e-Commerce Strategy

ecommerce banner

Written by Jill Bennett-Howes

Online selling is a very exciting area to add to your sales strategy. We’ve seen many of our customers celebrate increased profits when they implement and manage an effective online strategy.

Key elements for your eCommerce strategy

Each element will need effort from your team to prepare the strategy, implement, maintain and review it – we call this the PACstrat (of course I couldn’t resist slipping in that bit of Pacman-geek-speak!).

With an effective eCommerce strategy and a dedicated team, increased profits result through new sales and/or through more efficient business procedures.

The importance of an eCommerce strategy

You have plans for increased profits but where will your increased profits come from? Whether it’s increased sales through new channels, closing sales or working more cost effectively, a very likely source of your increased profits will come from a well managed e-commerce strategy.

Online booking words like Look To Book, Credit Cards, OTAs, GDS’ and Channel Managers very quickly get marketing and sales teams dreaming up these profits and increased occupancies. Their enthusiasm is catchy – but plug those buzz words into Google, hit enter and the volumes of search results leave you feeling like there’s not enough bandwidth on your laptop – let alone enough to get your eCommerce strategy up and running.

With this being such an overwhelming business strategy, hoteliers often make the fatal mistake of approaching eCommerce as a sales after-thought or a fishing expedition. They think that randomly implementing a few connections and a few technologies will bring the profits they seek – and they often come miserably short. They celebrate the ad hoc booking instead of comparing it with all their overall sales strategies. These customers rarely claim true online profits – in fact many of them go horribly wrong and just confuse the market or create price disparity which weakens their product and can negatively impact other carefully nurtured sales strategies.

Implementing and deploying an eCommerce strategy is a business decision – one that’s as important as your existing sales strategy. It needs a dedicated team to workshop, manage, track and refine your eCommerce plans.

So, whether your focus is maximising direct sales or making working with your partners more efficient, you’ll need to: define an eCommerce strategy, add technology to achieve it and allocate resources to ensure that you get the profits your marketing and sales teams promise. This means you have a lot of work ahead of you.

As the online inventory and availability distribution hub, ResRequest plays a key role in working with our partners and customers to identify online booking options that work for you.

To help you kickstart your blueprint to success, we have identified the online booking options available to you, their pitfalls, successes and general industry trends.

Distribution Options

Your website. Your investment in a great web design is to excite customers about your product and lead them to buy. Once your customer has made a commitment to purchase, they ask for price and availability, which culminates in a sale. For this reason close to 90% of our clients proactively engage in showing rates and availability on their website.

Luxury / remote lodges have been less confident of the value of creating bookings and processing credit cards directly from their website. Reasons for look-to-book reluctance includes fears that guests will not be able to arrange complicated transfers. In addition lodges are concerned that automating bookings sidesteps the value of building a relationship between the customer and their product. To top these concerns, many lodges are wary of how trade partners may react to them openly targeting the direct market. As a result of these concerns for many years we saw a trend of caution to creating bookings online. Many customers only displayed availability with easy-to-use enquiry forms – but this trend is changing.

Online consumers expect to be able to book online and they trust that you have implemented solutions to make their booking uncomplicated and to resolve any potential challenges. As this expectation has changed so our customers have found ways to counter online booking challenges, they’ve implemented simpler online rates, easy booking forms and resolved transfer concerns with online or central reservations solutions.

Your business partners. Over time, marketing groups have formed with the objective of stimulating travel in niche markets – sort of stitching itineraries together. Some of these groups are commercial ventures, while others are informal associations born from like-minded neighbouring properties. Over the last few years we have seen an increase in interest for marketing groups and regional availability, where independent / neighbouring properties are interested in publishing availability on a collaborative web-page. This is a market sector that is growing in popularity and benefits both direct guests and travel trade.

Specialist agents. Ask any agent or tour operator and they will tell you that a large portion of their success is the skill with which they are able to quickly prepare a customised itinerary. Giving specialist agents access to your stock means that agents are able to prepare and respond to requests for quotations faster then their competitors. More then 90% of our clients allow agents to access stock with their own ResRequest login, with close to 20% allowing agents to create bookings directly into their ResRequest system.

