News

3 dynamic pricing experts share their opinions on HomeAway’s new ranking solution

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HomeAway introduced earlier this week its brand new listings ranking algorithm.

What are these new criteria? How can you improve your ranking?

Get all the info you need in this article thanks to our 3 dynamic pricing experts.


HomeAway ranking: what’s new?

In order to determine how you rank on their website, many data are being taken into account:

  • The quality of your properties’ pictures: add up to 50 high-resolution pictures highlighting the inside and outside of your home

  • The way you describe your rental: add detailed, updated elements and a complete list of the amenities available

  • How you perform as a vacation rental owner/manager: confirm your bookings and provide a quality, clean and well-maintained home

  • Last but not least: your price competitiveness!

Since this week, HomeAway introduced a brand new element to their ranking system: your property’s price competitiveness compared to the local market.

Thanks to their new pricing tool, MarketMaker, HomeAway announces it will help you define a competitive, appropriate pricing for your vacation rental.


Is price competitiveness becoming a decisive criterion?

We’ve interviewed our expert partners in dynamic pricing management, which you can find in our App Center:

Ian McHenry, Co-founder and CEO of BeyondPricing
“The fact that HomeAway is giving users more access to data is great; it's something Beyond Pricing has been doing for over 3 years and the more data the better.  We've checked their data against what we have for HomeAway and they are incredibly similar.  However, HomeAway only has their own data and not the data across multiple platforms including hotels.  So their data will always be incomplete.  Finally, as we saw with Smart Pricing, if they start giving recommended prices, they will be much lower than you'd ever want to charge because they are trying to help both guest and owners and looking to steal market share from hotels and other vacation rental sites, which they can do by driving down rates.  Beyond Pricing only works for the owners and managers and keeps rates up.  As far as the ranking factors, how you're priced is always a determinant of where you rank on a listing site because they are optimizing for conversion.  Beyond Pricing has helped owners and managers rank well for over 3 years by setting competitive rates that are updated daily, so all Beyond Pricing users will continue to do well under the new ranking system.”

             

Andrew Kitchell, CEO of Wheelhouse

"We're interested in any tool that helps hosts & owners run their businesses better.  We obviously believe that third-party pricing partners, such as Wheelhouse, will always be better positioned to help hosts & owners maximize revenue across multiple channels, but this a great way to learn more about your business, and a clear reflection of HomeAway's focus on delivering great products to the customers".

            

Anurag Verma, Head of Analytics at PriceLabs

“While it's too early to tell how well MarketMaker will do, it's always exciting for us when an industry giant launches something about dynamic pricing. We saw this with Airbnb's Smart Pricing as well - it raised awareness amongst hosts and rental managers, suddenly people were a lot more interested and willing to try not just Airbnb's, but different dynamic pricing tools and choose the best one for their needs.

We firmly believe that professional short term rental managers who tend to list on multiple channels and use sophisticated PMS/channel managers are better off with third-party omni-channel revenue management. Again, it's too early to tell, but depending on the region, the clientele and booking patterns of one channel might be different from others - as an example, in some regions HomeAway and FlipKey tend to get longer far out bookings, while Airbnb and booking.com get the shorter last minute stays. Incorporating all that information from all channels into dynamic pricing is important.

Lastly, we don't think search ranking should depend on dynamic pricing - there are hosts (especially owners) who are content with their flat pricing, and they shouldn't be penalized for that. The rankings should mainly reflect the quality, and maybe to some extent price, such that it increases the chances of a booking. But how that price was obtained should be irrelevant”.

          
                

What about you, would you be ready to jump into the dynamic pricing solution? What do you think of HomeAway’s new ranking criteria?

4 tips for a pet-friendly vacation rental

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In the USA alone, it is estimated that more than 160 million cats and dogs are owned… by 320 million inhabitants. Yes, you read that right: half the population of the country has pets!

Isn’t it a vacation rental market worth getting to know and adapting to? Follow Disney’s lead on the subject and open your doors to more than just human guests.

Why should I open my properties to pets?

There are many pros and cons to opening your home to our 4-legged friends. This list should help you consider whether you’ll open your doors (or not) to pets:

  • Broaden your customer base: Read again that 1st paragraph! 160 million cats and dogs in the USA… And even more if you take into account foreign travelers. Considering most travelers won’t notice or care if a pet has been in your property before them, this will open your rental to a lot more guests.

  • Another way to make the most of the low season: Want to rent, even when August’s (or December’s) over? Why not opening your home to couples, pensioners who own dogs or cats, during the low season? Not every traveler is restricted by school holidays. This is a great way to attract unconventional guests.

  • Get more bookings and income: As the vast majority of rentals don’t accept our furry friends (e.g 77.5% on HomeAway don’t), this is the perfect opportunity for you to grab a new clientele and so, more bookings. Also taking into perspective that every night booked at your home with a pet, additional fees can be added (up to 6-12% on Airbnb, for example), this represents a real plus for your income.

But welcoming cats and dogs can have can have some downsides…

  • It can represent a bit more work for you: more hair, means more cleaning… You may need a bit more time to get your property clean again.

  • Some people are allergic to pets and may not feel comfortable with renting a house where dogs and cats can walk freely. If you choose to go pet-friendly, it may be good to warn allergic guests.

How can I turn my properties into pet-friendly vacation homes?

Opening your doors to cats and dogs doesn’t mean you have to accept everything! Before allowing pets, think and list all the rules you would like your guests to follow:

  • You can deny access to some of the rentals’ rooms, such as bedrooms or kitchen

  • Ask pet owners to clean up after their pet, especially in the garden

  • Owners can be held responsible for any damage caused - you can request an additional deposit

  • Add some specialised furniture: a kennel (doghouse) in the yard, add blankets at disposal to cover the sofa, etc.

            
                 

Have any other tips for a pet-friendly vacation rental? Share yours in the comments!


Contextualize your Airbnb, Booking, HomeAway & TripAdvisor workflow in a breeze

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As promised in our BookingSync & Zapier partnership announcement, we keep creating ready for use Zaps for vacation rental owners and managers, helping you save time everyday.

These 4 new Zaps -connections in-between apps- have been especially created for you by our teams. These connections are source filtered -meaning, one filter for each booking platform has been set up.

These Zaps allow you to send a text message each time a confirmed booking comes from a particular channel such as Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway and TripAdvisor. Of course, you can also create Zaps or connections by yourself but we wanted to save you some time by letting you access ready for use connection patterns.


Here are the Zaps we created:


Each one of them can be activated on your account in just one click and is also customisable, following your needs. What better way to contextualise and adapt your communication, depending on the channels used?

We’ll set up new source filtered Zaps as soon as possible. In the meantime, which ones would you like us to create? Tell us in the comments!


Hurricanes: How to help the victims

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Irma, Jose, Maria… During the past few days, the West Indian populations have faced some of the strongest hurricanes in the recorded history. Time for reconstruction has now begun, as some of the regions that have been affected were “95% destroyed”.

Facing property damage, a devastated plant and wildlife but also human casualties: the BookingSync team wants to show solidarity with the victims of these disasters and their families.

We’re also feeling directly concerned by this catastrophe, as several of our customers have been affected.


How can you help the victims?

Material, human or financial donations can be sent to several organisations and associations, such as:


If you wish to donate, especially if you would like to make a financial donation, we advise you to do so to well-known and trustworthy associations or organisations, in order to avoid any charity scam.


Automate your vacation rental business with Zapier and BookingSync

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The BookingSync team is happy to announce the BookingSync app is now officially available on Zapier, and allows you to connect to more than 750 apps!

We're proud to be the first vacation rental software to be publicly available on Zapier to all our present and future clients.

But first, let's explain a bit what it means for you:

What’s Zapier?

To put it simply, Zapier allows you to send information in between web apps and create automatic processes, so that you can save time.

Gmail, Mailchimp, Facebook, Evernote, ToDoist, Quickbooks and now BookingSync, are so many apps you can interconnect thanks to Zapier, among a total of 750 apps available!


Why using BookingSync & Zapier?

Here are some ideas of tasks you’ll love stop doing everyday:

  • Sending a receipt with Quickbooks, Xero, Freshbooks etc., once the balance has been paid

  • Updating your Mailchimp newsletter subscribers with each new client

  • Collecting your travelers arrival time with Typeform and updating the booking

  • Sending your travelers a reminder text message with Twilio 24 hours before their arrival

Those connections created between apps are called Zaps.

How does it work?

