Top travel trends

 

The hospitality industry has changed rapidly over the past few years, largely due to the increasing digitisation of all aspects of life. Let’s look at some of the trends these changes are bringing to the industry.

 

Data-driven

Data is all the information you can collect about a person or activity. Data analytics uses all this information to show trends, forecasts and build reports. Hotels and lodges are starting to collect this data on their guests, potential guests and the preferences of both so they can offer a tailored service and more personalised approach. For example, you can use data analytics to personalise your summer sales campaigns to target guests who like to travel in summer. This more personalised campaign is more likely to get a positive response.

 

Tech

Technology is driving the trends in most industries, and the hospitality one is no different. From apps on your phone to unlock your room door to choosing your own entertainment, lighting, meals and pillows from your phone! Hotel management is also shifting to cloud-based services and reducing the number of IT experts needed. Customer service has also gone online and allowing real-time feedback is far more important to management than hearing about complaints weeks after the guest has left. Collecting all the customer service feedback into a single space accessible by all staff is also part of tech’s influence on the industry.

 

Millennial

The millennial market (people aged between 18-34) is a fast-growing travel market. They are tech savvy, like personalised services and flexibility. Hotels and lodges that offer a seamless check-in using a mobile, or offer gourmet ‘Instagram’ meals and a fast wifi will be top of the list for most millenials!

 

Wellness

Health and wellness is another trend that is impacting multiple industries. Guests are increasingly more health-conscious and want to maintain a healthy lifestyle while travelling. Thus the need for gyms, in-room equipment, healthy food options and spas are becoming a standard requirement for many hotels and lodges.

 

Environment

The green trend is growing globally and more and more guests are aware of the negative environmental impact that travelling has and want to offset some of that where they can by choosing environmentally friendly places to stay. Hotels and lodges that recycle water, grow their own produce, use solar energy and energy efficient lighting are some of the features that guests are looking for.

 

Quirkiness

Standard, chain-type of hotels and lodges will find themselves behind the trend if they offer the same experience whichever location one visits. Guests like hotels and lodges to have quirky/unique touches such as themed bathrooms or roomed names. This can extend into the personalization discussed under data, such as providing custom music lists.  

 

These are just some of the emerging trends changing the hospitality industry. If you have experienced something new or interesting on your travels, comment below and let us know! You could be on to a new trend!

 

References

Bizcommunity

Site-minder

Keeping your data safe

On the 25th of May, The General Data Protection Regulation commonly known as the GDPR, came into play. This new legislation is designed to set for companies on standard for consumer rights on data. Companies will need to be able to show the systems they have put in place to protect consumer data and their privacy.

The legislature is quite broad when defining personal identification information which makes compliance a challenge. Companies will need the same level of protection for things like an individual’s IP address or cookie data as they do for name, address and emails.

How does ResRequest comply with the GDPR regulations?

We are reviewing our processes and putting checks in place to ensure that we are adhering to the new standards.

Our subscriber policy is not to data mine and we request consent to sign anyone up on our mailing list. Your email address and personal data you consent to provide us with is used only for contacting you with ResRequest business related information. ResRequest system users’ email addresses are added to our mailing lists during implementation and at the direction of the system administrator. We use these contact details to send you notifications from us on our system functionality. This information is important to ensure you get the most out of your ResRequest system to add value to your business. We hope you enjoy reading our newsletters and learning about the product you lease. 

If we have met with you or you have shown interest in using ResRequest, we may use your contact details to send you information about ResRequest that we feel will be beneficial to you.

We do not share your details with data collectors. Should you wish to no longer receive our communications, remember that you can unsubscribe at any time.

Our dedicated SAAS team constantly monitor our online platforms to ensure our security is always upgraded and detect breaches. Our server hosts are recognised service providers.

ResRequest does have third party platforms which are part of our business service, such as Guest Survey interfaces, Financial Accounts interfaces, connections to Online Travel Agents, Booking Engines, Point of sales systems, Telephone Systems, Payment Gateways and Business Analytics. These systems are dependent on accessing data from our customer’s system to process our customer’s operational needs and an NDA between you and the service provider is recommended.

To learn more, please read our updated our Privacy policy and Terms of use which can be found on our website.

Get Insite – Leverage your data for smarter decision making with ResInsite

ResInsite is here to leverage your data for smarter and faster decision making – saving you time, optimising your revenues and launching you into the world of big data on a flexible and intelligent platform.

Your business quietly collects millions of rows of data – whilst you are expertly tucking your guests into bed for a good night’s sleep – ResInsite is churning those rows into deep insights and smart business decisions. The Results? More guests to tuck away and more time to focus on perfecting the art of a memorable stay.

