Step up your server

server specs -wp

The saying ‘change is inevitable’ is certainly applicable in the technology sector. This is a positive change as we have new products to solve problems, improve online storage and facilitate tracking. As with most new technologies, however, there are often unforeseen consequences.

 

This is true for servers. Servers are the core of ResRequest’s productivity. If a server goes down, we can’t work – and neither can you! It is, therefore, essential that we maintain and run our machines as efficiently, and cost effectively, as possible. As a ResRequest client, your servers are also key to your property’s productivity. As ResRequest improves its product, we want to help you to optimise your server so that your business is always at its most productive and making full use of all the ResRequest enhancements.

 

When working at a small lodge with a handful of users (1-5) there is no need to go over the top with a large server. Below is a list of the minimum server requirements that we recommend:

 

  • i3 Duo Core CPU
  • 10 GB free hard disk space
  • 4 GB RAM (system memory)
  • Windows 7 or above
  • Linux
  • iOS – must use Parallels

 

This is just a guideline. If, however, the machine you are using as a server is also performing multiple functions, it would be advisable to improve your server capacity to run all the other programs parallel to ResRequest, without causing performance issues. More RAM is always the easiest and cheapest way to increase performance.

 

In closing, it’s good to know that if you are running an offline environment, we suggest letting ResRequest set up unattended access on TeamViewer. This will allow us to access the server when needed without prompting for TeamViewer details.

 

We are constantly improving our product and with a suitable server, your property will be able to capitalize on all aspects of ResRequest to enhance your operations.

 

Please contact us if you would like more information or advice.

Your online presence and ResRequest web pages

Imageset-blog-page-header

Written by Jennifer Coppinger

What is the value of having a great website?

Having a website is no longer optional. Having a positive online presence through a website and social media platforms has become essential for almost every business and service. The quality of these sites and platforms is constantly evolving in the up-beat and competitive digital era that the majority of the world’s population has rapidly embraced.

You may ask why? A website is merely a marketing tool that doesn’t truthfully communicate the quality of the business or service. Or does it? There is method to the madness. A website is always accessible, it offers a chance to keep your customers informed, it grows your potential target market to a global scale and it can talk to every potential customer at the same time – there are only a certain number of phone calls you can take in a day! It’s often the first aspect of your business that people see and you know what they say about first impressions!

For many businesses, websites are a tool, a space for customers to view products, make reservations and even pay online from anywhere in the world.

What has your ResRequest system got to do with this?

Although ResRequest is your in-house reservations and property management system, remember that you still have some public facing pages. These public web pages are made up of your login page, your public availability calendar and quick search and may also include a Pay Now page if you have opted to use this functionality. All of these web pages can be extremely powerful in driving direct bookings to your establishment.

So if you’ve been skipping ahead with the times and have redesigned your website, remember that you can get these ResRequest public pages updated too. Just send us an email and we can get these pages redesigned for you to accommodate your new look.

screen-design-1

screen-design-2

Please be advised that these changes are billable at our standard support charges.

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.

 

pacstrat

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.

 

Proactive Reservations | Managing your reservations & maximising your channels

What do you do if your establishment is too small to rent or manage a reservation software solution?

Have a look at Proactive Reservations has to offer…

Proactive Reservations have years of combined international and local experience in various hospitality and tourism positions and offer in depth knowledge of all aspects of front office, hotel reservations and tour operating. Their team members have worked for a number of highly regarded companies and offers expertise in:

• Hotel openings

• Property management system set ups

• Set up and implementation of standard operating procedures

• Product and content implementation

• Set up and managing of Channel Managers

• Set up and managing of OTA’s

• Revenue Management

• Training of staff

They pride themselves on their quality service delivery and providing a means of maximising your revenue opportunities for your property.

SERVICES

Implementation and Management of OTA channels

By providing a simple streamlined process for all distribution updates so hoteliers can minimise errors for channel management and in this way, increase revenue. They manage the online profiles and implement a revenue strategy on behalf of the property or marketing team, along with uploading of information and new set up required and can continuously monitor what the OTA partners are introducing and what the trends are showing.

Implementation and recommendations of systems

Proactive Reservations implement and recommend the best systems for each individual property which leads to a better user experience and increased sales.

Training of Reservations staff

Training your staff can improve business performance, profit and staff morale. Giving them the tools to contribute to the business and building their self-esteem will improve productivity and customer service. A reservations audit is done on the processes applied within the day to day running of the property and recommendations on improvements are made. Furthermore, they can facilitate training on time management, telephone etiquette, email correspondence with the customer and more.

