ResConnect can boost your revenue and brand by connecting you to Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and Specialist Agents in the African Tourism industry. Join ResConnect Partner Programme to expand your profile and increase revenue.
Well well well, can you believe it’s already the end of 2022?! Time sure does fly when you’re having fun (or when you’re surviving a pandemic, amirite?). But seriously, as we look back on the past year, we can’t help but feel grateful for all the twists and turns that have come our way. This year has been unlike any other and we’ve learned a lot, grown a lot, and hopefully even made a few memories along the way. So let’s take a moment to reflect on all that we’ve accomplished and give ourselves a big ol’ pat on the back. Here’s to another amazing year ahead!
Our Team in 2021
Even though this has been one of the most challenging years since Y2K, there is one thing all of us in tourism can agree on… bring on 2022!
To keep us sane until 2022 we’ve put together a 2021 collage. There were highlights, lowlights, tears, and laughs. We hope you enjoy this wrap-up as much as we do.
We were devastated that most conferences and exhibitions were cancelled again but we enthusiastically participated in several online webinars, and we launched our own Web Series.
Our Web Series included guest speakers from the tourism industry and our own powerful panelists. If you missed out, or if you loved them so much you would like to watch them again, visit our Webinar page for links to the recorded sessions.
Vaccination rollouts gained momentum mid-year with most of our team only being eligible to travel in the last quarter. Once travel protocols were in place we dusted off ResRover, popped on a mandatory mask, and started trekking to client sites from Kruger to Kenya.
Most of our team are based in Durban and were impacted by the bizarre looting in July. As part of our healing process, we celebrated Heritage Day in September by reminding ourselves what makes life in South African lekker.
We too have been affected by the Covid churn in the recruitment marketplace with some team members opting for full-time parenting, lie-flatting, and career changes. This drove us to re-work processes and increase automation – while our remaining team picked up the extra workload – these guys are the tourism industry’s true superheroes!
We also found some great new talent. We welcomed Ivan to our Professional Services team and Joami joined our UI, UX, and Digital Marketing team.
As tourism markets reopen, our HR department is looking for strong, skilled candidates to regrow our team. Visit our online Join Our Team page to find out more about positions available.
Our People, Our Culture
We took some time to recognize the hard work our team has put in the last year and a half. Our team members had the opportunity to nominate each other for going above and beyond and we had a lucky draw, with 5 double tickets to Dune up for grabs.
Sadly we had to postpone our first ResPlex movie drive-in due to the arrival of Omicron, but that didn’t stop us from watching our selected movie from the comfort of our respective homes.
After the Durban looting on top of a new Covid wave, our HR team concluded that we needed more than a one-day holiday for our health and well-being. With the aid of Gordon Goose, we received this welcome medicine.
Credit to Gordon Goose for production content.
With Covid forcing us to be socially distanced and locked indoors, we got our social groove on by converting our ResFit programme into smaller ResFit Clubs. Our Cliquer Club (“Where we just Click”) thrilled us with weekly photos where they put into practice some of the skills being taught by our certified photographer, Jaco.
Our Foodies Club had us drooling with posts of scrumptious meals and delights. Our Hiking Club attempted several excursions and our Jedi Council and had some heated and controversial debates. Here are some of the artwork and experiences we shared.
This year taught us so much about being grateful. While it was one of our most challenging years as a team, we gave to others in need. Here is a highlights reel of our 2021 givebacks.
We salute our team mascots Maggie and Violet for being such an integral part of our culture.
From us to you, we wish your every bed-night is filled, as the post-Covid tourism boom promises.
May your lodges fill up and may all your seasons be bright!
Have a healthy and happy Christmas and New Year.
For information on any of our products and services, or to simply wish us a jolly-good Christmas, feel free to Contact Us.
Your guests are super excited about their holiday with you. Help them by giving them the option to check-in online, saving them time and queues when they arrive. Plus, our online check-in is a contactless way to source guest details and preferences, so you can plan the best welcome for them. In this blog we’ll explore these features available to you in our Guest Services module released with version 7.33. Guest Services Everyone wants a quick and streamlined process, and guests are eager to do what’s needed to reduce time with administration check-in before their travel date.