Using QlikView, a charting tool, Pomerol Partners have worked with ResRequest to bring you ResInsite – a business intelligence application. ResInsite graphs your ResRequest data so you can make smart decisions based on your data trends. An in-the-cloud solution that offers guided insights into what has made your business a success and how to keep it trending upwards.

 

Traditional approaches to hospitality analytics are time consuming and often filled with best guess scenarios cobbled together on platforms like Excel. Now you can deploy award-winning software in your business that offers guided analytics, driving faster responses to the changing business environment without the need for costly development and the associated teething problems. Easy to deploy, tried, tested, effective and the perfect match for your ResRequest platform – ResInsite promises to mature your organisations’ approach to analytics and data with stunning results.

Getting started using ResInsite…
ResInsite has been lovingly developed over two years on the award-winning QlikView platform. It is an in memory, in the cloud, SaaS (software as a solution) deployment that requires no costly additional licencing or development.
ResInsite connects daily to your ResRequest data in an ultra-secure environment that protects your hidden data – but brings it visually to life.
Pre-developed with carefully thought out, tried and tested tabs mean that you are always just a few clicks away from a live report or a handful of new insights. Whether you need financials, bednight/room-night reports, occupancy reports, agent and consultant analysis, guest demographics, lead times, forecasts, what-if scenarios, extra’s analysis (and much, much more) – it is all just a few clicks on a dozen tabs away. We utilise a dual calendar so that you can compare results on any metric against both past and future performance. This helps you spot trends, identify revenue gaps and explore the opportunities to resolve them.
Multiple currencies across multiple countries? Multiple properties or just a single slice of heaven? No problem – ResInsite will give you visibility across your entire organisation, whatever your unique complexities are.
What are the benefits?
  1. ResInsite uses the most intelligent and flexible platform for turning data into knowledge.
  2. It connects daily to ResRequest for live insights and fast responses to an ever-changing environment.
  3. Visually powerful, ResInsite allows you to ‘see’ your data.
  4. Fast and accurate reports are just a few clicks away – gone are the days of flat and time-consuming reports.
  5. ResInsite dynamically reviews all the key metrics of the hospitality framework.
  6. ResInsite is responsive to you the client, whether you need more-or-less from the platform we understand the data and can help you get the most out of your ‘Res-Insights’.
  7. Easy to use. Designed to ensure that no professional skills are required to leverage your data – just a willingness to dive into the results.
  8. Aggressively priced to ensure that ResInsite’s world-class analytics don’t break the bank but help you optimise your revenues.
  9. Ultra-Secure. ResInsite has been designed to keep your data in a highly secure environment.
  10. Fully supported by ResRequest and Pomerol Partners – help is just a click away.

How does it work?
ResRequest makes a copy of your live database available to ResInsite before your guests (and the teams that look after them) wake up. ResInsite whirs into action and transforms millions of rows of data into files that the application can import into an in-memory solution that makes ResInsite super-fast and dynamically responsive. The application is refreshed daily with live data.
You access your app with your unique credentials through a ResInsite portal – whatever your location.
ResInsite works on a per user licence agreement. Choose who gets to the see the app and even what they get to see.
Steps to deploying ResInsite
First Step:
You will need to sign up with Pomerol Partners by signing a comprehensive Non-Disclosure Agreement (that protects you and your data) and a Master Services Agreement that covers the nuts and bolts of access, billing and availability.
Understanding your needs:
We meet with you to get a better understanding of your business intelligence needs, your specific pain points and the business logic that you employ. This allows us to deploy ResInsite in a manner that makes perfect sense to your organisation.

Data validation:
We customise a few simple settings that allows us to tailor ResInsite to your unique reporting methodologies. We will work closely with you to verify that the data is accurate and the figures and results that you are both used to and expect are reflected.

Going live:
We automate the process of gathering and aggregating your data from ResRequest. We show you how to navigate ResInsite, it’s tips and tricks and how to get the most of its’ suite of analytics. We monitor your usage and ensure that it’s deployed in an effective manner for your needs.

Support:
Pomerol Partners work in conjunction with ResRequest to ensure that issues are seamlessly resolved, and your questions effectively answered.

Customisation:
We listen to your needs and where appropriate will ensure that your ResInsite grows as fast as you do.

Billing:
Billing is processed monthly in advance. The cost of ResInsite is $155 per user per month. Further customisations and integrations into 3rd party applications (finance, accounting, HR, tour operator, etc) are possible, subject to standard consulting fees and are separate from user license fees.