Reservations recruitment

Assisting with the placement of the right candidate with the correct experience to match the property requirements is another one of the many services they provide.

BOOKINGS TO COMPLEMENT YOUR REVENUE STRATEGY

Online distribution is key to maximise your revenue opportunities. Reach across multiple channels and platforms.

CHANNEL MANAGERS

In order to maximise the effectiveness of listing on various booking sites, Proactive Reservations recommend that all clients utilise the integration of channel managers. These channel managers provide the capability of accurate availability being displayed and ensuring the property is available to be booked. Through their partnerships with some of the world’s leading travel and tourism organisations, they can guarantee improved online visibility.

The team at Proactive Reservations facilitate and manage the engagement with the OTA partners and set up new agreements on behalf of clients and upload images, text, packages, special offers and standard rates.

 

For more info or a quotation contact Joanne: info@proactive-reservations.com

What are connections?

logo-band

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.

More exposure on Airbnb

Airbnb shares how you can get more exposure for your property by listing it on airbnb.com. More than 80 million people have travelled on Airbnb so listing your property gives you access to a broad base of customers who love to travel. It is free to list and Airbnb only charges a 3% commission.

About Airbnb
Founded in August of 2008 and based in San Francisco, California, Airbnb is a trusted community marketplace for people to list, discover, and book unique accommodations around the world — online or from a mobile phone or tablet. Whether a spare bedroom, an apartment, a villa or a private island, Airbnb connects travelers to a more diverse and authentic range of experiences in over 34,000 cities and 190 countries.

How Airbnb works: 

  • Ordinary residents – “hosts” – can list their own homes on the Airbnb website. They create online profiles for themselves and for their property, choose their own price and availability and set guidelines for guests.
  • Increasingly we are seeing that unique properties do really well and that it has become and avenue for small lodges, tented camps, tree houses etc. The key thing is that there is a host who can communicate with and welcome guests and that each bedroom is unique.
  • Guests search for hosts and properties that meet their criteria – dates, location, number of beds or rooms, wifi, breakfast included, etc.
  • Hosts and guests can learn about each other through information provided on their Airbnb profiles, including past reviews, photographs, and identity verification. Additionally, hosts and guests can communicate with each other through the Airbnb website, to discuss travel dates, expectations, and price.
  • Airbnb facilitates the entire financial transaction and holds onto the payment until 24 hours after the reservation begins to make sure both guests and hosts are happy before the payment goes through. Hosts keep 97% of booking fees, and guests pay a 6-12% fee to Airbnb.
  • After the stay, both hosts and guests leave reviews for one another. The reviews are public for all future hosts and guests to read.
If you’re still not convinced, hear what President Obama had to say about Airbnb.

Who can list on Airbnb?
Anyone with a bedroom, an apartment, a small guest house, B&B, lodge or self catering accommodation. What is important is that there is a host to facilitate the guest experience, and that each room needs to be listed separately unless you are renting out the whole place.

Would you like to become a host?

Where do I go to list my space?

If you have any questions, feel free to contact velma.corcoran@ext.airbnb.com or go to https://www.airbnb.com/help.

ResRequest does not currently have an integration with Airbnb, but do let us know if this is something that you would be interested in.

rainmaker | Google 360° virtual tour

rainmaker is the accredited Google Street View Trusted Agency in Africa, bringing you all of the new features and benefits of the Google Travel Services. This will significantly improve your direct booking conversions, digital presence ranking and, thus, your revenue, average daily rate and occupancy.

Providing stunning rainmaker VISTA 360° Virtual Reality Tours (powered by Google Street View Trusted), properties can gain the most immersive and best converting content, not only for their own website but also for their Facebook Page and, most importantly on Google. All tours are seamlessly integrated into all relevant Google Services such as Google Search, Google Maps, Google Now, Google Trips, Google Plus, Google Places, Google Hotel and Google Destination. As a result, this increases traffic to direct websites right from Google.

THIS COULD BE YOUR HOTEL

SEE HOW OTHER PROPERTIES GOT MORE BOOKINGS via WebsiteGoogle MapsFacebook and Google Search.

Want to know who’s using 360° Virtual Tours? Take a look.

Don’t miss this great opportunity rainmaker and the Google Travel Services provide for all hotels, lodges, guesthouses, B&Bs and restaurants in southern Africa.