This means that prior to arrival is the perfect time to gather as much contact information as possible (without overwhelming them with data capture fatigue!). Most travellers also know that giving you their contact details and signing necessary indemnity documents prior to arrival, is a standard operating process required by any lodge or hotel. Your reservation team can include a link in the reservation documents sent to the person who made the booking. The link points to your Guest Services page. From this page, the guest then has the option to create or edit a guest list or to check-in a guest for a booking.
Our new Guest Services module provides you and your team access to our guest-list, guest check-in, and automated workflow functionality, to optimise your contactless check-in process. Here is a summary of the functionality these features provide:
Our guest list provides a way for you and your team to collect guest details long before they arrive at your property. The guest list functionality lets the booking contacts compile their own guest list and room group, provided they can verify the booking details. While compiling a guest list, booking contacts also have the option to easily link a guest record (or the entire list) across multiple itineraries.
Remind your incoming guests that they can check-in online, prior to their arrival by using our automated workflows. Set up the date and time the check-in reminder should be sent to your guest ahead of their arrival so they receive a reminder email which includes a link to your online check-in.
Your guests can check-in as early as 7 days prior to their arrival. Guests can find the online check-in in their reservation document or via the automated email reminder. Information added during the check-in process is stored on the guest’s profile, along with a guest registration document which includes a record of the indemnity agreement the guest agreed to during check-in. For guidance, our support team will be delighted to help you work with the guest services module.
Feel free to contact us us with any queries you or your team have. We are here and ready to help.
We through with the first quarter of 2021 and plans to reboot tourism are well underway. We’ve worked hard during these times to make sure that when tourism does officially reboot, you and your team will be ready to welcome guests with open arms (or perhaps an elbow tap).
Online Guest Checkin
We know that COVID-19 has forced the tourism industry to find innovative solutions to help us navigate our guests’ experience. Even as vaccines are being rolled out in different parts of the world, social distancing and the wearing of masks will continue for a while to come.
In the past, your accommodation generally involved frequent contact between staff and guests, but going forward, it will be imperative to limit contact, and to help with that, we’ve developed a contactless guest check-in solution. With Covid still lurking about, clients would most likely prefer an online check-in solution, so that the guest can limit contact with the front-of-house team and the respective paperwork.
Our newly developed guest services module offers you and your team access to guest list, guest check-in and automated workflow functionality, to optimise your contactless check-in process.
Agent terms at property level
If you run multiple properties in your system, you’ll love being able to work with simpler rates. This could now be possible by setting agent commissions for each property. Instead of managing hundreds of unique rate sheets (often riddled with typos), you can now set up contracts with your agents as a commission per property.
Rates rounding per person
Rounding in ResRequest takes place when a commission percentage is applied to a commissionable rate. The system currently offers the facility to round rates at the itinerary level. This latest release, however, introduces the option of rounding at a per person level.
This rounding option is set on the rate header and a new option has been added on the reservation documents to allow you to show the per person charge amount details on those documents.
Multiple Specials on a booking
With this latest release, it is now possible to apply multiple specials to a reservation. If a booking qualifies for both a Circuit discount and a Honeymoon discount, both can be applied.
The addition Special Combos, govern which specials can be combined, so they can automatically be applied as the sales team makes bookings.
Our integration with TallOrder POS streamlines operations by posting POS charges to guest accounts. It is, however, very important that these charges are also posted to your accounting system.
With our latest development, ResRequest now detects POS cash sales that are not linked to room activity. These sales are then recorded in ResRequest, which allows them to be included in ResRequest reports. The resulting financial transactions can then also be batched to your general ledger, along with the rest of your ResRequest invoices.
User access audit trail
We have recognised the importance of having transparency of any changes that have been made to user access in your reservation system.
On the user access audit report, you can now filter by users, user groups, functions, and type filters (for filtering by the types of changes made, ie. allow cross invoicing, API flag, functions access).
The addition of the user access audit trail will now allow your team to report on any changes made (going forward from this release) to user access.
Multiple system administrators
You will now have the option to add multiple system admins and ensure that key decisions that affect your reservation system can be made by various managers, instead of merely relying on a single System Administrator.
To ensure that your business never misses a beat, put a continuity plan for your team in place today, by adding additional system administrators.