Please contact resinsite@pomerolpartners.com with any questions or to sign up for this product and service.

 

Imminent VAT change

Recently the South African Minister of Finance announced a tax change of 1% effective from 1 April. What will this mean for your business and how will you implement the changes in your operations? We’ve prepared a document to guide you through. Please note, this is our advice and experience and we are not responsible for the decisions or actions taken in your business operations.

We will cover:

Understanding the changes

Implementing the tax changes in your business

Making changes in ResRequest

Understanding the changes

In his Budget speech, Finance Minister Malusi Gigaba advised that, for the first time since 1993, South Africa will be facing a 1% VAT hike to be implemented on 1 April 2018. During his speech he listed many more areas which will see tax changes emerging.

What’s changing? VAT, personal tax (although the increase will be below inflation and only apply to the bottom tax brackets), sinner’s tax, fuel levies, donations tax, excise duties on luxury goods and estate duty. See Businesstech.co.za for a summary. Medical aid rebates, capital gains tax, company tax, dividend withholding tax.

In addition to these policies Gigaba outlined the mechanisms to source taxes from different sectors – see CNBCAfrica.com for more details. The message was clear, SA government plan to source more tax money across the board.

You can argue about the fairness, you can debate the timing, what you cannot do is avoid the reality that it’s here and you have to decide how best to handle it in your business.

In tourism, especially in the luxury safari industry, rates are determined well in advance of travel. Most accommodation suppliers cater for group bookings and international travel which is often booked 12 to 18 months in advance. Part of their success requires releasing rates far in advance so international operators can prepare and print their travel products in brochures. This makes short term rate adjustments complicated and needing thought and discussion before choosing your response.

This blog outlines our experience when governments have introduced VAT and tax changes across the continent. We have included our understanding of the situation and samples of general fiscal changes and how they were managed which may help preparing for the SA VAT change of 14% to 15% from 01 April 2018.

Implementing the tax changes in your business

Choosing your response to the tax changes should be specific to your situation. Take into consideration the following:

  1. What is the operational ruling around the tax change?
    This will help you determine the best way to implement the changes in your business applications.
  2. As a business should we increase our rates or should we absorb the tax?
    Take counsel from your auditors, marketing teams, rates and reservation managers. Don’t rush in following your neighbour’s strategy as it may not make business sense for you based on your margins, business relationships and corporate taxes.
  3. What is the best way to implement the change in my system?
    This is dependent on the ruling around the tax change. Government may be prepared to accept conditions such as honouring 14% for bookings that already have deposits recorded or bookings already invoiced; however, there is no indication of this and we assume that legislation will be based around SA ruling that VAT becomes payable on the date of an invoice.
  4. How should I notify my trade partners?
    Advising the trade of the change is tricky, it’s important to be honest about your preferred choice and your reasons for the decisions you’ve made. Consider sending an announcement to your partners that there are changes coming and that you’re identifying the best option for all parties. Follow-up with details of your choices as soon as you’ve made them.

Consideration of changes around operational rulings

We know the following:

  • VAT becomes payable on the date of invoice. Thus the ruling VAT rate at that date applies.
  • This is not affected by the date on which payment is received. (This is a subjective interpretation.)
  • Operator terms and conditions are likely to include a statement that rates are subject to statutory charges, such as VAT. Thus there is not likely to be any legal impediment to increasing contracted rates to account for the VAT increase.

Business considerations

If reservations travelling on or after 1 April are invoiced before April, it seems that 14% VAT will apply. However any changes to those reservations subsequent to 1 April will require variation credit notes and / or invoices, which will attract VAT at 15%.

A business has the option of either absorbing the VAT increase, or passing it on to the customer. Absorbing the increase means paying the 15% VAT but not recouping the additional 1% from the customer.

Alternatively, the business can pass the cost on to the customer, which means increasing rates to include the 1% increase. If the customer is VAT registered in South Africa, the increase will be recouped via their VAT input submission. They will then be faced with making the decision about passing the cost on to their end customer.

Scenarios on existing bookings

The significant factor is whether the service is delivered before 1 April, or not.

Timing of payment is irrelevant except in the case of an operator that is specifically authorised to pay VAT on receipt of payment (a rare scenario). It could be argued that VAT is payable upon receipt of a deposit payment but we have not encountered this practice in South Africa.

The existence of contracted rates with customers is not relevant.