Enter your BookingSync account, click on Apps > Visit the App Center where you can find the Zapier app that you can activate.

Back in your active apps, you’ll be invited to identify yourself or create a new Zapier account when clicking on the app.

You can find a selection of pre-established apps that can be activated in 1 click on our dedicated page: https://zapier.com/zapbook/bookingsync/

Have any other Zap ideas that could be added to this list? Share them in the comments below and we'll be more than happy to create them for you!

Some ready-to-use Zaps:

Organize your contacts
Simplify your billing
Work better with your team
Improve your daily work

Paris 2024 Olympic Games: A real opportunity for your vacation rentals?

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It’s now official: the 2024 Olympics will be taking place in Paris!

Whether you supported this decision or not, it is now definitive: France will dedicate those next years to organising the greatest sports event in the world, in terms of attendance and prestige.

How can this event become an opportunity for the professionals? How can the vacation rental managers and owners prepare for this major meeting?


1. Rental investment & the Olympics: a good idea?

This may be surprising, but organising the Olympics doesn’t necessarily implies a rise in the flow of tourists.

In Rio in 2016, around 500.000 tourists* visited the Brazilian cultural capital whereas in 2012, during the London Olympics, more than 7 million visitors had entered the city for this event… Showing a 30% decrease in the visits**, during the two weeks of the Olympic Games.

Succeeding in targeting and calibrating investments for the upcoming games is a real concern.

Jacques Lavie, founder of BnbLord, thinks “no investment should be done for a one-time event. A property is paid off over several years, always aim to invest on a long-term strategy.”

However, “during the said timeframe, this can have a great impact on the prices, and it shouldn’t be underestimated. During the Rio Olympics, some of the Brazilian cities had been fast-tracked to the most expensive cities on Airbnb. Never risk missing the right pricing.”

Jacques also says: “I advise owners to watch how hotel prices will evolve in their neighborhood during that period, as this is a good indicator. They’ve engaged a price optimisation strategy for a long time now, in the manner of the airline industry. Additionally, you should also know the price evolution scale on Airbnb is wider. For example, if a hotel increases by 50% its prices, yours should then be risen by 75-100% for a nearby vacation rental”.

In his open letter to the French President Emmanuel Macron (letter in French only), Brian Chesky, co-founder of Airbnb, calls out to the public administration and encourages the French government to materialise the #MadeForSharing motto by promoting vacation rental in particular, so that anyone could enjoy the games.

2. How to prepare your vacation rental for the Olympics

The idea is then to adapt and prepare your housing, rather than investing for the Olympic Games themselves.

Here are a few tips for your vacation rentals, to benefit the most from the Olympics:

  • Start setting up 1 or 2 years ahead and study cities in which trials will be taking place, especially if you own properties in those areas (such as Paris, Marseille, Lyon, Bordeaux…)

  • Adapt your workforce and be ready to face the tourist flow

  • Manage your bookings, messages, payments and listings thanks to a vacation rental software, especially if you manage or own several properties

  • Adapt your pricing, using dedicated tools such as Wheelhouse, PriceLabs or Beyond Pricing

  • Have little attentions for your sports fan guests: provide an Olympic trials calendar and detailed map, add a few beers in the fridge to welcome them, not forgetting a flat-screen tv for them to enjoy the event, in case they can’t physically attend the games


Any other tips you would like to share? Add them to the comments, and we’ll add them to this article!


How can the vacation rental industry work with the community?

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As tourist exchanges are getting global, is it still possible for big cities to preserve their social fabric?

We, at BookingSync, think this is a major concern: how can the vacation rental industry favour the community?

A few examples on how to work with the community

An recent article posted by the Tourism Intelligence Network in Canada (link in French) highlighted several ways and solutions helping local and national social actions that had been set up by several tourism operators:

  • Collecting clothes that had been left behind by clients, donating bed-linens, blankets, pillows and soap to those who need it most

  • Providing financial support to several local and national associations

  • Donating a certain percentage of the revenue to charitable organisations

  • Offering discounts when people are socially active in the community or work voluntarily

  • ...

BookingSync in the community

In 2015, Sébastien, our CEO and co-founder, went to Panama to visit Esperanza, an association working on rehabilitating former gang members. This marked the first step of our social and humanitarian engagement, and we’re still working today on creating new partnerships with local and international associations… Stay tuned for more information, soon on our blog!

We’ve also had the opportunity to organise an Ember Thalassa on three occasions, especially set up for the Ember developers. Ember is an open source javascript framework, aiming to develop ambitious apps. It’s being used in many companies such as Apple, Netflix, Linkedin, Nest, Zendesk… or even BookingSync!

Worldwide freelance developers or employees work on their free time to enable this framework to exist and we decided to thank them for this personal investment by offering them two villas for an entire week. The 4th edition of our now famous Ember Thalassa is on its way!


Wecc and Tchak during the Ember Thalassa 2015

We see the vacation rental industry as a wonderful way to help people from everywhere meet, share and get to know each other: what if it also helped build, or even strengthen that link at a local and social scale?

What about you, have you set up such actions for your rental business too?


Let the Notifications do the work!

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You may already know what Notifications are, as they’ve been available on BookingSync for quite some time now. Following your comments and suggestions, we decided to rethink our interface and simplify its daily use.

As you could expect, we didn’t stop there! Besides improving the visual interface, we also brought 2 small changes, that were highly expected:

  • currency and date formatting automation in the Notifications, depending on the travelers’ designated language

  • a simplified management of your notifications design made for mass edition thanks to CSS inlining

What are Notifications and how can you use them?

Notifications let you stay in touch with your guests before, during and after their stay by giving you access to personalised template emails. You pick the information that should be added to the personalised emails and automatically send them, following some predefined settings.


You know better than anyone that sending emails manually to your guests is a tedious task. Start using Notifications and automate a great number of your daily tasks and save time!

One of our clients, Damir Biseri from the Adriatic Pearls agency, explains how he saved valuable work hours thanks to the Notifications:

From how many managed rentals did you feel the need and interest of using the notifications?

Well, since we use notifications also for invoicing (this way we or the customer get it automatically in the inbox) from day one (or to say from the first rental). We integrated notifications in all our processes and evolved them, to automate or semi automate all of them. We base them on triggers or events (new reservation sends invoice and email to the owner), tags, change on booking status, additional requests (PayPal, Cancellation, Insurance, etc.). So the question is really how many processes do you have and can you automate them. I would say you can at least semi automate all of them. Less operational work means more free time and more time to address the content, the customer and the destination itself.

Any idea of the time saved thanks to the Notifications?

Hmmm, this one is not easy. We would have to evaluate every process and compare to how it was. But that would take too much time. Let’s put it this way. We were able to duplicate our revenue, with the same number of employees and introduce a 6-hour work day. So if we are a 4-people company, I would say we saved at least 4 man-years. I am confident we saved more, but this is huge already, right?

Has the use of Notifications had an impact on your communication with your customers?

Yes it has! We introduced automated marketing. Every customer gets automated emails with our blog posts about their destination. There are videos, links, music playlists, blog posts… All in an email, they get automatically three days after they made the reservation. And this is just one case. There are many many more. From payment reminders to wishing the customer a safe trip a day before travel (with critical info about the roads etc.) And to remind you, it is done automatically. We do not send most of those emails. Notifications centre does that for us. In beautiful HTML emails, with logos, pictures, links…

Any advice for the other Bookingsync users to take advantage of the Notifications?

Yes, imagine all your manual emails you send every day. Same emails, with different names and numbers? Yep, that one. It eats your creativity and pushes you towards monotony and after a year it is just boring. Well Bookingsync can help you automate it for you. It really is easy. Ask them.

              

Already a BookingSync client? Access the Notifications app from our App Center.

Read our manual for more information on the Notifications.

           

Starting today, save time and book more with BookingSync!

A few words with BnbLord

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This week, discover another one of our clients, contributing to building the BookingSync community: BnbLord, a concierge services company specialised in short-term rentals in France and Lisbon. See how they approach the vacation rental market in our article.

Who’s BnbLord?

The company was founded in 2015, and manages several hundreds of properties. They can also assist future vacation rental investors, who are looking to purchase a property. BnbLord’s team is composed of almost 30 employees, and welcomes more than 3.000 travelers each month.


Hello Jacques, when first visiting your website, I’ve noticed you’re especially aiming at “investors”, as shown in your menu browser for example.

Indeed, since the beginning, we manage our concierge activity from a market data point of view.