To enable agents with their own systems to electronically extract rate and availability from multiple clients, we have developed an auxiliary product, ResConnect. Approximately 90% of our clients have established relationships with our agent partners who use ResConnect. Many of our ResConnect partners display availability directly on their website in order to compete with OTAs and GDS’. If you’re considering working with OTAs and GDS’ you should definitely be considering giving your loyal travel partners controlled access to their rates and your availability.

Online Travel Agents (OTAs) / Global Distribution Systems (GDS). Travel sites reported significant 2014 revenues: Expedia $5.7 billion, Amadeus at E1,3 billion. With revenues like these it is understandable that every hotel would love to tap into those markets. So why are remote hotels cautious of tapping into these very lucrative channels?

Concerns include the effect of boycotts by specialist travel agents and tour operators. Lodges also fear that channels will create a price war climate that will ultimately result in cheapening their products and forcing rack rates to drop. In addition lodges have logistical fears that these channels may have no concern for the guest’s knowledge or ability to transfer to and from complicated, remote locations.

Over the last few years we have seen many customers tap successfully into these channels. It takes effort and evidence shows that once the connection is established, and the right marketing effort is applied, the results are well worth it. As more products become available on these channels we expect to see OTAs and GDS’ introducing ways to help remote travellers with complicated transfers – for now it’s not a problem at all – our customers playing in this space simply make the transfer arrangements as an added on service to the traveller.

You may ask, how much effort is really needed for an online channel to sell my product? Getting return from this sales sector takes a lot of resources, time and work. Consider each travel portal as a new business relationship except, unlike traditional agents, you need to manage your own rates, your online listing and you need to learn how each travel portal works so that you can optimise sales over your competitor’s listings. Start with a few channels and, once you’ve monitored the trends and your team are experienced in working with this space, start expanding to more relevant portals.

So how does ResRequest make this happen?

ResRequest covers all your distribution needs with our own direct connections and via channel managers. The diagram below illustrates our distribution blueprint.

 

ResRequest ecommerce

ONLINE OPTIONS

Online bookings are about reaching online customers and working more efficiently with your business partners through electronic connections.

What’s available?

ResRequest’s Online Bookings module lets you connect to online users electronically; distribute your availability and rates, and make bookings through online channels and your own website. Your online strategy will include one or many of the online services available to you in ResRequest. Some of these connections are direct and some are available through our Channel Manager partners.

DIRECT SALES
Ideal for your online-savvy clients and repeat customers.

Show availability and rates on your own website and give your customers the ability to ‘book and pay now’.

Your website:

1. ResRequest: Brand and use ResRequest’s online booking form and credit card gateway, or let your web designer use our interface (API) to develop your own booking form on your website. Alternatively use our booking widget, ResNova, on your WordPress or general website.

2. Channel manager: offer a direct booking form available via any of our partners channel manager.

FaceBook: Add a booking widget to your Facebook page using some of our preferred Channel Managers. A ResRequest widget for FaceBook.

TripAdvisor: Via selected Channel Managers, list your stock alongside popular OTA’s to increase your chance of a booked next to your ratings.

Circuits: Using the ResRequest interface (API) create circuit bookings within your own products or collaborating with other ResRequest properties.

SELL TO YOUR TOP AGENTS
Help your top agents compete with online travel agents by giving them an online edge.

Give your selected agents access to ResRequest with a secure login.

Give your preferred agents controlled access to ResRequest by adding them as a ResRequest user. Let them lookup availability and make bookings to increase their chance to quote quickly and book efficiently.

SELL TO AFRICA’S TOP AGENTS
Distribute your stock to Africa’s top safari agents.

Connect your stock and bookings to specialist agents and tour operators using our electronic connection programme, ResConnect.

Sign up as a ResConnect customer through our call centre. A ResRequest user is created with restricted permissions. The user is linked to each ResConnect partner via our bridge.