Here are factors to consider which may influence your approach:

  • Payment status of the booking (consider the different implications of a booking being unpaid / part paid / fully paid).
  • The value of the booking (assess the scale of the cost should you choose to absorb the cost and assess the potential fallout if you increase the rate).
  • Lead time to arrival date (agents are more likely prepared to accept rate changes if they have enough time to notify their clients).
  • Customer relationship.
  • The extent of the practical overhead of changing rates and services (consider the time to publish new rate sheets, make adjustments to your system rates and re-price existing reservations).

Operational considerations

If you opt to absorb the cost you will need to:

  • Change the tax settings in your sales system.
  • Reprice all affected reservations that will be invoiced on or after 1 April.

If you opt to pass on the cost you will need to:

  • Advise all customers of the change.
  • Amend the amounts on your rate sheets.
  • Change tax settings in your sales system.
  • Change rate amounts in your sales system.
  • Reprice all reservations that will be invoiced on or after 1 April.

How some clients are approaching the change

  • Some clients indicate that they will absorb the VAT change for a 6 month window from April, thereafter rates will be increased to accommodate the change.
  • Some clients indicate they will absorb the VAT change for 2018 and will adjust rates in 2019.

Some clients indicate they will absorb tax on bookings that are confirmed and have a deposit already paid before 01 April. The supplier will absorb the change of VAT in these cases. If the booking is provisional, with no deposit, they will adjust pricing to a new rate which caters for the 1% increase, before confirming.


References

VAT 404 Guide for Vendors – External Guide Chapters 4 and 5 of the general tax guide (VAT 404) cover the time of supply, which is important (Pages 26 -32)

VAT 411 Guide for Entertainment Accommodation and Catering – External Guide The guide for accommodation and catering (VAT 411) gives more focused information on the accommodation industry. Chapter 7, page 47 is the most relevant.


I’ve made up my mind, now I need to change my rates, extras and bookings in ResRequest. What next?

If you use ResRequest to track your taxes on your room rates and / or extras, you’ll need to change your taxes on all affected bookings, rates and extras. In all likelihood you already have bookings that will be invoiced after 01 April 2018. These bookings will need the new taxes applied to extras and accommodation rates. There’s no way to work around it – you have work ahead!

We’ve highlighted the key steps to follow below.

1. Create the new tax rate

Add a new tax rate of 15% in your system. You will need this to change or create your 15% extras and room rates.

WARNING! You may be tempted to edit the 14% to 15% – this will not have the required effect and will negatively impact your taxes. The 14% tax rate must remain on the code table for historical bookings and for reporting. The new tax rate must be a new tax rate record.
 
How?
From the main menu select: Administration > Setup > Code tables > Tax Rate. Then add the new 15% tax rate (create a unique, recognisable description).

See our online Tax Rate Code table for more guidance.

 

2. Prepare reports for reservation comparisons before and after the tax change is applied

Before you make any changes to your bookings, generate and export detailed reports so you can compare changes before and after you apply the new taxes to your bookings. A recommended report is the Financial Analysis by Folio report. From the main menu select: Reports > Financials > Financial Analysis (Folio)

See our recommended online below. Add more Fields as required so the report includes everything you need for your reservation and accounts team to review after the changes.

3. Change Extras

3.1 On future bookings already created, that require the new tax, change Extras to use the new 15% tax rate (the Tax % will update automatically) and change the Unit Price if you plan to pass the increase to customers. In addition to editing all affected bookings, do this for all new bookings.

3.1.1 You could duplicate your Extras so each VAT-rated Extra has a record for 14% and a record for 15% – this is feasible if the volume of extras you manage can be cloned.

3.2 Change Extra codes. Wait for 01 April 2018, then change your Extras codes so all new Extras are automatically created as 15%. Change the amount on the Extras code table if required.  To change Extras in your Extras Code Table, take a look at our Extras online user guide

3.3 If you are tracking camp-based guest extras, remember to update those extras for your front-of-house teams!

 

4. Change Room Rates

4.1 If you plan not to change your room rates, it will be less work to continue as normal, i.e. with no changes, until 01 April 2018. We recommend adding a note to your documentation or Terms & Conditions advising that taxes will be changing from 01 April which will show on documentation after the 01 April. From 01 April 2018 invoice everything that should raise 14% tax i.e. where the invoice date is prior to 01 April.

The next step is to change all your affected room rate components, across all your rate types and future periods, from 14% tax to 15%. If you have a high volume of rates, ResRequest can help as we have a tool capable of making wide changes to rates. Contact us if you have a high volume of rates that are impractical to edit, we’ll quote you for our time and project management for this data change. If you’d prefer to make the change from the front-end, review our Rates Guides for a refresher on rates setup.

