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The BookingSync 2018 Team Retreat: A Week Of Exchanges & Meetups

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At BookingSync, our teams work 100% remotely. This is a choice we’ve made in compliance with our values:

The world is full of talents, this is why we have chosen to collaborate remotely to work with the best people, no matter where they are. It brings all of us flexibility, happier lives and better reactivity across time zones.

So, for the second year in a row, -almost- the whole team gathered for a team retreat week. After meeting up on the Greek island of Sivota in 2017, we arranged to meet in Névache, in the French Alps, at BookingSync’s headquarters.


1. What’s a team retreat?

A team retreat allows the members of a same company to gather in a chosen location, at the same time, for a few hours or days.

It helps create a team spirit, which is even more true when everybody works remotely. It also helps ease off on the pressure and take a step back. It’s a great occasion for each person to be implied in all the company’s projects.

    

A lot of companies set up such events, such as Buffer, a social media management platform, Youth Ki Awaaz, an youth-focused Indian information website or Stanford Women’s Gymnastics, an American university sports team.

    

On our side, this week is also an occasion for each of us to exchange ideas and knowledge, and the time to get to know each other better.

2. The BookingSync Team

   a. Our team

BookingSync is more than a French startup, it is above all the meeting of digital nomads coming from all over the world: France, Russia, Poland, Netherlands, Spain, Macedonia, Morocco, Australia, Canada, Romania, Serbia, Hungary, Chile, USA, Czech Republic.

Whether they live in their home country or on the other side of the world, some members of our team traveled up to 36 hours to reach Névache. A total of 29 co-workers on 34 were able to travel to the Alps.

    b. Creating a team spirit

Working remotely offers a lot of advantages, such as being able to work from any place -as long as you have a wifi connection!-, choosing your work hours and own rhythm, and also having the chance to better enjoy your family.

But even though we all interact each day, using tools such as Slack, Skype, Intercom or Zendesk, we don’t have the occasion to meet up personally. This is why we enjoy so much spending time together each year, for a week.

   c. Our week in Névache: workshops, reorganisation, meetups and team building

This 2018 session has been punctuated by several events and meetings:

  • An introductory game, during which each of us had the occasion to introduce themselves, a treasure hunt/hint game in the city of Briançon, a hike and picnic in the Vallée de la Clarée and a concert night

  • Group and individual photo sessions

  • Several workshops allowing team to collaborate and exchange ideas (development, marketing, support, management…)

  • A complete work reorganisation, which lead to the creation of new teams and the implementation of a new support tool (stay tuned!)

  • Meeting the people who made the BookingSync adventure possible: our loyal investors, some of them living in Névache. We had the opportunity to share an afternoon, dinner and night with them

  • More generally speaking, as the 29 BookingSync co-workers were accommodated at the same place, we’ve all had the occasion, each day, to share moments outside working hours: spa, dinners, breakfasts, walks...

3.The BookingSync vision

Team spirit, sharing, tolerance and fighting prejudice: here are some of our core values, which guide us through our vision of a positive company, helping each one feel happy and accomplished. Sébastien Grosjean, our CEO, says:

Regularly organising team retreats is very important to me. Every year, we aim at gathering our co-workers for a unique occasion of sharing and exchanges, which helps creating a team spirit. Organising this week in Névache, our headquarters, needed several months of preparation, but this was worth it. Today, we’re leaving Névache more motivated than ever, decided to reach our goals!

See you next year for another destination!

You can see more pictures of us in Névache on our official Facebook page.

2 Solutions To Easily Automate Your SMS Communication With Guests

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This is something we’re being asked a lot: can you automatically send SMS notifications to your guests via email, using BookingSync?

We’ve been looking for solutions and found 2 great products for you, depending on your needs: discover Wishbox and TextMagic.

Wishbox pre-scheduled automated email-to-SMS

Wishbox, as an official partner app, allows you to configure automatic messages and their rules. Their offer is fully synced with BookingSync.

Create a message, pre-schedule it and edit the information available.

Wishbox allows you to:

  • Choose some or all the booking sources (Airbnb, Booking.Com, HomeAway, etc.)

