News archives

A new era for BookingSync

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Today is a new chapter for BookingSync.

I'm Sebastien, the CEO and Founder of BookingSync and I would like to tell you a story…

where everything started…

It's back on 6th June 2003, and around midnight, my parents receive a phone call.
On the other side of the line, a lady tells them that the life of their child is in danger…and we don't know where he is. At this moment, as any parent you can imagine their entire world collapsed. Everything was at stake, nothing else relevant.

To put back in context, luckily they already had very successful vacation rental businesses they started about 20 years ago in France. First in the Alps buying lands, building chalets and renting them. Further down the road, they also replicated the same in south of France in Provence: they were able to buy lands, build some properties and rehabilitate some others, and again put them in short-term rentals.
Luckily, these two businesses were very successful and they had the financial freedom and the time to be able to do whatever it took to save my life, which of course I'm eternally grateful for.

From there, a couple years forward they started a new project in Greece and when they were about to launch it, they realized that the main acquisition channel which was Tourism Offices in France sadly didn't exist in Greece!

At this point, we started to think about the outcome, what is the solution, how can we fix that problem?
We realized that the need was websites: you needed to advertise on different platforms as we know them today such as Airbnb,, Expedia and so much more…
My parents were not very tech savvy, I was lucky that I had done my studies in IT. As you understood, this business that saved my life, along with the love of my parents that built this activity, and was behind everything that made me here today, there was no other option for me than going there and helping them!
I flew to Greece, stopped what I was doing and came to help out with their business. I quickly realized that updating calendars by clicking on buttons every day, because you have to mark your calendar daily, or in some cases twice a day per listing, to say that “yes my calendar is up to date” would put us back on top of the site search ranking.
Yet, I was living in a paradise, it was amazing, beautiful greek islands in front of me, very nice landscape, my family was around…but i was clicking buttons all day long!

Very quickly, I automated the process, and that's what became BookingSync, the first channel manager of the vacation rental industry.

Few years later, we grew way beyond this: in September 2021 we were nominated by Airbnb, and Expedia as the world's best connectivity partner! The only one to have the highest level of partnership with the three of them in the whole hospitality industry, and that's an amazing job achieved by our entire team. Thanks a lot to our customers and partners who made this possible.

Now, as you understood, BookingSync is way more than just synchronizing bookings today: we also help with guest communication, whether that’s centralizing everything in one place or automating your communication with your own brand, we also help with payments by collecting them and ensuring there is no fraud. We also help with increasing your revenue, in average around 40% more. That's a lot of tooling that we have built, a lot of services that are still under the name of BookingSync.
BookingSync was a brand name that was created from what we do, which is synchronizing bookings, yet it doesn't fit anymore with what we're doing now…

That's why today, I'm very happy to announce that we are renaming to a brand called "Smily”.

Why Smily?
Because we transition not only from “what we do” but “why” we are doing it.

Why Smily?
Because we believe in sharing smiles: between a traveler and an owner, a traveler and a property manager, a property manager and an owner, within your teams, with family,  friends, within yourself… It's really why we exist.

We want to make sure that every day you share smiles and you enjoy life so fully that you can thrive and enjoy. That's why we exist and why we want to be your partner.
That's why Smily, as we're going to name it for every single product that we have, is going to be the driver behind anything we do.
It's already the case but that brand name will nurture and keep us aligned with what we care about, why we do what we do and why we want to be in business with you.
We look forward to working with you under that new name, Smily, and to keep learning how we can make your life even better every day, how we can ensure that you enjoy life to the fullest, how we can ensure that the travelers that come to your properties have an outstanding guest experience!
Thank you for joining us in this new era, Smily, and we look forward to helping you even further.

Sébastien Grosjean
Founder & CEO

Veepee voyage lance sa catégorie Location Saisonnière en partenariat avec BookingSync !

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L’équipe BookingSync est ravie d'être le partenaire technologique de Veepee voyage (ex Vente-Privée) pour la création de sa catégorie Location saisonnière et d’offrir une nouvelle plateforme prometteuse à ses clients avec : la plateforme de réservation Veepee voyage by BookingSync et Smily !
C'est pour vous une superbe opportunité d'accéder à un canal de distribution directe et à une audience de qualité grâce aux 27 millions de membres Veepee en France.

