Online credit card payments: ResRequest Starter Pack

Offering credit card transactions on your website is a convenient, time-saving, secure method of accepting payment for your stock. The ability to accept credit card payments on your site is a critical requirement to selling your stock on the Internet. The ResRequest Credit Card Interface makes this possible.

How your customers benefit from credit card payments on your website

Customers have come to expect to be able to book and pay. A credit card facility is especially welcomed by repeat guests and for business to business transactions.

Understanding the profile of customers who pay with credit cards online may help you decide if you will implement credit card payments on your web site. Credit card payments allow you to take advantage of transacting with the following types of customers:

  • International customers Credit card payment is a convenient and safe way of transacting with your customers overseas. Overseas customers generally expect and trust online services – which helps to close a deal. This is especially convenient when there is a time difference between the customer shopping on your site and being able to contact your booking office. Credit card payments can also assist in addressing currency differences.
  • Repeat guests Guests who have previously travelled to your area may be comfortable with your travel transfers and logistics. Payments with the booking process help close the sale efficiently.
  • Impulse buyers If your marketing team has attracted new customers to your web site, the buyer is often impressed enough that they are ready to close the sale. Only having a manual payment option may result in a delay or result in the customer shopping elsewhere.
  • Business to business Travel agents and personal assistants often do not require intimate contact to finalise a booking. Providing online transactions saves them time and effort and could help make you the destination of choice.

How credit card payments work electronically

Credit card payments are initiated when the user requests an electronic payment from your website or business application. The payment request routes the credit card holder to your payment vendor’s site. This vendor is referred to as the payment gateway and facilitates the transaction between you, the card holder’s company and your bank.

The credit card holder submits their credit card details on the gateway’s secure payment form. The gateway then verifies the credit card, debits the credit card holder’s account (Mastercard or VISA), notifies your business application of approval, and credits your bank account.

Below is an illustration of this process.

BookingFlow

 

Linking credit card payments to ResRequest bookings

Your ResRequest online booking form offers seamless integration to a payment gateway. This enables your user to book and pay online immediately. Transactions from the gateway are automatically recorded on the ResRequest booking. ResRequest charges a fixed monthly fee to host the automated credit card interface on your ResRequest booking page.

If you create your own booking page on your website and use the ResRequest API (interface) to check availability and make bookings, your web developer can

record payments with bookings created through the API. There is no ResRequest fee for this interface as the service is developed by you and hosted on your web site.

When you consider credit card costs – remember that your gateway and bank will determine the cost for their portion of this credit card service. These fees are finalised when you establish your commercial agreement with your gateway. Fees are generally based on your profile which includes transaction volumes and your business relationship.

 

Seamlessly integrate your ResRequest booking form with your payment gateway.

The ResRequest booking pages can be branded to match your web site so that your customers feel like they are booking directly with you.

At point of payment the user is directed to the payment gateway form where they can securely submit their credit card details. The gateway verifies the card holder with the card association (VISA, MasterCard etc), approves or declines the payment, and returns the user to the ResRequest booking page. ResRequest notifies the user as to whether the transaction succeeded and provides a ResRequest reference number.

Successful payments are automatically recorded on the ResRequest booking. Funds are released into your bank account according to the gateway’s process rules.

RR-BookingForm

 

The payment gateway shown in the sample above is Paygate.

 

Steps to setup your ResRequest online booking page with a credit card payment interface

Follow these easy steps to implement your online booking form:

  • Customise your ResRequest online booking form Contact ResRequest to customise your online booking page.
  • Sign up with your gateway partner Evaluate and select your preferred gateway partner.
  • Set up your gateway partner as a ResRequest interface Contact ResRequest to activate the interface for you.

 

Tips when selecting a gateway partner

Gateway services and pricing can vary and it’s important to have a blueprint of your business payment needs to ensure you select the most suitable vendor. Below is a list of considerations to help you choose your gateway:

  • Cost. Service costs may be fixed or a per-transaction fee, or a combination of fixed and transaction fees. Each gateway will negotiate a price with you based on your profile. It is important to understand their services to evaluate business value relative to their fees. Ensure that you understand the full monthly cost involved and/or the cost of each transaction from all the suppliers including ResRequest, the gateway provider and your bank.
  • Payment release time. Ensure your gateway meets your expectations regarding the time between the transaction being approved and the money being released to your account.
  • Meets your business needs. Consider all e-commerce factors that influence the choice of your gateway partner. Questions include: Can your gateway support the currencies you accept? Do they connect to your bank? Do they support travel and entertainment cards such as Diners Club and Amex (and at what cost)? Can they process ad hoc transactions for account settlements or guest check outs?
  • Trust. Check that your gateway is secure and compliant with industry rules and regulations. Speak to your bank to confirm that they have approved your gateway. Ensure you understand and accept the chargeback policies.
  • Consolidated services. Many clients look for an online credit card partner to handle product sales on their website but these days gateways offer more than that. Services can include credit card
  • terminals / cash points for payments at your lodge, handling debit cards, and facilitating the settlement of cash accounts or business to business payments. Before you choose your preferred credit card vendor, take time to identify other payment needs to ensure your gateway can support them.
  • Interface to ResRequest. ResRequest will provide a payment interface on your ResRequest online booking form and a, soon to be released, ‘Pay Now’ option for ad hoc payments. Ensure that ResRequest supports your chosen gateway.
  • Customisable online interface. For your customer’s peace of mind during the payment process, it is important that your brand is recognisable on the gateway’s transaction page. Ask your gateway partner to show you the options available to you, including costs involved.
  • Back office tools. There may be times that you need to reconcile transactions – ensure that your gateway provides these administration tools and support services.

