News archives

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!