La location saisonnière et Veepee voyage

La location saisonnière est une toute nouvelle ligne de produits chez Veepee voyage, développée en réponse à une forte attente de ses membres et qui est le parfait complément aux lignes de produits déjà disponibles sur Veepee voyage : séjours, résidences, clubs, hôtels, Parcs de Loisir.
Veepee voyage souhaite couvrir chaque territoire et chaque type de biens : ville, campagne, montagne et bord de mer en proposant des biens de qualité disponibles toute l’année avec un service irréprochable aux membres. La confiance et la fidélité de ses membres se basent sur la décote et la qualité des offres, critères pour lesquels Veepee voyage a choisi de faire confiance à BookingSync/Smily et à ses Property Managers !

Les points forts de ce partenariat pour nos Property Managers

  • Partenariat technique avec BookingSync pour vous garantir une utilisation simple et commune à vos autres canaux. Aucun risque de double réservation.
  • La force marketing de Veepee voyage : vos propriétés seront mises en avant par des bannières thématiques sur le site Veepee voyage qui redirigeront les membres vers la thématique correspondante sur le site Veepee by BookingSync (par exemple “Bord de Mer”, “Bretagne”...).
  • Le client devient votre client direct après la réservation. Les coordonnées du membre Veepee voyage vous sont partagées pour chaque nouvelle réservation.
  • Vous encaissez directement le paiement, via la passerelle de paiement reliée à votre compte BookingSync et générez ainsi de la trésorerie.
  • Les frais Veepee voyage sont à la performance. Vous ne payez pas de frais fixes ni de coût au clic.
  • Vous maîtrisez votre ROI sur le canal Veepee voyage avec une totale connaissance des coûts d'acquisition.
  • Vos conditions de réservation sont présentées et validées par le client avant la réservation (n'oubliez pas que des conditions d'annulation flexibles semblent être un critère toujours important pour les voyageurs)

Le partenariat est à ce jour uniquement lancé sur le site français de Veepee voyage  mais il est prévu de l’étendre aux autres sites européens de Veepee voyage.

Vous souhaitez commencer à promouvoir vos propriétés sur le site Veepee voyage by BookingSync ?

Consultez notre page de manuel pour connaître la procédure :)

Nous espérons que cette solution vous permettra de générer de nouvelles réservations et de faire connaître vos biens aux 27 millions de français membres de Veepee voyage !
Nous remercions Veepee voyage de la confiance accordée et nous vous assurons être à vos côtés pour faire de cette reprise une réussite suite à cette période extrêmement difficile.

Prenez soin de vous,

Airbnb & CJUE : what is the future for property owners summoned by the City of Paris?

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The City of Paris may be celebrating victory against property owners summoned over their seasonal rental activity following the judgement delivered by the Court of Justice of the European Union on 22nd September 2020; however the battle is far from being won. 
Under the judgement of 22 September 2020, the European Court retained that “A national regulation authorising rental in a repetitive manner of a premises destined for habitation for short durations to occasional customers [...] is compliant to the laws of the Union as long as it is justified by an overriding reason relating to the public interest and in keeping with the fight against the shortage of housing destined for rental.

In other words, with this judgement the European Court has validated in principle the national French legislation in the way in which it frames seasonal rental of secondary residences. However, it still invites the Court of Cassation to adjudicate on the merit of the parisien compensation mechanism implemented by the City of Paris

At the same time, the Court is also inviting all national jurisdictions to examine more closely the conformity of compensation plans put in place by their affected communes in terms of the European criteria that have been emphasised by its decision.
In order to better understand, it is necessary to briefly highlight the context of the seisin of the European Court, before presenting an analysis, clarified by the fixed conditions of this seisin.

What are the regulations that apply for tourist rentals?

First of all, it is useful to recall the applicable regulation for seasonal rentals in France (règlementation applicable en matière de location saisonnière).

In Paris and in each of the three departments that make up the parisian suburbs (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine- Saint- Denis et Val-de-Marne), as well as in towns of more than 200,000 inhabitants, a property of which the usage is assigned as habitation that intends to be used for seasonal rentals must follow the procedure for a change of usage, which is subject to authorisation by the mayor of the place where the property is situated, provided that it does not constitute the primary residence of the renter. This authorisation may be subject to compensation (Paris, Bordeaux, Nice…), in accordance with article L 631-7 of the code of construction and habitation.

In the event of a violation of this regulation, the renter risks being summoned by the City of Paris and sentenced up to the sum of 50,000€, in addition to a financial penalty, in accordance with article L 651-2 of the above-mentioned code.

What is the subject of the dispute that the European Court has adjudicated?