 

Download the PDF of this starter pack

 

Can online payments work for lodges?

Online Credit Card Payments

In the past lodges have shied away from online payments citing concerns from “my customer will not understand complex travel logistics”, to concerns like “online payments will take away the personal contact with my customer”, and even “online bookings will create an unrealistic travel expectation”.

These concerns are valid and should be addressed. In fact they are already being addressed by pioneer lodges and travel sites like Expedia and Agoda. These businesses consider lodge stock sales as a feasible market and they are addressing sales challenges through packages, site content and seriously (seriously!) rigid booking terms and conditions.

If a customer can look, book and pay for a holiday to a lodge on a travel site, what’s stopping you from offering the same service on your own site? Answer that question and you may find it’s easy to put plans in place to direct your online customer to book on your own site.

Implementing online payments on your site caters for the customer who understands logistics, or a customer who is prepared to find out details after they have committed to the sale. It caters for the repeat guest, international guest, business guest and the impromptu buyer. Your online shopper has an inherent trust in web content and your brand, they have researched you on Tripadvisor, Facebook and other social media platforms. By the time they are prepared to enter their credit card details, they have concluded that you meet their expectations and they trust that you will fill in any gaps for them.

Ignoring online payments may mean you alienate a potentially lucrative market from your business. Why? Because these online customers prefer to shop at a time that suits them, on a device that suits them and they prefer instant (and electronic) response to their quoting and purchasing needs. This customer interprets your personal attention from your e-content such as, your social media posts and your web site content. They expect that you will fill in any gaps for them, even after their transaction is completed online. And if you don’t cater to their shopping preference – they will likely close your web page and find someone in your area who does.

Offering credit card transactions is a necessary service for this customer because it provides them with a convenient, effective time-saving method of processing payment, in a secure environment.

To find out specifics about how ResRequest can help you with online payments, take a look at our ResRequest online payments starter pack.

Financial interfaces | connect to accounts and simplify your business

Written by Mike Coppinger

ResRequest includes powerful capabilities for pricing, invoicing and managing accounts receivable. We advocate that you make full use of these features within ResRequest and use your accounting system for its specialised purpose of keeping your financial accounts. To replicate invoices within your accounting system is a costly overhead, open to error.

We offer you the facility of producing your official tax invoices and your payment receipts within ResRequest and exporting the contingent financial journal entries to your accounting system.

Posting of the financial entries from ResRequest to the accounting system is done by batches in either of the following ways:

  1. Summary values of totals posted to each account over a period of time (e.g. day / week / month) may be printed and then entered as a manual journal entry into the accounting system.
  2. Batches of detailed transactions may be exported, then imported electronically into any of the following systems:

In addition to the time saving inherent in not replicating invoices, benefits of utilising the financial interface include:

  • Defining the rate breakdown and tax implications of your rates in one place only. This is accomplished by effective use of the ResRequest rate components.
  • Having all Accounts Receivable information available in one system, with seamless ‘click through’ to progressive levels of detail from the Customer Statement right down to the individual rate components on a specific invoice.
  • Utilising the contacts database within ResRequest for direct emailing of invoices and statements to customers.

We will be pleased to provide a ResRequest consultant to work with you through the process of implementing the financial interface.

The implementation process consists of translating ResRequest financial elements (rate components, extras, tax rates, etc.) into the language of the accounting system (GL codes, cost centres, etc.), training you on how to use the interface functions and defining operational procedures.

To initiate your financial interface, please contact our Call Centre to advise you on the next steps.

ResRequest interface | point of sale and stock control

Looking for a solution that will help you efficiently manage stock reordering? Give you control over your sales? Reduce threats such as fraud? A Point of Sale system with Stock Control is the answer.

ResRequest clients benefit further by automatically recording sales on guest invoices for integrated invoicing and fast, efficient check-outs.

Historically Point of Sale (POS) refers to a till at the point of purchase by a sales clerk, for example at the bar counter or in the curio shop.

