News archives

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!

If you would like to know more about PriceLabs, watch the following video:

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!