The next step is to regenerate all bookings where the new tax and / or amount will be applied, review our Regenerate Folios Guides for help.

4.2 If you plan to change some or all of your rate amounts, edit your rate periods. Next add new rates – it’s recommended you clone the rate using the Copy / Add rates function. Once you have created the cloned rates for the new period, edit them to apply the 15% rate and any rate amount adjustments required.

If you have a high volume of rates ResRequest can help automate rate amount changes using a tool that can change all amounts by a specified percentage or fixed amount.

Next remember to change all affected future bookings to use the newly created rate types. Changing the rate type will automatically recalculate the room rate.

Remember to explain to your staff what the different rate names are and under which conditions to use them.

 

5. Update your online platforms

Remember to update your online platforms if you’re working with channels managers and to notify your business partners of the changes.

 

6. Deactivate obsolete rates

At relevant dates deactivate old Extras and Room rates as they become obsolete.

 

If you are a South African customer and you are struggling to come to terms with your decisions and operational changes, please contact our Call Centre for a chat on how best to setup your strategy.

Stop it spamming

Written by Richard Howes

Email remains a vital part of running our businesses with worldwide email volumes now fairly steady at around 495 billion emails per day!

 

A more problematic statistic is that 422 billion of those emails are SPAM, leaving just 73 billion legitimate emails. In other words, over 85% of email is SPAM. With the average office worker receiving 121 email per day, managing SPAM is crucial to email efficiency but also to reduce the risk of becoming a victim of phishing and other criminal activity.

 

Filtering SPAM has become very sophisticated as a result, but not perfect. That is because the way SPAM is differentiated from legitimate email is by ‘scoring’ email based on several criteria. This includes language used, mention of financial information, whether there are attachments, and other characteristics.

 

ResRequest and the travel industry by nature produce a lot of emails with attachments and financial information that need to be sent to the public as well as agents. This means that we can run foul of SPAM detection algorithms which flag legitimate emails from a ResRequest client system as SPAM.

 

Here are some things which make deliverability more difficult:

 

  1. Reservation numbers in the subject line.
  2. Capitals being used to catch attention.
  3. Attachments being sent in the emails.
  4. Sending emails on behalf of our clients’ domains rather than our own.

 

SPAM senders spend an inordinate amount of time working to defeat SPAM detection. If SPAM detection was completely effective SPAM’ers would not be sending out 422 billion emails per day. Any attempt to completely eliminate SPAM will inevitably also catch some legitimate email.

 

There are strategies to mitigate the risk of legitimate ResRequest emails being flagged as SPAM, however, none are perfect or foolproof. One strategy we have employed is to get our clients to implement SPF and DKIM records for their domains. SPF and DKIM records flag email servers as legitimate servers that do not send out SPAM. Unfortunately, these strategies are not yet universally employed but are being increasingly used to mitigate against SPAM.

 

Another solution is whitelisting. This, as the name would suggest, is the opposite of blacklisting. This is where the recipient of emails from a known domain lists that domain as ‘safe’ by whitelisting it. All email from that domain bypasses any SPAM filtering and is flagged as legitimate by default.

 

Currently, we use ElasticEmail as our cloud hosted email relay with an IP of 216.169.98.151. Any recipient whitelisting this address will always receive ResRequest email. When encountering agents or other recipients that are experiencing deliverability problems, please request that they whitelist the IP address above.

 

The challenge is that these mitigation steps are required to be undertaken by the email recipients. ResRequest actively encourages the use of whitelisting and SPF/DKIM records and is ready and able to assist with implementing these strategies.  

 

Another potential challenge is that because ResRequest sends out email on behalf of our clients, some email applications reply to the sending server address instead of the client email address. This is also as a consequence of risk mitigation by these applications where they are ensuring recipients are aware the email is sent from a third party, in this case, ResRequest, and not from the addressee in the “From:” field.

 

If you are experiencing this problem then please email support@resrequest.com and request assistance on SPF and DKIM records. Our technical team have setup a process to assist your IT company (the company who manages your domain) with setting up SPF/DKIM records and whitelisting ResRequest domains.

 

SPAM can cause massive frustrations as it is often unclear where the problem resides. We hope that this information will assist in making email management simpler and more reliable, and reduce (via SPF/DKIM) or eliminate (via whitelisting) the frequency of legitimate emails being flagged as SPAM.

 

Reference: https://www.talosintelligence.com/reputation_center/email_rep

 

 

 

Keep the taxman happy!