In this particular case, it is about two separate companies who offered one of their studios situated in Paris for short term rental on the platform Airbnb, without having followed the procedure for a change of usage. It is under these conditions that they were summoned by the City of Paris and were condemned to pay a fine of the sum of 40,000€

After having been rejected in an appeal of their request, the applicants filed for an appeal in front of the court of cassation with the motive that the Appeal Court had violated the principle of primacy of european law.

It is in this context that the court of cassation, in a judgement on 15th November 2018, RG n° 17-26.158, deferred the sentence and summoned the Court of Justice of the European Union to adjudicate on the compatibility of the national regulation laid down by article L 631-7 of the CCH to the european directive n°2006/13 governing the free movement of services.

The European Court finally gave its verdict on 22 September 2020

This article was written by the lawyer Lorène Derhy, specialized in Vacation rental industry.

[NEW PARTNER - Webinar] - Improve your own brand visibility and get more direct bookings with Metricool!

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More than ever before, we want to help you increase the traffic to your own website and get more direct bookings!

Different methods and tools exist for this but one great option is online advertisement through your social networks and digital campaigns!

Managing this is not an easy task and it requires some skills to make sure you target the right audience, at the right moment and in the right place.

Today we are very happy to announce our new partnership with a company which can help you to improve and boost your online presence > Metricool! You will find more details below on the webinar we organize with them on Tuesday October 6th.

What is Metricool?

Metricool is a social network management and analytics tool. It allows analyzing, managing and measuring your contents and digital advertising campaigns on a single site.

Simply connect your social media accounts (Facebook, Google, Instagram, LinkedIn…) as well as your website and blog to their dashboard and you will benefit from the following features:

  • Analysis of your community,your website and content performance in interactive and visual graphs and tables (detailed information about the persons you will target, engagement measure…)

  • Content management (plan your posts based on Metricool’s recommendations and publish simultaneously from a single platform)

  • Social media strategy (competitors’ networks analysis)

  • Communication management (reply to your customers in real time thanks to the sync of all direct messages and reactions to your publications in one place)

  • Ad Campaigns: Create, analyze and manage your ad campaigns from one place.

  • Drive Traffic to your site from Instagram 

  • Automated and custom reports

By working on your online presence you will not only increase your visibility but you will also  attract guests who correspond to your properties, since they will have been reached by your post!

Their dashboard is available in both English and Spanish (reports are also available in French, italian, german and more languages) and a live chat is available on their dashboard to ask any questions to their support.

I worked in Marbella in the Real Estate business (Holiday Rentals) for many years and as an agent, this is really interesting as we always needed to publish on Social Media all the listings, we also need to do Facebook Ads…” says Pablo who is now working at Metricool!

As part of our new  partnership, Metricool have decided to grant a 30 day free trial to all BookingSync users. To benefit from this offer, you need to add their app on your BookingSync account, click the app and sign up on this page to create your account. Just click the Become Premium banner, fill your information and add the discount code  to benefit from a premium account for 30 days (don't hesitate to reach out to our support team to get your promo code)! You can then start connecting your social media and explore the great features of Metricool!

Want to start boosting your branding and increasing your direct bookings? 

> Install the App

Metricool Live Webinar

> Watch the webinar

We hope that this tool will help you to make the most of your social media presence and get even more direct bookings!

​Don't hesitate to reach out to or to us if you have any questions.

Take care,

Audrey - and the BookingSync team :) 

[NEW PARTNER - WEBINAR]- Easy and safe access to your properties thanks to Nuki Smart Locks!

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We are today very happy to announce our new partnership with Smart Locks provider, Nuki !

Installing a Smart Lock on your properties’ doors will allow you to provide your guests with access to the property remotely and therefore give them autonomy and flexibility to get into their accomodation.  

No need to be on site any more, managing accesses will be done in a secure and automated way. Some travelers might also appreciate the fact that you offer a 0-touch check-in process and you can still control who can get into your property.

What is Nuki?

Nuki is an Austrian company offering different kinds of smart products to replace the classical key system of a door. 

Here are the main advantages of Nuki:

  • Easy retrofitting: Mount your Smart Lock over the existing cylinder and key. The installation takes less than 3 minutes and is done without screws or drilling.

  • Smart keys: Virtual keys will be assigned to your guests (they will be able to open the door with their smartphone via the Nuki app or by using the code sent via a BookingSync notification). Keys can be set to be used over a period of time, or indefinitely.

  • A secure home: Keep track of who locked your door, when and whether it’s securely locked.

Small tip > the Keypad Combo multipackis probably the most appropriate for your vacation rental business as it provides you with a Smart Lock 2.0 to install on your door, a Bridge to be able to control your smart lock remotely from the Nuki web App and a Keypad for your guest to access the property without using their smartphone (quite useful if they don’t have battery any more or are not used to downloading applications).