Being settled in several cities, we can provide investors with information on the most profitable and ideal places for their investments, thanks to our apartments’ output history.

We can offer this service for each city where our concierge service is available.

We identify which property offers the best profile, we help the investor decorate it and then we handle the vacation rental activity.

For this service, we receive 4-5% of the purchase transaction amount.

We keep receiving more and more requests, particularly in Lisbon where the market has been massively expanding since 10 years.

Knowing the city from a tourist point of view, what travelers usually do, which tourist places are strategical and which transportation to use is an important part of the activity.


Another interesting fact, you mention a “Dynamic Pricing” and write about an algorithm helping generate 30% more profit. Could you tell me a bit more about it?

As I said previously, we focused on data since the beginning of our adventure. I had wrote my master’s thesis on how to find the right way to price a vacation rental apartment and determined that only 8% of the properties in Paris had a correct price, in 2016.

A great number of criteria is being taken into account: the seasonality, the events, we even work on the possibility to refine our criteria with micro-events.

Often, many pricing tools only work on major events taking place in a city, whereas not all the lodgings may be impacted by it.

Our owners have access to an interface allowing them to visualise their properties’ plannings and the prices advised by our internal tool. They’re free to change it and set their own price, but we highly recommend them to trust our market knowledge.


What’s your approach on all the legal changes being brought to the vacation rental market?

For now, we’ve only been impacted in Paris and Bordeaux. We communicate with our owners and inform them on commercial leases. We help owners the most we can so that we can all work in compliance with the law. Nevertheless, we also manage a lot of principal residences, which are not concerned by the new legislation.

Despite this, we think this new decree is a mistake, as the supply and demand would have naturally regulated the market. Airbnb is still highly expanding in big cities, though being reduced by half each year.

80% of our bookings are made through Booking.com in Montpellier. Booking is Airbnb’s real competitor in major French cities, but you don’t hear about it.


How do you stand out from your competitors? What’s your difference?

The mistake many concierges make is to consider themselves as simple rental managers, logistically speaking (cleaning, changing sheets).

A good concierge service should bring value to the owner and handle the pictures, the price, the check-ins and outs quality of service, and how to constantly optimise the property for their travelers’ comfort -and the listing’s success.

For example, we’ve tested and noticed that allowing travelers to check in autonomously -thanks to key boxes, or connected locks- may be ok for some, but our check-in mark was globally lower. Considering this, we prefer to welcome people physically.

We focus on value and rental return -pictures scenario, amenities recommendations- we see ourselves as real creators of rental value.

That’s also why we created our price algorithm, because we think the market’s algorithms are not correct.


- Jacques, BnbLord chief executive.

You can also find BnbLord on Facebook, Intagram and Twitter!


Access Wheelhouse’s personalized pricing tool with BookingSync

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Today, we are announcing our latest partnership: Wheelhouse, a personalized pricing platform that helps vacation rental managers and owners maximize revenue and bookings with intelligent automation.

What is Wheelhouse?

Wheelhouse is the only pricing platform that allows you to build a customized pricing strategy around your unique business goals. The result is up to 40% more revenue, less time spent researching your competitors’ prices, and data-driven insights into your properties and market. That means you can run your short-term rental business as intelligently as a hotel.

Based in San Francisco, California, Wheelhouse helps thousands of owners and managers in 500+ markets all over the world and employs an experienced team of Ph.D Data Scientists, hotel revenue managers, rental professionals, and former Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Salesforce engineers and product specialists.

How to start using Wheelhouse Pricing

To get started, create a Wheelhouse account and connect your listings. It’s that simple. Then, preview their pricing recommendations, personalize your pricing strategy, and turn on Wheelhouse Pricing to enjoy automated, demand-driven prices year-round.

   
Already a BookingSync client? Get the Wheelhouse app from our App Center right now and follow Wheelhouse's webinar on July, 13, at 3:30pm CEST!

A few words with Welkeys

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Today, let’s introduce you to one of our clients, specialised in concierge services and vacation rental management in France: Welkeys, a team of more than 500 concierges dedicated to owners and travelers, in the biggest French cities.

Hi Chloé, could you tell us a bit more about yourself and your company, Welkeys?

I’m Chloé Fournier, founder of Welkeys.com. Being a user myself of the Airbnb platform, as a host, I realised that managing the whole vacation rental logistics was hard -creating the listing, managing the bookings planning, welcoming and informing the travelers, cleaning and handling the household linen. That’s why I created Welkeys 2 years ago, the 1st platform connecting owners and concierges dedicated to short-term rentals. We’ve launched our turnkey offer in January 2017, Welkeys Premium®. This way, we can completely manage vacation rentals, for the owners: creating the listing with professional pictures, publishing it on several platforms, managing the bookings calendar, reservations and communication with the travelers, optimising prices depending on the season, coordinating check-ins, cleaning and managing the household linen in-between each stay with our Welkeys concierges. We’re currently a team of 10 people, working with 500 professional concierges. Our Welkeys Premium offer is available in 20 French cities, and in Marrakech.


What kind of rentals do you manage?

We own more than 100 apartments and houses in several major French cities such as Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille, Lyon, Nice, Toulouse, Montpellier, Nantes, Lille…but also in other cities like Dijon, Fontainebleau, Châtel, Annecy and in Morocco, in Marrakech! Our property portfolio is essentially composed of high-quality apartments and houses, which have been comfortably equipped -fitted kitchen, wifi…-. Most of them have been recently renovated. We aim to manage more than 300 apartments and houses by the end of 2017. We also plan to get international and expand in cities such as Brussels, Montreal and Lisbon.

       

What’s your best memory since you created Welkeys?

We recently welcomed a tennis player, who wanted to stay in one of our apartments while participating in Roland Garros, it was a real honor to get to meet him!

Which of your 100 houses and apartments would you like to stay in, during your next holidays?

In our amazing house in Marrakech, without a doubt! Picture yourself at the edge of the Palm Grove, in a fully-equipped 380m² house, surrounded by a 5,000m² garden and a dreamy swimming pool…

What makes Welkeys so special?

First of all, all of our concierge speak English and have completed a hotel management training. Every check-in we do is customised for each traveler. Once the booking is confirmed, we communicate with them in order to determine their needs. We offer several services, such as airport pick-up, luggage storage, breakfast delivery, at-home chefs and hairdressers, depending on what they need and thanks to our numerous partnerships. We’ve also created welcome kits with shower gel, shampoo and slippers in every rental.

-Chloé Fournier, Welkeys founder.

You can also follow Welkeys on Facebook, Intagram and Twitter!

The Paris Agreement & eco-responsibility as a vacation rental owner

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At the beginning of this month, a particularly important news was shared all over the media: the USA are now out of the Paris Agreement. Environment protection and public health becoming a bigger concern as the years pass, we wanted to jump on that occasion and cross two subjects that we’re particularly interested in: eco-responsibility and vacation rental. Can these two issues ever correlate?

VillasThalassa: a concrete example of what can be done

We wanted to feature one of our clients in this article:VillasThalassa, in Greece, are a great example of eco-responsible vacation rentals, mixing up building optimisation, travelers awareness and everyday responsible use.

This is what they set up for their villas:

  • Mostly using ecological products to clean the houses

  • A better insulation, leading to a roof 3 times better insulated and twice for the walls -compared to the legislation

  • Involving travelers and making them aware of their ecological responsibilities by charging electricity, if the consumption is too high. The point is not to earn more money, but to truly prevent them from leaving doors and windows open, when air conditioning is on

  • Hot water is produced by solar panels

  • Some of the houses are fully self-sufficient, electricity wise.

The possibilities are unlimited

When it comes to protecting the environment and enjoying holidays, the possibilities are endless: everyday, new technologies and solutions are made available. Some represent a real investment, such as solar panels, but others are very simple and easy to set up. Every budget and everyone motivated to do so can participate in making this world cleaner and safer.

We’ve selected a few more examples, for your eco-responsible vacation rental:

  • When building your property, make sure it is South East/South West oriented

  • Add sliding doors and windows with mosquito nets, allowing a thermal breeze ventilation. This helps reduce overheating during the hottest hours

  • Install a pergola, protecting the windows from the sun during summer

  • Walls oriented North should be buried, when possible

  • Prefer an infinity pool, partially self-cleaning. This helps limit filtering time -and power consumption.

What about you, have you also started improving your properties’ ecological print? What kind of solution did you set up?