Every country has its own statutory regulations on the display of statutory information on financial documents and sometimes it even differs regionally. The variation can be both in the number of statutory fields required and in their naming.

The statutory details also have to be presented for both the invoicing unit issuing the document and for the customer to whom the document is addressed.

We have added 3 statutory fields at both invoicing unit level and contact level, with customisable labels.

Add new statutory fields

Record the invoicing unit statutory field numbers and labels on the Business structure editing screen and record the contact statutory field number on the Contact screen for customers. Edit the statutory names on the Financial tab of the Defaults screen.

These will then reflect on your Reservations and Financial documents, your Business structure reports and your Extras Quick Entry transaction confirmation screen.

Document with statutory fields

For a better understanding of how to edit and use these fields, watch our quick video tutorial on New Statutory fields in ResRequest.

Catch up on Connections

If you missed our webinar on connections – we’ve written up this blog to share the details, Q&A and upload the presentation slides and audio recording. We have separated the presentation visuals and sound for ease of following due to the live technical glitches and delays. 

Presentation slides

Audio recording

The panel of speakers begins 15 minutes into the webinar.

15:00 Craig van Rooyen – Tour d’ Afrique

24:00 Erica Gardner – New Frontiers

33:00 Chris McIntyre – Expert Africa

46:00 Terri Boshoff – Wetu

52:00 Nicole Kanz – The Elewana Collection

1:00 Questions

 

In this webinar blog, we’ll introduce you to ResRequest’s online sales options and then focus on why connections are important to the trade. We spice things up even more when each of our panelists responds to questions we’ve put forward to them. Questions that address what makes connections so important to their business model.

We’ll start with the basics. The screen you’re looking at shows a room inventory on ResRequest’s availability calendar.

 

Your inventory is set up in ResRequest and adjusts as your team books, blocks or cancels bookings. This means ResRequest is your inventory hub and we see it as our responsibility to make sure that your sales partners can easily check your availability and rates, and make bookings.

 

 

When you implement an online sales strategy you should consider three target markets. They are:

  • Your direct customers who enjoy shopping on your website
  • Agents who would like to buy and sell your product and who prefer instant response rather than delayed communication with your res office
  • and mass market Online Travel Agents like Expedia and Booking.com who depend on online responsiveness

Direct bookings

Direct online customers are a priority for us. We are constantly upgrading our booking plugin, ResNova, and enhancing our booking form which are ideal tools for this sector. Our booking tool for direct customers gives your online guests the ability to book directly from your website. They get an instant response and result – which is what online shoppers expect.

 

OTAs

 

For Online Travel Agent sites, we support a connection to Expedia which is further extended to Hotel.com and Venere.com. Our connection to Booking.com is complete and currently in certification with them. We also support 100s of OTA platforms via channel managers.

 

But these are not the only agents who work with online programmes, traditional trade agents have extended their business models to include online bookings to ensure they’re able to capture guests searching on the internet. These agents specialise in different locations which makes holiday shopping a breeze for customers looking for an experienced-based trip. This is definitely a market you should be working with.  How can you work with this market?

 

Agent connections

 

One of the great features of ResRequest is that it is a cloud-hosted application. This means you can give your agent a login so they can check your inventory, rates and make bookings. It’s a manual connection but something you absolutely should make use of to support agents that work with manual or isolated systems.

 

But what about agents that do have an in-house software application? These agents don’t want to be routed to a manual login or re-routed to different web sites to find out rates, check availability or secure bookings. These agents have implemented in-house solutions to be competitive in the online space. To have that competitive edge, they need instant access to availability and rates for quick quoting and they need to be able to make a booking to close the sale before their customers go Googling. They need to bypass human interaction at the transaction level.

 

Many of these agents also extend their booking services to a web interface offering a B2B2C platform. This is to ensure they can service online shoppers, much like OTAs, but with their specialised knowledge and skills translated onto their website.

 

We generally see that agents with high volume profiles have automated in-house and online solutions. They do need to be a certified integration partner of ours for you to connect their system to your ResRequest system.

 

We have direct electronic connections to over 40 specialist agents and online travel agents and the list is growing…

 

So how do these connections work?

ResRequest connections

An API, which is an application program interface, is simply an interface that allows two systems to communicate with each other. So, with our API, and some custom development, we are able to connect your ResRequest system to your agent’s in-house system.

 

If you’re still asking yourself: “Why would my agents need an electronic connection?”

 

A reminder of the two strongest motivators: The first is that many specialist agents now incorporate an online sales model – so they can attract travellers 24 x 7, essentially competing with OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia. This model needs an automated booking engine in order to satisfy their online shopper. To support automation, connections are needed.