Want to ease, secure and automate the way you give travelers access to your property? 

Install the App

Nuki Live Webinar

You will find here the link to the webinar organized on September 24th 2020 where the Nuki team introduce their products and explain you how they can ease and secure access to your properties!

Want to learn more about the integration with Nuki?

Check our dedicated manual page

We hope that this product will help you to offer a smooth and 0-touch check-in process to your guests, while saving you time and securing your properties.

​Don't hesitate to reach out to or to us if you have any questions.

[NEW PARTNER-WEBINAR]- Manage full guest check-in procedures online with CheKin!

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We know that proceeding with your guest verifications can be very complex due to regulations that are constantly evolving and depending on your local authorities. Moreover, your guests might really appreciate a fully online check-in process, which will not only save you time but also avoid physical contact for checking your travelers in!

Therefore, in order to address these problems, we are today very pleased to announce our new partner CheKin (don't miss out our co-organized webinar this Thursday September 10th - see details at the end of this email)!

What is CheKin?

CheKin is a software solution for guest registration. They have developed technology to automate the guest identification and legal obligations to provide a frictionless check-in experience for your travelers.

Using CheKin will allow you to automate and delegate the management of the bureaucracy and the legal processes required in the reception of travelers thanks to the following features:

  • Data to Police > Send guest data automatically to the authorities.

  • Statistics > Generate mandatory statistical reports.

  • Documents > Produce and store all documents required by law.

Thanks to the integration with BookingSync, you will be able to significantly reduce the time spent on the check-in process. All the info regarding your listings and bookings on BookingSync will be synced automatically with the CheKin platform too and guests information collected by CheKin will be synced back to your BookingSync account.

Can’t be available for the check-in? With the Self CheKin you can validate online the identity of your guests and provide them with remote access to your accommodation (once identity validation step is completed).

Interested in improving the way you handle your guest registrations?

​Install the app​

CheKin Live Webinar

You can watch the webinar recorded with CheKin on September 11th 2020 here.

Want to learn more about the integration with CheKin?

Check our dedicated manual page.

We hope that this tool will help you to manage your legal obligations in terms of welcoming guests in your vacation rentals!

Don't hesitate to reach out to or to us if you have any questions.

[NEW PARTNER] - Try out mid-term rentals with Flatio!

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During this challenging time, it is more important than ever to diversify sources for acquiring new bookings. But it is perhaps also an opportunity to think about new ways to rent out your properties and to welcome your future guests. Today, we are very happy to announce a new partnership with the channel Flatio, a platform specializing in mid-term rentals.

What is Flatio?

Flatio is a place where guests can easily rent a furnished flat for 1 - 12 months. They offer locally affordable accommodation for spending a few months living in Prague, Warsaw, Budapest, Berlin, Vienna, Lisbon and London. These are the cities were Flatio has the most presence at the moment, but they are constantly adding new destinations in order to help travellers from all over the world to move to new cities for a few months in a sustainable way. Your average nightly price for a month or more booking will be lower than with a short term booking, but your operational costs will certainly be lower too as you won’t have check-in/out procedures nor cleaning to handle during your tenant’s stay. Flatio will also provide you with a professional lease agreement adjusted for midterm rentals, which tenants need to sign online.

Ready to promote your property on a midterm channel?

Install the App

We also co-organized a webinar that you can watch here where Flatio is introducing their OTA, but also give their recommendations on how to manage mid-term rentals, adapt your pricing and attract new guests !

Want to learn more about the integration with Flatio?

Check our dedicated manual page

We hope this new channel will help you optimizing your occupancy rate!​ Don't hesitate to reach out to or to us if you have any questions.

Our partners resources and offers in the COVID outbreak

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The COVID crisis has caused our industry a lot of troubles and changes but we are happy that this challenging time has also allowed us to be even more connected with our partners!

We have conducted co-organized webinars with some of our partners that you can watch on our Youtube channel.

Some partners have also created amazing resources for Property Managers and all vacation rental industry stakeholders to be up to date with the situation, adapt our strategy and be ready for a new future.

Quite a few partner companies are also running promotions or giving free access to their product or some features to help Property Managers overcome these new challenges. 

We wanted to share with you in this article a list of resources and offers per partner. 

Please note that you can find out more about each partner on our App Center page.

Our CEO & founder Seb Grosjean and our head of Product Maud Lavolée also took part as speakers in the webinars organized by AJL consulting and BookingPal.

