New Innkeeper - Bringing Inn into the tech world! What Reservation System is best?

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04/22/2017

I'm new to the forum as a new innkeeper.  The previous innkeeper used paper charts.  I would like to at least start by "crawling" in having a reservation system managed internally, then hopefully by next season use it externally for guests to book on their own.  The reason is that the guests have been coming to the inn for generations and at this point, we do not want to lose that personal connection or scare them with too much change...but we also do not want to lose our minds keeping up with paper either.  I've gone through the arduous process of creating a database with all pertinent guest info over the past 4 years (although still spotty), with hopes it can be imported into a reservation system.  Any advise is appreciated.

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05/22/2008

This has been hashed over many many times. If you do a search you can see past threads. Me I recommend Reservation Key.

PhineasSwann's picture
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Had a soon-to-be-competitor actually have the nerve to ask us whether we liked our reservation system (they clearly had been scraping our website for information). 

Anyone have a truly awful system I can recommend?

wink

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Anon Inn's picture
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09/26/2011

LOL

locally three inns opened within a year of one another.  We were the third.  At a get together we discussed SEO, booking policies, policies and such.  I freely admitted to getting ideas from the other two's websites.  Now one of the original three has sold to new owners who take ideas from ours.  We are all good friends and pass guests to one another.  This is our tenth year.   

gillumhouse's picture
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I admit I do not know your area nor the soon-to-be and what kind of peolpe they are. I can tell you I have been hoping for and looking for someone else to open a B & B in my city for at least 18 years. I have no competitors because they do not have ME. I am what makes the current Gillum House what it is - the next owner will create a new Gillum House, building on what I have created to make their own.

I plan to help any B & B that opens in my city every step of the way - as long as they do not stab me in the back (negativity toward me). I was hoping to be able to share marketing and share overflow but no one has come forward - even though we have many houses that would be wonderful for it.

happykeeper's picture
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As you know, we are a floats all boats kind of operation, but we are mindful that we are in an area that is one the verge and not one that is fully landed. 

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04/22/2017

Thank you everyone! I apologize for the delay.  My regular day-job got a little hectic AND we are starting to get the inn ready for the season.  Alas - I have lost track of days!

I will definitely check out Reservation Key and the few others suggested.  I have already looked heavily into a few already over the winter, including ResNexus, InnRoads and Innquest.  My favorite so far is InnRoads. 

Right now, I'm looking to continue to have customers call and email for that "guest connection" and we would internally reserve through the reservation system (no online booking until next year).  This will enable us to send automatic confirmation emails, etc. as well as keep CC info in a safe place.  I'm also eager to get a system to use for e-blasts for special promotions and assist in maintaining the guest address list (Holiday cards were always sent to the guests and we will continue to do it, albeit the EASIEST way possible!).  

I also would like to report out on bookings, YOY bookings (once we get some history), as well as be able to eventually have an outward customer-facing booking engines.  OTA's still make me nervous, but I wouldn't mind at least having that capability when ready. 

If anyone has additional advice, I welcome it.

 

 

JimBoone's picture
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Let's call this additional comments rather than advice, different things for different folks, so this is just one old guys view.

Consider the ongoing cost as well as the features of the program you choose, in the end it is not how much you take in, it is that which is left after expenses that counts.

Consider moving sooner to online bookings, I'm here and the telephone is here, still enjoy the connection of speaking with our guests and some details need to be worked out by telephone or email, however "online" is an option for those who called while we were at the doctor, cleaning rooms or some other activity, I've lost bookings because we were not by the phone at the moment a potential guest called. Online can be your friend.

You know your guests and I don't, but be cautious of e-blasts, sounds good, but me, I'm quick to blacklist the address of those that send email that was not requested, it could work against you. I also remember a guest many years ago that said something along the line of "if anyone calls there is not a woman with me", you don't want to cause problems for a guest that visited

OTA's make me nervous too as that quickly gets a lot more impersonal than letting someone book online on your own site, of course I've never used them and don't know that I ever will.

A YOY report sound useful and I see that in Reservation Key, however for me, I like the Access database, played with it a lot in a former job, so I find it convenient to export information from RK and then import into Access, it lets me pull out bits of information in a format that suits me

 

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happykeeper's picture
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I use Res Key. Overall very happy with it. However, I am looking at other options in case we decide to begin using OTA's. Would be great to have it rolled into the system instead of using myallocator and auth.net.

