system's settings area, there will be options to "follow" or "subscribe" to an online calendar. Put in the export link from OwnerRez and you'll see your bookings appear as new events in your calendar.

Please note that third party calendar systems can take more than a day to update.  Google Calendar is particularly slow to update and can take several days.  Because of this, changes in OwnerRez may not be reflected in Google Calendar until their system updates.  To make it update faster, you have to remove and re-add the calendar import on their side.

Do I need calendar import/export while on API integration?

No.  Once you move to an API integration for a particular channel, the calendar import/exports for that channel can be disabled.  In fact, when you connect an API integration, OwnerRez will find and disable the calendar import for that same channel.

If the calendar import remains behind, you can disable it manually.  Our API integrations fully take care of keeping the channel calendar up to date and those updates occur in near real-time.

You should also remove the calendar import on the channel side (ie. exporting from OwnerRez to the channel) so that the channel is not checking our export links after the API integration is in place.  Most API integrated channels do this automatically as well, but it doesn't hurt to double check.

Exception: The HomeAway/VRBO API handles all calendar information for bookings that are made after you connect the API.  For bookings that already existed when you first connected the API, well, the API ignores those.  So you need to keep the calendar syncs running for a while to pick up any potential changes in those bookings. Also, there are some know glitches where new bookings will not be handled via the API, so it is wise to keep the iCal calendar imports forever as a backup to catch these situations.

My booking was cancelled on the other channel, but it's still showing in OwnerRez.

Not all sources of iCal calendar feeds send a message stating that a booking is cancelled. Some of them just remove the booking from the feed.

But, other sources remove old events from the calendar feed.  So we can't just assume a booking is cancelled simply because it is no longer in the iCal feed.

In these situations, if you are sure that the booking was imported via iCal and not an API, and that the booking has in fact been cancelled, go ahead and manually cancel it yourself in OwnerRez.