From the BookingSync team we would like to address a huge THANK YOU to our partners for showing solidarity during this hard time. We are proud to be part  of this wonderful Vacation Rental community and are looking forward to contributing to a new and better future for our industry!

Airbnb - Channel

Airbnb Open Homes & First Responders program. In order to help people in need of temporary housing (healthcare staff, social workers, refugees looking for a place to stay).You can found out more information on the dedicated page on our App Center.

BeyondPricing - Pricing app

Dedicated ressource page

Pandemic Pulse page for the latest information on how COVID-19 is impacting the global vacation rental industry

Beyond Brief, the weekly newsletter

Our co-organized webinar - Channel

Their message to host to inform about measures taken by
COVID info and "force majeure" cancelation details
Temporary changes to help you easily manage Date Modifications from your Extranet

BookingPal - Channel Manager

Webinar they organized with major stakeholders of the Vacation rental industry: Insight from Experts: How technology can Support Vacation Rental Property Managers during and post COVID19.

Breezeway - Cleaning & Maintenance

Dedicated ressource page

Our co-organized webinar

DoInn - Cleaning & Maintenance

They offer disinfection clean in UK, Spain and Portugal >

Our co-organized webinar

HomeAway - Channel

Dedicated resource page

IglooHome - SmartLock

Dedicated blog post "Smart technology to aid the hospitality industry"

KeyDataDashboard - Data & business intelligennce

Dedicated resource page

Our co-organized webinar  

LuggageHero - Luggage storage

LuggageHero is creating a landing page on their website which will contain a list of deals per city. When a user clicks on a city and then on a specific deal, they will be redirected to your own website. This deal page will be communicated to their users (+250.000 guests who have already booked for luggage storage on LuggageHero).Please find hereafter the Typeform they created for you to enter your deals:

Misterbandb - Channel

Dedicated blog post Coronavirus COVID-19: Cancellation Policy

PriceLabs - Pricing App

Dedicated resource page

PriceLabs, a revenue management platform for short term & vacation rentals, has released fully automated market dashboardsfor the vacation rental industry. Short term rental markets are dynamic & in the wake of Covid-19, more volatile than ever. The ongoing crisis has not only had an impact on demand, but supply is changing too. These Market Dashboards are personalized to a user’s location and refreshed daily. If you are not a PriceLabs user, click here to create an account and access the Market Dashboards. 

Our co-organized webinar

Properly - Cleaning & Maintenance

Dedicated resource page

Their guide on "How to Properly Disinfect a Short-Term Rental"

Our co-organized webinar

Rental Ninja - Business & Operations management

Rental Ninja will help you to be more efficient at managing your teams and rentals, making your life easier during this transition with the following tools:

A reliable automated accounting system which allows you to minimize mistakes or omissions. SAVE TIME and send the necessary reports to your owners and providers in just two clicks.

An automated and modern self check-in solution. Modernize, save money, and eradicate any waiting on arrival for your guests, while PRESERVING SOCIAL DISTANCE, which is currently required.

A calendar for automating your team's schedule. Particularly useful for organising cleaning or any other repetitive tasks that take time to handle manually.

Everybody can have access to these calendars to ensure that no information is missed and that everybody is in the loop of any changes. Their app allows you to manage your operations efficiently and accurately online, whilst also keeping everybody secure.

Rentals United - Channel manager

Dedicated blog post "6 Distribution Tips for Short-Term Rental Property Managers Affected by Coronavirus Cancellations"

Swikly - Online deposit

Special offer: first 30 online deposit requests for free (to be used within 3 months after signing up to Swikly with the promo code bookingsync19)

Touch Stay - Guests Management

Dedicated blog post

Transparent - Data & business intelligence

Dedicated ressource page

Our co-organized webinar  

TripAdvisor - Channel

Dedicated article

Wishbox - Guests Management

Dedicated ressource page

The team at Wishbox took time to complete a number of cool new features that provide more revenue opportunities and allow you to manage check-ins and guest communication in the most efficient way. 

1) Online check-in including deposits, passport scans, e-signatures, key lock integration...

2) Guest App - Allowing hosts to communicate with their own branding. 

3) Scheduled Messages (sent via email, SMS or WhatsApp) to guests, auto-translated and branded, these messages can be pre-scheduled based on smart conditions. 

4) Upsells- Since profitability is a concern for property managers, the option to recommend and offer additional services to guests and generate more revenue is also extremely important, (you can also connect 3rd part suppliers to Wishbox to sell in-destination services). Upsells can include trusted transportation, ordering food, activities, room/rental upgrades based on availability, early check-in and late check-out based on availability and more. 