If you need any assistance or guidance with the with our new features, please contact [email protected]
Working in a fast-paced industry like the tourism industry requires any good Hotel Manager to identify ways to increase revenue and maximise efficiency. Thankfully technology has provided many advantages for hoteliers, and none more so than channel management. So what’s the noise about channel management? What are its benefits? And how do you get started?
What is Channel Management?
Channel management is the process of selling your inventory through online distribution channels all over the world. These channels include OTA’s (Booking.com, Expedia), Travel Agents, Metasearch engines (Google, TripAdvisor), or direct channels (Your website).
Ideally, channel management software provides a centralised platform to properties for managing their distribution across different platforms, and as and when bookings are recorded from any one channel, it automatically updates the latest rates and inventory on all the channels.
How can this benefit you?
Imagine that you’re managing multiple properties through many OTA channels and once you receive a booking from a channel, you have to quickly update the availability across the other channels. Furthermore, the situation can get complex if the guest modifies or changes his booking or cancels his reservation. Can you imagine how admin-intensive this process can be, also leaving room for human error.
- Accurate inventory management – Without a Channel Manager you have to log in to the various OTAs you are connected to and update your property’s availability, this manual process requires you to react quickly with a great deal of accuracy. A Channel Manager solution provides an automated process that eliminates any chance of error and streamlines your reservation management.
- Avoid overbookings – The more OTAs you’re connected to, the higher your chances are of overbookings if you are not using a channel manager. So chances are that while you are updating the inventories, you may receive a booking from other channels.
- Time Effective – A channel manager, ensures that a lot of your manual efforts and time invested in inventory distribution is saved. The entire process is now managed by the channel manager, saving you time and money.
How do you get started?
Through our ResConnect programme, there are connections to Channel Managers and OTAs which enable ResRequest customers to distribute stock on numerous online booking platforms. ResRequest has direct connections to Channel Managers, SynXis, NightsBridge, and most recently we have added Siteminder to the list of Channel Managers that we interfaced to.
For more information on how to set up your ResRequest Channel Management service (we call this module ResConnect), contact our friendly support team for assistance at [email protected]
For most people, 2020 sucker-punched us and bumped us around like some traumatic roller coaster ride. For a select few (Zoom stakeholders, Amazon investors, introverts), this insane calendar year had much better outcomes. Albeit that we had different results this year, there is one thing we can all agree on…
With 2020 just about over, it’s time to catch a breath and reflect on our wins and, for us in tourism, prepare for a much-welcome recovery.
We rebooted our team wellness programme, ResFit, with a fun emoji theme. We added elements for Family (including those with fur, fin, and feathers), Earth, Interests, Tech, Sport, and Give Back. We’ve included some favourites for you from our ResFit gallery.
Changing to working from home came with challenges but our team consciously continued to participate and connect with each other by meeting virtually and sending regular personal messages and stunning selfie posts through our internal chats.
We prepared our office according to Covid guidelines but we have not yet been able to head back. Each time we’re about to reintroduce office working, we hear of another spike in Covid cases. So instead we converted our office into temporary digs for a few staff. We are looking forward to introducing some safe in-person collaboration – especially since our superheroes desperately need access to ResCafe!
At the beginning of the year we learned the importance of filling our Superheroes with coffee. Of course our heroes need more than ordinary coffee, we organised a special brew of vibranium-based espresso.
DEFN: Vibranium (/vaɪˈbreɪniəm/) A Marvel Comics metal, noted for its extraordinary abilities to absorb, store, and release large amounts of kinetic energy.
Our secret is that our coffee machine is made of vibranium so when you get the chance to drop by the ResCafe, we look forward to filling your cup with a vibranium-boosted espresso.
Community Give Back
We continued to Give Back to communities around us, by donating furniture to a local residential home, The Horizon Farm Trust.
With budgets being under strain we looked for Give Back projects that could help communities, using resources we already had at our disposal. With everyone spread far and wide we had to put some interesting collection plans in action. Our team rose to the logistics challenges and managed to collect outfits for the Princess Project, odd socks for the Odd Sock Project and unused reading glasses for the Bright Sight Project.
We supported an anti-poaching initiative by purchasing Great Plains anti-poaching Covid-19 masks, which we used as staff prizes in our virtual team building socials held during Covid lock down.
Our Social Bees were buzzing as usual and we kicked off the year with a braai at the ResPlex, where in true ResRequest fashion, we shared in laughter, fun, and food.
