ResRequest and Expedia are now connected

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We have some exciting news! Expedia, the world’s largest online travel company, now has a connection to ResRequest. ResRequest is constantly improving its product and connectivity between suppliers and buyers is a strategic focus. With our new Expedia connection, properties using ResRequest to manage their reservations can now connect directly to Expedia without a channel manager. 

 

Connections allow us to increase our client’s sales and improve business efficiency. Connections between the supplier and buyer mean that rates, availability, and bookings can be distributed electronically. Our connection to Expedia gives our customers the ability to sell their stock on Expedia partner platforms including Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Travelocity, Orbitz, Egencia, Hotwire, Trivago, Venere.com and several Expedia-affiliate channels.


The Expedia connection process is simple. Contact Expedia to register and specify that you’d like the Expedia connection to ResRequest (email Neil or Darren). Once the commercial agreements are in place with Expedia, our support centre connects your ResRequest and Expedia system together. Your rates and availability are distributed and updated on Expedia, directly from ResRequest. Bookings made by Expedia are automatically highlighted in ResRequest for your central reservation team to review, along with an email. All you need to do is manage your profile information on Expedia – they’re really helpful and have a team to assist with these housekeeping items.


There is no recurring fee for this connection. ResRequest does not charge commission for bookings made by Expedia. A once off setup fee of approximately 1 hour is billed at our standard data set up rates which are R390 / $40 per hour for 2017.

 

You can track the success of the connection as bookings are automatically linked to an Expedia agent and an Expedia source. Your marketing team can run their favourite report to track bed nights, yield, average length of stay and revenue filtered or grouped by the Expedia agent or source.

 

Customers have already started using the connection. We have over 40 properties active with the ResRequest-Expedia connection.

 

Join this growing number of customers and start selling your bed nights fast and easily!

Explore the online travel space with Stride Travel

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Jared Alster- Stride Travel

Growing a travel business in today’s environment is challenging. Travelers have more choice than ever when it comes to booking a tour, safari or adventure vacation and the internet and social media has delivered huge amounts of travel-related content direct to consumers.

But how does a tour operator ensure that their brand breaks through all the chatter? What’s the most efficient way for a travel supplier to acquire new customers? If you have a significant marketing budget, Google and Facebook are both great options. However, for smaller operators with tight budgets or lack of marketing expertise, online distribution can be daunting.

That’s why Stride Travel was created. Stride Travel is an online marketplace for multi-day tours and organised travel. Stride is the first website to enable users to search and read reviews for all professionally planned trips – from traditional group tours and private guided safaris, to independent itineraries and small ship cruises.

Currently, travellers can search Stride’s comprehensive database of over 10,000 trips to 130+ countries from 500+ operators.

Tour operators view Stride as a unique marketing distribution channel.  Unlike online travel agencies and packagers, Stride’s meta search model highlights travel brands rather than hiding them. Stride’s open business model aligns their interests with those of operators and travellers by transparently matching travellers with their perfect tour company.

Many large and niche operators, such as G Adventures, Rothschild Safaris, and Butterfield & Robinson, have partnered with Stride because the business model has minimal up-front costs and provides significant upside in driving new customers.

Today’s consumers expect to be able to read reviews and easily compare options on any major purchase. Adventurous, international vacations are no exception. Yet today, the major travel review websites do not have a category for reviews on multi-day tours and operators.

Stride alleviates this issue and provides operators with a trusted third party platform on which to display traveler reviews and ratings. Stride’s research shows that travellers are up to eight times as likely to trust reviews found on a neutral 3rd party site vs. direct on an operator’s website.

If you’d like to learn more about how Stride can help grow your business, they’d love to hear from you. Please contact Stride.

Blocked pop-ups blocking ResRequest?

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Have you ever landed on a web page and a pop-up immediately blocks the web page content? Pop-ups are usually blocked on web browsers because they’re generally advertisements but in ResRequest, pop-ups are menus and entry screens because ResRequest works off a pop-up based web interface. If pop-ups are blocked on your browser, you might have been experiencing problems accessing some content or even the entire ResRequest system.

Luckily you can enable pop-ups just for ResRequest and this blog will guide you through how to do this depending on your chosen browser. Below are the steps for the two browsers that we recommend you use when working in ResRequest: Chrome and Mozilla FireFox.

  1. Chrome

Open Chrome and your homepage will load. Navigate to the top right hand menu icon, as shown below.

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Scroll down to the bottom of the Settings page, and click on the Show advanced settings link.

Screen Shot 2017-03-14 at 1.51.03 PMNavigate through Advanced Settings and select the Privacy section, under which you will find the Content settings section.

