Quick tips & tricks

Go back!

We spend a lot of our day moving from a contact record, to availability, to rooming then back to the contact record. It didn’t take long before we realised, we wanted to do it much, much faster, so our team magic’ed up a quick way to go back to the last contact, reservation or report we’d been working on. To avoid confusing this with the browser ‘Back’ button, we called them the “Last” buttons. In fact we created 3 “Last” buttons: go back to your last calendar, contact or reservation. If the button’s bold, it means that you’ve been there since you logged in and, if the button has a drop down arrow, you can look up the last few records you visited. We use them so often that they won a permanent spot on our toolbar.

Need more real estate? Just add another screen!

Are you a multi-tasker? If you are, you can work even faster by adding one, two or three monitors (assuming you’ve got ceiling room!). Once you’ve added the hardware, just open multiple ResRequest windows and drag your favourite screens onto each monitor. Oh and if you don’t want to add more hardware, remember you can open as many ResRequest windows as you want, and just toggle between them!
Look out for the “open new window” icons on your toolbar..
icons-newWindows

Is your page too small? Just zoom in!

If it’s a Monday and you need a little extra help to focus your eyes on your data, just zoom in, or out for easy viewing of your ResRequest pages… If you’re a Window’s fan, use Ctrl and + or to zoom in or out. While Mac users can do the same using theCmd and + or  keys.

Short cut keys

If you love short cut keys, these tricks are just for you..
From any ResRequest page..
  • F5 will refresh your screen
  • F9 opens the reservation Quick Search (use the * before and/or after search words to substitute for any unknowns)
  • F12 opens the Quick Date Search, add your date and *boom* your availability calendar loads, pronto!
From the Rooming Calendar, select a reservation and..
  • F4 adds room numbers
  • F5 load guest details
  • F6 opens extras for the booking
  • F7 opens the reservation’s financial details
  • F8 finds a reservation on the calendar
For Mac users, remember to add Function (fn) or Command (cmd) key before pressing the F# key.

Add your own attachments to your reservation docs 

If you work with attachments often, we can add them to ResRequest, so you can attach them to your emails as fast as Santa’s sleigh. Our tutorials show you how.

Create your own signature, for a personal touch!

Setup your own signatures and email messages (yes, that’s plural!) so that you can add a customised reply to your messages (yes, you can cheat and make your template, personal!). Take a look at our wiki for help on setting up email templates, and checkout our online tutorial to find out how to work with them.
 

See your business clearly

Written by Paula Chaplin

This is the time of year you start looking forward and trying to gauge what the year ahead will bring. If you happen to be in a region beset by issues (perceived or real) negatively impacting tourism (terrorism, ebola, government unrest etc) – this is probably quite a trying exercise. Unfortunately we can’t help you predict the future – our crystal ball is still downloading…

But what we can help you with is forecasting data in ResRequest – which you can interpret (because no-one knows your business like you do) and try to spot booking and travel trends, which may give you a reasonable idea of what next year will be like.

To that end – we have put together some reports (all of which you can pull out of ResRequest) – and added some graphs (we used Google Spreadsheet, but you could use Excel or Numbers) – to give you an idea of the kind of information you can get from ResRequest, and different ways of viewing it.

The numbers we’ve shown are fictional, and not representative of any company’s actual business. The point of this mailer isn’t the figures – it’s the concept of data interpretation and visualisation.

We show you below how to pull the reports which are feeding these graphs – but your company will be set up in a unique way, possibly with properties, accommodation types or rate types that should be excluded from statistical/revenue reporting. If you want to be 100% certain that you are looking at accurate and relevant data – please get in touch so we can go through it with you.

It’s important to note that our reports are only as good as the data you capture. If you are not capturing data consistently – your reports will not give you an accurate or complete picture of your business.

The information I used to create these graphs was pulled from either the Sales Analysis or, my personal favourite, the Financial Analysis Report. To find this information, and much, much more, I’ve prepared a guide on how to use the Financial Analysis Report. If you prefer that we talk you through this step-by-step just drop us an email. Enjoy!