Touch Stay & BookingSync: a unique welcome book

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Everyday, we keep improving our software by offering a more complete and integrated solution. We’re pleased to announce our new partnership with Touch Stay, allowing you to create a customised welcome book you can carry anywhere.

What’s Touch Stay?

BookingSync already helped you secure and clean your property, optimise their pricing and automate your marketing campaigns; you can now manage your digital welcome book creation too thanks to Touch Stay.

Touch Stay was created in 2013 by Joe Jones and Andy McNulty. Tired of always asking the owner for advice on the home and the area and ignoring the old-fashioned, forgotten welcome book, they decided to set up a more modern and versatile welcome book that guests will want to read, AND will find useful.

This is how they had the idea to create a digital welcome book, allowing hosts to share their best advice and addresses with travelers from all over the world and bringing the locals and travelers ever closer. Today, thousands of properties and guests are using Touch Stay's software!

     
     

Why using Touch Stay?

With Touch Stay, travelers can fully enjoy their stay by accessing the property’s and region’s important information and directly on their device whether they’re using a smartphone, a computer or a tablet.

As a professional, you can:

  • Save time by updating your welcome book from anywhere on any device and instantly the guests will see it.

  • Present a professional first impression with a beautiful and informative "hello" which guests then remember long after they leave.

  • If you own multiple properties, you only need to update common information once and it auto replicates to every property, saving lots of time.

Of course, if your guests do not own any compatible device, you can download a PDF version of the book and print it!

       
        

As a BookingSync client, you have access to a special discount on the Touch Stay offer: get 15% off the annual plan!

Want to know more? Watch this Touch Stay presentation video, especially made for our BookingSync customers and access Touch Stay in our App Center!

Airbnb co-hosting: a new threat for property managers?

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A brand new Airbnb feature was added to the platform a few weeks ago: co-hosting. Once limited to vacation rental owners’ friends and acquaintances, anyone can now help host travelers.

What’s a co-host?

A co-host can help you manage your vacation rental and its logistics. Writing the listing, handling emails, checking in and out the travelers… In short, you pick which services you need help with and define the related service fees.

You have two options: either you know a friend who could help you, either you don’t know anyone and will need to use Airbnb’s co-hosting service.

If you’d like to become a co-host, there’s nothing easier! Just add your profile to your neighborhood’s co-host directory. Pick the services on which you wish to help and define your service fees. They’re generally ranging between 10 to 20% of the booking revenues. When an owner picks you up, you then become the travelers’ official intermediary: it’s now your duty to share your sense of hospitality and hosting, valued by Airbnb! That’s also an easy way for you to supplement your income.


One last feature was added to the platform: owners who also have a co-hosting activity can now create a company profile. This page gives a preview of all the vacation rentals you own AND you co-host. This also highlights your rating!

What about property managers?

As you can imagine, this new service may not be equally appreciated by all the vacation rental professionals.

With this new feature, Airbnb keeps extending its offer and highlighting the non-professionals: following Experiences (various experiences to book during your stay) and Places (a guide to help you discover your host’s favorite places), your friends or neighbours can help you in your activity.


These services are not yet available everywhere. Will the vacation rental owners trust their neighbours and give the keys to their home, or will they prefer to call upon professional vacation rental agencies? Only time will tell...

Luckey Homes x BookingSync: Sharing your experience!

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Since 2010, BookingSync has been helping you save time and book more. Following what we initiated a few months ago on our blog, we want to give YOU a chance to speak and share your vision of the vacation rental industry and experience.

We’ve talked today with Aurélien, co-founder of Luckey Homes, a French property management and housekeeping company, using BookingSync since 2015.

Here is what we discussed.

Aurélien, how do you explain your success, despite the increased competition?

I think we’re characterised by 2 things: bringing a good quality of service for a reasonable commission rate for our owners.

We’ve set up City Managers, ensuring the same quality of service everywhere in France. When joining Luckey Homes, we provide them with tools helping them efficiently manage their properties portfolio. This helps us grow fast in several regions and on little markets, such as in Montpellier or Marseille, where there’s little competition.

We’ve also created the LuckeySchool, helping us standardise our quality of service nationwide and put in common our good practice and City Managers’ experience.


What’s different with Luckey Homes?

We’ve decided to bring a very technical approach and put a lot of efforts into developing apps and features -internally, as much as for the owners and our City Managers.

We take advantage of what can be automated thanks to new technologies, in order to get efficient processes, hence offering a low commission rate thanks to the time saved.

We’ve had a lot of internal development to create work-specific processes. Thanks to BookingSync’s API (Application Programming Interface), we can use some of our features and processes further.

An app is at the owners’ disposal, allowing them to manage their properties on their own: blocking the calendar, following their revenue and exchanging with their account manager by chat.

Lastly, we’ve also added a new advantage for our owners: a Groupama insurance contract, covering up to 1.5 million €, for each housing we manage.

How do you see it evolving, especially regarding the short term rental regulations?

Paris is different from the rest of the country. We support the regulations that were set up in Paris, that help regulate the market and limit the offer, and tend to lower the prices.

To the contrary, we think those regulations are less relevant in other province cities, as it would restrict this activity that has a good effect on the local economy.


How do you address the hospitality and “living like a local” challenges, while managing properties in the owners’ place?

Well, with some hindsight now, we notice not all travelers expect a warm and personalised welcome -e.g, professionals on a business trip- but the ones expecting such a welcome have great expectations.

Locally, we work a lot with students -our Welcomers- that help during the check-in. That allows travelers to be in contact with locals that know the city and can share their good addresses.


What are the greatest challenges you’re facing in the industry?

This is a time-consuming, never-ending activity if we wish to be here for our owners and travelers.

I’d say today’s challenge is for everyone in the team to get to protect themselves and take the necessary time and distance to keep the good mood we’re sharing today and the pleasure to be working in the tourism industry.

Each client is particular and has a different approach of the vacation rental industry. We, at BookingSync, chose to offer an open API allowing our clients to make the most of our technology serving their clients.

You can contact Luckey Homes too, for your vacation rentals management!

Secure your website with SSL for free!

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Google has been strongly encouraging internet users and website owners to increase their online security since 2014. HTTPS and SSL protocols are becoming standards on the internet, even though most of us won’t notice the numerous technical changes that can occur.


We want you to keep communicating your online data safely. We want users to get the best experience possible on your website. This is why you can now get an SSL securing upon request for free, with BookingSync!

What are SSL and HTTPS?

Those two acronyms refer to two security protocols that work together, and they’re often getting mixed up:

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure: when opening a page, this lets the user verify the identity of the website thanks to an authentication certificate.

  • Secure Sockets Layer: this one is a security protocol for internet exchanges, in charge of data encryption.

What’s the point for your website?

  • Adapting to security standards: BookingSync is always adjusting its technology to the web’s major changes, and this is one of them!

  • Offering a higher level of safety to your clients, who will be able to safely visit your website. Some browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, are now clearly warning users when a website isn’t secure.

  • Getting an SSL certification for free. This is usually a paid service, added to the website hosting and your domain name.

  • Setting up an SSL certification on your website can help you get more visible on Google (linked to your SEO strategy).

All these information can seem a bit technical but you don’t have to worry: we’ll be handling all the changes ourselves!

10 powerful tricks to get more bookings in mid and low season

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It’s one of the biggest headaches for property owners; getting bookings in mid and low seasons. I’ve been partly involved in the property business for a few years now, and these are just some of the tricks that I’ve learnt along the way to boost bookings.

#1 Allow for shorter stays

There’s no two ways about it; you have to be more flexible in these seasons. You need to offer lower rates and allow for shorter stays than you would in the high season. Most travellers are savvy enough now to be on the lookout for cheaper and more flexible deals during these seasons, so if you offer a good one you’ll find they get booked up quickly.

#2 Create special wellness packages

Offering packages alongside a booking is a great way to entice potential bookers in. A great trick I learnt is to research local wellness centres, and offer yoga or spa retreat packages alongside your accommodation.

The new, modern-day focus on wellness makes these popular, and you can work with local businesses who have a social media presence to help you promote these packages.

#3 Optimise for countries with low fare rates

Deals are changing all the time, and it’s worth spending some time researching them. Use Skyscanner to search for flights anywhere from your location for the upcoming months. It will give you a quick look into where the cheapest flights are, and then you can optimise your bookings around this.

For example, if you are based in Lisbon and see that there are cheap flights from Paris to Lisbon all summer, then it would be useful to have a French version of all your vacation rental site listings.