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Click on ‘Content settings’ and scroll to the ‘Manage exceptions’ section. Here you can specify to exclude ResRequest from the pop-up blocker. Add ‘live.resrequest’ if you are working on an offline environment and ‘yourcompany.resrequest.com’ (replace “yourcompany” with your web hosted URL prefix i.e. nyatilodge.resrequest.com).

2. Mozilla FireFox

If you are using Mozilla FireFox, follow these steps to allow pop-ups from ResRequest.

Open Mozilla FireFox and click the menu button in the top left corner of your homepage and choose Preferences.
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Select the Content panel and choose Pop-ups.

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Click on Exceptions and you can add your ResRequest site to the list of ‘allowed’ websites.

Add ‘live.resrequest’ if you are working on an offline environment and ‘yourcompany.resrequest.com’ (replace “yourcompany” with your web hosted URL prefix i.e.  nyatilodge.resrequest.com).

Following these steps will allow you to work on your ResRequest system and keep those annoying pop-up adverts away. The best of both worlds! If you have any further technical questions, please email support@resrequest.com.

 

Rhinos Without Borders

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Anna Rathmann: Great Plains Foundation

Have you ever seen a rhino fly? Well, we at the Great Plains Foundation have. And our goal is to see 100 rhinos fly.

In 2014, Great Plains Conservation partnered with fellow conservation-minded safari company, &Beyond, to embark on one of the most ambitious rhino conservation projects to date: Rhinos Without Borders. By bringing together a community of dedicated wildlife conservationists, individuals, and travel industry leaders Rhinos Without Borders relocates rhino from poaching hotspots in South Africa to carefully selected remote wild areas deep within Botswana. Rhinos Without Borders, was created as an immediate response to the growing rhino poaching crisis in southern Africa, but at its core it is a project of hope.

Why Botswana? Because Botswana currently has one of the lowest poaching rates in Africa where the country’s conservation officials are supported by an official anti-poaching unit and political will from the President down to help save rhinos.

By allowing the rhino to roam free in their undisclosed locations, Rhinos Without Borders is creating a viable breeding population of rhino in Botswana, thus broadening the gene pool and increasing the habitat for rhino in Africa.

To date we have successfully relocated 26 rhino with plans for multiple additional relocations in 2017. On a recent relocation the rhino team was joined by film-makers from GoPro Cameras. The footage produced captured the attention of nearly 2 million people through YouTube and evolved into a special campaign and partnership with GoPro cameras resulting in two additional films and funds raised to move two more rhino. Below is one of the films produced.

One of the truest measures of success has been the birth of 5 calves to the group of already relocated rhino. We see these calves as a sign of hope not just for these specific relocated rhinos, but for the entire species.

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The cost to relocate a single rhino through Rhinos Without Borders is $45,000 USD. This amount covers the costs associated with moving a rhino, funds a dedicated team of rhino monitors and anti-poaching patrols, and supports community conservation education initiatives in the rhinos’ new home. Those who fund an entire rhino move are given the opportunity to name a relocated rhino, with the names ranging from humorous to sentimental. We are honoured by the individuals and travel companies who stepped forward and partner with us in this project.
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Rhinos Without Borders is an example of privately led conservation having a positive and marked impact on outcomes, where the private sector can identify needs, solutions and then work with governments to achieve quick decision making and goals that substantially change the face of conservation. Through such a project, the travel industry and individuals are giving hope to a species of animal emblematic of Africa and entrusted to all of us to protect and preserve. To learn more and join us in our efforts please visit:

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Great Plains Conservation Foundation: Mission
The Great Plains Foundation, is the charitable foundation arm of Great Plains Conservation, and is a US Section 501(c)3 charitable Trust whose mission is to fund the development of best practices for world class conservation with a long term commitment to the environment, wildlife and local communities in Africa, including but not limited to the promotion of responsible tourism to help alleviate poverty and to support community development in Africa.

 

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Clean it up

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You’ve probably heard of plain text and rich text but do you know the difference and the effects of each one? In ResRequest, many modules use plain text to sort and store information and so making sure your information is in plain text is important.

 

What does it mean when we say rich text?

 

Documents created in applications such as Microsoft Word and Google Docs automatically add extra features such as fonts, spacing and capitalisation. This formatting adds code, or special characters, to the text and creates what is termed rich text because it has this extra, hidden formatting.

 

How does this affect you in ResRequest?

 

Have you ever had a problem where your rooming calendar locked down, rates were displaying incorrectly on an external connection or even where a guest contact name was randomly showing on the description of an extra? These are all examples of the effect of using rich text with special characters in the ResRequest system.

 

What can you do to avoid special character issues?

 

This is frustrating for you as a client and causes delays as we resolve the problem. Fortunately, there is a solution for which we can thank Jonathan Hedley at Amazon (thanks Jono!). Jonathon created a web-based tool which converts text to plain text very easily!