A modern POS system is vastly superior to a till in that it performs many more functions including inventory management, stock control, and reordering. Additional functions include recording of transactions by user and price control and management.

POS systems also enable management to run multiple POS locations and distribution points with a central database for reporting. POS systems are designed to identify stock changes and price abuse in order to eliminate fraud and reduce management overhead.

Using a POS system will ensure that front-of-house areas such as bar and curio shops and back-of-house areas such as kitchen and housekeeping, are run efficiently while automatically charging transactions to guest accounts, preparing order notifications, posting to accounting systems and producing business reports showing sales trends, price discrepancies and profits.

POS FUNCTIONS


The right POS system will streamline your business operations in several areas including: inventory management, purchasing, sales and reporting.

POS1

Inventory Management
A POS solution gives you the ability to control inventory by categorising and tracking items. This ensures adequate stock levels which increases productivity and sales. Administration burden is dramatically reduced.

 

POS2

 

Purchasing
A stock controller is notified of purchasing requirements and orders quickly and easily sent to suppliers. Receipted orders automatically adjust stock levels. Orders are tracked and late delivery escalated.

 

POS3

 

Sales
The POS terminal can run a tab, receipt cash sales, or send transactions to ResRequest for consolidated invoicing. Stock levels are automatically adjusted.

POS4

Reports & Analysis
A POS system produces daily sales reports and journals. POS reports are designed to identify sales trends, cash point performance and accurately reflect cost versus sales price.

 

POS AND RESREQUEST


ResRequest offers an automated interface between the ResRequest Property Management module and a client’s preferred POS solution. With this best-of-breed approach, clients can choose a POS solution that is perfectly suited to their needs and ResRequest will seamlessly integrate POS sales with front-of-house and accounts.

 

SETTING UP POS AT YOUR LODGE


A POS configuration typically consist of POS terminals installed in each service location such as the bar, curio shop and restaurant. POS terminals can be a computer or a robust touch screen unit that supports a receipt printer and a cash register.

To consolidate POS transactions, each terminal is connected to a central computer which runs POS software. This computer also runs ResRequest’s POS interface which is responsible for automatically recording POS sales on the ResRequest guest account.

At guest check out ResRequest generates the guest account as an invoice and payment is recorded. Sales and receipts reflected in ResRequest are posted to the General Ledger via ResRequest’s financial interface.

The illustration below shows the POS sales cycle from guest check in to guest check out.

POSStructure

 

With ResRequest’s POS interface, clients can select their preferred POS solution and confidently manage stock and sales.

RESREQUEST POS INTERFACE VENDORS


For information on the POS products offered by established interface vendors, please contact them at the contact details below:

CASIO
Speak to: Robbie Frade
Email: robbief@jamesralph.com
Telephone: +27 (0) 11 314-8888
Mobile: +27 (0) 82 821 3117
Website: www.jrpos.co.za

POWERPOS:
Speak to: James Brunette
Email: jamesb@powerpos.co.za
Telephone: +27 (0) 79 891 6433
Mobile: +27 (0) 81 432 4707
Website: www.powerpos.co.za

 

Online connections | What’s available?

Reaping the benefits of online booking channels sounds appealing until you hit the Google search button. The vast volume of results leave most people feeling intimidated or exhausted before they even click ‘Next’. 

As the online inventory and availability distribution hub, ResRequest plays a key role in working with our channel and technology partners and customers to identify online booking options that clients can embrace, turning this online challenge into an exciting opportunity.

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.

 

Channel 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 are 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 partner agents may react to them openly targeting the direct market.

As a result of all these concerns, we see a more cautious approach to creating bookings online, resulting in clients favouring availability displays with an easy-to-use enquiry form.

However, over the last year we have seen an increase in creating bookings with close to 5% of our clients implementing this functionality on their website. We believe that, even though lodge consumers may continue to need personal interaction with reservation offices or agents, over the next 2 years online bookings will become an expected norm from direct and travel trade.

 

Your business partners. Over time, marketing groups have formed with the objective of stimulating travel in niche markets. Some of these groups are commercial ventures, while others are informal associations born from like-minded neighbouring properties. This year saw an increase in interest for marketing groups and regional availability, where independent / neighbouring properties are interested in publishing availability on a collaborative web-page. Approximately 5% of our clients now participate in this type of online channel. 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 70% of our clients allow agents to access stock through our agent module, with close to 3% allowing agents to create bookings.

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.

 

Mass market channels / Global Distribution Systems (GDS). Travel sites reported significant 2011 revenues: Expedia $3.45 billion, Amadeus at E2,7 billion. With revenues like these it is understandable that every hotel would love to tap into those markets. So why are lodges cautious of tapping into these very lucrative channels?

Lodges have many concerns with these 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 have no concern for the guest’s knowledge or ability to transfer to and from complicated, remote locations. There is also a fear that web-savvy consumers receiving an unexpected experience will complain on public forums such as Tripadvisor and Twitter, tarnishing a lodge’s reputation.

