News archives

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...

Luckey Homes x BookingSync: Sharing your experience!

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Since 2010, BookingSync has been helping you save time and book more. Following what we initiated a few months ago on our blog, we want to give YOU a chance to speak and share your vision of the vacation rental industry and experience.

We’ve talked today with Aurélien, co-founder of Luckey Homes, a French property management and housekeeping company, using BookingSync since 2015.

Here is what we discussed.

Aurélien, how do you explain your success, despite the increased competition?

I think we’re characterised by 2 things: bringing a good quality of service for a reasonable commission rate for our owners.

We’ve set up City Managers, ensuring the same quality of service everywhere in France. When joining Luckey Homes, we provide them with tools helping them efficiently manage their properties portfolio. This helps us grow fast in several regions and on little markets, such as in Montpellier or Marseille, where there’s little competition.

We’ve also created the LuckeySchool, helping us standardise our quality of service nationwide and put in common our good practice and City Managers’ experience.


What’s different with Luckey Homes?

We’ve decided to bring a very technical approach and put a lot of efforts into developing apps and features -internally, as much as for the owners and our City Managers.

We take advantage of what can be automated thanks to new technologies, in order to get efficient processes, hence offering a low commission rate thanks to the time saved.

We’ve had a lot of internal development to create work-specific processes. Thanks to BookingSync’s API (Application Programming Interface), we can use some of our features and processes further.

An app is at the owners’ disposal, allowing them to manage their properties on their own: blocking the calendar, following their revenue and exchanging with their account manager by chat.

Lastly, we’ve also added a new advantage for our owners: a Groupama insurance contract, covering up to 1.5 million €, for each housing we manage.

How do you see it evolving, especially regarding the short term rental regulations?

Paris is different from the rest of the country. We support the regulations that were set up in Paris, that help regulate the market and limit the offer, and tend to lower the prices.

To the contrary, we think those regulations are less relevant in other province cities, as it would restrict this activity that has a good effect on the local economy.


How do you address the hospitality and “living like a local” challenges, while managing properties in the owners’ place?

Well, with some hindsight now, we notice not all travelers expect a warm and personalised welcome -e.g, professionals on a business trip- but the ones expecting such a welcome have great expectations.

Locally, we work a lot with students -our Welcomers- that help during the check-in. That allows travelers to be in contact with locals that know the city and can share their good addresses.


What are the greatest challenges you’re facing in the industry?

This is a time-consuming, never-ending activity if we wish to be here for our owners and travelers.

I’d say today’s challenge is for everyone in the team to get to protect themselves and take the necessary time and distance to keep the good mood we’re sharing today and the pleasure to be working in the tourism industry.

Each client is particular and has a different approach of the vacation rental industry. We, at BookingSync, chose to offer an open API allowing our clients to make the most of our technology serving their clients.

You can contact Luckey Homes too, for your vacation rentals management!

Secure your website with SSL for free!

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Google has been strongly encouraging internet users and website owners to increase their online security since 2014. HTTPS and SSL protocols are becoming standards on the internet, even though most of us won’t notice the numerous technical changes that can occur.


We want you to keep communicating your online data safely. We want users to get the best experience possible on your website. This is why you can now get an SSL securing upon request for free, with BookingSync!

What are SSL and HTTPS?

Those two acronyms refer to two security protocols that work together, and they’re often getting mixed up:

  • HyperText Transfer Protocol Secure: when opening a page, this lets the user verify the identity of the website thanks to an authentication certificate.

  • Secure Sockets Layer: this one is a security protocol for internet exchanges, in charge of data encryption.

What’s the point for your website?

  • Adapting to security standards: BookingSync is always adjusting its technology to the web’s major changes, and this is one of them!

  • Offering a higher level of safety to your clients, who will be able to safely visit your website. Some browsers, such as Chrome or Firefox, are now clearly warning users when a website isn’t secure.

  • Getting an SSL certification for free. This is usually a paid service, added to the website hosting and your domain name.

  • Setting up an SSL certification on your website can help you get more visible on Google (linked to your SEO strategy).

All these information can seem a bit technical but you don’t have to worry: we’ll be handling all the changes ourselves!

10 powerful tricks to get more bookings in mid and low season

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It’s one of the biggest headaches for property owners; getting bookings in mid and low seasons. I’ve been partly involved in the property business for a few years now, and these are just some of the tricks that I’ve learnt along the way to boost bookings.

#1 Allow for shorter stays

There’s no two ways about it; you have to be more flexible in these seasons. You need to offer lower rates and allow for shorter stays than you would in the high season. Most travellers are savvy enough now to be on the lookout for cheaper and more flexible deals during these seasons, so if you offer a good one you’ll find they get booked up quickly.

#2 Create special wellness packages

Offering packages alongside a booking is a great way to entice potential bookers in. A great trick I learnt is to research local wellness centres, and offer yoga or spa retreat packages alongside your accommodation.

The new, modern-day focus on wellness makes these popular, and you can work with local businesses who have a social media presence to help you promote these packages.

#3 Optimise for countries with low fare rates

Deals are changing all the time, and it’s worth spending some time researching them. Use Skyscanner to search for flights anywhere from your location for the upcoming months. It will give you a quick look into where the cheapest flights are, and then you can optimise your bookings around this.

For example, if you are based in Lisbon and see that there are cheap flights from Paris to Lisbon all summer, then it would be useful to have a French version of all your vacation rental site listings.


#4 Company retreats

I started my company Surf Office four years ago with the aim of helping people be more productive in beautiful places. We shifted our focus to help companies with company retreats, and now cooperate with accommodation partners and landlords around Europe.