The second reason agents need connections is that some agents have implemented an in-house system to speed up their business processes. Their holy grail is fast quoting and sale closure. Implementing a connection between your ResRequest inventory, rates and bookings and these agent’s systems, generate sales for you more easily which means you keep doing business with them.

 

A question we’re often asked is: “Can I control what these “connections” can see and do in our system?” Absolutely! Each connection is linked to a user you create in ResRequest with controlled access.

 

Questions that we posed to our agent panelists:

  • What’s changed to make online sales more important?
  • Why do agents need to see availability, rates and make bookings?
  • What are the essential components for connections to work for you?
  • What frustrations do you have with the industry or technology?

 

Questions that we asked our customers – safari accommodation providers:

  • What impact has using API connections had on your business?
  • What would you say to other suppliers who are unsure about working with connections?

 

Questions that were asked during the session:

Q: How do you handle waitlist in your system?

A: Erica – Waitlisting is a challenge. We can hold a waitlist booking, however, we prefer to hold a confirmed reservation. It is also a manual process.

ResRequest – From a software perspective, an agent who makes a booking and exceeds the number of rooms available has to give a reason when holding the rooms. This will automatically be created as a Waitlist booking.

 

Please note: Even if ResRequest supports certain functionality in the API – the agent buyer who has done the development to their system may have opted out of some of the available functions as they do not require them for their business practice.

 

Q: Does it help to see ‘‘provisionals’?

A: Yes – it is very helpful for agents to see if provisionals are being held when they view your availability. This will encourage them to still consider your property rather that look somewhere else when your lodge appears full. They cannot see the actual booking details, only that provisionals are being held on the dates that are search for.

 

Q: How much would the operator see if they were given access?

A: You can fully control the access that you grant to an operator, ie: view / read only or create bookings / update. You can also limit the properties, room types and even the number of rooms at room type level. Also the rates that are only applicable to a specific agent can be shown.

 

Q: Is a email notification sent once a booking has been made by an agent?

A: It all depends on what development has been done. Our API has the information available for a notification to be generated however if an email notification is not set up then a ResRequest customer would only see incoming bookings via the Req Received button / report in their system.

 

Q: How do you deal with different rates for same rooms, i.e. International vs SADC?

A: Multiple rates can be assigned to an agent contact and toggled to select the correct rate for quoting or booking.

 

Craig – In Tourplan we always load our contracted rates first. If we don’t see the correct rate, then we sometimes need to query this – however if multiple rate categories are given ie: STO, RACK and BAR then we have more options to book the property. Please note: We can only hold confirmed bookings and cancel a booking in Tourplan. We do not see any Waitlists or Provisionals, so unless you are going to oversell your property and make more rooms available we are limited in what we can book. Bigger properties tend to oversell.

 

Q: Can you only look up the availability of a specific camp or supplier?  

A: Yes

 

Q: Is there any way to look up availability of a region and show results of multiple camps?

A: Not at this stage with this type of direct connection.

 

Q: Is there an API adaptor to get rates of the camp via ResRequest and upload these into a system like Tourplan?

A: We do support and send rates via ResConnect. Our Channel Manager and OTA interfaces support bulk rate push, this is developed to map to the OTA’s / Channel Manager’s interface.

 

Q: Does ResConnect offer a Close To Arrival (CTA) tool within the API to reduce dead nights?

A: Not yet! We’ll get to this.

 

Q: Is there a way to filter Wetu properties based on availability?

A: Not currently. Availability is not a searchable feature in Wetu.

 

Q: Do you need to be on a higher package to get the Live Availability option in Wetu, or can anyone listed on WETU have access to this tool?

A: Two part answer here:

  1. As a Supplier: you do not need to be on a higher package to show availability for your property, however, each supplier needs to opt into showing the availability with their relative availability provider. It is not something that is automatically activated.
  2. As an Operator: you do not need to be on the highest package to see the live availability of the properties who do have it.

 

Q: Are the users of Tourplan happy with the ‘confirmed’ only status they offer when connecting via API ResResquest?

A: Tourplan do not currently cater for provisional bookings; however, our API does support provisionals.

How to get connected?

 

Now that you know more about the importance of this space for your business you’re probably asking: “What do I do next?”

Here’s all you need to know about getting direct connections set up. All you need to do is email us and one of our connections team will confirm all the setup details, such as the user permissions for the connecting agent. This setup takes approx.1 hour and is charged at our standard support rate.