It is clear that the lodge industry have not yet understood if and how this market sector could be valuable to them. Among our clients we see 3 opinions: clients who are adamant this sector will not work for them, clients who are cautious but tempted to experiment and clients who embrace these channels as a new type of agent.

Despite these fears, this year we have seen our first 16 properties tap into these channels. Early evidence suggests that once the connection is established, marketing effort is then required to ensure that trends and product pricing align with each partner site’s requirements, to ensure that the lodge will be listed high in relevant searches.

 

Considerations

“Where does ResRequest fit in?”
Each channel option requires a specific strategy and project plan and ResRequest is an integral part of this strategy. To demonstrate where ResRequest fits in and how you can use the online Channels available to you, we have created a Connections starter document. Please download this file for more information.

“Do the bookings roll in once I’m connected?”
A common misconception about online channels is that because they are automated, they will generate business immediately. This is a myth, marketing effort is required to manage and understand how to sell bednights effectively on each channel.

Approach this as a completely new way of promoting your product by investing in managing and understanding each connection model, and they will become exciting new opportunities to sell bed nights.

For consulting advice on setting up online channels contact our support centre: support@resrequest.com

 

The importance of documented reservations procedures

 

By: Paula Chaplin

As the somewhat gruesome adage says, there is more than one way to skin a cat – and this is especially true of handling Reservations in ResRequest. There are some procedures that you need to define for your company, and write-up for your staff to follow – to ensure consistency in the way your company handles Reservations. For instance – do you have written procedures that cover:

  • Cancellations,
  • Waitlists,
  • Refunds,
  • Documentation (what information you show on the Reservation Summary, Proforma, Tax Invoice and Itinerary – and what each of those documents is for),
  • How you name your reservations,
  • What information you need to gather for bookings, which could affect statistics and the effectiveness of your marketing (e.g. guest names, source of booking, originating agent, etc.)

If not – you should seriously consider doing so. This is something we can assist you with if you’re not sure where to start.

Having your Reservations Procedures written down ensures consistency and the perception of professionalism, but also, and possibly even more importantly, diminishes the damage done to your business by the inevitable learning curve of new staff.


For consulting assistance, please contact our consulting team at: consulting@resrequest.com

New reports | financial analysis reports

Written by  Mike Coppinger

Over the years we have produced a number of reports that present views of business performance from varying perspectives. While all of the different perspectives have value, occasions arise when it would be useful to combine elements from different reports.

Furthermore, over the past year our new rates module has introduced completely new financial dimensions by enabling the use of an unlimited number of rate groups (Adult, Child group 1, Child group 2, etc.) and an unlimited number of taxes that may be applied to a rate component, e.g. VAT, Concession fee, Tourism levy.

These factors motivated our decision to create two new financial reports that effectively cover the spectrum of the existing Bed nights, Sales Analysis and ‘Sales by…’ reports, whilst also incorporating the new rates attributes.

In building these reports we have taken advantage of the opportunity to apply and enhance ResRequest’s report building capabilities. This means that you have a high degree of control over what data is contained in your report, and how it is presented. The result is an extremely powerful and flexible reporting tool that is capable of providing invaluable insight into your business performance.

A consequence of the high degree of flexibility is that it is possible to structure reports that, at first glance, do not appear to be sensible. We therefore strongly recommend that you take advantage of a couple of hours of training when one of our trainers is in your area.

The following diagram presents a summary of the key report functionality.

FA

Effective management | Are you looking at the Reports you need to?

Written by Paula Chaplin

One of ResRequest’s most advanced tools is the capacity for detailed and flexible reporting on pretty much anything you could imagine needing, to run your company effectively. Are you making the most of this feature? If not – you have effectively bought a brand new Landrover with a 5-litre engine to drive to the corner shop once a week…(Apologies to all Landcruiser aficionados for the analogy).

Our new Financial Analysis report allows you to look at revenue and occupancy in an almost endless variety of ways. You can let us know if you need help familiarising yourself with this incredible tool.

You often ask what reports you should be looking at – and that’s a very difficult question to answer en masse, without knowing a little more about what information you’re looking for, and, more specifically, what business question you are trying to answer – i.e.:

  • Is it for marketing purposes?
  • Do you need to know when you can afford to build that new camp?
  • Do you want to check on the performance of your team?
  • Do you need to report to your superiors on the effectiveness of your management role by comparing this year to previous years?
Whatever your reporting requirements are, ResRequest can give you the information you need. Just think about what information that is, why you need it, and who is going to use it – and we can assist you in setting up Report Profiles to pull that information from the system.

To find out when a trainer will be in your area, please email our training team at: training@resrequest.com

For general assistance on reports, please email our call centre at: support@resrequest.com