SELL VIA OTAs and GDS’ (Online Travel Agents & Global Distribution Systems)

Connect to OTAs and GDS’ and leverage access to thousands of global agents and travellers who are searching for a safari vacation.
Use our Channel Manager partners to distribute your inventory and rates and make bookings to OTAs like Expedia, bookings.com or GDS’ like Pegasus and Sabre. Our Channel Manager partners include: Nightsbridge and SynXis.

Select the Channel Manager that suits your distribution needs, budget and reach. Your account is setup with the channel and then we connect ResRequest for you. The last step is that you manage your profile and rates on your preferred travel sites.

 

What are connections?

ResRequest connections

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To be competitive in an increasingly online and automated space, Safari Agents and Tour Operators have implemented software applications that manage their business needs. A software application is the first part of their solution, the second part is electronic access to your system (to view rates and availability and make bookings) so they can prepare quotes and book directly from their solution. This process saves time and helps them compete with online agents.

What does a Tour Operator get with access to rates, availability and booking?

  • The ability to compete with online travel agents
  • Agents can effortlessly build itineraries
  • Prepare quotes quickly, in any time zone
  • Confirm bookings in a few quick steps

What’s your part in this?
Electronically connecting your agent (the buyer) to you (the supplier) is a change in the traditional way of making a booking. Agents are improving the tools they use to book so they can be more competitive, responsive and offer dynamic pricing. The booking process is changing from phone calls and several emails to using automated electronic bookings from systems designed to give Agents a competitive advantage. Your part is to recognise that your agent needs your support to leverage this competitive advantage.

What agents already use this connection to ResRequest?
Specialist agents like, Expert Africa, Bushtracks Expeditions, Go2Africa, African Eagle, Wetu and Wilderness Safaris have developed connections to ResRequest through ResConnect. As agents recognise the power in this connection, more and more have signed up to ResConnect to make it possible to sell Africa’s finest properties using their business tools.

Tourplan operators are also able to connect directly to your stock. The following agents using the Tourplan system are now able to connect to our ResRequest customers and will be requesting booking access permission: African Ample Assistance, Abenteuer Afrika Safari, Africa Travel Group, Cheli & Peacock, Discover Africa Group, Elewana Travel Ltd, Inspirations Travel & Tours, Jenman African Safaris, Live the Journey, New Frontiers, Personal Africa Travel, Safari Destinations, Springbok Atlas – South Africa, Tour d’Afrique, Team DM UK, Tourvest Holdings Brasil Eventos S.A., Sense of Africa, Tourvest Destination Management, Travel Wild Botswana, Uitkyk Holidays, Vintage Africa, Wild Africa Travel, XO Africa Travel and &BEYOND.

What are the steps to connect?
Once an agent has developed a connection between their booking system and ResRequest they will request permission to access your properties. You or our call centre setup their user account and you define what they can see and do in your ResRequest system. Our call centre then links this user to the agent’s ResConnect account which enables them to electronically connect to your rates, availability and make bookings.

We have recommended to ResConnect agents that only confirmed bookings are booked, however each relationship will need to be managed on a case by case basis.

How the setup works:
When you allow an agent to create bookings, the ‘Req Received’ button (at the top right corner of your screen) will flash and show the number of bookings received. These bookings need to be assigned to a consultant and checked.

Do we support editing and cancellations?
We do not support edits to bookings, however when amendments or cancellations are requested, an email will be generated to the supplier.

Will implementing an electronic connection change the relationship with your agent?
No – you’ll still work with your agent as a human – you’ll still meet with them at trade shows and sales visits, but the actual booking creation can be electronic.

Will this help you sell more bed nights?
Absolutely! New agents you have not worked with, will be signing with your property and existing agents, who prefer an automated booking process, will electronically incorporate your property into their itinerary building.

Can you control what the agent can see and do in ResRequest?
Yes, an agent will only see rates and room types allocated to their user profile and they can only look up availability and make bookings if you say they can.