  • Choose the condition under which you would like to send an automatic SMS (completing a pre-check in/out, receiving a rating, etc.)

  • Set up triggers that will send the message before, during or after the event

  • Personalise the text message using for example the guest’s name or the property booked

The whole SMS set up process is explained in the Wishbox blog.

Direct sending from BookingSync with TextMagic

The solution offered by TextMagic is pretty simple: create your account on TextMagic’s side using the email address of your choice and you’re all set up!

For clients to receive your email as an SMS, simply send your message to {client’sphonenumber}@textmagic.com, from the BookingSync Notifications app. Your guests can also reply to the SMS and you’ll receive the answer as a regular email.

Note, though, that the email you send should be sent as a normal text message and cannot be styled, so don’t use any HTML within it.

 

Here’s what TextMagic does for you:

  • Get detailed SMS reports, highlighting your sent message history and delivery rates

  • Booking confirmations, marketing & promotions, alerts & notifications…

  • Each SMS sent costs 8 cents

  • And much more! You can check all of the TextMagic features on their website directly

Note that the email address used with TextMagic should be the same as the one used in your BookingSync account.

       

Staying in contact with your guests via SMS is the easiest way to reach them.

Know another great email-to-SMS solution? Share it in the comments!

Cleaning, Laundry & Check-Ins Made Easy For Your Vacation Rentals With Doinn

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June isn’t over yet and we’re already introducing you to our 4th partnership of 2018: Doinn, a specialised cleaning, laundry & check-in/out service for your vacation rentals.

What’s Doinn?

As Doinn defines itself, it is a “technology bridge between short-term rental properties and hotel services vendors”. Their mission is to bring the hotel cleaning professional companies one click away from the vacation rental managers, automating the cleaning and laundry services with the booking reservations and offering a unified customer support, independently of the number of vendors you work with or in how many cities.

  • Cleaning with Doinn: By bringing professional housekeeping hotel providers to the vacation rental industry, they bring their experience in hospitality, and more important, their legal, insured and trained employees able to follow the well defined Standard Operating Procedures (SOP)

  • Laundry with Doinn: Doinn launders your own linen or allows you to rent, launder & sanitize hotel-quality linen, at no extra cost.

  • Check-ins/outs with Doinn: Doinn works with well-trusted and trained welcomers, providing your guests with helpful tips about your property and its surroundings.

Their platform is tailor-made done for managing and booking the services needed for vacation rentals, from API synchronization, uploading of group of properties in bulk, to online payments for the services. The software they have for the service providers helps them to optimize their operations and team of cleaners.

Already a BookingSync client?

Create a user profile at https://Doinn.co/ and activate the Bookingsync integration at the Integrations tab. Sync all your listings and bookings, which will then be imported in Doinn. You can now seamlessly schedule the cleaning and laundry services you need, according to your reservations, and get access to the best local cleaning providers.

For now, Doinn is available in several countries: France (Paris), Portugal (Lisbon, Porto, Almada, Ericeira, Setùbal, Sintra, Albufeira, Aljezur, Almada, Castro Marim, Faro, Lagoa, Lagos, Loulé, Olhão, Portimão, Silves, Sintra, Tavira, Vila do Bispo, Vila Real de Santo António and Spain (Madrid, Barcelona). If you are willing to grow nationally or internationally, Doinn will save you plenty of time to get established in a new city.

Getting started with Doinn

Read our manual to know how to install and use the app.
Already a BookingSync client? Install the Doinn app in our App Center right now and watch our live webinar on June, 14th at 4pm CEST!

5 Tips For A Family-Friendly Vacation Rental

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Families are generally accepted in vacation rentals, but are yours really prepared for young children?

Let’s review together a few tips on how you can improve your rental offer and adapt it to most travelers.

Targeting families: 35% of total travelers in the US

If you’re still wondering if there’s anything more to earn when targeting families, these statistics should speak for themselves: 35% of US tourists travel as families, and 44% of people aged 18-35 travel with their children.

Our client Ovo Network understood that well, and even decided to create their very own label: “Cool for kids, which ensures families will find everything they need in the selected rentals.

