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 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.

See, Sample, Sow – How you can benefit from ResRequest on-site

We turned off the tar road from Karen and went through a security gate which allowed us passage into the Nairobi National Park. Our bumpy progress was soon brought to a halt as a uniformed orphan keeper crossed the road with a four month old giraffe in tow. A short distance further we passed Max, a blind but content Black rhino and after parking we were introduced to two tiny orphan elephants – newcomers from the previous day. Welcome to The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust! It set the tone for our time at the David Sheldrick offices and interaction with the team – a small group of wonderful people passionate about their work with wildlife and striving to keep the organisation running smoothly. Every organisation, although essentially the same, has it’s quirks making it unique and this is when onsite training makes customising the fit for both the property / res office and ResRequest easier.

Basic training like How to make a reservation or How to add an extra is just the start, but integrating that knowledge with your business processes is the real challenge. Jill headed up the three full days of training which is standard for our onsite training programme. It was intense but certainly worthwhile as we had ascertained a number of suitable reports that were relevant to the organisation and smoothed out a number of business processes that could now be handled by ResRequest.

“Basically I am absolutely loving ResRequest and how much easier it has made my life and streamlined all the bookings. The training was great and it was so nice to meet Jill and Jen and put names to the people who helped set it all up as well as faces and so far have so enjoyed working with you all. Having Jill and Jen come here for the training was the best option as it is so much more personalised that way.” Lina – Reservations Management, The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust.

Sine we were already in Kenya, we had the opportunity to visit Angama in the Mara. Apart from the thrill of soaring over the expansive Mara in a light aircraft and enjoying the breathtaking view from Angama’s deck, the two days we spent with the team was extremely valuable. Having already worked with the system for several months, the res team wanted to hone certain processes to ensure clean data and effective reporting.

“Their visit was a huge success – Thanks to the ResRequest team for taking the time to travel to the Maasai Mara – always more fruitful for discussions to take place at the source as new issues are unearthed no matter how much advanced planning has happened, and face-to-face communication offers a much more efficient way to solve complex issues.” Steve – Director, Angama.

“I agree with Steve – it is beyond beneficial – sitting with Jill and Jen was fantastic, I learnt so much and great tips on how to do things smarter and faster. I recommend this to any client. No matter how good you think you are in the system… you will learn sooo much from having a ResRequest team member sit with you for a full day.” Kristen – Reservations, Angama.

We visited a number of clients during our Kenya trip – both new and advanced users – and were encouraged by the system-strong and enthusiastic people using ResRequest. Our primary goal with initial and ongoing training is not just to teach the ‘how to’ but to empower our users to utilise ResRequest to it’s fullest, because even with software the clichéd adage holds true: “You get out what you put in.”

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.

Centricity | Guest Surveys, Online Reputation Management, Image Library

Centricity provides three separate solutions to the hospitality industry – Guest Satisfaction Surveys, Online Reputation Management and an Image Library solution.  Through an integration with ResRequest you can automate the sending of post-stay guest surveys and receive high quality guest feedback and comments in real time.

In addition to guest surveys, Centricity also help hotels to monitor and manage their online reviews from key travel review sites such as TripAdvisor, Booking.com, Expedia.com and Facebook.  With the Online Reputation Management module you can see all of your online reviews in one location and reply to them directly from Centricity.

Images sell hotels and the Image Library solution helps hotels to move their image libraries to the cloud, so that your images are more accessible and easily shared directly from the cloud when needed.

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).

 

How to get guests in your bed – a strategic guide to get more bookings

Analyse clients

Written by Mqondisi Gumede, Man and Machine

One of the difficulties of marketing in travel is that it is a very large place that boasts an incredible array of beauty. It is a never ending pageant of scenery, culture, beauty, culinary delight, diverse experiences and accommodation establishments at their best décor and service.

In such a situation, most hoteliers will have found that, as justifiably proud of their establishment’s charms as they are, there are other establishments with different but no less compelling offers to potential guests.

In this situation, what are hoteliers to do? Our response is to develop a strategy.

One of the hallmarks of strategy is to answer the question ‘WHO?’ first, before you answer the question ‘WHAT and HOW?’ (To understand why this order is important, I make the argument in the post – A strategic marketing approach to get a date ahead of Brad Pitt. In essence being tactical, approaching this problem from a first ‘WHAT’ and ‘HOW’ perspective, will render you far less likely to succeed than approaching the challenge from a first ‘WHO’ then ‘WHAT’ approach.