Future bed nights: comparing previous years

Looking at what your bed nights were like this time in previous years, relative to how the year turned out. (To pull information for this graph: you need to run a report per year and stitch the information together. To see bookings as of 1 Nov 2013 for 2014: Travel Dates = 1 Jan – 31 dec 2014, Create Date = 1 Jan 2000 – 31 Oct 2013. Group by Status, showing Bednights.)

Booking lead time

Look at booking trends – how far in advance do your reservations come in. (To pull this report look at the FAR – Group by Create Date, and look at Arrival Date. Export the report and create a variance column between Arrival Date and Create Date – this is your lead time.)

Revenue compared with Yield

We know you are interested in yield, not just bed nights. By combining your revenue and yield on one chart, you can see pricing trends for each property, or year.

(To pull information for this bar graph, I ran the FAR report, grouped by property, showing net revenue and yield.)

Recognise your top agents

You need to know which agents are your top performers. By plotting your top agents for the last 2 years, and your forecasted agents for the next year, your marketing team can quickly see who to check-in with, or applaud.

(To prepare data for this chart, I ran the FAR report, grouped by agent and sorted by revenue.)

Know where your business comes from

Knowing where your business comes from can be an effective tool as you develop your marketing and sales strategy. Measuring your reservation source shows you which campaigns were the most successful.

(This report was easy because my database had source code information, I generated the results using the FAR report, grouping by source code and sorted by revenue.)

Trending markets

See where your business is coming from geographically by tracking reservation nationality or tracking where your agents are based.

 

 

 

(This was super easy, I ran the FAR report, grouped by the agent postal code and sorted by revenue. The trick to this chart working is that your agents must have their postal (or physical) address details recorded!)

Online tutorials launched

We’re excited about the launch of our online tutorials. Our objective is to make it even easier to learn how to use ResRequest and to give you a tool to sharpen your skills anytime!

Here are some key tutorials for your reservations and marketing teams:
Moving around ResRequest.
Learn how to make a booking in 4 easy steps.
Find out how to navigate reports.
Quickly add extras to bookings.
Merge your ResRequest guest and agent details for your mailshots to campaign managers.

Please refer to our Knowledge Books training modules for more.

 

Why WordPress is so popular for websites?

Written by LightSpeed

What is WordPress?

WordPress is an open-source Website Content Management System (CMS). Let’s understand the meaning and advantages of a CMS, before we dig deeper into the benefits of WordPress,.

“A content management system (CMS) is a computer application that allows publishing, editing and modifying content, organizing, deleting as well as maintenance from a central interface. Such systems of content management provide procedures to manage workflow in a collaborative environment.”Wikipedia

Advantages of a content management system (CMS)

Content Management Systems have been available since the late 1990s. Some of the most popular platforms include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. Let’s take a look at benefits that these platforms can offer to SMEs:

1. Self-update your website. Businesses owning traditional HTML websites rely on webmasters to make content updates. Today, the need to constantly provide up-to-date information is essential and the use of CMS platforms allow website owners to carry out these information updates themselves. With the necessary training, anyone can update content and media on their CMS websites.

2. Publishing content is easy. Creating posts in a CMS is very easy and you don’t need a technical background. If you can create content in a document (such as Microsoft Word), then you can create a post in a CMS.

3. SEO Friendly. Good Content Management Systems like WordPress succeed in complying with search engine standards. This means that your website has a better chance of ranking higher while running on a CMS platform.

4. CMS websites look like other websites: The main difference between traditional HTML websites and CMS websites is the functionality. Both types of websites look the same and users won’t be able to tell the difference. However, a CMS website allows the owner of the website to make their own edits without affecting the look and feel or layout of the site.

 

Suitable for all types of website. CMS platforms are not only used not only to build simple websites and blogs, but also to build complex portals and enterprise websites.

Now that you know more about how CMSs work, we’ll discuss some of the benefits when choosing WordPress as your Content Management System.