So, let’s get to work and see what you can do to try to attract these potential guests!

  • Secure the property: parents like to know they’ll find the same security and comfort as they do in their own home. You can, for example, add children’s safety gates to the stairs. If there’s a swimming pool available in the house, buy a solid safety pool cover or a pool alarm for a better peace of mind.

  • Equip the rentals with some basic gear: high chair, booster seat, plastic cutlery and plates, potty, baby monitor, crib, night-light… You can also prefer to install a bathtub instead of a shower, which is more convenient for young children and babies.

  • Save at least one room for children: make it colorful, add a playground with board games, DVDs, books… You can also choose to add bunk beds to the room, to save some space (and most children LOVE bunk beds!).

  • Make it fun: holidays aren’t just about museums and restaurants. It’s also about quality family time! Show families they’ll have fun not only in your city or region, but also in your property. You can also list all the family-friendly outdoor activities that are available around your house or apartment: amusement parks, beaches, playgrounds, basic hiking trails, family-friendly restaurants, etc. Which takes us to the last point…

  • Adapt your listings to families: take pictures of the family-friendly features you offer and show how your property has been secured. For example, if there’s a road near one of your rentals, specify if the garden door can be locked.

Your BookingSync listings can also be adapted, depending on the features available in the properties (open the image in a new tab for a better overview):

Of course, these are just examples of all what you can do to attract families and make them feel safe in your vacation rentals.

Have any other tips to share? Write them in the comments!

Stay In Contact With Your Guests Thanks To Wishbox

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We’re integrating today a new guest relationship management software to our App Center: Wishbox, the leading solution for vacation rental agencies and hosts.

What’s Wishbox?

Wishbox is a software that lets you automate all your guest communication, generate more revenue and drastically improve your guest experience, with no effort.

Wishbox lets you:

  • Communicate in the guests’ language

  • Send fully-customisable confirmation emails

  • Use an automatic pre check-in/check-out wizard

  • Chat with your guests thanks to an optional, unified chat tool

  • Scan passports and credit cards

  • Send property codes & apartment notes

  • Set pre-scheduled automated messages & SMSs

  • Share a guest web-app to give your guests an amazing experience

  • Create a unique guidebook for each property

  • Manage reviews thanks to an intelligent review system, pushing excellent reviews on outside websites and retaining bad reviews

Using Wishbox lets you save up to 2 hours of work per day, thanks to the automation & your own branded guest-app.

Getting started with Wishbox

Read our manual to know how to install and use the app.
Already a BookingSync client? Install the Wishbox app in our App Center right now and watch our live webinar on May, 24th at 3pm CEST!

BookingSync clients can try Wishbox for free during 21 days.

Didn't get the chance to watch our live webinar? Worry no more, we've got you covered with this recorded video below.

CanadaStays, A New Channel For Your Canadian Properties

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Aaaaand one more channel for 2018!
Discover a new channel for your Canadian properties on CanadaStays, Canada’s largest vacation rental marketplace.

What’s CanadaStays?

CanadaStays is Canada's #1 choice in vacation rentals, with over 140,000 vacation rental properties, including cottages, cabins, chalets and condos in 11,000 destinations across Canada, the US, the Caribbean and South America. CanadaStays sees 4 to 5.5 million page visits a year, providing a new opportunity to drive more Canadian travellers to your listings.

Why list with CanadaStays?

  • Increased Exposure: Access Canada’s largest vacation rental audience as well as a growing list of distribution partners, including HomeAway, VRBO, Tripping and Cottage Life, at no extra charge

  • Flexible Pricing: find your best ROI with pay-per-booking or subscription models

  • Flexible Booking Options: choose between instant booking or a 24-hour confirmation period

  • Dedicated Account Managers: maximize booking opportunities with the help of an in-house optimization team

  • Secure Payments: you and your traveller are protected by a secure payment platform

Getting started with CanadaStays

Read our manual to know how to install and use the app.
Already a BookingSync client? Download the CanadaStays app in our App Center right now and watch our live webinar on May, 17th at 5pm CEST! Meet the CanadaStays team and discover how you can sync your listings with Canada's biggest channel.