 

Some agents only have view functionality enabled, however, more and more operators are moving towards wanting to create bookings. So, if they are able to create bookings they will request this access. It is up to you to decide on the permission you wish to grant, however we do encourage legitimate confirmed bookings to be held where possible.

If you have any questions about this process please drop us a line

For the full version of the webinar – you can find it uploaded onto YouTube here.

ResNova’s facelift

ResNova, our website booking plugin, has had a facelift. That’s right – we’ve released some enhancements so you have even more display options when it comes to this nifty availability and booking tool.

The ResNova plugin enables properties that use ResRequest to embed availability and rates anywhere on their website. This availability and these rates can be shown either in a calendar matrix or a quick search format, or even both! You have the option of just showing availability, or enabling bookings, and even linking up to a payment gateway to enable payments during the booking process. All of this is seamlessly integrated to a ResRequest reservation system.

The latest enhancements to the website plugin include: showing rates on the calendar, setting a ‘No children’ option and showing an availability count.

Some properties that don’t offer a child rate need their customers to know this. They may be able to accommodate children in some rooms, but not all, so they can apply the ‘No children’ setting to each property and room individually.

Along with other customisable functionality in the calendar widget you can choose to show your actual availability or limit your availability, e.g. to 2, so users can see some space is available without displaying your exact availability.

We are continually developing and adding new features to this much-needed industry tool.  For more information on the ResNova website plugin or to find out about using ResRequest contact us on info@resrequest.com and you may be able to take advantage of this plugin.

 

What’s your Trojan Horse?

ResRequest Digitlab

Have you ever thought about how certain adverts appear in your social media feed or why Youtube has so many video adverts? These are all signs of the current digital marketing trends.

Members of our marketing team attended a workshop hosted by Digitlab. With a focus on digital storytelling and digital marketing, the event kicked off with a session on video and storytelling. The elements of the story were likened to a Trojan horse. A story is a means to get people’s attention and the message is embedded in the story. All good stories also have a clear beginning and end. Video is one of the growing trends in digital marketing trends and the session progressed.

Virtual reality is another trend that is becoming more predominant as a sales strategy. Businesses can create an online virtual reality experience which allows customers to see what the product or service will be like.

Programmatic buying using data to drive specific products to customers by gathering data on their interests and needs through their interactions.

This leads us on to big brands which are the brands what collect this data by enabling people to interact on their platform, and thus gather data based on people’s behaviour.

Finally AI, or artificial intelligence, is using technology to mimic human intelligence to allow marketers the opportunity to reach segmented audiences through using AI. For example, AI can analyse people’s search patterns on search engines to allow marketers to place their adverts for maximum exposure. Chat functions on websites are also an example AI.

Digital trends are increasingly a part of marketing, and recognising this and taking advantage of the trends can only be helpful to any marketer.

Forgotten password?

ResRequest-password choices

How many times a day are you asked for your password? We have so many passwords that it’s hard to remember them all, albeit impossible. It sometimes seems simpler to have the same password across multiple sites, or to create an easy to remember password. However, password hacking is an increasingly common and dangerous threat. A hacked password can mean compromised financial security on your online banking, confidential email leaks or identity theft.

 

It is clear then that choosing a password is key, but what makes a good password?

 

It seems obvious but don’t choose a password that contains elements such as your name, birthdate, surname or simple number combinations such as 1,2,3 or 0, 0, 0, 0. Any password that your family could guess is a weak password so keep obvious personal information out of your passwords.

 

A good password is between 8 and 10 characters long. These days most passwords require a combination of numbers, letters and special characters. Make your password as long as possible as longer passwords are more secure.

 

Use spaces in your password. Most sites don’t allow for a traditional space but use the underscore key to add a space to your password.

 

If you prefer your passwords to derive from words, use a combination of words to create a password, as opposed to using one word as your password. For example, if your children are Jane (age 8), Michael (age 10) and Connor (age 3), your password could combine the first two letters of their names, their age and the year, eg, Ja8Mi10Co32017.

 

Alternatively create password using a sentence, for example The house is on Main Street could become ThHoIsOnMaSt.

 

Store your passwords away from your computer so that you will always be able to access them. Consider writing them in code so they are harder to decipher should they be found. For example, you could code the following password tki86H:k as vmk108J:m. In this code, each character has been replaced by the character two ahead, eg t becomes v. You could add ‘2’ before the coded password to remind yourself, eg. 2vmk108J:m

 

Once you have a strong password that is securely stored, don’t share it with anyone! Keep your passwords private, even from family.

 

By taking this advice, your passwords should be secure and your accounts safe from hackers.