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Synchronizing Booking Calendars- Oh dear!

I got quite excited today. I thought I had found a magic bullet which I had been missing. I have much preparation to do before I begin reconsidering my online marketing, but I was diverted to this topic today by idea I that I had found a magic system that would propel my holiday home rental income skywards.

I hadn’t. Still, I’m sharing this as today’s diversion was considered and in rejecting it I’m starting to draw up pre-conditions that must be met when I do reconsider my online marketing.

You see I have long thought that the world of online hospitality marketing would be greatly improved if everyone adopted the same data schema for describing their holiday accommodation (self-catering, hotel, etc), its availability and pricing. If that were to happen then all accommodation owners could maintain a single pricing, marketing and calendar system and broadcast it to all the holiday booking sites. Sadly its not possible, the holiday booking sites maintain their own systems and accommodation providers have to keep multiple systems up to date.

Years ago I posted a request to Google to develop the XML or other data schema to run all of this – it needs a global player – but I didn’t hear back. I know one small hotel owner who tries to synchronise 11 different systems and not get double booked … It must be hard work! I have 4 systems that I synchronize manually, but if different booking sites can bring me even more bookings I might need to increase that number.

Which is why I was intrigued to find Rentals United today. They offer a multiple booking engine synchronizing service for a very low fee. There are others such as 365Villas and  BookingSync which I looked at too, and they all seem to offer something very similar. On the surface they look great, you maintain your details once and then choose how many channels (online booking sites) to publish upon – and agree to pay a commission to each booking site based on their own terms. This is like the system which I specified to Google a few years back, and that’s why I stopped by and asked some questions.  See the answers below. I should say thanks to Rentals United for their speedy response, and also point out that the other alternatives I mentioned above won’t have different answers.

Rentals United Online

As you can see I was asking first about the Guests email address that I would see if I used their synchronized booking system. It’s a real bugbear of mine but when I get a booking from many online booking systems (Airbnb, Flipkey, Holidaylettings) they don’t forward the actual contact details of the Guests. What I get instead is a hokum email address which they’ve made up; which means that my only way to communicate with the Guest is via the online booking system. This is after the booking has been made and their commission paid. It makes it very clear to me that as far as some online booking systems are concerned the Guest is “theirs” and I am only the temporary host. This makes it very difficult to communicate with my Guest as any links to my website, real email addresses and other important details are filtered out inside the online booking engine

I want to communicate with my guests and I want to have a direct line to them. But these online synchronisation systems won’t give me more details than I get today. They can’t get me the real email address or direct line of communication that I want.

I then asked a second question. About selectively blocking some online booking systems for certain times of year. You see I already get great occupancy for my peak weeks in the summer. To Double My Income I’ll need to make sure that I gain maximum revenue, particularly for these periods. Therefore offering these weeks to the most expensive online booking systems such as Booking.com would be idiotic. They charge 15% booking commission. I don’t mind paying that commission if they are filling my property when no-one else can, but I don’t want to be giving 15% away for periods when I will sell out anyway. Sadly these synchronizing engines can’t help here either. They will show the same availability to everyone, and that’s not a good solution for me in my peak periods.

It might be that this kind of synchronized system could work for me in off peak only. But that means an even more complex set up. I will return to this topic later.

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