BookingSync clients will receive an exceptional discount of $100 off CanadaStays owner/manager fees + $50 off if you register before May, 28th!
Didn't get the chance to watch our live webinar? Worry no more, we've got you covered with this recorded video below.

This Simple Trick Will Change The Way You See Accounting

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Tired of filling in calculation sheets? Lost in numbers and transactions?

Like most vacation rental owners and managers, we bet you didn’t get into that business to deal with numbers… As the VR industry is facing a huge expansion, many side-businesses are being created, helping owners and managers to save time and money everyday:

Changeover management with Properly, vacation rental softwares such as ours, team management and stats with Rental Ninja, for example.

One of them decided it was high time someone jumps into the accounting case and starts developing a solution that could be beneficial to every vacation rental host: welcome to the Rental Ninja Accounting Solution!

Accounting made easy, from one single place

Imagine a tool where all of your vacation rental accounting can be made, from one place.

Following this simple idea, the Rental Ninja team worked very hard to create Accounting, the latest addition to their offer.

Here’s what you can do with Accounting:

  1. Create Accounting Statements per group of Rentals and any dates:

    1. Account for all your incomes from your bookings

    2. Payments: calculate how much you have to pay to your recipients: rental owners, cleaning/check-in agents...

    3. Know what is your net income (how much you earn, as a company).

  2. Once the recipients strategy is set, create all your Accounting Statements in the blink of an eye.

  3. Track your payments: mark a payment as paid once you transfer the money to a recipient.

  4. Send the recipient the required information: report, transfer receipt and any other attachment.

Coming soon: accounting statistics.

Payments
Payment Recipients
Booking Breakdown
Accounting Statement
Payment Details

The story behind this new tool

As you may already know, managing accounting can be difficult and painful, especially when it comes to vacation rental management. Rental Ninja, with an experience of 10 years in the industry thanks to their Easy Flat Barcelona business, knew they could bring a great solution to hosts and property owners.

Rental Ninja was born with the idea of helping people like us, with a high workload due to many repetitive tasks that, in fact, can be done in a more automatic way” says Didac Alvarado from Rental Ninja.

What is useful for us must be useful for others. We’re in a constantly growing industry, and automating tasks is the fastest way to grow. Saving time in what has a poor added value has a huge importance.

So we were obsessed with the idea of developing an accounting tool specially designed for the Vacation Rental Business. We, as many people might do, used to run with spreadsheets. However, you have to manually add all the information, and many times you just miss something. And on top of that, if a booking changes, you have to start over again... Sometimes it’s tricky to calculate how much you have to pay to each of your rental owners, check-in/cleaning agents,...

So we decided to go for it and create a solution for it all: From automation to commission calculation and owner payments. What took us two days every month, we can now achieve in about 2 hours.

Here’s a video introducing you to the Accounting tool:

Ready to save time and make your vacation rental life easier? Become a Rental Ninja and start you 30-day free trial!

Taking Over The Vacation Rental Market In Cannes: The Immogroom Case

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How Immogroom is revolutionizing the Cannes vacation rental market with the help of Properly and BookingSync
Just like we did last month, we're showcasing today another vacation rental professional: Immogroom, working since 2015 on the French Riviera.

How did they succeed to manage from 0 to 90 properties in such little time?

What tools did they use to enhance their service quality and business processes?

Have a look at this presentation to know all about this incredible expansion:

You can read the full case study directly on Properly's blog.

What If We Sent Our Software To Space, With Orion Span?

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You’ve certainly seen the latest April Fool’s articles that we posted this year and in 2017.

MarsEscapes: When Traveling To Mars Becomes Touristic

LunarBnB & BookingSync: Ready To Fly To The Moon?
Even though these articles were written for fun, traveling to space is still a dream for us all!

What if we could help space travel grow? What about turning our “Save Time, Book More” into “Save Time, Host Further”?

Space Tourism: Our dream come true

No more jokes, this time!

When we read the news announcing the first tourist space travels by 2021 by Orion Span, we just couldn’t believe it: the American start-up specialised in the aerospace industry has created the “Aurora Space Station”, a dream that now comes true.