Gaining clarity on who for all businesses, especially hotels, has so far been a very difficult affair. Recent conversations have pinned hopes on big data, hoping that, if businesses had more data they would be better at generating insight. Nothing could be further from the truth. All that we have today are businesses that have a greater amount of data but generally still have the same scarcity of insight.

In your pursuit of understanding the ‘WHO’, it is important to focus on insight. Here are the 2 main reasons:

1) WHY is the power.

In the movie The Matrix Reloaded, Neo (the One) goes to visit the Merivingian. An entertaining passage of dialogue ensues that culminates in the Merivingian asking Neo: “Why?” The star of the movie hesitates and offers no answer, the Merivingian, incredulous, admonishes him saying:

“…Why is the only real source of power, without it you are powerless. And this is how you come to me: without why, without power, another link in the chain.”

Then, he dismisses him in the following fashion:

“But, fear not, since I have seen how good you are at following orders, I will tell you what to do next. Run back, and give the fortune-teller this message:…”

In the world of appeal, nothing can be more valuable than understanding why people do what they do. Imagine how you could change your marketing, your Facebook page, your website, if you knew why people travelled at all and why they choose the travel experience providers they do.

This is perhaps the most important prerequisite to being able to have a compelling offer in a crowded travel and tourism industry, if you can understand the why of the people that are likely predisposed to choosing your establishment.

As difficult as it is, there is no greater guarantee of success in marketing, online or not, but locating the reasons, the why, of your target market’s travel choices. This may not be the fastest or easiest route but it is the surest route to marketing and booking success:

2) Start by getting a better understanding of the people who have stayed with you before.
Many businesses go after more and more data when they do not use the current data they have to gain rich insight which remain the same even if they analysed 100 times the data.

To avoid this huge missed opportunity, think of all the people that have booked at your establishment and all the conversations you’ve had, all the reviews and social media mentions that you’ve read about your establishment and answer the following questions.

i. Try and list the 3 largest groups of people that emerge.
ii. Once listed ask yourself and/or key members of your team, why they chose your establishment?
Once you have the first answer, ask “why is that important?” and as you get an answer repeat the process for 5 whys.

If you don’t get beyond 2 or 3 whys, it signals that there is some work to do in understanding the motivations of your targeted audience and would not keeping your marketing activity to a moderate level until you can have this conversation very casually with your new guests over the course of the next weeks.

Once you can get to 4 or 5 whys for the top groups that stay with you, you will now understand why they travel and why they make the travel choices that they do.

This insight, will start to shed light on who your audiences are and the best way to prosper in trying to appeal to them.

In our next blog post we’ll discuss how to apply this new found power. If you feel you need more detailed analysis, we at Man&Machine combine the understanding of people, strategy, marketing and digital and put them together in a way that works best to get you more guests to your establishment. We will be able to apply a host of techniques that can provide you with a clearer view of the people who have stayed at your establishment as one of the inputs to greater marketing efficacy in the online space.

 

 

Your management checklist

hdbttn-e1441996503991

Written by Paula Chaplin

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

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

To review internal staff workloads

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

To check for fraud / irregularities

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

Financial management

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

Reservations management

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

Property management

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

Tips for when running reports:

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

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

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

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

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!)

The 6th Annual E-Tourism Africa Summit in Cape Town | ‘Be smart, be real, be bold’

eTourismHeader


The 6th Annual E-Tourism Africa Summit, sponsored by South African Tourism, brought together all the brightest and the best to share ways of harnessing digital technology and social media to grow the tourism industry.

This year’s event, which took place at the Cape Town International Convention Centre on the 9th and 10th of September, attracted more than 360 participants and trended on Twitter in South Africa on both days. For those who couldn’t make it, here’s a summary of what transpired.

Ten key takeouts

  • Due to the social media explosion, your customers are your sales people.
  • Contemporary travel is more spontaneous and highly connected.
  • Wi-Fi is a travel essential; make it free if you want to bring in the customers.
  • Social media referrals carry more weight than traditional media.
  • Pictures and videos have stronger pulling power than words.
  • There are many free social media tools you can use to market your business.
  • Innovative social media campaigns involving real people can have enormous impact with relatively little marketing budget.
  • Clarity, simplicity and ease of use are the hallmarks of a successful online presence.
  • Emerging markets are an important source of future tourists.
  • Much of the future for travel and tourism is in mobile, especially in Africa

Read more