The benefits of WordPress

1. WordPress continuously improves. WordPress is a free, open-source software platform. This means that it has a community of experts constantly working to improve the system.

2. People are willing to share their knowledge with others. In an interview with Shawn Hesketh (WP101 Founder), he said: “The increasing popularity of WordPress means there is also a growing demand for WordPress training. There have never been more educational resources available for nearly every level of expertise.” Availability in training materials means that using WordPress won’t be a difficult skill to master. Therefore, using this platform as your chosen CMS will enable you to control your website easily.

3. Interest in WordPress has grown. Google Trends is a tool that shows how often a specific search term is used on a Google Search in relation to the total search-volume throughout different regions of the world. When entering the terms “WordPress”, “Joomla” and “Drupal” on Google Trends, we can see that WordPress has gained dramatic interest since 2005 (see graph below). When a platform has growing interest, it means that it is being maintained, and in turn websites built on this platform will run smoothly.

Google Trends Search comparing WordPress, Joomla and Drupal

 

4. High volume of WordPress users. In addition to a high volume of interest in WordPress, there is also a high volume of WordPress users out there. OpenSource CMS information provided by a browser add-on called Wappalyzer, shows that a high volume of websites using this add-on is running on WordPress (see graph below). When SMEs use platforms that are popular, they will be part of a community that will be there to assist when needed.

 

 

Marketshare via OpensourceCMS.com 10/10/2014

 

LightSpeed and ResRequest adds value to the WordPress community

Businesses using WordPress often use plugins to integrate components of software that they are using into their websites. As a result, software companies are developing such plugins in order to support their WordPress customers.

With this in mind, ResRequest has collaborated with LightSpeed, an established specialist WordPress development studio building websites since 2006. LightSpeed offers WordPress travel website solutions to companies in the tourism industry. ResRequest entered into a contracting partnership with LightSpeed to develop a plugin that can enable website owners to integrate ResRequest’s accommodation booking offerings into their existing WordPress websites without complex development tools.

The general benefits that it will provide to WordPress clients are as follows:

  • Single & multi property availability displays
  • Rate and property description displays
  • Booking functionality
  • Credit card functionality

The plugin is currently in development.

 

WordPress theme examples:

 

 

 

 

Introducing our new release CENTAURI

We are excited to announce our version 6.0 release, named CENTAURI. In this release are behind-the-scenes changes, including an upgrade from PHP4 to PHP5 and a database change from MySQL to MariaDB. This forms the foundation for lots of great, new modules already in development.

Also in this release is a graphics facelift. Our new graphics have been inspired by Google for a simpler, modern look, which includes new buttons, larger fonts and vector icons. Here’s a snapshot…

 

 

Have you ever wondered why we name our releases? For years creative software developers have developed code names for their releases. It’s about creative thinking, creating excitement about a release and synergising a vision for a new phase of a product.

Where our release name, Centauri, comes from. We feel that the stars evoke a desire to explore, they conjure feelings of creativity and magic. The stars inspire us with extremes of myth and science, total control but completely random and beautiful. From the name of the closest star to our solar system, Centauri was the perfect choice for this release. Of course, the fact that every geek is totally fascinated with Vulcans, Romulans, Clones and Ewoks certainly helped!

Our Centauri launch party was complete with glow in the dark decorations and gold-dusted chocolate brownies from Daniela’s.

 

Centauri highlights
Centauri includes great new features you’ll love. Look out for the locking of the calendar header, new report filters and an interface to Tally accounts. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s in store.

highlights

 

Full audit trail
Our crew are so excited about our audit trail enhancements that they’ve put a video together to show you what’s available to you in this release. With this nifty new enhancement you’ll be able to see details of all edits made to reservations. Along with a new report, this becomes a powerful tool for you to audit reservation changes.

audittrail

 


Tally Accounting interface

If you’re a fan of Tally Accounting solutions, we’ve got great news for you! This release introduces a financial interface to Tally Accounting systems. This means that if you use Tally, you can seamless batch and post your invoices from ResRequest into Tally.