#4 Company retreats

I started my company Surf Office four years ago with the aim of helping people be more productive in beautiful places. We shifted our focus to help companies with company retreats, and now cooperate with accommodation partners and landlords around Europe.

Our highest demand is in autumn and spring, and so we can now offer these accommodation partners and landlords a perfect proposition where we can help to fill their spaces and rooms in the low and mid seasons.


#5 Try to find unique, niche websites to distribute your listings

Everyone is using websites like Airbnb, Booking.com or Hotels.com. These are great sites and they may drive the majority of your bookings, but it also means they’ll be driving the majority of your competitor’s bookings too.

Think about some unique, smaller niche websites where you can distribute your listings. We just launched a website like this called Epic Monday, which converts remote houses into productive home offices for employees. We started this project recently in Portugal, and after a lot of traction from landlords, we are now expanding into more locations.


#6 Organise local events

If your property has a large open space, like a garden or a patio, you can try organising local events. There are a huge range of events you can think about, like wine tastings, movie nights, or meetups, and you can find local event organisers on places like Meetup.com.

You aren’t always likely to earn money with these local events, but it’s a great way to build up your reputation and create a fantastic relation with the locals. Word-of-mouth counts for a lot in the property business, and they will recommend your properties to friends or relatives visiting them. This is more of a long-term strategy, but it works.


#7 Invite bloggers & Instagrammers

This is another strategy which will bring you bookings in the long-term. Bloggers and Instagrammers will create fresh content around your property, which they will share with their peers. Don't expect direct bookings immediately, especially if you aren’t inviting celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Try to attract bloggers who aren’t so famous, otherwise they will charge you for the visit and ask you to cover all of their costs. Smaller bloggers are simply happy with a free stay. You will get some backlinks to your website and probably a few cool pictures to update your listings, and any additional bookings are a bonus.


#8 Long-term discounts with weekly/monthly stays

Many sites like Airbnb allow you to set up discounts for a longer stay with weekly and monthly discounts. Avoid them in the high season, when you can fill out your properties easily.

But in mid-low season you can attract people who are searching for longer stays, usually business travellers, digital nomads, students or teachers. Be aware that these people are very careful with the amenities that regular travelers care about less: equipped kitchen, desk, solid internet or washing machine.

#9 Bundle and unbundle rooms

American entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen says that there are “only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle.” You can apply this to vacation rentals too.

Try to be creative with your properties - imagine you have a property with 4 rooms, try to unbundle it into a 4 single room listing. If you manage 10 studios, you can try to bundle them into two, three, four, five studios and this way attract groups of different sizes.

It may take some playing around to get this right, but it will allow you to appeal to a wider range of people.

#10 Contact organisers of local conferences or events

Research larger events in your area and contact them with an offer to become an accommodation partner. If it's not a large conference, they don't usually even ask for commision. This strategy needs a bit of luck to find good partners, but you would be surprised at how many leads one relatively small event can drive to your business.

And again, it helps with that much needed word-of-mouth.


About the author


Peter Fabor is the founder of Surf Office - an organiser of productive company retreats in Europe. One of the recent projects is Epic Monday - a unique vacation rental niche which attracts remote working professionals. You can reach him on Twitter as @faborio or by email: peter@thesurfoffice.com

Secure your vacation rental thanks to Party Squasher

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Renting an accommodation can be risky and many startups decided to bring their own solutions to address those concerns.

Party Squasher created a device helping reduce any risk of misbehaviour while renting.

Imagine a 4-people booking, turning into an 8-people stay and degenerating into a 30-people party around the swimming pool.


The solution they bring is simple: once installed, the Party Squasher box detects devices emitting a wifi signal (phone, tablet, computer, etc.).

The solution the young startup is bringing is very simple and quick to set up:

  1. The box contains all you need (power supply, USB and ethernet cables)

  2. Connect the Party Squasher box to a USB port or a socket

  3. Connect it to your router or network port thanks to the provided cable

  4. Download the Android or iOS app

  5. Flash the QR code at the back of the box

  6. Follow the guide!

When creating your account, add your mobile number so that you can be alerted of possible misbehaviours in your housing.

Complete the last steps of the basic setup by indicating the surveillance zone -depending on the house and outdoors surface- so that the neighbours’ devices won’t be taken into account. This also allows setting up the limit from which the alert needs to be emitted.

Party Squasher has you covered: once the box is installed, you can modify those settings remotely for every rental, depending on the number of occupants.


Vacation rental owners and professionals can link an Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com or other platform calendar to each Party Squasher box -for example, you can export your iCal BookingSync calendar.

This advanced setup allows you to integrate your guest’s contact details directly into Party Squasher so that you can quickly contact them in case of an alert.


Wifi device manufacturers which don't produce mobile phones are not taken into account by Party Squasher. You can also indicate the wifi devices you have in your rental to sharpen the results (wifi speaker, TV, etc.).

But some of you may ask: what about private life? The startup itself advices you to indicate, in your welcome book, that a surveillance device is installed -explaining it doesn’t record any sound or image, of course.

Also, note that if the box is being unplugged, you’re alerted by text message ;)

The box can now be purchased in France. As a partner, BookingSync offers a 20€ discount with the code BOOKINGSYNC! Get it now!

To celebrate its launch in France, PartySquasher will be organising a presentation webinar in French this Friday (05/05) at 2pm CEST, animated by Guillaume de la Tour, BlueFox.io’s CEO. He will be answering your questions and introduce you to the advantages of this solution, as a vacation rental professional.

Go to this address on Friday, May 5th at 2pm to watch it: https://zoom.us/j/927553154


See you soon with PartySquasher and share your comments!

PriceLabs and BookingSync: How to access automatic dynamic pricing and minimum-stay rules

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Let’s introduce our brand new addition to the BookingSync App Center: PriceLabs, an awesome tool allowing you to access dynamic pricing and minimum-stay rules for your vacation rentals!

What’s PriceLabs?

PriceLabs is a revenue management solution dedicated to short-term and vacation rentals, and is available in all locations around the world. PriceLabs users access their dynamic pricing recommendations and automated minimum-stay rules through the innovative and easy-to-use platform.

Property managers who use PriceLabs save hours by automating last minute discounting rules, minimum stay rules, and orphan day stay and pricing rules. It is built for property managers with 1 to hundreds of properties. Streamlined dashboard, customization options, and responsive support team help you manage prices for your entire portfolio!

How to access PriceLabs revenue management tool

There’s nothing easier! You just need to create your PriceLabs account, and then connect your BookingSync listings, thanks to the PriceLabs app available on BookingSync, to receive their pricing recommendations.

Increase your vacation rental revenue by increasing and decreasing prices depending on seasons, future demand trends, events/holidays, day-of-week, etc, and updating it to your calendar daily!

PriceLabs says “Our data-driven pricing approach scans your market for historic and future supply and demand trends to automate pricing, while at the same time gives you many customization options to suit your needs. So no more worrying about the competition, or wrestling with the calendar for hours - we have your back!


Already a BookingSync client? Get the PriceLabs app from our App Center right now!

Dormis: a new way to list your properties

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Dormis is a vacation rental company started from Barcelona and now allows to rent and list properties all around the world. You can join the list of their property owners too!

Why choose Dormis?

Listing a property on the Dormis platform is very easy and quick.

Don’t worry about any hidden charges or annual contributions, as there aren’t any on Dormis. Listing is absolutely free! Service fees are taken from the guest’s down payment, representing 10% of the total booking cost.

Owners can choose between different payout options. The guests may pay in cash or by card upon arrival; you may set a 100% charge at the moment of booking or choose a down payment as a security deposit. Furthermore, many settings can be customised: setting up different rates for 4 guest types (adults, children up to 10 and 16, and babies), adding extra charges or season discounts.

More than 3.500 clients visit Dormis.com every month. Listing your property on the website will enhance your chances of getting more bookings! At the moment, the service is directed to Europe and the USA but is constantly improving its outreach.  


If your properties are already published on different platforms, you can use BookingSync’s iCal synchronization to avoid double booking while the calendars are updated automatically.

What’s Dormis’s vision?

Dormis care about both owners and guests and do their best to support them, and their property managers are always ready to answer your questions.

Dormis uses highly reliable encryption methods as high priority is given to security of either side. A smoothly running system tracks suspicious activity on the platform.Guests can only see a property manager’s or owner’s personal details after a booking is confirmed.

Interested in the platform? You can join the Dormis world too, and expand the tourists’ horizons providing accommodation in different corners of the planet! If you wish to test Dormis, you can connect via our partner RentalsUnited.

