Knowing your ResRequest system well is key to effectively running your business and departments. We want to give you great tools and the opportunity to upskill yourself on ResRequest. Use our new ResRequest support website to learn about the system in your own time or refer to it whenever you have a question. We’re adding to this site all the time so there are lots of tutorials you’ll find useful even if you are an advanced user.
|How to make a booking?
Learn the reservation basics in the Central Reservations module which has been designed specifically for the reservationist. Get to know how to navigate around the system, make bookings, manage booking communications and accounts. Use the Property Management module to learn how to manage your front-of-house operations while working with a Property server.
How to offer online bookings?
Learn how to show your ResRequest availability online with our Channel Management module. Take a look at how you can receive bookings from your website, distribute your stock to your favourite agents and even sell on established OTAs.
How to use ResRequest add-ons?
Learn more about ResRequest’s free add-on products like ResConnect and ResNova. Get to know what agent connections are available to you through ResConnect and how to connect to them. Learn how to use and set up ResNova’s website booking widget so you can show availability on your website.
How to set user access?
If you’re the system administrator then the System setup functions can show you how to create new code tables, such as Extras and Rate types, or set user access for a new user. The module includes basic tutorials like creating report profiles for different user groups, as well as more complex guides such as setting defaults to implement system wide changes.
It’s been a busy year. Here is what we’ve been up to!
We exhibited and attended a record number of trade shows in 2017 – WTM Africa, Cape Town Indaba, Durban. Our sales team then toured Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania and attended the Sanganai Tourism Expo, Magical Kenya Travel Expo and the Swahili International Tourism Expo. They were all successful endeavours and we enjoyed meeting clients and making new contacts.
We said goodbye to Dylan and Ant this year and welcomed Ntando, Sam, Brandon and Keenan to the team. Ntando joined the Sales team, Keenan and Sam take over from Anthony in testing and Brandon assists Walter in technical support.
A few mini-people also joined the ResRequest family this year with two of the ladies giving birth to sons.
Our Durban office was spruced up with a makeover to accommodate the expanding team and the Empangeni office who will be moving to new and improved location over Christmas. Exciting news!
Our mid-year function this year was a movie challenge which got everyone dressed up and in character as they produced a murder mystery short film with hilarious plot twists and some surprise actors!
This year our Give back formed part of our corporate wellness programme, ResFit. Each team had a budget to select a charity to support. Learn more about ResFit here! Initiatives that the teams supported this year were a revamp and repairs of a local church in Zululand, a collection for the local SPCA and sponsoring designing and producing promotional banners for The Neema Foundation. Team members also did their own Give back activities such as volunteering to fix computers at a school or taking children from a orphanage out for the day.
We can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer!
Imagine working with an online travel agent who understands how African lodges work. Someone who specialises in attracting customers who want your African experience. Someone who understands how your transfers and extras work and who can sell your beds, without you having to do anything!
Many of Africa’s top booking agents and safari specialists are investing in development to be able to link to ResRequest via our ResConnect product. Allowing them to easily check availability, quote accurately, and even book – saving the guest, agent and lodge time.
As a FREE business to business interface, ResConnect enables remote lodges to have a greater online presence and increase their sales by having real time inventory available for their agents. This is a safe and hassle-free way to streamline agent business whilst having full control of the shared information.
If you have any questions or want to know the next steps to getting connected, please contact us on: firstname.lastname@example.org.
See what our connection partners have to say!
“At Expert Africa we breathe a sigh of relief when one of our lodges moves to ResRequest. We know it’s a reliable platform, we know it’ll work well even when comms are challenging, and we know that we’ll easily be able to access their availability information through ResConnect – which speeds up our business of sending travellers to them on tailor-made itineraries.”
-Chris McIntyre, Managing Director, Expert Africa
“Our travellers can get all the safari lodge information they need in one place, from wide screen photos to number of beds, map location, Trip Advisor reviews, amenities, as well as availability which ResConnect provides dynamically.”
-David Tett, President, Bushtracks Expeditions
“ResConnect allows us to provide our African Safari Experts with access live availability and rates information – This enables them to instantly engage with travellers and rapidly develop and dispatch available and accurately costed itineraries 24/7/365.”
-Joanne Dickson, CEO, Go2Africa
“ResConnect is going to allow us to make our booking process for lodges much more efficient”
-Johnny Prince, CEO, Timbuktu Travel
Timbuktu Travel is an online platform empowering people to easily discover and book hand-picked safaris across Africa.
followme2AFRICA is happy to partner with ResRequest to provide their clients with a seamless online booking platform. The integration will allow our clients access to rates and availability, ensuring maximum sales penetration as well as an easier way to transact. The integration will ensure reduced time for the booking process, a key requirement across their client-base.