We celebrated Valentine’s Day dressed in red, and coordinated our annual Easter egg hunt event pre-lockdown. Little did we know that we would never get to run around the ResPlex looking for the loot, as lockdown effectively put an end to our plan. But anyway, we still look good in red!
Once lockdown and working from home became the norm our Social Bees made sure that our team stayed connected, arranging virtual team-builds with loads of quizzes, keyboard-pictionary, and the odd virtual workout. As lockdown levels lifted we headed to the beachfront for a community walk. This was perfect for our team to reconnect with one another, and adhere to social distancing norms.
Taking care of ourselves
We preempted the first phase of lockdown with an option to start working from home before the official announcement was made. The balance of our team moved off-site the week of lockdown and we transitioned to a fully work from home-based setup. Lockdown came with its own challenges. Many of us were negatively impacted by personal losses, moving home and becoming ill, we recognised we were under unprecedented pressure.
Through our team’s Discovery Medical Aid, we implemented an Employee Assistance Programme. The EAP programme helped our team individually with legal advice, counselling for those in need and financial planning. It also equips our HR team with a health-check. This helps our team direct the right training and conversations to keep our team-health as high as possible, especially during such a challenging time.
Our Social Bees and HR teams also stepped in to keep our team connected with “Grab a sundowner and chill” virtual socials.
Recognising our health and well being were taking strain, our HR team made an important call, announcing our first “ResRequest Public Holiday” on 25 September. This gave our team a 4 day weekend, which was much needed after many months of stress and worry.
In addition to keeping our minds healthy, we put in some effort with some gym sessions arranged virtually by our awesome PhysEd trainer, Rudolf Krige.
We welcomed new Superheros with new superpowers
There is always a high level of excitement when a new superhero joins the team. We can’t wait to find out what superpowers they will add to the mix. It was with much excitement that we welcomed Tracey as our first-ever HR superhero, Sheldon joined our first line of defense against the dreaded bugs as a Tester, and Rory and Justin (our own Batman and Robin father-son team) joined our Strategic Development and Product Maintenance Team.
We wrapped up our year in Wonderland
For the first time ever we held our year end Christmas wrap-up virtually (sniff!). We reflected over the year and peeked into 2021, in ‘Alice-Through-The-Looking-Glass’ fancy dress. What we saw is a future of hope and possibilities.
Similar to when Alice said: “It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then,” we realised that we might not be able to eradicate the world’s Covid problems, but what we promise to do, is to be the best version of our new selves.
This has been a challenging year for those of us in tourism and so our wish for you is that you and your family celebrate a very Merry Christmas together, and that your 2021 is bright!
We hope that you and your loved ones are safe and well during this time. We’ve been in touch with many of you as you work through the operational impact of Covid-19 while making plans for your team to be safe and sound.
While most of us are still under lockdown due to COVID-19, we have been working from home. It took us a while to adapt and reduce costs so we could use this time to put our heads down to take massive strides in delivering new product features. We’re still working on all of this, but we wanted to check in with you to show you some of the items we are working on that will be ready and waiting for you when you reboot.
The New Rooming Calendar
We have crafted a new drag and drop Rooming Calendar for you, with auto room capabilities, perfect for your front-of-house operations.
What is rooming?
Rooming refers to allocating your guests to specific rooms. It’s important to room guests to track arrivals, departures or no shows; to avoid situations where you have to move guests to a different room during their stay; ensure that special requests like a honeymoon room or a family room are accommodated and to automatically charge guest accounts using our stock and POS interface.
So what are the new features in the Rooming Calendar?
Rooming by the lodge staff is typically managed on the Rooming Calendar. Our previous calendar now called our “Classic” calendar, requires a lot of pop-ups and quite a bit of manual work to room bookings. Our stunning new calendar, which we call our “Modern” calendar fits visuals to your full-screen width, so you can see more information than ever before; automatically auto rooms reservations at the click of a button (our absolute favourite Jenga trick) and enables drag and drop should, you want to customise the view.
AUTO ROOM – Automatically room your unallocated reservations in the optimal configuration, to ensure that you get the most out of your availability.
DRAG AND DROP – Shuffle a reservation between rooms by simply dragging and dropping it to the relevant room. Clicking on a reservation item also highlights the valid rooming possibilities in green.