BookingSync devs recruitment: Whiteboards? No, thanks!

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BookingSync is proud to say we’re hiring without whiteboards: we only focus on your real-world technical skills!

What’s whiteboard recruitment?

Whiteboard is a metaphor used for interviews that are not focused on a candidate’s actual technical skills, but more on the interview skills or background in computer science. This solution is often used in IT.

Basically, during an interview, the potential candidate might be asked to implement an algorithm on a whiteboard: if you’re a developer yourself, you’ll know such a thing never happens in the actual job! Moreover, implementing such algorithms rarely happens in a real world scenario -unless someone is focusing more on computer science than delivering software.

What’s our approach?

At BookingSync, we want to focus on your real programming skills. We don’t want to lose (and make you lose) time on useless processes!

We strongly believe that the best approach for hiring good developers is starting with a take-home assignment which ideally would be similar to some real-world scenario that the potential developer will be working on. Indeed, we're a startup with a team located around the world. Every position we offer is remote, so what’s better than realising this test-assignment in real work conditions? Such assignment shouldn’t be too much time-consuming, but needs to be complex enough to give developers a chance to prove themselves.


The next step would be a technical interview which would include a discussion about the take-home assignment and the decisions made by the developer when developing it and also some open-ended questions. We don’t think that the questions like “what is the time complexity of binary search algorithm?” bring much value - unless the developer will be writing similar algorithms, such questions barely give any feedback if the person is a good candidate for the job or not. Even if it turns out that some developer is not familiar with time complexity, it won’t take much time to learn it. However, learning skills that are required for delivering high-quality software take a lot of time. That’s why asking about things such as Test-Driven Development, The Rails Way vs. Hexagonal Architecture are much more valuable than yes-or-no questions or questions about things that can be quickly googled. We also highly value willingness to learn more and master current skills, that’s why questions about some recent books or blog posts a developer has read and the areas of particular interest (performance optimization, architecture etc.) are important to us.

If you’re a developer and looking for new job offers, BookingSync may just be your next career opportunity: Full-stack, Ember, Rails… Apply for one of our offers and join us in our adventure!

LunarBnB & BookingSync: Ready to fly to the Moon?

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Yes, you read that right!

We’ve been working hard on that ambitious new project for a few years now: thanks to LunarBnB and BookingSync, you can now spend your holidays on the Moon!

LunarBnB: towards new horizons?

We’ve always wanted to offer our clients innovative services, this is why we’ve been working for a long time on how we could stretch the limits of travel and vacation rental.

After collaborating with several startups specialised in space travel, we’ve created LunarBnB: a true space colony, settled on the Moon and entirely run by BookingSync! We had to adapt our software to particular research, equipment and space-time criteria. For example, we had to make sure the oxygen level in the accomodation would suit the number of travelers, but also paying great attention to check-in and check-out times, depending on lightspeed.


Space travel has been enjoying a surge of popularity since a few years, thanks to companies such as SpaceX or Virgin Galactic. Stays on Mars or the Moon, travels around the Earth, technological advances allow us, not only to dream, but to truly prepare ourselves for a borderless future!

Be a part of the LunarBnB experience!

Getting to the facts: how does it all work?

After receiving a psychological and physical preparation to the space travel (and if you pass them), you’ll be ready to travel with LunarBnB. Once prepared, note you’ll need a 3-day space travel before to actually land on the Moon.


A Moon colony will be set up in order to welcome our travelers, for up to 12 people. Whether you’re traveling alone, with your family or some friends, we put once again your comfort on the first plan: an indoor vegetable garden for an healthy and diversified diet, access to several viewing decks inside the colony, lunar trips with our lunar “buggy”... You’ll be remembering those holidays for sure!

Ready to take a leap into the unknown? We'll soon be announcing when you can start signing up to our new LunarBnB experience, but meanwhile, stay tuned and follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and visit the official lunarbnb.com website!

Make your guests happy with a few books

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Creating an appropriate listing, adding a few pictures highlighting your property, bringing a real identity are the keys to your rental success, but that’s not all!

Travelers now want to feel at home, even across the world.

  

A few tricks can help you create a unique atmosphere in your property and allow guests to forget they’re renting a vacation house. Your goal is to create a home away from home and as you could see above, our first trick involves sharing a few books with your travelers.

Why sharing books?

Discover how a few books can enhance your guests’ experience and their comments.

This tip is cheap and easy to set up: we all have a bookstore or a book fair nearby! (If that’s not the case, you can still order some used books online).

Providing a few books in your rentals will help you bond with your guests: they want to know the local life, which means getting to know you a bit more. That’s also a great opportunity for them to relax and feel comfortable in your rental. After all, what’s better than a good book after a long day of walk or visits?

Which books should you get?

  • Local and international classic books, but also best sellers: keep an eye on books ranked by Amazon! Depending on countries, you can check which ones are most sold and which ones are international successes. Ever heard about this famous book A Year In Provence, by Peter Mayle? Provide a few copies in your property and your guests will be more than happy to discover some of them!

  • You can also subscribe to a local and a TV magazine.

  • Add a few regional guides to your collection, in several languages: French, English, German, Spanish and Italian, for example.

  • Finally, you could also suggest your travelers to leave one or more books behind after they leave, and ask them to add a note for the future guests. This is one more occasion to receive positive comments and attract more travelers who enjoy this spirit of sharing.


There are a thousand ways you can satisfy your guests and being on holiday is just the perfect moment to start reading a good book!


A few words with High Park Barns

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A couple of weeks ago, we introduced you to the charming Nantucket Retreats properties in Massachusetts, USA. For this second part, we’re crossing the ocean and taking you to the wonderful region of Devon, UK. Nestled between the Cornwalls and both the Bristol and English Channel, this peaceful yet typical region is a true haven of peace for anyone who’s keen to discover the United Kingdom.


Hi there, could you start by introducing yourself in a few words?

We’re Paul and Anne-Louise White. We moved to North Devon in April 2014 with our sons; Alexander and Elliot and their two dogs: Monty and Bertie. Previously, we had lived in Dubai for 20 years so it was a bit of a change! We wanted to do holiday barns so that we could spend more time as a family, as our boys are only 6 and 4 years old.

What kind of rentals do you manage?

We moved into the property in April 2014 and have spent the last three years renovating the barns. We describe ourselves as being in the perfect location as we are in the countryside yet only 3kms from the beaches of North Devon. We now have 7 holiday rentals ranging from a one bedroom barn to a 7 bedroom country house. All have been finished to a very high standard.


What's your best memory as a host?

All our guests rave about Paul's home made scones that we include in the welcome gift basket. We like our guests to start their holiday with a homemade cream tea. We have had chefs staying in our properties so it does put Paul under pressure to make sure his scones are good!


In which house you manage would you like to spend your next holidays?

We always spend a couple of nights in all our properties just so we can make sure that they are fully equipped and comfortable for our guests.  We have been so busy with our holiday rentals that we haven't had time to think about a holiday!

    

What makes High Park Barns so special?

We made the decision to install a wood pellet fed bio mass boiler. All the properties are heated by the bio mass. We also built an indoor swimming pool and have a 6 seater hot tub for our guests to enjoy. The pool is heated by our bio mass boiler and so is at 30 degrees - we like it warm!

We have 14 acres of grounds and our guests are welcome to enjoy the gardens as well as the private lake. We live on site so are always on hand to assist our guests with any questions, e.g. where is the best place to walk their dog or which restaurant would we recommend.

    

- Paul and Anne-Louise, High Park Barns owners.

You can also follow them on Facebook!

A few words with Nantucket Retreats

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2017 just begun and among our New Year’s Resolutions, was our wish to give YOU a chance to speak and share your experience as a vacation rental owner or manager.

Because managing holiday properties is more than just a job, it is a unique commitment towards your guests.

Let’s introduce this shared experience on vacation rentals with Nantucket Retreats, a collection of houses situated on the island of Nantucket, Massachussets, USA.

Hi Kenan, could you start by introducing yourself in a few words?

In 2004, I returned to Nantucket to help a friend fix up a rental property. A visiting family arrived next door, and to their dismay the housekeepers had not finished cleaning the house. My friend and I felt so bad, that we went over and finished cleaning it for them. Afterwards, over a few cocktails and laughs, we talked about the rental process and their experience.

The entire process was very impersonal. You arrive to the island, pick up a packet with keys, directions, island guides and miscellaneous sales brochures. You were now on your own to find the property, figure out where everything is in the house and how the mechanics work.