Of course if you use great accounts products like Pastel and Quickbooks, we’ve already got those interfaces well implemented at several clients. Just give us a call to find out how you can streamline your business processes by posting your invoices and payments straight from ResRequest to these popular accounting apps.

 

ZRA certifies another ResRequest customer

The Zambian Revenue Authority put us through our paces and another ResRequest customer is certified.

The Zambian tax authorities require that any business producing Tax Invoices from a computer system, has to have their specific use of the system certified. This certification means that VAT registered customers are able to claim input VAT supported by such invoices. The certification process entails a session with ZRA representatives for them to satisfy themselves with the controls and security features applied. ResRequest meets the requirements and we are familiar with the certification process. We recently assisted another customer in achieving this certification.

Electronic connections to specialist agents

Imagine working with an online travel agent who understands how African lodges work.Someone who specialises in attracting customers who want your African experience. Someone who understands how your transfers and extras work and who can sell your beds, without you having to do anything!

Many of Africa’s top booking agents and safari specialists are investing in development to be able to link to ResRequest via our ResConnect product. Allowing them to easily check availability, quote accurately, and even book – saving the guest, agent and lodge time.

As a FREE business to business interface, ResConnect enables remote lodges to have a greater online presence and increase their sales by having real time inventory available for their agents. This is a safe and hassle-free way to streamline agent business whilst having full control of the shared information.

If you have any questions or want to know the next steps to getting connected, please contact us on: support@resrequest.com.

See what our connection partners have to say!

 

Travelogic Logosm

“The integration with Travelogic and ResRequest, will further enhance our client offering. Tour Operators are looking for speed, accuracy and efficiency when putting together a quote and confirming bookings. With this integration, we are able to offer the advantage of Travelogic functionality and a live booking option, and in so doing, harmonise the relationship between the supplier and the tour operator.” Lindsay de Heer, Managing Director, Travelogic

africanubuntusm

“I am very excited about the relationship between Travelogic and ResRequest. To have the ability to prepare an accurate quotation, check availability and publish customised detailed documents all from one system is remarkable. It will save time for our consultants as well as our suppliers, and will aid with a seamless quotation process.” Cuan McLaren, African Ubuntu Safaris

expertafrica

“At Expert Africa we breathe a sigh of relief when one of our lodges moves to ResRequest. We know it’s a reliable platform, we know it’ll work well even when comms are challenging, and we know that we’ll easily be able to access their availability information through ResConnect – which speeds up our business of sending travellers to them on tailor-made itineraries.” Chris McIntyre, Managing Director, Expert Africa

bushtracks

“Our travellers can get all the safari lodge information they need in one place, from wide screen photos to number of beds, map location, Trip Advisor reviews, amenities, as well as availability which ResConnect provides dynamically.” David Tett, President, Bushtracks Expeditions

G2Alogosm

“ResConnect allows us to provide our African Safari Experts with access live availability and rates information – This enables them to instantly engage with travellers and rapidly develop and dispatch available and accurately costed itineraries 24/7/365.” Joanne Dickson, CEO, Go2Africa

Globali

“Globa.li connects real-time inventory from hundreds of the best hotels across Africa, many which have never been bookable online before, with travel agents, tour operators and other distributors from around the world.” Sarah Fazendin, CEO of Globa.li

big5

Big5 Boutique is an online platform empowering people to easily discover and book hand-picked safaris across Africa.
“ResConnect is going to allow us to make our booking process for lodges much more efficient” Johnny Prince, CEO, Big5 Boutique

atr

Africa Travel Resource is a travel company specialising in assisting travellers to create authentic and innovative trips to Africa.

eccotours

ECCO Tours is happy to announce it has partnering with ResRequest to provide their clients with a seamless online booking platform. The integration will allow ECCO Tours clients access to rates and availability, ensuring maximum sales penetration as well as an easier way to transact. The integration will ensure reduced time for the booking process, a key requirement across their client-base.