MANAGE A RESERVATION – Manage multiple aspects of a reservation without leaving the rooming calendar screen. Manage guests, view itineraries, check multiple rooms on a reservation in, and so much more.
ROOMING CONFLICTS – Our team has included an indication to alert users of any potential rooming conflicts. This will minimise the risk of overbooking a room, despite multiple people being responsible for rooming reservations.
Business Intelligence – Dashboards
We all love great pictures, even more, when they tell a story. If your job is to stay on top of everything, you’ll love our new Reservation Manager and Sales Overview Dashboard. The Reservation Manager and Sales Overview Dashboard are the first of many dashboards we’ll be introducing. Graphs on this dashboard will give you visibility into the reservation and sales overview side of your business. The sales dashboard will help measure key metrics, individual team members, and sales activities.
Our new charts will help you analyse the booking trends of your Agents and quickly spot gaps and positive or negative changes in their performance.
You spoke and we listened
Last year we released dashboards as part of our Agent CRM. We received feedback that you would like to include revenue information, our developers heard you, and have added a revenue-based chart so you can monitor how your agents are performing month-on-month.
ResRequest is a powerful system, so how can you be sure that you are using it to its full potential?
The Product Usage Dashboard is a quick and easy reference point, to assess what areas of the system are being used and what you can still tap into.
If you need any assistance or guidance with the rooming calendar and dashboards, please contact [email protected]
The coronavirus (COVID-19) is ravaging the globe and causing panic amongst nations. Many industries and businesses are already feeling its impact and the tourism industry is devastatingly hit the hardest. The extent of this impact would depend on how long the pandemic lasts, and while it is human to feel anxious and fearful, it is important to take the measures set out by the government and health officials.
Due to the spread of the virus, most businesses are forced to change their strategy and adapt quickly to what seems like the new norm – working from home. There is no doubt working from home can be challenging, however, research from a Harvard Business review article suggests that people who work their same office schedule from home get more done per day.
Here are four points to consider if/when you are working from home:
1. Start your day early
Waking up and immediately switching your laptop on to start your working day is not only an unhealthy habit, but you will find yourself burning out quite quickly as the day peters out. Start your day as if you are preparing to go to work.
Doing this consistently creates a good habit and puts you in the right frame of mind to kickstart the day. Get out of your PJs and dress the part, spend some quiet time in meditation, exercise, listening to music or your favourite podcast, have a cup of coffee and even spend some time with your family before you do decide to switch on your screen.
2. Establish your workspace
It is important to note that whilst it’s a dream come true to work from home, if you’re not cautious you could quickly find yourself working on the kitchen counter, in the lounge and the bedroom. Working in these environments at home will most certainly take a toll on you physically and psychologically, therefore you need to be intentional when setting up your workspace.
Make a clear distinction in your mind when considering this, and that is, the kitchen is for mealtimes, the lounge is for rest and entertainment, and the bedroom is for sleep. Your workspace should be away from all distractions, you can call it your “in-house office”, make it clear to your family and pets that when you’re in your office you must not be disturbed unless it’s an emergency.
Now that you’ve identified your “in-house office”, some important things to remember are:
- Ensure your workspace is well-lit.
- Set up a sturdy desk that’s clean and clutter-free.
- A comfy chair that supports your back.
- A good pair of headphones/earphones comes in handy if music helps with your productivity.
- Make sure everything you need is within easy reach.
- A bottle/jar of water and some snacks to ensure you don’t visit the kitchen too often.
3. Shift your mind to a strong mental state
Mind over matter, right? Absolutely! However, by now we know that working from home comes with a host of distractions, which can cause you to lose productivity and your focus.
So how can you beat distractions and help push your mind in the right direction? Here are a few pointers:
- Stay motivated – Listen to motivational podcasts to stay mentally sharp. Set clear goals for the day and perhaps have a checklist nearby to help you stay focused on all your tasks.
- Avoid distractions – There’s a lot going on in the world right now and the temptation to watch TV and scroll your social media feed is highly tempting. Whilst it’s important to know what’s going on as far as the pandemic is concerned, the negativity can shift your mind to a state of panic and fear. Set specific times in the day to check your notifications or watch the news, whilst also making time to ensure your motivation levels are high.