Their service is only charged for rentals/rooms with reservations so properties will not be paying until they have bookings and are open again (they also have the free trial).

Wheelhouse - Pricing App

The new Competitive Set feature within Wheelhouse Pro allows you to see how your listings are performing against your competition. By providing you with revenue and occupancy insights from similar properties in your area, you can fine tune your portfolio strategy and rest assured that you are best positioned to succeed. That is a free product for anyone signed up with Wheelhouse. You can register for a free 30 day free trial here or reach out to

Dedicated blog post

Our co-organized webinar

COVID-19, Actions of solidarity, let’s do this together!

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As you may know, solidarity in order to help people in need of temporary housing, sharing supporting videos, applause for healthcare staff, crafting masks, grocery services for isolated people etc... is organizing everywhere to help in our way fighting against COVID-19. On our side, we are very proud to highlight & support some of those great programs in the vacation rental industry and give you the key information if you wish to participate.

How can I join the help?

  • A new Airbnb OpenHomes & First Responders App in our BookingSync App Center

The “Open Homes” program available since 2017 is made to offer a place to stay topeople in need of temporary housing (refugees looking for shelter, people receiving treatment, people evacuated or relief workers). For the time being, this program is currently available only inFrance and Italy, and all stays going through this program are offered for free.

The “First Responders” program is part of Open Homes and is  designed toprovide accommodation to healthcare staff and first responders in order to allow them to be close to their patients– and safely distanced from their own families. Please note that for now this program is only eligible in the UK, Ireland, Germany, Spain and France. You can choose to offer your rentals for free (by default), at a discounted rate or at full price.

Guests will be able to request to book on Airbnb, after which you will be able to accept those requests from your Airbnb account. When accepting such booking requests, Airbnb willblock your calendar for the 72h following the check out of that booking, to allow enough time for adeep cleaning. The booking will be synced, however the 72h blocked period will not be synced to your BookingSync calendar, and we recommendmanually blocking the time needed for cleaning after the check out on your BookingSync calendar.

  • To Guests, with Love

We all miss the guests. Their brilliant smiles, providing grand hospitality, new experiences, and especially new friendships. Whilst we are all waiting for travel to resume, the To Guest, with Love organisation wanted to give property managers and travel lovers everywhere a reason to smile. 

To Guests, With Love is a collaboration between vacation rental industry leaders across the globe, creating a video montage of hosts, owners, and managers patiently and responsibly waiting to welcome guests again. To Guests, With Love is a video project montage of dozens of brief video clips of you—vacation rental professionals. 

On our side, the BookingSync team already took part in this project, and we hope that If you are reading this, you might be happy to help with your participation! 

How can I help share love and show the world we are ready to welcome them back!? We need people to record a short video—simple and fun, showing you doing your choice of activity, and we will add the upbeat music and editing to tie it all together. For more details on the video and how to submit, check out the official To Guests, With Love website.

Of course, if you happen to know anyone involved in the vacation rental industry who also wants to participate, please share this blog post. Let's show the world we are stronger together!

  • Les Logements Solidaires "Solidarity housing" (only available in France)

“Charles Osborn” property manager in Sète, south of France, decided with over 40 volunteers to create the platform, a non-profit association. This organization was created in order to connect healthcare staff looking for accommodation close to hospitals and homeowners or property managers, so they can find shelter for free.
They already managed to build a large community of supportive landlords, but appeal to your generosity in order to fullfil the huge need that is still present.
Each homeowner or property manager registers for free their property for a fixed period on the platform. The organization “Les Logements Solidaires” does not charge any commission or financial compensation. Each person envolved with this solidarity project will allow our caregivers to no longer be afraid to return home and endanger their loved ones. They are counting on you to help them build this ecosystem of solidarity.

Our guide to work 100% remotely

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Hello new remote workers and managers!

There will be a before and an after COVID-19… this crisis that is turning us upside down, both in our personal and professional lives. We are having to adapt, change our behaviour, take care of loved ones, reassure ourselves and, in terms of work, some of us are having to learn to work from home, to manage a team remotely, to collaborate whilst staying productive and motivated. Not easy - but we can help you!

At Smily and BookingSync, a technology company that builds software for managing seasonal rentals, we have a 100% remote working model, meaning that everybody has been working remotely every day (from home or from a coworking space) ever since the company launched in 2014.

There are 40 of us working for the company, distributed across 17 countries.