“The channel allows our clients to now access far more room stock as well as offers real time ability to up-sell on accommodation. This is a proven method to increase revenue for both our contracted suppliers as well as the company itself.”
-Tony Brink, General Manager & Head of Product of followme2AFRICA
“Our continual partnership with important channel distribution platforms such as ResRequest reiterates our commitment to offering our clients the best service, platform connectivity, and booking efficiency as possible”.
– Rory Mathew, IT Manager of followme2AFRICA.
Africa Travel Resource is a travel company specialising in assisting travellers to create authentic and innovative trips to Africa.
Next steps for lodges: Connections are quick and easy – just build a relationship with the agent you’d like to connect with. Set them up in ResRequest as an agent and user, then send a request to email@example.com to link you up. Each connection is FREE – with a nominal once off setup fee.
If you missed our webinar on connections – we’ve written up this blog to share the details, Q&A and upload the presentation slides and audio recording. We have separated the presentation visuals and sound for ease of following due to the live technical glitches and delays.
The panel of speakers begins 15 minutes into the webinar.
15:00 Craig van Rooyen – Tour d’ Afrique
24:00 Erica Gardner – New Frontiers
33:00 Chris McIntyre – Expert Africa
46:00 Terri Boshoff – Wetu
52:00 Nicole Kanz – The Elewana Collection
In this webinar blog, we’ll introduce you to ResRequest’s online sales options and then focus on why connections are important to the trade. We spice things up even more when each of our panelists responds to questions we’ve put forward to them. Questions that address what makes connections so important to their business model.
We’ll start with the basics. The screen you’re looking at shows a room inventory on ResRequest’s availability calendar.
Your inventory is set up in ResRequest and adjusts as your team books, blocks or cancels bookings. This means ResRequest is your inventory hub and we see it as our responsibility to make sure that your sales partners can easily check your availability and rates, and make bookings.
When you implement an online sales strategy you should consider three target markets. They are:
- Your direct customers who enjoy shopping on your website
- Agents who would like to buy and sell your product and who prefer instant response rather than delayed communication with your res office
- and mass market Online Travel Agents like Expedia and Booking.com who depend on online responsiveness
Direct online customers are a priority for us. We are constantly upgrading our booking plugin, ResNova, and enhancing our booking form which are ideal tools for this sector. Our booking tool for direct customers gives your online guests the ability to book directly from your website. They get an instant response and result – which is what online shoppers expect.
For Online Travel Agent sites, we support a connection to Expedia which is further extended to Hotel.com and Venere.com. Our connection to Booking.com is complete and currently in certification with them. We also support 100s of OTA platforms via channel managers.
But these are not the only agents who work with online programmes, traditional trade agents have extended their business models to include online bookings to ensure they’re able to capture guests searching on the internet. These agents specialise in different locations which makes holiday shopping a breeze for customers looking for an experienced-based trip. This is definitely a market you should be working with. How can you work with this market?
One of the great features of ResRequest is that it is a cloud-hosted application. This means you can give your agent a login so they can check your inventory, rates and make bookings. It’s a manual connection but something you absolutely should make use of to support agents that work with manual or isolated systems.
But what about agents that do have an in-house software application? These agents don’t want to be routed to a manual login or re-routed to different web sites to find out rates, check availability or secure bookings. These agents have implemented in-house solutions to be competitive in the online space. To have that competitive edge, they need instant access to availability and rates for quick quoting and they need to be able to make a booking to close the sale before their customers go Googling. They need to bypass human interaction at the transaction level.
Many of these agents also extend their booking services to a web interface offering a B2B2C platform. This is to ensure they can service online shoppers, much like OTAs, but with their specialised knowledge and skills translated onto their website.
We generally see that agents with high volume profiles have automated in-house and online solutions. They do need to be a certified integration partner of ours for you to connect their system to your ResRequest system.
We have direct electronic connections to over 40 specialist agents and online travel agents and the list is growing…
So how do these connections work?
An API, which is an application program interface, is simply an interface that allows two systems to communicate with each other. So, with our API, and some custom development, we are able to connect your ResRequest system to your agent’s in-house system.
If you’re still asking yourself: “Why would my agents need an electronic connection?”
A reminder of the two strongest motivators: The first is that many specialist agents now incorporate an online sales model – so they can attract travellers 24 x 7, essentially competing with OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia. This model needs an automated booking engine in order to satisfy their online shopper. To support automation, connections are needed.
The second reason agents need connections is that some agents have implemented an in-house system to speed up their business processes. Their holy grail is fast quoting and sale closure. Implementing a connection between your ResRequest inventory, rates and bookings and these agent’s systems, generate sales for you more easily which means you keep doing business with them.
A question we’re often asked is: “Can I control what these “connections” can see and do in our system?” Absolutely! Each connection is linked to a user you create in ResRequest with controlled access.