Should you consider limiting an agent’s user access?
Limiting the agents electronic access is like owning a Ferrari and not adding the petrol. When we launched ResConnect 10 years ago, Agents only wanted a way to check availability and rates but now the trend is to create and cancel bookings. Why? Because it saves so much time and improves efficiency for your agent. It gives them a competitive advantage over other online sales platforms.

What happens if agents start booking and cancelling frequently?
Electronic connectivity makes checking availability and making bookings so easy that it will very likely be tempting for your agent to frequently hold space and cancel. Initially some agents may not realise this makes more work for you. Remember to set your reservations that don’t materialise to ‘Deleted’ and if your agent’s actions are causing more work for you – show your agent their conversion stats and ask them to find ways to streamline the process to avoid a negative rating with you.

What can you do if your agent does not have a system but they want a similar competitive advantage?
That’s easy – give them a login to your ResRequest system. Here’s what this means for your agent:

We would love to hear how you benefit from this business to business solution, get in touch if you would like to share your thoughts.

Changes that impact your email

At the end of February we received notification from our email provider, Mandrill, that they would be moving to a more secure method of emailing which would require verification of email senders when sending mail via their web service. The change is in line with a global move to reduce SPAM and have resulted in a new business opportunity from other vendors to step into the gap.

Mandrill notified us with short warning that they would implement these changes on 01 April. The implication would negatively impact our customers since it meant that every user who sends an email from ResRequest (agent, direct or staff member) would need to be registered by their system administrator as a verified email address. This is not a ResRequest specific issue but affects any / all applications that facilitate outgoing mail. As we were unable to work with these restrictions we needed to change our email provider from Mandrill to Elastic Email.

 

How does this effect you?

Emails being sent from ResRequest have an Elastic Email [mailto:mailer@elasticemail.com] On Behalf Of XXX as the “From” address, and for security reasons these have universally been put in place to prevent combat phishing in particular.

When clients reply to your emails it will automatically fill in the reply address. We are unaware of any situations where the email does not recognise the original sender’s email address on the reply.

Does it affect everyone?

Note that not all email clients display the “On Behalf Of” message and these recipients will be unaware of the problem. Microsoft Outlook users are affected which unfortunately means a large proportion of all email recipients.

Will the problem persist?

This change was unexpected and there is a large community looking for solutions to the issue. ResRequest is also considering different solutions so that the mail “From” address would emulate your own email.

It was not a decision made by ResRequest but instead it was made by most mailing companies globally. We are investigating how we can resolve this for a more professional presentation of your email “From” address when using our web server.

What can we do to help?

Elastic mail is a new mail providing service and therefore doesn’t have a large footprint in the industry, In light of this, a few things need to be taken into consideration.

A lot of SMTP (that’s your mail providers) don’t have elasticmail.com listed as a trusted domain, which means that emails might be sent straight to spam.

White listing the domain or email address for elastic mail in your SMTP will always mark those mails as legitimate. Your agents can do the same for speedy mail and easy deliverability. The email address to add is mailer@elasticemail.com and the domain is elasticemail.com.

Rates | price right and save

Contact our Call Centre to schedule your rates setup with us today

Many Clients issue next year’s rates around Indaba. Should you require assistance to load your rates onto your system, then please send them to us as soon as they are finalised to avoid any delay.

On that note… When setting your Rates there are some things you should consider:
We’ve once likened your ResRequest system to a Land Rover (a high performance machine, custom designed to work hard and go places other machines cannot) – following on from that analogy you need to think of your Rates as the fuel that makes your system run. If your rates aren’t set up optimally your system is compromised: you cannot get the level of reporting you might want, your accounts department has to do manual work outside the system, making a reservation can become time consuming and margins for error creep into this process.
We know that you are used to thinking of your Rates in a certain way – and setting them up in a certain way. In order to get the most from your system – we recommend the following:
 
1. Set up Rack Rates – and give Agents commission. This is cleaner and quicker to set up than multiple Nett Rates. You can adjust the commission on a booking by booking basis, if you want to. But every booking you create for an Agent will use their default commission percentage. (You can now round rates up or down, so Agents don’t see cents on their invoice – see note below).
 