So working remotely and being productive (even more so), motivated and collaborative with colleagues or managing teams without seeing each other is possible!

There’s no doubt that moving to a 100% remote team from one day to the next is a huge challenge. That is why we would like to share with you the tools that we use, our best practises and the things that we have learnt from working as a remote team for the last 6 years.

Of course, all of these recommendations depend on your industry, role, business, etc… but there are certainly possible actions that can be taken to ensure that your company can continue to complete its work remotely and as a team!

The tools that we use:

- Slack for communicating with the team. Free and unlimited for small teams, then from 6.25€ per month per user for small and medium-sized businesses.

- Zoom for meetings and screen sharing (free for up to 10 participants for 40 minute meetings > then possible to recreate a link for a new meeting if you need more than 40 mins).

- Aircall for calling clients (and for receiving calls for our sales team) 

- Google docs and sheets in order to be able to work collaboratively and to make documents available to everybody.

- HelloSign for signing contracts/official documents online (no need for a printer or paper)

- Gmail as part of Google Suite (in order to have professional email addresses for sending emails to external parties and for dealing with complex subjects which require a written record that can then be archived. Otherwise, we prefer to use chat ;)

- CloudApp for creating screenshots and recording videos of your screen activity

- Loom also enables you to quickly send videos of yourself and your screen (particularly useful for demos or to explain an issue/a situation where you are stuck)

- LastPass for storing passwords securely

- Calendly to enable colleagues and clients to reserve a spot on your calendar

- Hubspot as a CRM for managing leads, clients and partners

- Jira for managing technical support tickets

- Productboard for the product team to plan product development 

- Zendesk for customer support

- BambooHR for managing HR (for example to schedule time off)

- Typeform for collecting data (questionnaires, tasks to manage)

- Zapier for creating integrations and automation between applications

Our best practises (for you):

- To get the best Wifi connection, put the router in an open space that is situated in the middle of your home (if there are several people using the connection), make sure that the source of your Wifi is positioned away from electronic devices such as the microwave or landline phone.

- Have a morning routine, just like if you were going to work (have a shower, have breakfast, get dressed). Leave some time between getting up and starting work. This will only improve your state of mind for starting the day in front of your computer.

- Prepare an ergonomic work space for yourself, especially for the long term > mouse, separate keyboard, laptop stand, headset/headphones. And don’t forget to get up and stretch!

- Share information and ask questions to the right people at the right time > avoid staying blocked on something just because it isn’t possible to see colleagues for an informal  discussion during a coffee break- remember that they are still there ️;) 

- At the same time, avoid endless written discussions. After the first few days of lots of, probably excessive, chat, your conversations should start to become more stable as you get used to using your (new) communication tools and to working “alone”. Prioritise having a short call as well to move forward in certain situations.

- Is there really an emergency which requires you to reply immediately? If not, go ahead and mark yourself as busy or deactivate your notifications to avoid being distracted and to let yourself focus on a task. You will respond to your colleagues and to your emails once you’re satisfied that you’ve accomplished your mission and are free. 

- Speaking of focus… if you are faced with lots of external distractions, you could try the Pomodoro technique to be more productive. This technique invites you to work for 25 minutes then to take a 5 minute break. You then repeat this rhythm throughout your working hours. It is really liberating and satisfying to manage to complete tasks and you will soon see that the hardest part is actually taking the 5 minute break! ;)

- Let your colleagues know your working hours/when you are available (even when working remotely, you have the right to have a break!)

- If your children are there with you, work in a dedicated room (and ideally one that can be closed), avoid going backwards and forwards to the rooms where the children are, keep a working routine of fixed days/hours (“mum/dad works from 9:00-12:30 and from 13:30-18:00 - during these hours, I’m not allowed to distract them”). If they come into the office during a video-conference, it’s best to let them say what they have to say - often after a “hello” to the camera, they are satisfied and will leave of their own accord, without making a fuss. It’s also good to explain to your kids why work is important and why we spend so much time on it. You can also involve your child by taking them onto your knee and explaining what you are doing to them (after a few minutes in front of an Excel spreadsheet, they will go back to doing something more interesting ;). You could also lend them a switched-off computer to play at working like mum or dad > advice from our 12 parent team-members ;)

Our best practises (for your business):

- ”Stand-up” > Each member of the team is invited to write down their objectives for the day, what they achieved on the previous day and anything which is blocking their progress (a summary for the manager and for the rest of the team). It’s good for everybody to see what others are working on and for managers to complete the “stand-up” as well. Transparency is key when working remotely.

