Reservation engines and booking channels

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Is there a reservation engine thaty is a channel partner with all the OTA's without the $10 up charge

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11/21/2017

check out beds24.com    Probably the closest you will get.

Tom
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Based on this suggestion, we checked out beds24.  In the end, we did not switch over.

We liked the lower cost and channel manager/allocator.  Originally we were planning to move to BnB.com commission based model to preserve our reviews and the dwindling referrerals we were getting from them  and that would require an allocator to manage inventory.  The allocator plus reznexus and add on RN set up and percentage fee, was going to really add a lot of cost.

But, we didn't complete the move:

1. We decided not to use an allocator and not to connect with Expedia and similar.  Beds24 low cost allocator/channel manager was the main reason we wanted to try.  After some thought, our B&B was not going to benefit much from the large sites.  Plus when Expedia bought HomeAway they were not porting BnB.com reviews.
2. We found set up a little difficult, in particular, the way we would transfer data from our present booking engine to beds24.  The FAQ/apps did not have enough information to make us feel it would work as intended and we were going to have to manually enter existing reservations.
3. We were not enthusiastic about the customer interface as we saw it on some sites now using beds24.  We found several of these by looking on testimonial page and going to the properties own websites.  Several properties listed there are no longer in business, and at least one is no longer using beds24.

We could probably have worked with them, they were reasonably responsive, but the main purpose, #1.  So. No change.

 

happykeeper's picture
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Aloha Tom. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. It captures my thought process really well. We are getting ready to change our business model from an all-inclusive concept to a hotel model. (Year 4 of the 5 year exit strategy) To do this, we will have to embrace the OTA's, if ever so reluctantly. That means we will need a channel manager and more booking sophistication. 

The set up is difficult. I think that could send a lot of folks running. However, as I have gone through the process (and I have a way to go) I am finding that it is a very powerful system that can do a lot of things we will need to do to push as much of the OTA lookers to book direct. I have discovered two or three ways to get help and the combination seems to be working. THey have a strong WIKI and there are set up wizards. They also have a forum and that is a bit slow but does work. There appear to be two main administrators and they do try their best to steer you in the right direction or answer you question if it is concise enough. You can also create a service ticket. 

I too had reservations after going over the testimonials. It was as you say. However, I did contact a couple of the users who have been using the system for a while and got back very solid positive replies. Both were smaller to mid range places that have been quite happy with the system. 

I also have discovered that I may be able to get some help through the freelance sites that are out there at a very reasonable cost, which will come in handy of I run into custom CSS stuff and the like. THAT SAID, I did a test of the WP plug in that they have and it was pretty simple to install. I think the fact that there is so much you can do to customize it and that there are so many components made it daunting at first, but I am getting a little more comfortable with it.

One thing is for sure. It is VERY affordable for what it includes and how powerful the features are. 

 

 

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Tom
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Thanks, for the information on your experience, and good luck.  Did seem like a good site, but I'm not convinced we want to go OTA at this point in our lives.  Subject worth an separate post ...

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Tom wrote:

I'm not convinced we want to go OTA at this point in our lives.  Subject worth an separate post ...

Me neither, but it is a subject that interests me should you comment further. I'm sure everyone's place and needs are different. More revenue sounds good on the surface, but revenue doesn't always equal profit. Seems like one would need to increase revenue by more than the amount of commission to see a real gain in profit and then more rooms rented mean more work to clean unless you're also factoring in cost of staff to do the work.

In our case the retirement plan is to sort of "die with our boots on" as we enjoy our location and the guests. Our next generation (daughter & husband) have been neighbors for a couple of years and work with us keeping things together.

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happykeeper's picture
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Made me chuckle

I hope you do write about "going OTA" We are totally in the "this point in our lives" stage. 

I'll let you know if we make it to the finish line. 

Tom
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I did get an email from beds24 that has me rethinking.  They now integrate with Google, so can book through Google ads.  That might be worth it.

happykeeper's picture
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It is a bundle of work to get set up, but I think it is going to be a great value once we're up and going. Although I have put a fair amount of time into getting set up, I am not so smart yet on how things works. Just the same, I would be happy to share what bits I might know. I would be thrilled to have someone else who is using Beds24 on innspiring. 

happykeeper's picture
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Aloha MWBB,

I tried to reach you directly and thought I might try here too.

I took a look at Beds24 and thought it showed some promise. I went to their endorsement page and the older endorsements don't seem all that up to date. I am attracted to it because it apparently includes a channel manager for no extra cost. I was hoping to hear from someone who is using it and decided not to. Did it end up working out for you? 