General Manager & Head of Product of ECCO Tours, Tony Brink said: “The channel allows our clients to now access far more room stock as well as offers real time ability to up-sell on accommodation. This is a proven method to increase revenue for both our contracted suppliers as well as the company itself.”

“Our continual partnership with important channel distribution platforms such as ResRequest reiterates our commitment to offering our clients the best service, platform connectivity, and booking efficiency as possible”, said Rory Mathew, IT Manager of ECCO Tours.

 

More connecting soon…

Next steps for lodges: Connections are quick and easy – just build a relationship with the agent you’d like to connect with. Set them up in ResRequest as an agent and user, then send a request to support@resrequest.com to link you up. Each connection is FREE – with a nominal once off setup fee.

 

Are you interested in a direct link to Africa’s finest properties?

Our interface product, ResConnect, offers you stock, rate and availability access to Africa’s most luxurious and remote destinations. This service is now available FREE.

ResConnect links Agents, Tour Operators and Online Travel Channels to ResRequest inventory, rates and bookings.

• Quick and Easy Setup
• View Availability & Rates
• Create Bookings Electronically

How to Connect:
When you are ready to start the technical connection we will send you our service agreement (NDA) and introduce your developers to our developers. Your developer will receive access to a test site and our technical documentation.

Once you have established commercial agreements with your property partners from our client list, our call centre will setup the links to connect you with your selected properties.

Connection Charges:
Use of our API is free.

Should you require our services to co-ordinate setup with our customers or development assistance this is billed at our annually published support and development rates.

For more details on how to get set up, contact us on:
Email: info@resrequest.com
Telephone: +27 (0) 35 772 5615
Website: www.resrequest.com

ResConnect is developed and supported by the ResRequest Group.

Customer management: ResRequest starter pack

Communication with your customers is critical to the success of your business. With ResRequest you can setup and report on your customer histories, profiles and events.

To communicate effectively with your customers, it is important to understand their preferences, and your history together. This requires recording and tracking information before, during and after the sales cycle. By centralising customer data,  tracking and managing customer relationships is simple and effective.

How ResRequest fits into your customer management strategy


As your central reservation and property management solution, ResRequest forms a key part of the sales and service cycle and offers a number of contact features that can be incorporated in your customer relationship strategy.

When your customer books and travels with you, a reservation is created in ResRequest, this links the customer to the booking and a transaction history is established.

Over time, detailed contact information can be recorded in ResRequest, and sales, marketing and operations teams can incorporate this information into their customer strategy to effectively reach and engage customers.


ResRequest contact components


ResRequest’s contact module is comprised of contact components. Some components provide traditional CRM functionality, such as recording profile information and events, while other components provide supplementary CRM information, such as a contact’s home address and travel history. Information can be recorded and tracked for each component, adding value to your customer relationship management strategy.

Contact components include:

contactcomponents

Types of CRM


For an effective CRM strategy, sales teams need to analyse, record and track relevant customer information throughout the transaction cycle.

Knowing your customer’s specialities, their preferences and their history will help you maintain a good relationship through the sales, service and support stages. Managing your customer closely through each of these stages can help to: target your campaign, increasing sales; deliver the customer’s expected service, improving customer satisfaction; and analyse results, increasing repeat business.

ResRequest provides CRM features to cater for all of these stages and, because of the dynamic nature of the contact’s relationship with your business, there are two types of CRM: agent CRM and guest CRM.

AgentCRM

ResRequest’s Agent CRM helps to manage the relationship between you, the seller, and the sales agent. CRM features record and track contact particulars, sales profiles and events.

Sales Profile: Knowing your customer, can make it easier to target and generate sales. ResRequest’s customisable profiling helps you store and report on information relevant to your business.

CRM Events: Regular interaction with customers increases loyalty, leading to frequent sales. Events keeps track of interactions with agents and can be tagged with actions, descriptions and notes.

