News archives

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...