- Structure the sharing of information > it is important that messages are correctly communicated, to ensure that the recipients quickly understand the message, the question or the action required. On our communication tool, Slack, we have created “channels” according to subject and team in order to avoid overwhelming team members with information. If a member of the team doesn’t need to know a particular piece of information, they don’t even need to be able to read it.

- Add emojis or GIFs to messages in order to communicate emotions (only 7% of communication is verbal, so we don’t hold back from using these little “smileys” to show our state of mind or to react to a message with an “OK” when it’s been read)

- Plan your meetings > be on time and don’t run over the allotted time scheduled (just like at the office;)). Reduce the number of meetings (try to make each member of the team more autonomous in their work). If a meeting is essential, limit the number of participants in order to avoid it taking too much time (participants can pass on important information to those not taking part in the call, if necessary)

- “Weekly demo” > each team records a 5 minute video every Monday to share KPIs, present what they have completed in the last week and what they will be working on during the coming week. This video is shared with the whole company and is a great way to see what others are working on (also a real gold mine of information which then avoids certain questions later and distracting colleagues). We prepare a few slides in order to have a visual presentation as well (a bubble with our faces in it appears on the presentation so that our colleagues can see us - this is possible with CloudApp). These slides also mean that we can keep a written record of the Weekly demos to go back to later if a member of the team wants to quickly take a look at the presentation without watching the video. We really recommend doing a video though, in order to keep some human contact with colleagues and to share emotions. To achieve this, we also switch on our webcams as much as possible when we have calls.

- Share knowledge - thanks to a “Knowledge database” > an internal document where we can add information about processes, the functionality of our software, contact information etc.

- Put a security checklist in place and invite all employees to use anti-virus software, VPNs and other tools if necessary

Feedback from our experience:

Our team has grown from 4 to 40 people in the last 6 years with this remote working model. Here’s some of our remarks from along the way:

  • Productivity > even though we are thousands of kilometers apart, we manage to think and create together. We gain efficiency by having very focused meetings (once the call has finished, there is no more chit chat! The decisions that have been made are written down and put into place). From a more personal point of view, each member of the team is more or less able to work at the times when they are most productive. The fact that we’re not sitting next to our colleagues allows us to be more focused on the mission that we’re undertaking (vs. open space offices where it is not unusual to be interrupted)

  • Ability to communicate and collaborate > this has become very natural thanks to the tools and best practises in place. We often hear people say “I work with a team, I couldn’t work remotely”. Now you can see that this argument isn’t valid ;) Don’t forget that videos are a great tool for exchanging as though you were together with your team. 

  • Reactivity > with an international team, it’s true that different time zones can be an issue, but with a remote model, team members are willing to be flexible (we have the freedom to be wherever we like and to better align personal and work life, we’re willing to get up early or go to bed late if we need to have a meeting with colleagues on the other side of the world to progress with our work). Having a distributed team also allows the company to operate more or less 24hrs a day. For example, we offer customer support which covers the working day in Asia, Europe and America. If there is an emergency, a member of the team will always be there to respond, react or send an alert if needed. Also, as all we need is a basic Wifi connection to be able to do our work, we can quickly open up the computer and resolve a situation which might have usually required going back into the office (be careful to stick to your working hours though, YOU don’t need to be available 24hrs a day:))

  • Solidarity > a lot of discussions take place in writing and for all to see, so if one of us isn’t available to reply or react, one of our colleagues who can help can take over for us! We try not to leave somebody blocked in a situation. We make sure that the information has been understood and if it hasn’t, we’ll have a quick call. 

  • Taking initiative > we work alone at our computer and this makes us more autonomous and creative for taking action.

  • A more fulfilling personal and professional life > we are freer in our work and in organising our personal lives (family, hobbies...). 12 of our team members are parents and many sportsmen (kitesurfers, divers, boxers, skiers, surfers, snowboarders, hikers ...) and artists (singers, guitarists, choristers, dancers ...) who can enjoy their activity thanks to the freedom to be where they want! Some of our youngest employees are also “Digital Nomads” who benefit from being able to work and travel at the same time.

  • Feeling of belonging > even though we can’t see our colleagues, we have a real feeling of belonging to a team. We see each other once or twice a year to make stronger connections; the rest of the time our collaboration, vision and values bring us together and ensure that we all feel like members of the BookingSync and Smily family <3

Changing your way of working is a challenge, especially during this time of uncertainty for our businesses and our personal lives. We hope that these few words are encouraging for you. We are here to help with this if you need us >

All our best wishes for success and take care of yourself,

The Smily and BookingSync team