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YellowSocks

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OK, you guys were right. (I mean, I knew you were right, but when you're right, you're right.)
Anyway, just took a reservation for a couple on an 5 year anniversary/belated honeymoon. According to the guest I'm one of only 12 inns in northern Ohio with online availability. Other factors contributed to her selecting us, but the clincher was being able to see our availability online.
=)
Kk.
 

swirt

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And this will not be the only time it will play out in your favor. From my point of view, online availability/reservations is a must have for B&Bs in the States.
 

Morticia

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I know it helped us a lot here at first, then everyone got it. At that point, it HURT the ones who didn't have it.
 

1linda

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When asking the guests, soooooo you booked on line. How was it? Was it easy? Etc. The main answer is that is the only way I book, you had it others did not. You got the booking.
I also love to go to the Computer and find a booking. At that time I would have had to stop cooking, sleeping. or whatever, and I got a booking. It is not happening a lot yet, but each booking is great.
I also like the records, esp. when it is time to do lodging tax.
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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Excellent!
Like I say, more fun than having the UPS truck pull up out front! I love waking up to reservations, esp if they are more than one night, or have something interesting in them!
 

JeannineIrish

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And this will not be the only time it will play out in your favor. From my point of view, online availability/reservations is a must have for B&Bs in the States..
Just ran a report. About 50% of our reservations come from on-line bookings. I have listed Webervations as an agent in my software. This is how I keep track. Of course there are probably a number of reservations that I input that I forgot to click Webervations as the agent so the % could be higher.
 

JeannineIrish

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Excellent!
Like I say, more fun than having the UPS truck pull up out front! I love waking up to reservations, esp if they are more than one night, or have something interesting in them!.
You are so right. And since we have included the on-line booking blurb on our voice mail we no longer rush to answer the phone especially in the evening of if I am doing breakfast.
 

swirt

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And this will not be the only time it will play out in your favor. From my point of view, online availability/reservations is a must have for B&Bs in the States..
Just ran a report. About 50% of our reservations come from on-line bookings. I have listed Webervations as an agent in my software. This is how I keep track. Of course there are probably a number of reservations that I input that I forgot to click Webervations as the agent so the % could be higher.
.
I think in many cases it also increases the number of people who book by calling. They check availability first to see that you have openings, then they call because they want to do it by phone (for a variety of reasons)
 

JeannineIrish

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And this will not be the only time it will play out in your favor. From my point of view, online availability/reservations is a must have for B&Bs in the States..
Just ran a report. About 50% of our reservations come from on-line bookings. I have listed Webervations as an agent in my software. This is how I keep track. Of course there are probably a number of reservations that I input that I forgot to click Webervations as the agent so the % could be higher.
.
I think in many cases it also increases the number of people who book by calling. They check availability first to see that you have openings, then they call because they want to do it by phone (for a variety of reasons)
.
That is true. I get a number of calls that say they have "just checked your website and it looks like you have availability on such and such date". Also it aleviates some of the calls when you don't have availability.
 

Cathy

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Hmm, I have a question. We do not have this feature, still working on everything to do with our website and getting the feel of how it will work for us.
With all that said, we are not always booked, and would have a lot of availability showing. Is it better for people to not see that you are not busy all of the time. We do have some future bookings, but it is hard starting out and getting the word out.
We have our B&B listed on a booking site, but they too have to check to see what we have available before they take their 20% booking commission. (Is that high by way?)
Cathy
 

egoodell

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Hmm, I have a question. We do not have this feature, still working on everything to do with our website and getting the feel of how it will work for us.
With all that said, we are not always booked, and would have a lot of availability showing. Is it better for people to not see that you are not busy all of the time. We do have some future bookings, but it is hard starting out and getting the word out.
We have our B&B listed on a booking site, but they too have to check to see what we have available before they take their 20% booking commission. (Is that high by way?)
Cathy.
#1 if you are concerned about showing rooms open (which I and 99% in my area don't care - people look for rooms and book) you can set it so that only the rooms available show up and they don't usually check to see how many total you have when that happens.
#2 I would NEVER go with a company that took ANY percentage of my income. There are too many out there like Webervations that are inexpensive and don't take any percentage. And yes, 20% is VERY HIGH. Unless you have lots of rooms to book, like a big hotel, in my opinion.
riki
 