2. Use Components – anything that Accounts has to calculate outside of the system for their reporting purposes can probably be included in your rate build, so that the system does all the calculations for you. For instance – if you attribute a certain percentage (or fixed amount) of a bednight to “Beverages” or a “Conservation Fund” – set these up as components within your rate. You can choose whether these are shown to the client or not – they can be purely for back-end reporting and financial controls.
 
3. Use Optional Components – these allow you to add certain things to the rate on a booking by booking basis. Again – you can choose to show them to the client or not. And they add an amount to the rate – as opposed to the Components above, which extrapolate amounts from the rate. For instance – you could make Park Fees an Optional Component, which means you don’t include them in your rate, but you can add them as you make the booking instead of adding Extras after you’ve made the booking. Optional Components can be a percentage or a fixed amount – and can differ from rate group to rate group (i.e. Adults might pay more than children).
 
There are some new additions to the Rates Module that will make your rates even more dynamic and precise. 
 
1. Ordering of Rate Groups – you can now decide what order you’d like your rate groups (e.g. Adult, Child) to appear when you create a reservation. You can also ensure that unused rate groups don’t show up at all if you don’t want them to.
 
2. Rounding Rates – if you create Rack Rates and offer commission (as opposed to Nett Rates) you can now round those rates, so you don’t see cents – you see whole numbers. (This is OPTIONAL – you don’t have to round). In rounding, one party tends to lose – depending on whether you round up or down. In ResRequest – if you want to ensure your client doesn’t lose, you would round Down, which means the Commission rounds Up. Depending on your currency, you can round to the nearest unit (81.50 becomes 81 or 82), you can round to the nearest 10 (81.50 becomes 80 or 90); you can round to the nearest 100 (181.50 becomes 100 or 200); or you can round to the nearest 1000 (1081.50 becomes 1000 or 2000).
 
3. Optional Components can be added by Default – for Optional Components (i.e. those components you add which add a charge to the rate) you can now decide if they should be included or not as default. If you set it to include as default – when you create a reservation it will automatically add the component, but you can de-select it. This is good for components like Park Fees – which you want to add to every booking, but don’t want to include in the Rate.
 
4. Specials Rates – will allow you to create “specials” attached to normal rates. It’s useful for almost any kind of Special you want to run. Some examples of specials our Specials Rate Module handle:
– Circuit Discounts
– Stay for 5, Pay for 4 Nights
– Honeymoon Special – Bride pays 50%
– With 2 full paying Adults, 1 child travels free
  
We know that Rates can seem a little overwhelming – we would be very happy to chat to you about your specific needs, and help you set up your rates in the best way possible for you in order to streamline your booking, reporting and accounting procedures. Contact our Consulting team if you would like to workshop setting up your rates effectively or working with our financial interfaces.

Love your agent

One of the major advantages of moving away from an excel booking sheet and onto a central reservations system as sophisticated as ResRequest is that you can leverage your availability to increase sales.

We know that the online realm can be a little bit alarming – and knowing how much access to give and to whom is a worry we all have. Especially those of us who feel connected to our bookings and don’t want to cede control to the anonymous web!

One of the “gentlest” ways to leverage your availability is to give agents you trust, who already know and sell you, a certain amount of access to your system.

You can do this in several ways:
1. You can give agents access to your system – as you would someone in your office with a login – but with limited rights.
2. You can use our plugin ResNova to put your availability onto your website, and you can tell your agents to check there.
3. You can allow agents to access your system through their system – using ResConnect. This only works if they have a system which interfaces to ours. We are happy to supply you with a list of these specialist agents and tour operating system that we connect directly to.

Today we are talking about #1

Add agent conact

You can setup an Agent in your system as a User – and decide how much access you will give them to your system. You can specify which Properties and Accommodation Types they can see and which Rate Types they can use.

