Reservations systems - I can't be the only one like this..

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joels

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So a bit of background first:
We are in China, we have no ability at this point to charge credit cards (a few months away) and decided to go with ehbox.com as our booking engine in order to streamline everything and be with a partner that seemed focused on small cooler hotels/BnB.
What we received works reasonably well, looks quite impressive and allows us to take credit cards at bookings, but even though the invoice makes mention of a deposit, in reality nothing is taken since we can't touch credit cards at all.
So this is really only our backend though, and it is a very sophisticated one that can allow us to work with corporate accounts and agents....and connect us to GDS (not something we are doing). But what it doesn't do is manage any part of our front-end. To do that, we first played with a synchronized excel file (only 10 rooms!) and then moved it all into clerk.im. This was really nice, looked really good, but had a bunch of bugs all over the place that started getting annoying. Also with 10 rooms it seemed that a lot of last minute bumping rooms around into new places was necessary - something that clerk.im was not great at.
Now I'm playing with keepmebooked.com as a frontend, since it handles some things better than clerk.im, is well priced, and is missing a few of those bizarre bugs that were losing us money here and there. Also with keepmebooked we have the potential to use it as our backend. The reason why I have no done this yet is because they still cannot do CC validation like ehbox.com, so I'll be limited to doing email confirmations with no sense from the customer that any money is on the line. The other reason why I'd like to move to this regardless is that I'm tired of the workflow and it's caused many human error mixups already that resulted in lost bookings or unexpected double room bookings etc..
In terms of workflow I mean receiving an email from ehbox about a booking, keying it into keepmebooked.com and then when a phone booking comes (we get lots), going back into ehbox' inventory and changing the available rooms to reflect the new phone bookings. This is all relatively easy, but requires that the person doing this fully know two systems, and the inventory one in ehbox is not that simple. Also that makes two instances for human error to crop up.
So ----- four things.
1) Am I crazy to find this all too difficult? Is this is normal workflow that just needs time for us to get used to it?
2) if I switch entirely to using keepmebooked.com (or something similar) is giving up CC validation or the feeling of leaving a deposit a huge deal? Can I limit no-shows enough with well-worded and clear booking request and booking confirmations emails?
3) Is there a front-end that ehbox can connect to so that I can keep its booking engine/CC validation service and use another layer on top of it to keep my hotel running and do invoicing?
4) OR alternatively, is there another competing product that will easily validate CCs, do the booking engine stuff on the website and also the front-end invoicing and room/guest management??
Lots of questions, and I would be lying if I said we were pros! But I know a few of you have great experience to offer on this so I don't have to feel like I'm reinventing the wheel.
Thanks in advance, and looking forward to all of your thoughts
JS
 

EmptyNest

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Sounds like you are making it really complicated. Hotel stuff usually doesn't work with B &Bs. Check this Resources link and you will see some options that many here use and comment on
https://www.innspiring.com/resources/website-tools/availability-calendars-/-reservation-systems
 

seashanty

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Sounds like you are making it really complicated. Hotel stuff usually doesn't work with B &Bs. Check this Resources link and you will see some options that many here use and comment on
https://www.innspiring.com/resources/website-tools/availability-calendars-/-reservation-systems.
hey, welcome! i must have missed you joining before.

while i can't suggest which system to go with, i ALWAYS had the problem of taking a booking over the phone or someone walked in and booked for a future date (rare) and then having to go into the reservation program and update the availability calendar manually. it had to be updated right away, preferably at the same time! to prevent double booking.
 

agoodman

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There are a quite a few good little systems on the market but I do not know how many of those would be compliant with China esp with regards to cc processing, however having installed hotel systems in a past life, you may want to take a look at reservation nexus - the reason I suggest this is because they have a GDS link, as does bedandbreakfast.com
In answer to your question yes your system does sound like it is really complex. The above 2 will give you both front and back end with GDS connectivity
 

joels

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ah interesting...
Reservation Nexus seems to be the full solution, front and back end support. Not sure if they will handle enough CC processing that I can get away with continuing normally in cash here as I do now though.
I'm not sure if this is especially complicated compared to most solutions. I do find it odd that so many calendar/booking set ups are not designed from the start to work with actual booking engines that handle the CC validation.
I wish I could get away with not needed any validation... then I can continue along with the simplest calendar setup such as keepmebooked.com and do away with everything else. Am I nuts to do that? Will I get a 50% no show rate once people feel confident changing their plans and not caring about the consequences?
as fo GDS... I was under the impression that GDS would be costly and useless to implement with only 10 rooms. At the moment we are just recently opened and at 85% occupancy each month with only minimal attention given to agents and stuff. Hopefully if we can keep it that way then certainly GDS will not be needed.
Anyone know of other systems that will do the general room/rate management while also validating CC's online to at least give the impression of some money at risk on each booking?
 