Cathy

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We also feel that it is high, but we are actually getting most of our booking through them and the rest through Trip Advisor. Our out going money flow has come to an abrupt halt do to our renovation budget. Too much information? Therefore, we don't have any extra for marketing. This way the money comes out after we get our money. Makes sense so far?
We are hoping to drop them sooner than later, and when we are in a position to do so, hopefully they will want us to stay on as I am sure we are generating money for them, and we can "bargain" and make a new deal.
We will certainly be looking into a booking calendar. Will try and find out if our web maker can build one.
We are so new at this and right now, like I said any booking is so very welcome.
Living the high rich life in Mexico, not, but very happy and love our new business.
Cathy
 

JunieBJones (JBJ)

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For some reason we neglect that most important ingredient. Guests will never discover how soft your sheets are or how great your breakfast will be if they do not know you exist.
Website #1
Directories on-line #2
Online reservations and availability calendar #3 (esp for out of the country, diff time zones guests can book in their time - I have guests coming in tonight from the Netherlands). Book online at any hour from any place. This is MORE important than a 1-800 #. K.I.S.S. applies. The easier it is the more inclined a guest will pick you over the next place.
I think this is what YS was saying, her guests did not find many places who offered online reservations. I would not worry about showing open dates, that is what a guest is looking for. They are not looking to see how many others will be there. They have too many things going at once to get their vacations all sorted out.
 

Cathy

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I will keep on putting our name out "there" any way that I can, and look further into the calendar and online booking. We do get the odd inquiry from the website through the contact us button, but sadly not much lately. :(
Thank you so much for your advice. I am taking in as much as I can. And our sheets are so very soft and our beds so very comfy and our breakfasts are so very great. :) (Our pool is a tad chilly though - solar heating is on list for next year).
Cathy
 

YellowSocks

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I worried about the fact that I had months of nothing when I first started with the online availability. In fact, for September and after there are still weeks of blank space. But then we started to fill up for July and I felt better and better about it. As Swirt once said, someone always has to be first. I'm new, but no one else in town offers it, so by having it I send the message that I'm a professional operation.
20% sounds high, but I'm not familiar with booking agencies.
=)
Kk.
 

swirt

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We also feel that it is high, but we are actually getting most of our booking through them and the rest through Trip Advisor. Our out going money flow has come to an abrupt halt do to our renovation budget. Too much information? Therefore, we don't have any extra for marketing. This way the money comes out after we get our money. Makes sense so far?
We are hoping to drop them sooner than later, and when we are in a position to do so, hopefully they will want us to stay on as I am sure we are generating money for them, and we can "bargain" and make a new deal.
We will certainly be looking into a booking calendar. Will try and find out if our web maker can build one.
We are so new at this and right now, like I said any booking is so very welcome.
Living the high rich life in Mexico, not, but very happy and love our new business.
Cathy.
We will certainly be looking into a booking calendar. Will try and find out if our web maker can build one.
I strongly suggest that you do not have your webmaker try to build one. There are too many products out here that have been around for years that are a much better choice. No offense to you or your webdesigner, but building a functioning, reliable, secure calendar and booking engine is beyond their skills and beyond your budget.
Here is a good place to start https://www.innspiring.com/resources/website-tools/availability-calendars-/-reservation-systems (or it will be in a second after I add the two other big players that are missing in this category.)
You do not want to be taking credit card and contact info on an insecure home-grown system.
 

swirt

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Hmm, I have a question. We do not have this feature, still working on everything to do with our website and getting the feel of how it will work for us.
With all that said, we are not always booked, and would have a lot of availability showing. Is it better for people to not see that you are not busy all of the time. We do have some future bookings, but it is hard starting out and getting the word out.
We have our B&B listed on a booking site, but they too have to check to see what we have available before they take their 20% booking commission. (Is that high by way?)
Cathy.
Some worry about an empty calendar showing. I don't. Our calendar starts out empty every January. The reservations just come in. Especially if you mention on your site that your place is new, I wouldn't worry about it at all.
And yes, 20% seems high.
 

Morticia

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Hmm, I have a question. We do not have this feature, still working on everything to do with our website and getting the feel of how it will work for us.
With all that said, we are not always booked, and would have a lot of availability showing. Is it better for people to not see that you are not busy all of the time. We do have some future bookings, but it is hard starting out and getting the word out.
We have our B&B listed on a booking site, but they too have to check to see what we have available before they take their 20% booking commission. (Is that high by way?)
Cathy.
Yes, 20% is high. I can't remember, tho, what does Expedia get? Hotels.com? They get 30%, right?
Other point, in the winter, yes, I worry that guests will look at my site and see a lot of openings and think they want to stay elsewhere. And it is a valid point. It's my 'trucks in the diner parking lot' theory. The more trucks, the better the diner; the more bookings, the better the B&B.
I still have online booking. But, I have had guests call for a weekend I am full and ask if I know anything about the place that has no bookings? Guest see empty rooms (in comparison to other inns) and they wonder. But it's more of a comparison thing. If there's no one near you to compare to, guests won't know what's valid for the area.
Also, I think (and this is me talking) guests want to see the prices to know if they can afford it. With online booking, the prices are right there for each night they want to stay. No guessing.
But, without online booking, I'd miss those 30% of guests who want to book online at 2 AM or during work and don't want to be heard talking to someone booking their weekend away.
 