I thought to myself, what a crazy way to run a hospitality business – This is lodging and lodging is hospitality, not just real estate. I knew I could provide a better service and experience for visitors.

Nantucket Retreats emerged to provide a complete vacation service. We begin by finding the ideal location, then help to plan the perfect vacation, from event tickets, dinner reservations, grocery shopping and anything else you may need. When you arrive on the island, we meet you at the home to acquaint you to the property and answer any questions. If you need a ride, we will even pick you up! Enjoy your undisturbed visit, but know we are here when you need us. Just like a hotel concierge.

The vacation rental business has changed since we first began. More and more homes are operated in a similar fashion and even the real estate agents are offering more services. But one thing stands clear with Nantucket Retreats – yes, we are a licensed real estate company, but our focus is on our guest’s vacation experience and not selling them a home.

At Nantucket Retreats, we specialize in vacation rentals. So when your travel plans include Nantucket, I hope you will consider staying with us, and letting our family take care of your family!


What kind of rentals do you manage?

We manage 6 properties on Nantucket. Mostly larger single family homes, and a couple of townhouses.


What's your best memory as a host?

I've had a lot of great memories over the years, which is what makes this business so rewarding.

When someone only gets a few weeks off a year and they have chosen you as their host, it’s critical to make sure you provide an exceptional experience. The most recent was a couple on their honeymoon who had never been to Nantucket before. This was more than just their typical vacation and we did everything we could to make sure everything was as close to perfect as possible. The personal email I received after they returned home, thanking us for a truly amazing honeymoon was so rewarding. This is what keeps me motivated every day.   They have also rebooked their first anniversary vacation with us for this year as well!


In which house you manage would you like to spend your next holidays?

Some of our guests prefer larger homes, however, I prefer a smaller quaint cottage with spectacular views. I would choose The Cottage, which is a small 2-bedroom quintessential Nantucket cottage that overlooks Sesachacha Pond. It is just a couple of minutes to walk down to the beach to go sailing and I would enjoy sitting on the front porch, watching people walking by as I sipped on a cocktail. There is also a private patio out back to grill, have a family dinner or just be alone and read a book. To me, it's a peaceful, cozy setting and this is where I would choose to stay for a truly relaxing vacation.

What makes Nantucket Retreats so special?

Our guests are reserving more than just a vacation rental. They are reserving a vacation experience. Our mission is to pamper our guests with casual luxury accommodations and exceptional guest services. In order to fulfill our mission, we aim to better understand our guests and their needs.

-Kenan, Nantucket Retreats manager.


You can also find them on Facebook!

Optimise your pricing strategy automatically with Beyond Pricing and BookingSync

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We’re proudly introducing you to our latest partnership with BeyondPricing: starting today, access their dynamic pricing solution, adjusted for each of your rentals!

Why using Beyong Pricing?

Beyond Pricing is the world's most popular revenue management and dynamic pricing software for vacation rentals. Driven by big-data and predictive analytics, Beyond Pricing dynamically prices over 60,000 listings in 350 markets worldwide, optimizing prices based on changes in supply and demand. Based in San Francisco, Beyond Pricing has priced over $200 million in bookings. The company previously raised $1.5 million in venture capital from top-tier investors including Resolute Ventures, Social Leverage and Structure Capital.

How to access Beyond Pricing with BookingSync

After creating a Beyond Pricing account, users can easily link their BookingSync account and instantly receive 365 days of optimized prices based on billions of data points but customized for their listing and their neighborhood.  Beyond Pricing leverages big data predictive analytics and machine learning to set prices based on seasonality, day of week, major local events, hard-to-book days and last-minute availability.  

When it comes to pricing, one tip Beyond Pricing has for owners and managers is to not get booked up too early.  Often, people are excited to be fully-booked months in advance but in many markets, that’s a clear sign you’re underpriced.  Beyond Pricing helps you ensure you’re booked at exactly the right pace with its proprietary Health Score measure so you can make the most from your listings.

declares Beyond Pricing’s CEO, Ian McHenry, who previously helped the world’s largest hotels and airlines with dynamic pricing and revenue management. Beyond Pricing brings the same sophistication to vacation rentals.


Already a BookingSync client? Don’t wait and install the Beyond Pricing app from our App Center!

BookingSync and the Esperanza community

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In 2015 Sébastien Grosjean, BookingSync co-founder, travelled to Panama in order to make his commitment towards charity a reality.

Hello Sébastien, could you introduce yourself and talk a bit about BookingSync’s commitment for charity?

Hello, my name’s Sébastien, co-founder of BookingSync.

Before to start working on this company, I had already been working in the vacation rental sector for more than 10 years. But as the years passed, I wanted to do something more rewarding, something that could mix my experience in new technologies and vacation rental, in order to develop both.

Thanks to BookingSync, we can change the way vacation rental is addressed but also make profits which can later be partially redistributed to several organizations or associations (whether they focus on the environment, social rights, etc.).

Our commitment towards charity is constitutive of our development, which is one of our investors’ motivations. Each one of them supports and encourages us in that process so that, eventually, we could redistribute from 10 to 50% of our profits.

As we are still in the launching phase, we’re not making profits yet but we were still looking for a way to materialize our humanitarian engagement.

I then went to Casco Viejo in Panama, on April, 18th and 19th, 2015 with Matt Landau from VRMB.com.

Why Casco Viejo?

Matt Landau is an important stakeholder in the vacation rental sector, especially in Panama. I decided to join him as he was already there. He is very involved in the community and I thought it would be a real opportunity for me to receive some of his wise advice.


Matt had offered a vacation rental consulting workshop to those who donated to his foundation, Esperanza San Felipe, and Microsoft was willing to “Double the Donation”, which allowed Esperanza to receive twice more. So thanks Matt (and Microsoft) for making this possible!

What does Esperanza work on?

Esperanza, “Hope” in Spanish, works towards rehabilitating former gang members. The association allows them to be psychologically and socially monitored, educates their wives and children, provides them with food and health goods (such as baby diapers, hygiene products, etc.).

In exchange of those products and services, the members work for the community and are paid in “Buenas Obras”, “Good Deeds” in Spanish. This alternative currency gives them access to everything they need to purchase in the association’s market.

The association also encourages them to develop their own business, such as seafood delivery, food service, etc.
For now, 4 out of 5 gangs have been rehabilitated in Casco Viejo. The remaining members even come by themselves to the association in order to benefit from its services and care.

If you had to choose one word to describe this experience, which one would it be?

Hope / Esperanza

Life in Casco Viejo has been marred with violence for a long period of time, especially because of the gangs. They used to represent the only possible future to its inhabitants but thanks to Esperanza, they can now consider living a better life. Following the first gang rehabilitation experiences made by Esperanza, it's now other gangs asking for help to get a fresh start. It is amazing to see how, in as little as 5 years, rival gangs could pass from shooting each other to shaking hands for a brighter future.

What’s your next project?

We’re working with Arndt Soret, CEO and co-founder of the association Humanium, which fights for children’s rights (fighting against violence, food distribution, etc.) especially in Rwanda.

Arndt is also BookingSync’s lawyer and he works in the field directly for the association. We aim to develop an app in our interface which will be dedicated to Humanium so that the BookingSync users can define a certain percentage of their profits to give to the association.

We will donate this app very soon, as it is still under development.


You can support Esperanza and its missions too!

BookingSync Integrates with Properly’s Turnover Management Tool to Simplify Cleaning and Operations

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BookingSync is thrilled to integrate a new solution for cleaning and turnover management for our customers. Our new partner, Properly, lets hosts and managers use text and visual checklists to share instructions with cleaners, schedule all changeover services, and easily manage the entire changeover process in one place.

This integration simplifies everything related to the turnover:

  • Show your cleaners your exact hospitality and staging touches with a visual checklist

  • Schedule cleanings and simplify your invoicing process with suppliers

  • Stay on top of progress in real time and get proof the changeover was completed to your standards through Properly’s integrated photo capture

To get started:

  1. Create a free account on Properly. BookingSync customers benefit from a free 30-day trial on Properly, so you can test the tool at no expense.

  2. Connect Properly in your BookingSync account.

  1. Create checklists for your cleaners and home service providers on Properly. Properly checklists ensure turnovers are managed to your requirements. These checklists use your BookingSync listing photos, so your cleaners can see exactly what guests expect.
  2. Schedule turnover jobs with your cleaners in Properly thanks to the BookingSync interface. Properly lets you monitor cleaners’ progress in real time. Their photo capture tool lets you oversee the work of your cleaners at any time and provide a record of listing condition after each guest checkout (critical if you have damages). Thanks to the BookingSync integration, changeover scheduling is simple.