You can give them the right to:

1. See availability: and decide whether you will show actual numbers, or just available / not available.
2. Hold space
3. Make a reservation

When a booking comes into your system from an external source (which is what we consider an Agent User to be) – the booking goes into the Req Received area on ResRequest, which means you have to accept the booking into your system, and can thereby keep track of new bookings coming in.

If you would like to give agents access – or have already done so – you might find this little video useful. It explains to agents how to access the system, and how to make reservations (if they have the right to do so).

 

Working with specials

Applying-specials

Written by Paula Chaplin

Offering discounts is a practise many of our customers use to ramp up sales. When you implement a discount strategy, it’s important to ask yourself strategic questions like:

  1. How will this affect my profit margins?
  2. What are my competitors doing?
  3. Are there options for promoting sales before we reduce price?

It’s also important to find out how your discount strategy can be automatically applied by the system.

To help you plan your strategies, here’s a list of what’s available in our Specials module:

Stay, Pay Specials: e.g. if you Stay for 4 nights, you only Pay for 3 (or you get 1 night at 50% off)
Honeymoon Specials: e.g. 50% off the Bride’s stay
Length of Stay Discounts: e.g. if you stay more than 5 nights, get a 5% discount on your stay.
Booking Period Special: e.g. 10% of all bookings made in November
Booking Period Special: e.g. if you book in April – children stay free
Travel Period Special: e.g. 10% of all bookings travelling in February
Travel Period Special: e.g. if you travel in May – children pay half price
Circuit Discounts: e.g. if you stay at 3 properties, you get a 15% discount on the last one
Circuit Discounts: e.g. if you stay at 4 properties, you get a free night

Setting up specials
Specials are linked to our Rates module and are applied to Rate Types, Rate Periods and Room Types. This means you no longer need to create new rates to apply your discount strategy.

Applying specials
Specials can be applied manually or automatically depending on the user’s access permissions.

If you need any assistance or guidance with specials, please contact support@resrequest.com.

Your management checklist

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Written by Paula Chaplin

How you track your business is dependent on how your systems are set up, what your processes are, and how you structure your roles and responsibilities. Even with these being unique to each of our customers, there are still basic checks you could be working with to help manage your business better.

I’ve put together a checklist of some our most popular management areas and the reports we recommend you use to help manage those areas.

To review internal staff workloads

  • Which consultants are creating bookings – Consultant report and Financial Analysis reports
  • Which consultants are converting bookings – Consultant report and Audit report

To check for fraud / irregularities

  • Agent name change – Reservation Audit Trail and Audit report
  • Reservation name change – Reservation Audit Trail and Audit report
  • Reservation date change – Reservation Audit Trail and Audit report
  • Voided payments – Payments received reports
  • Cancelled close to, or after, travel – Financial Analysis reports
  • Bookings travelling unpaid / part paid – Financial Analysis reports

Financial management

  • What’s outstanding? Payments Due report
  • What Credits / Refunds are being issued? Payments received reports
  • What Invoices have been voided? Folio / Invoice report
  • Checking that reservations are paid before travel – Payments Due report
  • Writing off underpayments – Folio / Invoice report
  • What do your debtors owe? Payments Due and Debtors reports

Reservations management

  • Are your Provisional Bookings being managed? Provisional Expiry report
  • Check on Overbookings – Overbooking report and Occupancy calendar
  • Check on bookings with Overrides – Financial Analysis reports
  • Check Waitlisted bookings – Standard and Financial Analysis reports (or Requests Received and Component reports)
  • Cancellations – check cancelled date, vs confirmed date and charges – Financial Analysis report

Property management

  • What activity should the lodge prepare for? Operations Chart and Arrivals / Departures reports
  • Who arrived / stayed longer / didn’t arrive? Rooming Discrepancy report
  • What transactions happened at the lodge? Sales Analysis / Sales by Folio / Sales by Reservation reports

Tips for when running reports:

  • Check Report Profiles reflect correct / current Rate Types and Accommodation Types. This should be done every time Rate Types or Properties / Accommodation Types are added to the system.
  • Deactivate Extras no longer in use.
  • Move Users into “No Longer Here” User Group as soon as they leave the Company. (You should not delete Users).