Copperhead

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I want to stick my 2 cents in here regarding this subject actually subjects.
First, online reservations – on YOUR website: We have been using Webervations for 3 ½ years now and this system has been a wonderful easy addition to our website. I had the same thoughts about having at times all my rooms available, that issue finally passed and I would not be without online booking. Waking in the morning to new reservation requests (how we have it set up) in our email is nice, no phone calls at all hours, and for travelers from overseas, it removes that time of day issue as well as an international call. Guests are able to add packages, which by the way I sell more of as I don’t have this in my phone ‘pitch’, on Webervations, it is in their face. Information about arrival time, food allergies or preferences etc., are asked, and then automatically stored with the reservation for my quick reference prior to check in.
Webervations is in the process of a major update and it sounds like they will be offering different tiers with different additional services. We received an email about it sometime back but it is still in the testing phrase.

Now regarding reservations systems Here is the good, the bad and the dirty as I see it! We were involved with Hotels & later Expedia when Lanierbb.com had the exclusive agreement with Hotels, now B&B.com has the exclusive. NOTE that Expedia owns Hotels.com and Tripadvisor. When Lanier had it, first the B&B had to list their lowest rate, then the B&B paid +-20% commission from bookings. That changed later and B&B’s could remove themselves from the ‘lowest price guarantee’ initiative but remain on the site. We received quite a few bookings with very few cancellations.
Once B&B.com got the contract, we were unable to post availability, as we are not members of B&B.com. Yet, Hotels and Expedia keep our listing active with no availability and will not remove it. I have been battling this with them for over a year now.

We did however find an online reservation system that places us on most the travel agencies systems as well as Travelocity, Orbitz and many others - not Expedia or Hotels for reasons noted above. The cost (going by memory) is aprox 15% when not using a travel agent, an additional 10% with travel agent commission. Some reservation systems charge a monthly service fee, ours does not. Only charges are IF we have a completed stay. Up sides: by being listed on Sabre, Pegasus etc, we do get more bookings for business travelers, since joining this system. Some businesses do not use agents for booking but have these systems in place for employees to book on their own. Some business travelers (few) use the online booking while most call after viewing their online choices, saving me the % and providing caller with more information prior to booking. We do have higher rates (to defray cost) on these systems then if they book by calling or using Webervations thus; when they call I provide a lower cost which makes them even more pleased by their choice.
Also, you add the number of available rooms and dates you hope to fill, so you can use it as you wish. If you do not want last minute check ins, there is a way to take availability off the system 24, 48 or more hours before that date. I choose to remove availably 2 days before so I am better able to plan. I do not list all my availability, as this system is a guaranteed booking system, keeping it up to date is a must but at least the way I list, I have a little buffer time to change the system when I have booked rooms through Webervations or by phone. Yes, by having this type of system AND Webervations, there are 2 calendars to keep up with. This may not be the best thing for a newbie, you may want to get your feet wet with only one system before expanding.

Reservation System services are NOT for everyone. There ARE headaches: If the booking is done by an agent, you will not get guest information other than name, CC # etc., so you must contact agent for this information. Some are reluctant to provide it. I just clearly state that in order for us to keep the reservation, we MUST have their complete name, billing address and phone number(s) and if necessary state that we are the ones that will be issuing their commission – that cinches it. Some sytems provide all info through an email, ours provides name, dates and reservation number with all personal information including contact numbers and CC information are only available on their secure server. Other issues revolve around amenities and the like. The system we use provides us with a long list that we check off. WHAT we don’t know is what each booking system shows the potential customer, so some could think we had everything such as an on site restaurant like a hotel then be disapointed on arrival.

Issues we are unable to determine – If we show no availability on these systems, but have rooms, what % of business are we missing? We DO get calls, saying ‘I saw online you were full for x dates but wanted to check with you directly.” But how many potential guests are booking elsewhere due to this is anyone’s guess. But, if this is how they traditionally book, we would not have had a chance without this system.
 

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