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Messaging - SMS Common Issues and Questions

How Much Does It Cost?

The current pricing for SMS Messaging is $15.00 per billing cycle (per month) for up to 200 outgoing messages. There is no limit or cost on incoming messages.

Outgoing messages above the monthly allocation of 200 will be charged at the rate of 3¢ ($0.03) per message. Fees will be assessed at the end of each billing cycle and charged to the credit card we have on file.

Note that the pricing may change at any time, based on the rates we are charged by our telecoms partner.

How Do I Turn It On?

Go to Settings > Messaging > SMS Numbers. Choose the “Create Phone” button. You will NOT be messaging from your personal phone number. You will be creating a new number from our database of available numbers. Enter the area code you’d like your messages to come from and “Search”. If we do not have any numbers assigned to that area code, please choose another area code. (Our telephony operator has millions of available numbers, but not all area codes are covered.)

Choose a phone number you like and select the “Claim” button beside that number. (When you click “Claim” the messaging service will be enabled and that number will be added to your account. You will be charged as shown above.) Please Note: numbers displayed are those available at that moment. There is a possibility someone else may select that same number and complete their set-up before you, which will result in an error message at the end of the Create Phone page. You’ll need to go back to the page where you input the area code and select a different number.

On the “Create Phone” page enter a name for the number – a business name or a personal one.

On that same page, select how you’d like to handle incoming voicemail messages: You may use a pre-recorded message (one that you’ve provided) or you may select “text-to-speech”. If “text-to-speech” is chosen, you will type the message you want a caller to hear, and an electronically generated voice will “read” the message.

If you want voicemail messages to always be forwarded to another number, enter that number in “Forwarding Phone Number.” The message will still be available within your OR account, also. If you decide to forward to another phone, be sure to select what incoming number would you like to see displayed on that phone:

  • the actual number that sent the original message (e.g. your guest’s number)
  • your own OwnerRez SMS Message number, so you know it's an OwnerRez message

Can I use my own phone number?

Unfortunately not.  While it is technically possible to transfer phone numbers between carriers, if you've ever done that with your cellphone you know it is very complicated, time-consuming, and error prone.  At this time, we don't support that - you'll just have to pick one of the numbers we offer.

Can I Have More Than 1 Number?

The system was built to make it possible to have multiple numbers.  However, only a few users have had that functionality turned on.  At the moment, we're limiting that until we get more feedback about general usage.  If you are interested in this capability, please contact the Helpdesk.

How Do I Send an SMS Message To My Guest?

There are two ways to send SMS messages to a guest.

  1. From within their individual booking. Once in the booking, look at the top right under the Booking # and click on the “Conversation” menu item. This will take you to a page where you can type the message. If this is an Airbnb guest, you will have the choice of sending the message via the Airbnb messenger or through the OR SMS messaging feature. If you choose the SMS, you will notice the guest’s phone number is automatically selected. (If this is not an Airbnb guest, that option will be grayed out and is not available.) Just type your message and hit send. You can also attach a photo or other file (only 1 per message).
  2. Through the CRM tab. If this is the FIRST time you’ve sent an SMS message to this specific guest, go to CRM and select “Contacts.” From the list displayed, find the guest you wish to message and click on the “Pencil" icon to the left of the guest’s name. On the next screen, from the left hand menu, choose “Conversation.” If there is a phone number associated with that guest record, you will be taken to the screen where you can type your message.

What Menu Is It In?

You can find all your SMS Messages, Incoming and Outgoing, under CRM > Inbox in the Main OwnerRez menu. This is in addition to seeing messages within a booking under the “Conversation” menu item.

Can I Send Messages from My Phone?

Yes and no.

  • You cannot send or receive from your phone through your phone's main dialer/SMS app.
  • You can use the OR website on your smartphone to see and respond to SMS messages. Just like on a computer, send and receive messages within a booking by using the “Conversation” item, or go to CRM > Inbox to see existing conversations.

How Do I Know If Someone Sent Me a Message?

1. You can watch the CRM > Inbox counters on the menu which will light up when new messages have arrived. This is the case for both Airbnb and SMS messages.  We know that we need more alerts for seeing new messages, and it's at the top of our list.  It's the first thing every user has pointed out.

2. There is a system alert for SMS Messages that will fire off an email anytime one comes in.  This email will be sent to the main email address on your account.  It will include the message itself and where it came from.

Note that you cannot reply to the SMS message by replying to the email - instead, you'll need to click on the included link to go to the OwnerRez inbox, and you can reply from there.

Where Can I See Messages Exchanged With Someone?

Within a specific Booking, go to the “Conversation” menu item in the upper, right, under the Booking #. In addition, you can use the CRM tab from the main OwnerRez menu (CRM > Inbox) to see folks you’ve messaged with – both SMS Messages and ones sent through Airbnb.

Can I use SMS anywhere?

At present, OwnerRez SMS capabilities are only available from numbers based out of North America, and can only send to numbers that are in the 50 United States and Canada.  Note that, for historical reasons, US possessions such as Puerto Rico and various other islands, while legally being in the US and using phone numbers formatted similarly to US numbers, aren't actually and thus are cannot receive SMS messages from OwnerRez at present.