Contact riette@rainmaker.travel with any question you might have.

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).

 

Online travel channel sales a success!

Those that have been hard at work investing the resources and effort to implement online sales channels have reported sales success! In a relatively short time ResRequest properties have reported that online sales channels have added impressive revenue cream every business owner dreams of.

With internet penetration increasing and customers taking to the web, building a strong online sales strategy appears to be a lucrative strategic investment for ResRequest properties. There are several options available to our ResRequest customers which we have documented in our Online Options Book. One aspect of an online sales strategy is investing in online sales channels. These channels are websites who act as web-based travel agents. Their entire focus is on finding ways to attract keen buyers to their websites in order to make a sale.

In the past, availability, rates and bookings were manually co-ordinated between the channel and the property and only big hotel chains could invest in automating business with channels. This has changed with the introduction of interfaces between reservation systems. We are now able to communicate electronically and automatically send availability, rates and bookings from ResRequest to these channels through our connector module.

Our clients were cautious with their approach to this new sales area until the end of last year when a few pioneer ResRequest properties invested resources, time and patience into an online channel strategy. In a few months these properties established relationships with online vendor agents such as Expedia, Agoda and Booking.com. They setup the ResRequest channel connector module and started working with their vendor partners to ensure that they get the best return on their channel investment.

Soon after this effort, rumblings of unprecedented earnings reached our ears and we enthusiastically celebrated our client’s successful forage into this exciting new revenue stream.

By now you’re either dreaming of creamy financials or salivating over your keyboard and waiting for the sign pointing toward the holy grail. So here it is, the key ingredients you will need for this new sales model are: your resources to setup and manage this channel strategy (remember this takes time and effort), a connection between ResRequest and the channel, and a relationship with each channel.

channels1

Let’s review each of these ingredients closer.

ALLOCATE RESOURCES

To get value from this new revenue stream, you will need to invest the resources, time and patience to manage your channels.

I can almost hear you sigh saying: “I thought you said this was ‘online’?” And I did say online, but online channels are just an ‘e’ version of a travel agent. You are the product, the channel is the agent and ResRequest electronically connects your data together.

You are still ultimately doing business with a company that has specific rules and methods of working. The electronic connection is simply automating the detailed data lookups. You still need to nurture relationships, negotiate rates, manage specials and stay in touch with your channel partner so that you can be sure to deploy all the tricks to get your property listed at the top of their search engine!

The technical connection between the channel and ResRequest is just one part of others needed to make this work for you. Properties who have seen success from their online channels are the properties that have allocated resources internally to develop and deploy a channel strategy. They have recognised that like any sales strategy, dedication and effort are required to make it work.

SETUP RESREQUEST CONNECTOR

ResRequest has developed a connection bridge to three connector partners: Nightsbridge, eRes and SynXis. Each of these connector partners distribute your data to a host of channels and travel websites.

The diagram below illustrates how your ResRequest data electronically reaches your channel partner.

Online-Configuration

 

Even with a connector in place, there are still data setups that need to be managed in both the connector partner and the channel partner’s system. This is another reason an allocated resource is necessary!
MEET CHANNEL PARTNERS

There are a host of channels available through each ResRequest connection partner. Some of these channels are for listed searches only while others deal in online availability and sales.

Two of the most successful channels amongst our pioneer properties are Expedia and Agoda. We contacted these popular channels to find out who our lodges can talk to in order to become more familiar with the type of business they can bring you and how they work. To find out more about what these renown channels can offer you, click the links below:

See our detailed Channels List for a list of channels offered by our channel managers.

Remember that you will need to establish a relationship with each channel you choose to do business with. That allocated resource should also fill this role perfectly!


What does it cost me?

Along with investing resources in this project, be prepared for connection fees and, of course, the channel commission. The general price expectation is: (Your Resource & Time) + (ResRequest Connector Fee + Channel Manager Fee) + the Channel’s Commission.

Here is a breakdown of these costs:

ChannelPricing

These prices are subject to change and should be confirmed by the respective vendor.

What next?

If you are interested in taking the next step, contact our Call Centre so that we can talk you through the process.

 


See related Online Options topics:

Online Options for ResRequest Customers (Overview)
Sell Bed Nights to Direct Guests on Your Website
Sell Bed Nights to Agents
Sell Bed Nights through Partner Sites
Sell Bed Nights through ResConnect Agents
Sell Bed Nights through Mass Market channels