Questions that we posed to our agent panelists:
- What’s changed to make online sales more important?
- Why do agents need to see availability, rates and make bookings?
- What are the essential components for connections to work for you?
- What frustrations do you have with the industry or technology?
Questions that we asked our customers – safari accommodation providers:
- What impact has using API connections had on your business?
- What would you say to other suppliers who are unsure about working with connections?
Questions that were asked during the session:
Q: How do you handle waitlist in your system?
A: Erica – Waitlisting is a challenge. We can hold a waitlist booking, however, we prefer to hold a confirmed reservation. It is also a manual process.
ResRequest – From a software perspective, an agent who makes a booking and exceeds the number of rooms available has to give a reason when holding the rooms. This will automatically be created as a Waitlist booking.
Please note: Even if ResRequest supports certain functionality in the API – the agent buyer who has done the development to their system may have opted out of some of the available functions as they do not require them for their business practice.
Q: Does it help to see ‘‘provisionals’?
A: Yes – it is very helpful for agents to see if provisionals are being held when they view your availability. This will encourage them to still consider your property rather that look somewhere else when your lodge appears full. They cannot see the actual booking details, only that provisionals are being held on the dates that are search for.
Q: How much would the operator see if they were given access?
A: You can fully control the access that you grant to an operator, ie: view / read only or create bookings / update. You can also limit the properties, room types and even the number of rooms at room type level. Also the rates that are only applicable to a specific agent can be shown.
Q: Is a email notification sent once a booking has been made by an agent?
A: It all depends on what development has been done. Our API has the information available for a notification to be generated however if an email notification is not set up then a ResRequest customer would only see incoming bookings via the Req Received button / report in their system.
Q: How do you deal with different rates for same rooms, i.e. International vs SADC?
A: Multiple rates can be assigned to an agent contact and toggled to select the correct rate for quoting or booking.
Craig – In Tourplan we always load our contracted rates first. If we don’t see the correct rate, then we sometimes need to query this – however if multiple rate categories are given ie: STO, RACK and BAR then we have more options to book the property. Please note: We can only hold confirmed bookings and cancel a booking in Tourplan. We do not see any Waitlists or Provisionals, so unless you are going to oversell your property and make more rooms available we are limited in what we can book. Bigger properties tend to oversell.
Q: Can you only look up the availability of a specific camp or supplier?
Q: Is there any way to look up availability of a region and show results of multiple camps?
A: Not at this stage with this type of direct connection.
Q: Is there an API adaptor to get rates of the camp via ResRequest and upload these into a system like Tourplan?
A: We do support and send rates via ResConnect. Our Channel Manager and OTA interfaces support bulk rate push, this is developed to map to the OTA’s / Channel Manager’s interface.
Q: Does ResConnect offer a Close To Arrival (CTA) tool within the API to reduce dead nights?
A: Not yet! We’ll get to this.
Q: Is there a way to filter Wetu properties based on availability?
A: Not currently. Availability is not a searchable feature in Wetu.
Q: Do you need to be on a higher package to get the Live Availability option in Wetu, or can anyone listed on WETU have access to this tool?
A: Two part answer here:
- As a Supplier: you do not need to be on a higher package to show availability for your property, however, each supplier needs to opt into showing the availability with their relative availability provider. It is not something that is automatically activated.
- As an Operator: you do not need to be on the highest package to see the live availability of the properties who do have it.
Q: Are the users of Tourplan happy with the ‘confirmed’ only status they offer when connecting via API ResResquest?
A: Tourplan do not currently cater for provisional bookings; however, our API does support provisionals.
How to get connected?
Now that you know more about the importance of this space for your business you’re probably asking: “What do I do next?”
Here’s all you need to know about getting direct connections set up. All you need to do is email us and one of our connections team will confirm all the setup details, such as the user permissions for the connecting agent. This setup takes approx.1 hour and is charged at our standard support rate.
Some agents only have view functionality enabled, however, more and more operators are moving towards wanting to create bookings. So, if they are able to create bookings they will request this access. It is up to you to decide on the permission you wish to grant, however we do encourage legitimate confirmed bookings to be held where possible.
If you have any questions about this process please drop us a line.
For the full version of the webinar – you can find it uploaded onto YouTube here.
INDABA is one of the largest tourism trade shows in Africa. It showcases the widest variety of Africa’s best tourism products and attracts international buyers and media from across the world.
Mike Coppinger, Jill Bennett-Howes, Natasha Bame and Ntando Bhengu represented ResRequest this year at the tradeshow and exhibited in the shared SATSA stand. The weather didn’t play ball for the opening day with Durban experiencing heavy rain, but fortunately it was dry in the exhibition centre!
