Newbies: Need Advice on what to ask (pertaining to Booking Websites)

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BTW
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Newbies here, LOVE this forums ...... could not be more OUTSTANDING, this tight community that we're so excited to join.

Wife of 23 years and I, both former military (USAF/USMC) decided to take our combined 5 degrees and 13 professional certifications and remove ourselves from the corporate world  Smiling   NEWBIES

Our B&B, new construction (started May 2016, hopefully done March 2017) is 11 rooms, Key West Style and here on the gulf coast of central Florida.

 

SO ...... my questions(s)

I'm an IT professional, Systems/Network Administrator so technical stuff easy for me.

My "short list" as of now is:

LittleHotelier   
ResNexus 
GraceSoft
HoteLogix     
ThinkReservations
Rezkey
CloudBeds
RezStream   
ReservationKey

 

BUT, what do I need to ask?  What do I need to know?

Some things I'm already charting:

-- Quickbooks Integration?  Do I need or want?

-- Facebook Integration?  Do I need or want?

-- Mobile App?  This is mandatory for us.  I need to be able to conduct business with my phone.

-- Price obviously

-- Contract?  Bad or month to month?

-- Credit Card integration and processing ..... compatibility and fees ???   What do I ask, or need to know?

-- OTA integration?  What do I want, need?  What do I need to ask or know?

 

So who wants to poke a bit of fun at us newbies and perhaps fill some of these puzzle pieces in?  What else should I be asking?

 

CHEERS and thanks so much friends   Smiling

 

 

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ChrisandShelley's picture
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We use Rezstream and are very happy. It's all we've ever used, so I can't really compare them to any other. We did look at other systems (Think Reservations, and a couple of others) at a PAII conference before we started. Rezstream seemed to have all of the basic functions that we thought we needed at the time. We were newbies then.

And they do, plus they keep moving forward with improvements. Their tech support is awesome. I've been more than happy with them and don't see changing anytime soon.

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The Wildflower Bed & Breakfast, Mountain View, AR

 

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I know this post was from awhile ago. May I ask which booking engine/website you decided on? Are you happy with your choice?

 

Thanks!

Hillbilly's picture
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I understand every property and every guest has different needs. For us, we have a lot of Honeymoons and anniversaries. So for us the King bed is very important to have. If I had a property with same size rooms and amentires I might try having one Queen and one King to see if one rents more than the other.  It seems to me a room with a King bed can be up charged for a little more money. So it might be more of a money maker in the long run if you at least have 1 King and have the space for it. 

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This is like the B&B debate about one big table for breakfast or individual tables. People complain we don't have one big table that is what they love about B&B's...people complain they are forced to sit with strangers. It is 6 of one half dozen of another. We can all sell why a queen, full or king bed works better.

It all comes to our own experience and preferences. Sleep with someone who snores you probably have separate bedrooms - and when on a trip need two queens, even more drastic than just one king. Smiling As a person traveling alone some beds can have a divot in the middle which you sink into, maybe a king with two separate box springs solves that. It is all relative. 

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JimBoone's picture
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JBloggs wrote:

1) and when on a trip need two queens, even more drastic than just one king. Smiling

2) As a person traveling alone some beds can have a divot in the middle which you sink into, maybe a king with two separate box springs solves that. It is all relative. 

1) 3 rooms total last night, 2 couples travelling together in one vehicle, 2 rooms with 2 beds, all slept separate, another with a couple and daughter. I hope guests find us a nice place to stay, yet a bit more reasonable than the big hotels since we are a bit out of town, would say most of our guests are just everyday folks, the large majority really nice folks.

2) I admit I shop for bargains, but that is what we usually find, either we are falling into divot in the middle of the bed or clinging to the edge looking for a firm spot. The exception was a chain hotel in the Wilmington area, probably best hotel mattress I ever slept on, would have liked the name of the mattress for future reference.

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Morticia's picture
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When I found the 'best pillows ever' I took the pillowcase off and looked for a name! If it wasn't too long ago, email them and ask.

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Morticia wrote:

When I found the 'best pillows ever' I took the pillowcase off and looked for a name! If it wasn't too long ago, email them and ask.

I may do just that, good suggestion.  I did pull back the sheet to look for a label, but mattress was in a bag so I stopped. I've always been a bit amazed at guests that felt the need to arrange furniture or pictures differently during their overnight stay, didn't want to be that kind of guest.

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Id have asked most people are flattered and take it as a compliment 

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Jcam wrote:

Id have asked most people are flattered and take it as a compliment 

Think I did comment at the desk, but unlike our properties this was a large hotel property where you don't have that connection between the person at the desk and the persons that make decisions. We were overnight for a funeral and limited time as well.

Tom
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We have had at least half dozen guest request info on our beds and then go buy one (locally made), rent a U-haul or strap on roof of the SUV.

Morticia's picture
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How true about the tables!

PhineasSwann's picture
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I inherited a Rezovations system and switched over after year one to ResNexus. I don't recommend the former; I'm very happy with the latter although it is not inexpensive.