Kaulbach House's picture
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happykeeper wrote:

I use Res Key. Overall very happy with it. However, I am looking at other options in case we decide to begin using OTA's. Would be great to have it rolled into the system instead of using myallocator and auth.net.

 

I was looking at beds24 that seemed to do it but too many options to set-up quickly

 

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happykeeper's picture
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I am adding beds24 to my list of rez systems to look into. I tried one called BookIt (or something like that) a while back but it was clunky.

I was trying to compare the whole cost of the three separate apps vs. just one with it all rolled together. I got busy and didn't do it justice.  

Kaulbach House's picture
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02/25/2017

I use www.CheckFront.com 

Simple to use and the customers don't have to leave the site to pay

OnTheShore's picture
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I haven't done it myself, but the folks at ReservationKey can import your old data (from an appropriately formatted file).

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gillumhouse's picture
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I use ReservationKey and love it. IF you get a call, you can manually enter it yourself - no sweat. I love to get up to a reservation e-mail.

Another thing with RK is that IF you want to take a deposit you can and if not, you don't. Also IF you want cc# entered online you can and if you do not (like me) you do not have to. MY response to an online reservation is that "We will call you within 24 hours or less to get credit card numbers to guarantee and confirm the reservation. Rest assured the room has been reserved in your name until such time as we can contact you and confirm."

This way I have the online capability and still get to talk to the guests - when I am available to do it and as soon as I can do it.

Thee are lots of options for reports, packages, add-ons, etc.

JimBoone's picture
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I take the lazy approach and also pay to use Authorize.net, not real expensive either and they safely store the credit card information, it allows me to take a small deposit to prove that the credit card is valid. I feel that this helps eliminate those folks who make a reservation to hold a room for a period of time "just in case" they really choose to visit. Don't get too many cancellations, but those few forfited deposits probably pay most of the costs of the subscription.

JimBoone's picture
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Hi Seaside, Welcome

Cast my vote for Reservation Key, inexpensive, our category of 10 or less rooms is $25 a month, I probably don't use all the features that are offered.

For most of 25 years we used a printed reservation book, I too liked the idea of personal contact, but about a year ago folks on this forum sold me on the idea of Reservation Key, you can use it only internally or also through your website for online bookings. I initially used it only internally during the 30 day free trial as that gave me time to get my information entered for existing reservations and get a feel for the program.

At this point around a year later I'd guess that around half of our reservations arrive "online", in a way it is better for my guests as it eliminates "phone tag" when I'm cleaning rooms or on some other project around the business. Folks that want to speak to Jim can still telephone or send me an email, but those that want to "book and go" don't have to wait on me to return a call.

System is flexible, you can set prices by the room, vary it by the day, require multiple days bookings, I'm still learning options, perhaps my hardest job is being the middle man between the computer and Maxine who has never been really a computer person.

blackcat's picture
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09/26/2016

 I like SuperInn.  It is easy to use, keeps lots of data and is $70 a month. You can probably import your excel data too.

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05/22/2008

Reservation Key  and it is only $20 a month up to 4 rooms.

Morticia's picture
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05/22/2008

Totally understand what you're saying about scaring off the generations by making everything different. However... You need to bring the biz into this century/millennium for those who are used to doing things the easy way. Therefore, whatever system you end up with, launch it for online bookings as soon as you can.

Of course, if everyone is used to calling to make a rez, they may not get that someone else could book 'their' room or cabin while they dawdle around.

I'm not sure if you want to proceed with your database building as it may not be usable by whatever system you end up with. Sorry. We had to hand enter all the reservations on the books when we got our system 13 years ago. Some guests DID NOT GET IT. 'You have my info, why do I need to tell you it all over again?' Because, the PO's had hundreds of 3x5 cards and I'll be damned if I'm trying to find YOURS. (I didn't say that.) Info changes, I want to be sure we have the correct address, etc. (I did say that.)

Some people insisted the PO's left all that info for us. They did not. Guests got mad. If we couldn't unruffle their feathers they moved on.

You won't lose the personal connection because the repeat guests are going to call you. For years. Mine still do and it's fine! BUT, the ones who have moved into the new world will like just being able to sit down and make their rez at midnight without worrying about waking you up.

Depending on the size of the property, Reservation Key is a good option. ThinkReservations is another one that gets good reviews.

Tell us here so we can help better - what do you want the system to do? Reports? Taxes? Just a place to take reservation info? Online calendar? Online booking? Housekeeping notes?

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Most people die of a sort of creeping common sense, and discover when it is too late that the only things one never regrets are one's mistakes. - Oscar Wilde

 

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