Breakfast Diva

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ah interesting...
Reservation Nexus seems to be the full solution, front and back end support. Not sure if they will handle enough CC processing that I can get away with continuing normally in cash here as I do now though.
I'm not sure if this is especially complicated compared to most solutions. I do find it odd that so many calendar/booking set ups are not designed from the start to work with actual booking engines that handle the CC validation.
I wish I could get away with not needed any validation... then I can continue along with the simplest calendar setup such as keepmebooked.com and do away with everything else. Am I nuts to do that? Will I get a 50% no show rate once people feel confident changing their plans and not caring about the consequences?
as fo GDS... I was under the impression that GDS would be costly and useless to implement with only 10 rooms. At the moment we are just recently opened and at 85% occupancy each month with only minimal attention given to agents and stuff. Hopefully if we can keep it that way then certainly GDS will not be needed.
Anyone know of other systems that will do the general room/rate management while also validating CC's online to at least give the impression of some money at risk on each booking?.
Several of us here have been using Reservation Key and have been very happy. It's inexpensive and may have what you're looking for.
 

BruceGreig

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ah interesting...
Reservation Nexus seems to be the full solution, front and back end support. Not sure if they will handle enough CC processing that I can get away with continuing normally in cash here as I do now though.
I'm not sure if this is especially complicated compared to most solutions. I do find it odd that so many calendar/booking set ups are not designed from the start to work with actual booking engines that handle the CC validation.
I wish I could get away with not needed any validation... then I can continue along with the simplest calendar setup such as keepmebooked.com and do away with everything else. Am I nuts to do that? Will I get a 50% no show rate once people feel confident changing their plans and not caring about the consequences?
as fo GDS... I was under the impression that GDS would be costly and useless to implement with only 10 rooms. At the moment we are just recently opened and at 85% occupancy each month with only minimal attention given to agents and stuff. Hopefully if we can keep it that way then certainly GDS will not be needed.
Anyone know of other systems that will do the general room/rate management while also validating CC's online to at least give the impression of some money at risk on each booking?.
Disclosure: I run KeepMeBooked, one of the products Joel is evaluating.
We do plan to offer a validate-only option for credit cards, so guest would enter a credit card, we'd merely check that it was a valid card number (like Booking.com does, for example) but not take any payment. That is the solution you are looking for, I think.
That's not possible at the moment, but is planned (currently you have the option to take a payment with booking, or take no payment and no card details). For most owners, taking a deposit with the booking is a good solution, but in China the only payment gateway we integrate with is PayPal Website Payments, and not everyone likes PayPal (in USA we also offer integration with Authorize.net, but that doesn't work in China)
IMHO, the workflow you are enduring sounds totally crazy, if you can't find a product that meets your requirements let me know and I'll see if I can bump 'validate-only' a bit higher up our development list.
 

joels

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Just a recap, many many months later..
We are fully waist-deep in Reservationkey, and have also just recently set up myallocator to help with the odd additional channel synchronization. It's awesome. The whole thing couldn't be better. Sure, the payment thing hasn't worked itself in perfectly, but nearly everything else has. We've pushed it upon lots of hotels/inns in the last year or so and everyone is extremely happy, without realizing how much thought we had to put into it before finally seeing the light.
 

Arks

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Just a recap, many many months later..
We are fully waist-deep in Reservationkey, and have also just recently set up myallocator to help with the odd additional channel synchronization. It's awesome. The whole thing couldn't be better. Sure, the payment thing hasn't worked itself in perfectly, but nearly everything else has. We've pushed it upon lots of hotels/inns in the last year or so and everyone is extremely happy, without realizing how much thought we had to put into it before finally seeing the light..
joels said:
We've pushed it upon lots of hotels/inns in the last year or so and everyone is extremely happy, without realizing how much thought we had to put into it before finally seeing the light.
Oh, so YOU are our problem ;-)
We have been talking lately about how ResKey has grown so large now that they don't have time to fix minor problems like they used to. They are the greatest, but not as small and personal as they used to be. I guess that's both good and bad.
Glad it is mostly going well for you now. Same here!
 

Joey Camb

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Just a recap, many many months later..
We are fully waist-deep in Reservationkey, and have also just recently set up myallocator to help with the odd additional channel synchronization. It's awesome. The whole thing couldn't be better. Sure, the payment thing hasn't worked itself in perfectly, but nearly everything else has. We've pushed it upon lots of hotels/inns in the last year or so and everyone is extremely happy, without realizing how much thought we had to put into it before finally seeing the light..
glad to hear you are almost sorted (ie payment thing still to get there) with the software we use (which is only uk based im afraid) its the time saved that really makes a difference to me which in turn means I can get more of other types of marketing done.
 
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