FetchMyGuest, your vacation rentals’ marketing partner

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BookingSync and FetchMyGuest are associating their offers, for you to enjoy a broader, more personalized service: you now have the option to automate your marketing strategy!


FetchMyGuest’s platform is open and flexible; you can access it directly from BookingSync’s API (Application Programming Interface).

What services do FetchMyGuest offer?

  • A synchronised messaging service: your clients’ requests are handled separately, depending on their demands and preferences

  • Emailing and marketing campaigns management: send personalised info to your guests depending on their geographic area and booking cycles

  • A greater visibility: distribute your properties on the FindRentals platform, a member of FetchMyGuest’s Distribution Network and pay no booking fees!

  • Automatic emailing campaigns follow up

  • Stay alerted: you receive an alert every time a traveler is showing interest in one of your properties

  • Provide a personalised experience to each one of your clients thanks to a High Touch Brand Marketing Outreach

  • Lead management: manage, organize and optimize each contact

  • Guest retention: improve your customer loyalty and build a positive Brand relationship with your potential customers, throughout the sales cycle

  • An intelligent targeting of your needs and expectations, while giving you a full access to reports and insights on your actions

What are the concrete benefits of those services?

Integrating the FetchMyGuest platform will allow you to increase your bookings conversion rate. Improve your brand image and reputation while boosting your reservations.

FetchMyGuest allows you to keep total control over your customer experience and to get more organised.

With FetchMyGuest and BookingSync, save more time and book even more!

Yann Bricombert, A Free Owner - Interview of a vacation rental pro

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We’ve recently talked with Yann Bricombert, vacation rental owner and author of the blog Propriétaire Libre (A Free Owner) after he organized his last contest: the Vacation Rental Trophies, which took place between November, 28th and December, 6th.


You can read the full interview, in French, here.

Bye 2016, Hello 2017 : Our Year In Review

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Another year has come to an end, let’s look back together on 2016!

What happened at BookingSync this past year? This article will give you a better insight on what our teams worked on.

Exchanges

  • Vacation Rental Management Association Seminar: VRMA’s Europe Seminar took place from March, 6th to 8th in Barcelona, which featured: meetings with professionals of the industry, exchanges and presentation of our new integrations (FetchMyGuest).

  • Ember Thalassa in Greece: we provided Ember’s developers with two villas in Greece, on the Island of Lefkada, in May and October to thank them for their investment - Ember is a Javascript framework.

  • BookingSync x Vacation Rental World Summit: the 3rd edition of the Vacation Rental World Summit took place on October, 29th and 30th, in Barcelona. It allowed us to know better the main actors of the vacation rental industry and to freely exchange ideas with them.

  • HomeAway event in Arcachon, France: This meeting is the first one to have been dedicated to vacation rental agencies and independent property managers. Organised on December, 8th, it allowed us to meet professionals of the sector and introduce our vision: Save Time and Book More, as a partner of the event.

What’s new

  • BookingSync and Airbnb are now official partners: in July, we officially introduced our partnership with the community rental platform Airbnb. It allowed us to offer an advanced synch thanks to a direct access to the programming interface.

  • Webinars (almost) every day: our Relatonship Officer, Maud, settles webinars in French and English every Monday, Wednesday, Thursday and Friday. They are accessible to any property manager/vacation rental owner interested in our software. Take your chance to ask your questions live!

  • Instant booking with HomeAway is now set up on our platform

  • 3 new “Channel Managers”: Outswitch, BookingPal and RentalsUnited. Dependind on your rentals catalogue, you’ll be able to distribute them on the most relevant and effective portals in order to maximise your occupancy rate and profitability.

  • 2 new partners: FetchMyGuest and CurbAppeal - Listing Camera

  • Tax management with billing date

  • “Instant booking” on our clients’ websites

  • Our Website app interface has been entirely rebuilt and translated into French. Managing your BookingSync website will get even smoother.

  • New apps: Notifications centre, Bills, Owners and Zapier to help you synch your services.

New co-workers

The BookingSync team has grown in 2016:

  • Romain: in charge of the Marketing and Happiness Strategy

  • Reinforcement of our customer care service: Delia, Aline, Ella and Emilie

  • Marine: in charge of social networks and our blog

  • 5 new developers: Julien, Daniel, Roman, Leonid and Mateusz

  • David: in charge of the design

Babies and weddings!

  • Florian, our co-founder, is now a daddy: welcome to our world, little Hugo!

  • Marine and Emilie got married (but not together!)


What about you, what will you remember from 2016?

Your HomeAway payments with BookingSync

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As a vacation rental professional, you know that offering an instant booking option is crucial if you wish to get the best ranking possible. HomeAway says that “listings offering online booking receive on average 110% more bookings than the ones who don’t”.

You can set up instant booking thanks to HomeAway’s partner payment solution (HolidayRentPayment in the UK) - name may vary from one country to another, and it is powered by Yapstone.


Payments are transferred one day after the travelers’ arrival and are credited to your bank account under 5 to 7 days - time may vary depending on banks - and transaction fees will apply.

Let’s talk about European residents, for example:

  • 1.7% for Visa, Mastercard, Electron and credit cards that were issued in the same European country as the owner

  • 2.2% for Visa, Mastercard, Electron and credit cards that were issued in the Euro zone and the UK

  • 2.7% for Visa, Mastercard, Electron and credit cards that were issued outside the Euro zone and the UK

As a BookingSync client, you can use the payment gateway that is already used on your account for your HomeAway bookings, ensuring full transparency and security!

Here is how to access the feature:

  • Having a BookingSync account and activating the instant payment option

  • Choosing and activating a payment gateway (Paybox, Stripe, Braintree, VacayPay, except for PayPal Express)

  • Having a professional HomeAway account (manager) and at least 5 properties to manage

This new addition offers many advantages:

  • The booking process remains the same and travelers complete their bookings on the HomeAway website, as usual

  • Data exchanges are kept simple and secure thanks to a certified connection

  • Bookings, deposits, balances and contracts are automatically updated on the BookingSync platform

  • You can benefit from reduced bank transaction fees - for example, up to 0.4% via Paybox if your company is based in France and if payments are made with a card that was issued in Europe

BookingSync’s platform and property hosting meet the highest standards in terms of data security, which were established by the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS).

As of today, we are one of the few PMS (Property Management System) that offer a complete and secure integration for your HomeAway payments!

Snapchat for Vacation Rental

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With this new article, we carry on introducing social networks for vacation rental. Today, we’d like to feature one of the most recent creations in the professional digital communication world: Snapchat.

Facebook and Instagram are two of the most famous networks and form the basis of your online presence - in addition to your website and other booking platforms.

Are some of your rentals especially designed for a younger audience (small apartment in a city center, technological equipment, floors)? Here’s some good news: you can use Snapchat to develop this customer base.

This network is way less developed in the vacation rental industry, so grab this opportunity for you to make an impact on your potential travelers!

With more than 150 million daily active users in 2015, its market is very promising.

What’s Snapchat?

Snapchat is a pictures and short videos sharing app, for iOS and Android. Contrary to other social networks, Snapchat’s shares are only available for a limited period of time: from 1 to 10 seconds, maximum. Then, after 24 hours, they’re being automatically deleted. Short-lived marketing is at its peak!

It’s now up to you to share less substantial information, that can be less formal than on Facebook, for example.

What to share on Snapchat

Young people under 30 are their target #1: keep this in mind when sharing a video or a picture!

  • Create geofilters that can be available within your property’s perimeter: a low-cost ad, animated by your guests!

  • Share time-limited coupons, especially for Snapchat. Encourage your visitors to book ASAP, and ensure the best return on investment.

  • A real-time window on your vacation rental: on Snapchat, there are no Photoshop, no professional photos. Speak directly to your audience, add some funny filters, write a message with your finger, no need to get the perfect shot! That’s even what makes it so special: capturing the instant. Picture your rental, its attractive features, its visitors - with their consent, and why not asking them to make a short testimony?

Highlight the local events, what can be visited in its surroundings… Anything that could interest a younger audience!

Used with the other main networks, Snapchat can help you make the difference and stay in your potential travelers’ minds, especially if you wish to reach a younger target, on a less conventional and funnier way!