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11/21/2017

I'm sorry.  Been super busy.  You can sign up for a free trial  on beds24.  My recommendation is to take advantage of the free trial and see what you think.

happykeeper's picture
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I am already working with it. From the comments you made about it previously, I assumed you were using it. No worries. 

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11/21/2017

I have everything set up on beds24 but I haven't switched to it yet.  I don't like the way that the upsell items are displayed during checkout.  I told the developers I won't switch until they fix that.

happykeeper's picture
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Did they say it couldn't be fixed? I have heard from others that it is pretty flexible. Is it something a little custom CSS could fix? It seems to me so far that the pluses of a system that includes a booking engine, a channel manager, a property manager, and payment processing for the price of the Res Key booking engine is hard to beat. 

This is just FFT but we are going to move to a full hotel model soon where everything is monetized and I have been reading that it might be best to do our upselling after the reservation is made now, so that we can mimic the fast reservation method being employed by the OTA's. Get em booked then give them some upsell. That's different from the conventional way I have had in my head for these last many years. 

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I like most of the functionality of reservation key but I do not like the quality of presentation aspects of the booking engine.  I'm talking about what people booking see. For example, anything that requires a date calendar for picking dates -- the calendar is awful.  Looks like a design that is 10 years old.  I was able to override theirs and make it look good.  But even though I'm capable of fixing a lot of the issues myself, I shouldn't have to.  If I'm paying for a service they should be providing a higher-end design.   They need to hire a UI (user interface) expert to redo the design. 

Beds24 has a way better (higher quality) interface that the customer sees.  Also, Beds24 has a channel manager that works with about every  OTA imaginable and beds24 is cheaper per month than reservation key.  Beds24 works with google hotel ads, too.  Which means when people google the reservation picker will show up on the google results.

The issue I have with both reservation key and with beds24 is how they handle upsells.  Both of them suck in that department. 

I want the booking process to happen where the customer clicks on the option to book their room for their desired date.  Then the next full page is all upsell items laid out with a nice photo, price and description for each offering.  Clicking an offer will pop up a window with more info on the offer. There would be a button to purchase that item that the customer can select to add it to their reservation.   At the top of the upsell page would be a  main header that says something like, "Would you like to enhance your stay with any of special offers?". 

The idea with a dedicated upsell page is that it is in your face.  It puts your upsell items front and center and can't be missed.  You either have to select an upsell item to purchase or click "next" to get to the last page where you enter your credit card.

Both beds24 and reservation key try and cram your upsell items onto the same page as the credit card payment and that is a horrible design. 

Both Beds24 and Reservation key are flexible and can be customized.  On beds24 I made it so that if you pick a date to reserve and the date isn't available it will automatically expand the calendar to display booked and available dates.  I did that by adding in some javascript.

What I can't do, is re-architect the checkout process to inject an upsell page.  What I would also like to see is a way to have the upsell items listed on my web site with a "purchase" button that would allow them to select an upsell item before booking the room. Sort of a shopping cart approach. I could see using that in addition to having the upsell page display during the room booking and payment process.

 

 

happykeeper wrote:

Did they say it couldn't be fixed? I have heard from others that it is pretty flexible. Is it something a little custom CSS could fix? It seems to me so far that the pluses of a system that includes a booking engine, a channel manager, a property manager, and payment processing for the price of the Res Key booking engine is hard to beat. 

This is just FFT but we are going to move to a full hotel model soon where everything is monetized and I have been reading that it might be best to do our upselling after the reservation is made now, so that we can mimic the fast reservation method being employed by the OTA's. Get em booked then give them some upsell. That's different from the conventional way I have had in my head for these last many years. 

happykeeper's picture
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I went on UPWORK to find someone to help me get beds24 set up and get it on my WP site. Unfortunately, there looks like there are too many things that will roadblock me with getting set up. I don't have quite enough skill to get there on my own. 

One of things I want to try to work on is setting up a system where the OTA's get a Standard room without a room choice, our website which allows a room choice, and also has a booking page for Club members where I can sell whatever I want without violating rate parity. All a bit daunting for me. The idea is to make a direct booking much more attractive. On the OTA you get free wi-fi and free parking. On our website, you can have room choice. The added value that can be purchased or rolled into a rate will be full service breakfast, our homemade yogurt and fiber station, and the Rusty Jr. Club (complimentary snacks and beverages) 

After 13 years, we're reinventing ourselves. It's not entirely unexpected. We are in year 4 of our exit strategy and it's time to put a business face on our business. Smiling 

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11/21/2017

Happy,

Ironic!  I'm on UPWORK as a developer for hire.   I don't want to break any rules here.  I'll send you  a private message.

 

happykeeper's picture
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12/11/2008

Great thanks

 

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