Tracking your business using reports can help you see trends, spot inconsistencies, measure performance and predict upcoming events. This analysis can help you plan changes to your resources, pricing and sales strategies in order to secure and grow your business.

For more help on profiling reports, please contact support@resrequest.com.

You might like this related article: See your business clearly.

Phone a friend…FAQs

Written by Angie Geringer

As the call centre inbox supervisor I process and respond to many of the incoming support requests. The 3 most common questions have to do with clearing caches, user access permissions and reports. We aspire to help our users manage their ResRequest system efficiently. It can be extremely daunting trying to interpret loads of technical jargon – but thankfully, we have online tutorials and a wiki which explain all aspects of the system, and they are as easy as 1-2-3.

 

bin-icon Clearing Caches
Upgrades are an integral part of the ResRequest system. With each upgrade, the caches and browser history have to be cleared for every machine that uses ResRequest. Most users only clear their cache, but sometimes it is necessary to clear the browser’s history as well – so it’s best to do both.

Take a look at how easy it is to: Clear your cache

 

User-access-icon User Access Permissions
I receive requests daily from clients asking to set up users and their appropriate user rights. It’s an easy process, especially if the user groups are already in place.

There are 3 levels of user access permissions:

1. User access for staff
2. Function access
3. Property and accommodation access

This module allows managers to control who can do what within the ResRequest system and proves to be an effective tool for employee management.

 

Reports-icon Reports
Reports can be overwhelming, especially when dealing with financials and bed nights.  The reporting options are endless and configurations can become quite intimidating. However, when utilised and understood correctly, reports are golden!

Our tutorials explain reports and report set up beautifully. In general, I see a growing inclination towards two reports in particular and that would be the Bed night report and the Financial analysis report (FAR).

Here’s how to get started with the basics: Report basics

The financial analysis reports can get very complex, but if you familiarise yourself with the basics and build on that, you’ll grasp Financials in no time: FAR report basics.

As you explore the world of reporting and the rates module’s functionality, you’ll discover how much ResRequest can really do for you. We have a dynamic support team ready to assist along the way and a development team who are continually evolving the ResRequest system to better suit the needs of our customers. When you utilise this system to its full potential, the possibilities are infinite!

‘Jack and the bean sprout’ | explaining electronic connections

Written by Alex Moore

For the non techy ‘Jacks’ amongst us, it’s not so easy to get our heads around how electronic connections work and we definitely don’t want to be left behind in this fast moving online world.

To try and explain the concept for those who unfamiliar with tech terms, we have drawn out the elements of connections to show how they link together.

API (application program interface)
Wikipedia defines an API as “[A] software component in terms of its operations, inputs, outputs, and underlying types. An API defines functionalities that are independent of their respective implementations, which allows definitions and implementations to vary without compromising the interface. A good API makes it easier to develop a program by providing all the building blocks. A programmer then puts the blocks together.”

API’s were designed as technical communication tools to communicate between servers, programs or applications and to push existing information from one application to another.

The bridge
The bridge is a link or router that connects an API call to the principal/client (database) for which it’s supposed to be. So when an API call comes in, the bridge will know where the ResRequest client database is for that call and will route it to the appropriate server and database.

Sprout
Sprout is an API converter/translator and it’s designed to store information and act as communicator between our API, ResConnect and others, such as NightsBridge‘s and SynXis‘ API. It has ‘push’ and ‘pull’ data functionality. With NightsBridge and SynXis APIs, Sprout allows NightsBridge and SynXis to pull information such as stock, rates and even create reservations. It can store up to two years of client availability and will update all transferred information every 5mins.

ResConnect
ResConnect is the service offered by ResRequest – this is our API which gives specialist agents and tour operators access to live availability and rates of ResRequest clients, by electronically communicating with their own internal systems and even offering the functionality to book.

OTA’s and GDS’ via channel managers
To get stock even more wider spread – online travel agents (OTA) such as Bookings.com and Expedia and global distribution systems (GDS) like Amadeus, can display ResRequest client inventory via a channel manager. We interface to Nightsbridge to place your rooms on these online platforms.