This is not a technical limitation - it's an economic one, as we have not yet worked out a suitable way to charge for international telecom service, whose systems are generally billed very differently. We intend to add worldwide capability in the future.

We offer both United States and Canadian telephone numbers for the SMS service.

How do you know which phone numbers are mobile and can receive text messages, and which are landlines that can't?

You don't. We can't either. There's simply no reliable, automatic way to detect this.

If you send a text to a non-mobile number, in most cases the phone company will telephone that number and, if someone answers the phone, read them text-to-speech of your text message.

When you are configuring email templates to send messages to your guest, you can use the {CPHONEPR} field code for the primary phone number, which will usually (but not always) be their mobile.  Or, you can use the {CPHONE} field code to send to all of their phone numbers, not knowing which are or aren't mobile, but hopefully at least one will be, so the message will work.

What if I get an error message when attempting to send?

If there's a failure when sending an SMS, you'll get an error message letting you know what happened. Sometimes this can be because the guest entered a wrong number or the phone isn't accessible and that will be stated in the error message. 

Very occasionally you'll get a 30008 Unknown error. Here's the description from our carrier:

"Message Delivery - Unknown error

If a message you sent is not delivered to the end device and returns a 30008 error code, this means that delivery of your message failed for unknown reasons.

When we receive a very generic error from our carrier partner that we have no further details about, we associate the message with the error code 30008, letting you know that we truly don't know what caused this error from the provider."

You can try again and see if it works -- it's possible the phone is off or roaming or isn't reachable for some reason.

Another thing to try is sending a shorter message to the phone, with simple content that does not include any special characters. This would give our support team an idea as to whether the failure is related to concatenation or character encoding.

If you know it should work, such as if you can successfully text the number directly via other devices, send a few tests from OwnerRez and send in a support ticket and we'll escalate it up to the carrier.

What happens if someone tries to place a regular phone call to my OwnerRez SMS number?

At present, we don't have any interface for you to receive, answer, or place calls using your SMS number. However, we do allow the guests to leave a voicemail message, which is then forwarded to your primary email address. This includes the phone number that called you, a transcription of the message, and a link to a recording of the message that you can listen to.  You can respond to them in any other way.

It is also possible to configure your OwnerRez SMS number to forward calls (not text messages, just actual voice calls) to another specified number.

This must be a North American phone number - overseas numbers won't work.  If you are overseas, you can likely obtain a valid North American number from Google Voice or a similar service that will work.

I got an email saying "The recipient's carrier blocked your message."

Yes, that happens sometimes - phone carriers have spam detectors, much like email. Unfortunately, when this occurs, there is very little that can be done to remove the spam block. We simply let you know, so you can attempt to contact your guest some other way.

Blocking is done on a per-number basis. There's no correlation between your personal cell phone, or a ClickSend number, or an OwnerRez reserved (Twilio) number. The carrier and device will evaluate each independently, and block or not block based on whatever internal rules are set by them. You can read more about message blocking here:

https://support.twilio.com/hc/en-us/articles/360022449893-SMS-Carrier-Filtering-in-the-United-States-and-Canada 

The major carriers are working alongside VOIP services on something called A2P Messaging that will increase the brand and sending reputation of apps that send SMS messages but it's not yet widely supported.  We're watching it and will jump on it as soon as it arrives.

If you find you are getting a high rate of blocks for your messages, you may wish to consider the following:

  • Verify that your guests are actually providing mobile numbers. We can't currently distinguish between mobile, VOIP, or landline numbers. Some of these will fail because the device or carrier simply does not support SMS at all.
  • Try including "Reply STOP to unsubscribe" at the end of all your messages.  If the guest actually does reply STOP, our SMS service provider will automatically block us from sending any further texts to that number.  This cannot be reversed.
  • If you're not tied to the current number, try deleting your SMS number and getting a new one. However, you might encounter the same issue again in the future if your messaging patterns or text are triggering the carrier's spam filters. 

Cannot send an SMS message to myself

You should set up the SMS message to send a message to your cell phone or some other phone number. The SMS phone number you register through OwnerRez is a real phone number, supplied by our telcomm carrier, and it is not possible for a phone number to send a text message to itself. You would have to send a SMS message to a different phone number that you own, or you could send yourself an email message instead of SMS. The common use for SMS messages and triggers is to remind guests, housekeepers and third parties about things relating to a booking.

Can I forward my OwnerRez SMS number to my Google Voice number?

You can forward voice calls made to your OwnerRez SMS number to your Google Voice or any other valid North American telephone number, as discussed above.  You cannot forward SMS text messages to any other number.

If a guest has multiple phone numbers or a booking has multiple guests, where do my SMS messages get sent?

Generally, you use field codes in your message templates, so that OwnerRez will automatically fill in the correct information when an individual message is sent.

If you use the {CPHONE} merge code to send messages to (which is the default), then the SMS will be sent to all phone numbers on the booking and/or guest contact.

If you only want to send to the first number on the contact, switch the TO on the template to use the {CPHONEPR} field code.