I have 9 rooms with a 10th backup room so I'm sort of in your same size range. ResNexus does allow both FB integration and connection with iCal programs by adding MyAllocator to the mix (another $25 a month). I find the combination works well for me, since I am on most of the major OTAs. If you're not going to use OTAs, then MyAllocator really isn't necessary. It will integrate with Air, VRBO and some of the others, but because of their limitations will only allow you to keep availability up to date - pricing must still be adjusted on the sites themselves.

It allows you to integrate the booking engine with your website, and they'll even work on the design so it isn't so obvious when your customers have switched from your site to theirs.

I will say the customer service at ResNexus has been exemplary. They're always super friendly, super helpful and quickly responsive.

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of those in your list the only ones I have ever used are ResNExus and ReservationKey. And for me would be the only ones I would consider. The other??? 

11 Rooms to take on first thing...YIKES that is scary. But your drawings look amazing....going to be one IMPRESSIVE PLACE. Did you have to jump through alot of city hoops to make it happen or were they open to what you wanted to do?

You are going to be hiring a bunch of staff I presume.

Integrate with FB. Guess ResNexus does that but don't have a clue what they do but you have to be on their high end level for it, so more $$$

ResKey can be monthly or yearly. Your size: $30 a month

Basis ResNexus: $120 a month

Both will do real time bookings, integrate with various payment systems etc. mobile friendly  so up to you to see what you like best 

I see you will have Queen beds in most. You may want to reconsider and put in a few kings if at all possible.

Good luck.

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EmptyNest wrote:

I see you will have Queen beds in most. You may want to reconsider and put in a few kings if at all possible.

I swim against the tide here in that all our beds are Queens, my logic for our place (mom & pop motel) was that it let me upgrade a guest to a larger room with 2 beds without downgrading them to a smaller bed, only 2 of our rooms have one bed so it can make it more efficient for me to shift a guest to a larger room.

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Me personally will always pick a room with a King bed. And I will not pick a place that doesn't offer one.

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EmptyNest wrote:

Me personally will always pick a room with a King bed. And I will not pick a place that doesn't offer one.

not many guests will choose Queen bed properties.  If they are choosing between properties the King will win hands down.

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We are now 2 Queens and a King. The king gets the most reservations - only private & ensuite. Next most booked is the budget room (by $10). Only a few want the private bath rate ($15 less than ensuite - 3rd room not rented) with bathroom down the hall. Tonight - full house for 3 nights. Woohoo.

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gillumhouse wrote:

Tonight - full house for 3 nights. Woohoo.

Great! Enjoy them.

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Momma Smurf's picture
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Another perspective : We are all Queen beds and all is fine and dandy!

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JimBoone's picture
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Thanks, good to know that I'm not the only one. Me individually I don't like a King as I tend to feel like I'm sleeping alone after being snuggled in a standard double bed together for over 50 years.

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depends on your market as well - mine  is single business travelers weekdays happy with a double and couples on the weekend only.

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JimBoone wrote:

Me individually I don't like a King...

Everybody gets to do things their own way. I've had good luck by NOT doing things the way I personally would like them, but by doing things the way most guests would like them. It's not me in those rooms.

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Arks wrote:

JimBoone wrote:

Me individually I don't like a King...

Everybody gets to do things their own way. I've had good luck by NOT doing things the way I personally would like them, but by doing things the way most guests would like them. It's not me in those rooms.

Arks I completely agree with you, from a business view it is about what the traveler likes, but at times I'm also a traveler who is ignored by properties that felt everyone desired a King bed.

From a business view we only recently moved from full/double beds to queens so a step up from where we were in the past, having the same size in all rooms gives me greater flexibility when we need to shift a guest between rooms to accommodate another reservation and I doubt all kings would fit. True we do get a few guests that would have preferred a king bed just as I would prefer not to have one when I travel.

 

Morticia's picture
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We did the change over from doubles to queens also. Lots more happy guests!

But, that meant removing the twin bed that was in the room. Some unhappy guests. But others liked that we now had regular chairs to sit on instead of having to sit in the bed.

I keep trying to find 'one more room' to stuff a king bed in as we do get requests we can't fill with the layout as is.

But, most everyone is happy with the queen beds.

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Morticia wrote:

But, most everyone is happy with the queen beds.

Like sodas our rooms come in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. Small is a little smaller than the normal motel room and has 1 queen bed, a king would likely crowd out other comfort features.  Medium is probably the average size motel room, a king would fit, but 2 kings would crowd and we get a number of families that need 2 beds.  Large is probably 1.5 times the size of a normal motel room, corner with small fridge, microwave and coffee on a counter and small table, 2 queen beds and 1 twin bed. Larger families like the large rooms or when several guys are traveling together, 2 kings would fit in these 2 rooms, but would eliminate the twin, disservice to the larger family or our guys that want their own bed.  For now this seems to work best for our operation.

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JimBoone wrote:

Morticia wrote:

But, most everyone is happy with the queen beds.