Going forward, we hope that you may not be too daunted to get involved with the possibilities that this magical ‘bean sprout’ has to offer.

Our future development plans include an upgrade of the user interface and sprout update failure notifications.

Centauri announcements

We want to keep giving you a great product…Here’s our very latest features and updates.


A new online booking plugin for your website

We are super excited to release an online booking plugin for your website, ResNova.

ResNova is a customisable booking plugin that feeds your availability from ResRequest to your website. We’ve developed two versions of ResNova – one for a standard HTML website and a second plugin for our WordPress fans.

Here’s what ResNova looks like..

(Images courtesy of: Tongabezi Lodge, Zambia & Remote Africa Safaris, Zambia)

 

Our early adopters Great Plains are innovators from saving rhinos to new technology. They quickly asked to be first in line to test drive our plugin on their WordPress site. We love how their site integrates the plugin and matches their stunning branding.

If you’d like to use our plugin the next step is to contact us and sign up as a beta user. We’ll do all the back end stuff and then we’ll point your web designer to our plugin setups.

And there’s more in the pipeline..

ResNova currently supports credit card payments through PayGate SA and we’re planning to add more vendors to this list. We are also aiming to release a version of ResNova that supports multiple ResRequest customers so you can easily display your neighbour’s availability with yours to make booking circuits super easy for the trade.

 


Your lodge in the spotlight

Version 6.3

Our version of vegging out in a Google-Pod is scrolling through photos of all the gorgeous lodges we work with. We thought it would be a great idea to develop a way that your online trade customers could see the same pictures from your availability calendar – so this week we snuck in this awesome little feature…

To show this new picture carousel just upload photos of your property and rooms from your online ResRequest server and you’ll get some great visuals on your calendar.

These photos are also available through our API so if you’re using ResNova or designing your own booking page for online bookings, you can grab these pictures from ResRequest.

In the pipeline… We’re planning to add a Google map with your lodge co-ordinates to make it even easier for the trade to book their circuits with you.


Let’s do the timezone toggle

Version 6.3.2

Sometimes you need to understand what time your team made changes when you’re in a totally different timezone to them. To help you do that we’ve implemented a timezone-toggle that let’s you change ResRequest’s audit trails to your timezone, or your team’s timezone.

We added this for you to help you work with ResRequest and not worry about counting out the 24 hour clock after battling the red eye flight. Here’s how to use it. Look for the clock on your shortcut bar. Click that and you’ll see the timezone you’re set up with.

You’ll also find the timezone clock in your important audit screens so you can toggle time, anytime!


“Hey guys, we’re launching a special!”

Version 6.2

Sometimes someone in marketing comes up with a great idea, “A rate discount to incentivise travel”. It could be discounting the last night of stay, or discounting one itinerary leg when the booking travels across properties. So idea in hand, the marketing team call a meeting and enthusiastically tell their reservation’s team about their special rate, but they’re met with blank stares.

We understand the blank stares because we know how much work changing rates can be. That was – until our new Special-rates module was released.

To help your marketing team get the smiles they deserve we’ve created a Specials modules to easily apply discounted pricing. Now you can create specials, automatically apply them to bookings and check how your special’s performing.

Here’s how easy it is to add a special…

 

Setup your specials using discount combinations based on pax, number of rooms and more.

The option to add a special even pops up when you’re making a booking (top) or you can go back and add it to an existing booking (bottom).

 

      

 

Your system administrator can also sleep easy at night because we’ve made sure that it’s all access controlled.


Availability is sorted with pre-booked blocks

Version 6.1.0

If you’re running big pre-booked group bookings and you offer package deals, then block bookings is the ideal feature to manage your availability.

Block bookings let you create and save itineraries that can be repeated and linked to one or many agents. If you don’t use them – we’ve got that sorted – they’ll expire just like a provisional booking. If management want to know how your blocks are performing – just point them to our simple ‘Allocation’ reports.