- Manage your time – Hours at your workstation will most likely get you fatigued, so take 5-minute breaks for every hour you’re in front of your screen.
4. Improve communication with your team
As you know, we at ResRequest love technology and are big advocates for digital transformation. With most countries now in lockdown, businesses are forced to adopt work from home strategies which include having a good communication platform such as Skype, Google Hangouts, Slack or Microsoft Teams to name a few. This may be a new way of communication for you, but if utilised correctly it can help you and your team reach your goals, even if you’re not in the same building.
Find appropriate times in the day/week to check-in with your manager/ team leader, as far as your KPA’s are concerned, and be sure to nott just disappear for days and weeks without communication. This goes a long way to ensure that you remain motivated and focused on accomplishing your goals.
We hope that this separation from each other does not go on for a long period of time, but we also understand that in order to get back to the office and pre-covid life we have to self-isolate. We have witnessed how self-isolation / self-quarantine can help flatten the curve in China (here’s why this helps), and now it’s our turn to play our part.
Our team met last week to plan on how we can continue to build product and help our customers while being in lockdown. We have implemented an extended work from home policy and although we’re isolated from each other and in different locations, we’re ready and available to take your Skypes, emails, and calls. Our development team is also feverishly busy building product, in order for us to continue giving you what you need when we get back to a (new) normal.
This extended work from home called for some additions to our existing work from home policies, which we’d like to share with you for you to glean some tips. (Take a look at our work from home policy).
Take a look at some of our heroes working in the comfort of their homes. Follow us on Instagram to see what we’ve been up to.
Christmas wishes from our team
What’s kept us busy this year
We’ve had a great year preparing a bigger foundation for exciting plans we have for 2020. A big change we underwent was merging our team into our new Durban office, dubbed ResPlex. This merge meant moving 17 families from Richards Bay to Durban and we’re thrilled to announce that they arrived in true superhero style and they’ve all settled in well to the new climate and surrounds.
Our move was pretty smooth but it did not go without a few Kryptonite setbacks which may have affected you. We have still not found a reliable VOIP telephone system – please bear with us and feel free to send any suggestions if you’re a SA local!
Of course, our move meant we also had some key staff out of action which resulted in some slippage in our services during May and June but we’re thrilled to announce that we’ve fixed these gaps and our superhero strength is back!
We grew our talent
We said goodbye to some team and we welcomed others. Added to our team are: Kenton to our data onboarding team, Gareth to our rate setups team, Jerron (with his superman strength) joined our technical team and Michelle leads our new user interface and experience team (UI & UX). On our design front, Ben jumped in to rock our marketing team and Natasha Cross joined us to lead our training programme and team. Clinton is our recent addition who joined our frontline support team, so you’ll be hearing from him soon!
We welcomed future recruits
Not only did we grow our numbers in the office, but also 4 sprogs were born to 3 of our wonder women.
We worked best together
Having our team all in one space has also given us many opportunities to host a bunch of socials including a poker afternoon and new office warming braai, with a team salad competition thrown in. Of course dress up for Halloween is always a hit and a chance to pull out some scary pranks.
We loved travelling
We now service 600 properties in 19 countries, 2 being in Asia. So ResRover and Ntando attended trade shows across the globe including ITB Berlin and WTM London.
We grew stronger with ResPlex Talks
This year we introduced ResPlex talks hosting topics such as The evolution of Development Methodologies and Navigating cultures and customs in Customer Service. This new addition to our staff wellness programme has given us all the opportunity to broaden our knowledge and learn new skills.
We wrapped up the year with a great Christmas picnic
[Above] We celebrated our new-found spot with a festive Christmas picnic in our lush garden. We know that we have a talented crew so we opened the floor for a talent show where some of our talented sang, played the guitar and danced.
[Below] John, Keenan and Alex added some stunning vocals and chords while Mike awed us with his storytelling and magic tricks.
Jerron claimed our ‘ResRequest Strongman’ title in our impromptu arm-wrestling competition.
We wrapped up the afternoon with our tradition of watching annual reviews from each of our departments to remind us of all that we have achieved and experienced this year.
And because of this incredible effort that each of our team contributed – Santa bought us some personalised mugs for Christmas, because every superhero needs a recharge.
That’s what we are, not just a team, but a family. One day we might be the justice league but for today, we are team ResRequest.