ResRequest’s stand was quite tucked away within the SATSA space but our signature red and branded shirts helped us stand out. With our ‘Fresh with Flavour’ mints and our brochures and starter packs laid out, we were ready.
[Above: Jill with Elizabeth from Saruni]
The days were packed with meetings with clients and prospects for both ResRequest Enterprise and ResConnect. We found these meetings to be one of the highlights of Indaba this year. Nothing can beat meeting face-to-face and it was a great opportunity to connect with existing clients and be introduced to new contacts.
[Above: Jill chats to Ashley from Lightspeed]
Every evening the team attended networking functions and with the rain over and typical warm Durban evenings, we enjoyed being outdoors and the team shared stories and socialised at the Atta and Okavango Expedition events.
INDABA 2017 was successful for us, as we continued to establish our brand and remind the market who we are and what we do.
The 2017 World Travel Market Africa (WTM) was held at the Cape Town ICC. Since its inception in 2014, the show has seen constant growth and attendance.
ResRequest was represented by Jill and Ntando. For newbie Ntando, who had just joined the team, it proved to be an insightful introduction to the travel industry and working with ResRequest! “Our first day at WTM was hectic! Within the first 5 minutes after we arrived we were swamped with meetings, so much so, I had trouble remembering who we had met!”
ResRequest shared a stand with our technology partners, Wetu Tourism Solutions, who did a great job with the design of our stand.
Jill presented Our Geeky African Story as a background to how ResRequest was started and how the ResRequest system addresses the needs of safari lodges and boutique properties. John, the story’s protagonist, was one of our first customers over 15 years ago and he continues to successfully run his remote camps with ResRequest.
The trade show also provided an opportunity to network with our customers who were attending the show. “Our clients were very pleased to see us and welcomed our ‘fresh with flavour’ mints token, as a much needed treat!”
Social life is never dull with our crew as Ntando quickly learnt. Dinner that evening was at a burger joint, notorious for its milkshakes. However, for milkshake-loving Ntando, choosing a milkshake was the hardest part of the trip, “I love milkshakes and the stress of choosing 1 out of 50 milkshakes was intense!”.
As expected, the last day of WTM was quieter and Ntando was left to hold the fort after Jill left for her early flight. He had learnt from the best though, and had a fresh stock of mints in readiness for any last-minute passersby.
Final words, Ntando? “I enjoyed my first ever travel trade show, I learnt a lot, especially how to handle the pressure in a busy new environment. I look forward to attending more trade shows and being an ambassador for ResRequest.”
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.
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!
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!
Go to Jonathan’s site, Convert Microsoft Word to Plain Text
Copy the rich text and paste it into the first window.
Hit the clean button.
Copy the ‘clean’, plain text from the bottom window and paste it into the relevant ResRequest field.
If there has been a loss of spacing or capital letters, you can edit it accordingly.
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.
Here’s a short summary of our year and what we got up to.
We attended a record number of shows and conferences this year. Connecting with many of our power users and business partners, as well as new prospects.
In conjunction with our integration partners, Direct Pay Online and Expedia, we hosted a workshop in Nairobi and connected with Wetu at the Magical Kenya Travel Expo.
Sales opportunities, implementations, training and consulting projects took us to Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Zanzibar, all around South Africa and the Congo.
This year we sadly said goodbye to Paula, Nomfundo and Chirlaine. Chirlaine’s farewell coincided with Halloween so the Empangeni office had fun dressing up for her party. They will be missed and we wish them well as they start new chapters.
We also said a big hello and welcomed Luzelle and Cheri to our functional support team and Kristen who reinforces the marketing team. Luzelle loves her coffee, Cheri enjoys wildlife and exploring game reserves and Kristen is a keen runner. These key players will strengthen our core.
Left: A sneak peak of our call centre. Centre: And a 1,2,3,4… Right: Durban gets serious about fitness.
This was the year of activity. We revamped some of our office space and for our mid year team get-together we had a blast trying out a line dancing class and discovered that some of us have two left feet! Some hardcore crew even enrolled in bootcamp to get fit, which has inspired us to launch a ResFit campaign in the new year.
To end off our annual review workshops, we had a unique team building experience involving horses in the Midlands Meander. Horseplay taught us about communication and leadership through interaction with horses. Take a look at what we learnt…
We got a sweet treat from Santa and the offices wasted no time in trying out the new waffle makers with office waffle parties. In keeping with the waffle theme, meet our waffle topping team!
Some of the causes we got behind this festive season were the Santa Shoebox initiative for under-privileged children. As part of this initiative, we wrapped shoeboxes and packed them with useful items from the Santa Shoebox list. These gift boxes will be delivered to children across the province for Christmas. We also embarked on a cancer treatment drive for Mike Mthembu, our faithful builder and handyman, with the Youcaring donation platform.
Here’s to an even better 2017!