Of course, we couldn’t just stand there waiting for it to happen.

Taking up challenges, offering innovative features, participating in the booming industry of tourism, wherever it is situated, is in our DNA. This is why we can offer today the ideal space housing tool to Orion Span.

The BookingSync tool, THE solution on the ground or in orbit

Can you really manage a space tourist housing the same way you manage a room on Earth?

That’s a good question! What we know is that some points remain essential:

  • Property Management System: easily and efficiently manage the Aurora Space Station!

The BookingSync tool allows you to manage calendars, housings, clients and pricings from a unified interface.

  • Notifications: “Only 3 months left before departure, time for your training!”

Our app allows you to automatically send messages to your teams and clients, depending on predefined parameters: payment confirmations, contracts, welcome books, customers satisfaction, email and intervention alerts, departures...

  • Payments: Tracked and secured payments, for all.

Our software is compatible with some of the most popular payment gateways: Stripe, Braintree, Paypal.

  • Website Builder: Give the Aurora Space Station the attention she deserves.

Our teams create fully customisable websites that you can adapt to your needs and desires and are: responsive, multilingual, offer an SSL certificate and can let travelers book directly or after an initial contact. A real tailored-design creation made for a nonstandard project.

  • Access to our API: Do you need to create your own training app, or simulation software? Give free rein to your imagination!

Each BookingSync client or partner can create its own program, connected to our platform, depending on their special needs and desires.

As a famous astronaut once said, together we can go “To Infinity And Beyond”.

So Orion Span, what are you waiting for? Join us! ;-)

BNBKEYS: Betting On The Province

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BNBKEYS, a management and concierge services startup, was created a year ago in Cannes, France. Now celebrating their first anniversary, we wanted to discuss with their team about their engagement towards local companies and their vision of the vacation rental industry. Here’s their testimony.

Focusing on the province: reaching different assets than in the capital

Paris gathered almost 87,000 declared Airbnb housings in September 2017, which made it owning 22% of the French vacation rental market. Yet, not all short term rentals are situated inside the capital city: BNBKEYS’s success story proves there’s still a lot to do with the rest of the country, as it has now become the first vacation rental platform on the Côte d’Azur, in just a few months.

BNBKEYS chose to develop in priority on the Côte d’Azur, then spreading to other provincial cities, choosing in priority seaside resorts such as the Basque Coast, or the Normandy Coast.

Let’s take for example the city of Cannes, where BNBKEYS was created: the town wasn’t chosen by accident. The MIPIM, LIONS and Festival de Cannes are just a few examples of the attractiveness of the city, not only for tourists but also professional travelers who can enjoy specific partnerships such as hybrid driver services, personalised advice and much more.

Creating and promoting the local fabric

Today’s travelers have evolved. As we’ve entered a time of internet and social networks, travelers now want to be able to discuss, exchange, share with the locals.

Faced with these new demands, BNBKEYS decided to develop its very own concept: to create exclusive partnerships with players in the local economy, whether they offer personal sports coaching services, hybrid driving or tourist attractions visits.

Guiding their clients during their whole stay, and connecting them to local professionals, BNBKEYS is part of the long-term vision of vacation rental and global tourism: to be home anywhere, while enjoying custom, quality services just like in the traditional hotel industry.

Open Properties (caretaking solution), FÜSO (breakfast delivery), Timenjoy (selection of cultural events) or WeProov (electronic inventory solution) are as many key-partnerships selected by BNBKEYS, for owners and travelers.

It’s important for us [...] to federate young startups, that bring innovative ideas and can create a game-changer offer to BNBKEYS, in quite a competitive industry where margins are relatively low.

We’re convinced unity makes strength. These different innovative collaborations contribute to the local and regional economic drive and strengthen the attractiveness of young companies such as ours, which were not necessarily created in Paris at first.

Conclusion

Added to a complete management offer (listings creation/management, publication, price optimisation…), BNBKEYS made the difference thanks to a simple, yet essential idea: to create an added value for travelers and cities in which they’re available, offering a tailored service that can adapt to the clients’ desires and needs, whether they own vacation rentals or they travel.