 

Below are the easy steps to follow to convert any text to plain text. You can then use this plain text in the ResRequest system without any hassles!

 

Step 1:

Go to Jonathan’s site, Convert Microsoft Word to Plain Text

Step 2:

Copy the rich text and paste it into the first window.

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Step 3:

Hit the clean button.

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Step 4:

Copy the ‘clean’, plain text from the bottom window and paste it into the relevant ResRequest field.

 

Step 5:

If there has been a loss of spacing or capital letters, you can edit it accordingly.

 

Step 6:

You’re done!

 

The most important area in ResRequest where you need to use plain text is your ResNova plugin. Copying text directly to ResNova from Microsoft Word or Google Docs will cause broken links and disrupt the functionality of ResNova. Populating your ResNova plugin popups with clean text can be done easily on the ResRequest business structure. Watch a tutorial on how to do this – bearing in mind what you now know about cleaning rich text!

 

The conversion to plain text is vitally important and we hope that this blog will assist you in converting your text, preventing errors and ensuring smooth ResRequest functionality.

 

Step up your server

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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.

How a 24 year old started a $70,000-a-month online business and travels the world

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Written by Tanza Loudenback

Aileen Adalid entered the corporate world at age 19 after graduating from De La Salle University in Manila, Philippines, with a degree in business management and had a combined year of training experience under her belt at huge multinational companies like Nestlé, Unilever, and Siemens.

But the trilingual Philippines native quickly grew envious of the flexible lifestyles of “digital nomads” she met while freelancing on the side in Manila.

At 21, after spending two years working as a product controller, which paid just $300 per month, at Deutsche Bank, she realised the corporate life wasn’t for her. She was increasingly intrigued by both entrepreneurship and travel, so she left her job with about $600 in savings in April 2013.

For the next year, Adalid freelanced in graphic design, web design, SEO management, and online marketing, sustained largely by one stable client contract that earned her more than double her previous salary. The best part: The flexibility enabled her to travel frequently to places like France and Thailand.

After a year of freelancing, Adalid,with a friend to start an online Amazon retail business called Adalid Gear, a health and outdoor accessories company, and relocated to Belgium on a student visa after being accepted to a graduate program at the University of Antwerp.

When her namesake business took off a few months later, Adalid left school and switched to a partner visa, with the help of her Belgian business partner, to focus on growing the business. To get the company off the ground, they started by carefully researching the market to discover the most in-demand products.

Their dedication paid off. Adalid Gear, which sells sports and outdoor gear, now has average monthly sales of $70,000, and has established markets in the US and UK.

She also revived her one-time teenage diary blog, I Am Aileen, fashioning it into a lifestyle and travel blog that has gained traction among online travel communities.

Adalid herself now earns about $5,000 a month from the business and “affiliate partnerships, sponsored posts, and social media shout outs” related to her travel blog. And thanks to brand and tourism board partnerships, Adalid often scores free travel and accommodations. But she doesn’t accept everything she’s offered. “I want [the blog] to remain authentic, personalised, and uncluttered … besides, I already earn most of my ‘keep’ from my online business.” Thanks to travel freebies and discounts, she says she’s able to save about 70% of her income.

Adalid typically works less than four hours per day on Adalid Gear, mainly handling research, marketing, promotions, and communication, allowing her to go on a trip from her home base, (now back in the Philippines) at least once a month to destinations throughout Europe and Asia.

Adalid’s nomadic lifestyle has taught her a few lessons about productivity. “Being constantly on the move can ruin anyone’s focus, rhythm, and pace, but I’ve discovered that it can be easily solved by doing slow travel and finding the right balance to how you do your workflow.”

Adalid is back in the Philippines now with plans to make Spain her next home base. Her long-term goal is to continue to grow her businesses and to travel to every country in the world.

First published on Business Insider

Will daylight savings time affect my ResRequest?

DST

Daylight saving time (DST) or summer time is when people adjust their clocks forward by one hour during the summer months so that evening daylight time lasts an hour longer. DST is particularly prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere where the summer days are long and winter days are short. DST allows people to make the most of the longer summer days and the clocks are then adjusted back at the start of autumn.

While DST benefits people, it can disrupt electronic equipment and computer software often adjusts automatically for DST. At the end of October, many countries in the Northern Hemisphere will reset their clocks to adjust for the end of daylight savings. In Africa, only Namibia, Libya, Morocco and Western Sahara observe daylight savings.

As South Africa does not observe daylight savings, it is important to ensure that your computer is not set to automatically adjust for daylight savings so that ResRequest continues to function correctly.

If you need assistance with this, all technical queries can be directed to: support@resrequest.com.

Your online presence and ResRequest web pages

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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.

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

e-Commerce Strategy

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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.

 

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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.