GuestCRM

ResRequest’s Guest CRM can be used to help you understand your guest preferences by reviewing their profile and travel history.

Guest Profile: Understanding your guest can help you engage with them to encourage repeat business. Guest profiling can help to target mail campaigns by filtering information based on customisable data, such as special events or hobbies.

Reviewing your guest’s Trip History can help in the sales cycle by personalising sales communication and encouraging add on sales. Guest histories also help you to personalise the service delivery, increasing customer satisfaction and leading to repeat or new business.

 

Analysing your CRM strategy in ResRequest


Reporting and analysing contact and CRM information is necessary for specific CRM tasks and to track your sales and CRM progress.

ResRequest offers reports to show sales trends, contact particulars, profile information and past travel details.

Reviewing your data can be integrated into your daily activities so that you can use the information to your advantage. Once implemented it won’t take long before using this information becomes second nature. And once you’ve populated it with data you’ll start to see the benefits  increase over time.

Selecting the right reports for your CRM activity requires investing time to evaluate what information is relevant to your business and identifying the ResRequest reports that provide this information. Using ResRequest’s reports will give you the information you need to track sales, produce mailing lists, filter profiles, review interactions and much more.

Guest Survey Interface


Customer satisfaction surveys are a method of asking your customers for their views on how well or how badly your hotel is performing. Surveys are valuable for businesses, as they help you gain an understanding of your customers’ requirements so that you improve your products in line with your customers’ needs. By proactively managing customer feedback from surveys, you can improve customer satisfaction and protect revenue and profitability. ResRequest provides a seamless interface to independent customer survey solution, eGuestSurv to help with this valuable business process.


ResRequest offers you CRM features to compliment your customer relationship strategy. Contact our office if you would like our consulting team to help you integrate ResRequest into your customer care strategy.

Download the PDF of this starter pack.

ResRequest Interface | Online credit card payments

When our customers research options for online payments, I find there are a few common questions they often ask me. These questions are included below to help you, as you workshop this strategy for your lodge.

How does ResRequest handle credit card payments?

ResRequest offers two online booking options. Each of these options can generate a credit card payment which can be recorded on the ResRequest booking.

  1. The ResRequest booking form: ResRequest’s booking form includes a credit card transaction step. This step very simply routes the to a secure payment gateway and then confirms the reservation.
  2. The ResRequest interface to: Customers who have created their own booking form and generate availability, rates and bookings using the ResRequest API. The booking process can be extended on your booking form to include payments with your preferred gateway. This payment interface is developed and supported by your web developer. Payments are then automatically recorded on ResRequest bookings.

Can I see some examples of how this works?

Yes! Take a look at our attached online payments information pack.
What will online credit cards cost me?

There are typically 3 vendors involved in the process for online bookings. Each vendor may apply a cost for the credit card transaction.

  1. ResRequest, or your online booking form
    Your online booking form is free of charge. Customers using our interface are charged a nominal fee of $10 per month (or 1% of ResRequest base rental).
  2. Credit card payment gateway
    The payment gateway is the online company who automates the transaction payment between the bank merchant e.g. Visa or MasterCard, and your bank. The gateway is responsible for providing a safe and secure service when verifying the credit card holder’s details. The payment gateway will have an agreement in place with your bank and generally negotiate transaction fees.
  3. Your merchant bank
    Each bank agreement differs depending on their policies. In some cases banks have aligned with payment gateways to ensure that they can offer bundled competitive charges.

Can online credit cards replace my swipe machine for ad hoc payments and guest check outs?

To remain competitive payment gateways can offer several online services that facilitate ad hoc payments. Examples of these services include: replacement of swipe machines and emailing secure payment link to debtors.

What are the credit card payment gateways ResRequest interfaces to?

As clients and banks have approached us we have developed interfaces to the most frequently recommended products. These products include:

 

For more information on this service contact us:

Emailinfo@resrequest.comTel: +27 (0) 31 762-2729
Website: www.resrequest.com | Support Tel: +27 (0) 35 772-5615