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 Website, Google 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

 

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