Like sodas our rooms come in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. Small is a little smaller than the normal motel room and has 1 queen bed, a king would likely crowd out other comfort features.  Medium is probably the average size motel room, a king would fit, but 2 kings would crowd and we get a number of families that need 2 beds.  Large is probably 1.5 times the size of a normal motel room, corner with small fridge, microwave and coffee on a counter and small table, 2 queen beds and 1 twin bed. Larger families like the large rooms or when several guys are traveling together, 2 kings would fit in these 2 rooms, but would eliminate the twin, disservice to the larger family or our guys that want their own bed.  For now this seems to work best for our operation.

You've got your market down to a science!

We made a deliberate change to our market by removing that twin bed in several rooms - fewer families, fewer friends bunking 3 to a room, easier breakfast as we now have 3 fewer guests to feed (and only room for half of them any time).

That's the secret to hanging on for many years - knowing the market you want, or the market that best serves your goals.

Something every newbie should think about rather than just letting the brokers and 'gurus' tell them what they should do.

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JimBoone wrote:

Morticia wrote:

But, most everyone is happy with the queen beds.

Like sodas our rooms come in 3 sizes, small, medium and large. Small is a little smaller than the normal motel room and has 1 queen bed, a king would likely crowd out other comfort features.  Medium is probably the average size motel room, a king would fit, but 2 kings would crowd and we get a number of families that need 2 beds.  Large is probably 1.5 times the size of a normal motel room, corner with small fridge, microwave and coffee on a counter and small table, 2 queen beds and 1 twin bed. Larger families like the large rooms or when several guys are traveling together, 2 kings would fit in these 2 rooms, but would eliminate the twin, disservice to the larger family or our guys that want their own bed.  For now this seems to work best for our operation.

I was at first going to call you Goldie Locks.  That would be cute to have on your choice of rooms in how to pick them. Your small is much bigger than a hotel room in the U.K. I bet they have a standard measurement to describe it over there. And oddly enough our UK guests always arrive here with the largest luggage.Over there you couldn't fit the luggage and yourself in most rooms (yes from experience I speak).  

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   Glad to hear that!  We have two kings, a bunch of queens, one full that hanging in there for its dear life, and a sprinkling of twins.

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Another IT person getting into the B&B business. Please keep us posted on your progress Smiling

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Welcome.

RezKey and ReservationKey are one and the same. Very affordable with many bells and whistles. 30-day free trial and month-to-month (30-day notice to cancel). ThinkReservations seems to be getting some interest also.

I use Square - dumped the credit card processor and got an iPhone. Have not looked back. No machine to rent or buy at an outrageous price and nothing to take up space on my desk. Square has no minimum fees - only pay a fee when it is used. The processor I dumped was charging a $15 per month minimum processing fee plus a statement fee plus a connection fee for VS that totaled $21.90 with NO transactions in a month. That was about 5 years ago.

I cannot comment on the OTAs - I do not use them. I do not want my "commission fees" going into a pool of marketing money to be used to out-market me. Nor do I want a third party telling me what info they are going to give or not give for people who will be staying in my home. I also do not want them pressuring me to "waive the cancel fee" on last minute cancellations. It is not as if I can reach up on the shelf and re-sell that night as if it was a toaster. My feelings against Air are the same - I am not going to contribute to REAL B & Bs being put out of business by a playing field (I hate that term but it is appropriate) that is not equal.

Best to you, wishing you success.

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Been in lodging a long time, but new to online booking, chose Reservation Key based on suggestions of friends here on the forum.

QuickBooks, I use something more like Quicken as we don't send bills and don't have a payroll, have not seen the need as yet to have the two integrated.

Facebook, I have a page, but not integrated

Mobile App, don't guess it is specifically a mobile app, but have not had a problem using program on smart phone or tablet

Price very reasonable for my 8 rooms

Contract, month to month agreement, free trial if you want to look and "play" with the program. I played a month before going live on my website

Credit Card, I use Authorize.net with the program, so far works well and is reasonable

OTA, so far I don't choose to have them involved in my business 

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Welcome to the forum. yes

You may wish to find out what is being used there and with your local CVB, I know where I am they have a group availability for a nearby city and we have a system that is not what they use, so can't be on it. I have been given the ability to post a link to our online system, but if a person puts in a date on their home page it doesn't pull us.

Since we are in a neighboring town we haven't sold out to be on that, as it is more hotel based. BUT people are using hostel based programs now to book rooms.

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One thing to consider -- how easy is it to get your data out of the old system, and into another new system, when the time comes that you decide to switch to a different reservation software. You might ask who "owns" your data.....

Another thing to consider -- how easy is to communicate with external availability calendars? In other words, can your reservation software generate iCal links, or read the iCal links generated by other calendars. This is somewhat related to your question about OTA integration.

Facebook integration is nice, but in my limited experience the number of reservations generated from our reservation button on facebook has been nil.

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we like Myuktravel  and you don't have bed24 on their either.

Myuk I can run every bit of functionality from my phone no problem and its cloud based so can access from any tablet, phone or device anywhere. I get free direct booking through my web site and channel manager which I would not be without - saves you countless hours updating depending on sales and worry about over booking.

I update my end with a price - spreads it out to all channels for me 

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Welcome!

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BTW
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In my short list....are any of them "RUN AWAY" as fast as you can choices?  If any of them BAD, please let me know.

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