Our highest demand is in autumn and spring, and so we can now offer these accommodation partners and landlords a perfect proposition where we can help to fill their spaces and rooms in the low and mid seasons.


#5 Try to find unique, niche websites to distribute your listings

Everyone is using websites like Airbnb, Booking.com or Hotels.com. These are great sites and they may drive the majority of your bookings, but it also means they’ll be driving the majority of your competitor’s bookings too.

Think about some unique, smaller niche websites where you can distribute your listings. We just launched a website like this called Epic Monday, which converts remote houses into productive home offices for employees. We started this project recently in Portugal, and after a lot of traction from landlords, we are now expanding into more locations.


#6 Organise local events

If your property has a large open space, like a garden or a patio, you can try organising local events. There are a huge range of events you can think about, like wine tastings, movie nights, or meetups, and you can find local event organisers on places like Meetup.com.

You aren’t always likely to earn money with these local events, but it’s a great way to build up your reputation and create a fantastic relation with the locals. Word-of-mouth counts for a lot in the property business, and they will recommend your properties to friends or relatives visiting them. This is more of a long-term strategy, but it works.


#7 Invite bloggers & Instagrammers

This is another strategy which will bring you bookings in the long-term. Bloggers and Instagrammers will create fresh content around your property, which they will share with their peers. Don't expect direct bookings immediately, especially if you aren’t inviting celebrities with hundreds of thousands of followers.

Try to attract bloggers who aren’t so famous, otherwise they will charge you for the visit and ask you to cover all of their costs. Smaller bloggers are simply happy with a free stay. You will get some backlinks to your website and probably a few cool pictures to update your listings, and any additional bookings are a bonus.


#8 Long-term discounts with weekly/monthly stays

Many sites like Airbnb allow you to set up discounts for a longer stay with weekly and monthly discounts. Avoid them in the high season, when you can fill out your properties easily.

But in mid-low season you can attract people who are searching for longer stays, usually business travellers, digital nomads, students or teachers. Be aware that these people are very careful with the amenities that regular travelers care about less: equipped kitchen, desk, solid internet or washing machine.

#9 Bundle and unbundle rooms

American entrepreneur and investor Marc Andreessen says that there are “only two ways to make money in business: One is to bundle; the other is unbundle.” You can apply this to vacation rentals too.

Try to be creative with your properties - imagine you have a property with 4 rooms, try to unbundle it into a 4 single room listing. If you manage 10 studios, you can try to bundle them into two, three, four, five studios and this way attract groups of different sizes.

It may take some playing around to get this right, but it will allow you to appeal to a wider range of people.

#10 Contact organisers of local conferences or events

Research larger events in your area and contact them with an offer to become an accommodation partner. If it's not a large conference, they don't usually even ask for commision. This strategy needs a bit of luck to find good partners, but you would be surprised at how many leads one relatively small event can drive to your business.

And again, it helps with that much needed word-of-mouth.


About the author


Peter Fabor is the founder of Surf Office - an organiser of productive company retreats in Europe. One of the recent projects is Epic Monday - a unique vacation rental niche which attracts remote working professionals. You can reach him on Twitter as @faborio or by email: peter@thesurfoffice.com

Secure your vacation rental thanks to Party Squasher

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Renting an accommodation can be risky and many startups decided to bring their own solutions to address those concerns.

Party Squasher created a device helping reduce any risk of misbehaviour while renting.

Imagine a 4-people booking, turning into an 8-people stay and degenerating into a 30-people party around the swimming pool.


The solution they bring is simple: once installed, the Party Squasher box detects devices emitting a wifi signal (phone, tablet, computer, etc.).

The solution the young startup is bringing is very simple and quick to set up:

  1. The box contains all you need (power supply, USB and ethernet cables)

  2. Connect the Party Squasher box to a USB port or a socket

  3. Connect it to your router or network port thanks to the provided cable

  4. Download the Android or iOS app

  5. Flash the QR code at the back of the box

  6. Follow the guide!

When creating your account, add your mobile number so that you can be alerted of possible misbehaviours in your housing.

Complete the last steps of the basic setup by indicating the surveillance zone -depending on the house and outdoors surface- so that the neighbours’ devices won’t be taken into account. This also allows setting up the limit from which the alert needs to be emitted.

Party Squasher has you covered: once the box is installed, you can modify those settings remotely for every rental, depending on the number of occupants.


Vacation rental owners and professionals can link an Airbnb, HomeAway, Booking.com or other platform calendar to each Party Squasher box -for example, you can export your iCal BookingSync calendar.

This advanced setup allows you to integrate your guest’s contact details directly into Party Squasher so that you can quickly contact them in case of an alert.


Wifi device manufacturers which don't produce mobile phones are not taken into account by Party Squasher. You can also indicate the wifi devices you have in your rental to sharpen the results (wifi speaker, TV, etc.).

But some of you may ask: what about private life? The startup itself advices you to indicate, in your welcome book, that a surveillance device is installed -explaining it doesn’t record any sound or image, of course.

Also, note that if the box is being unplugged, you’re alerted by text message ;)

The box can now be purchased in France. As a partner, BookingSync offers a 20€ discount with the code BOOKINGSYNC! Get it now!

To celebrate its launch in France, PartySquasher will be organising a presentation webinar in French this Friday (05/05) at 2pm CEST, animated by Guillaume de la Tour, BlueFox.io’s CEO. He will be answering your questions and introduce you to the advantages of this solution, as a vacation rental professional.

Go to this address on Friday, May 5th at 2pm to watch it: https://zoom.us/j/927553154


See you soon with PartySquasher and share your comments!

PriceLabs and BookingSync: How to access automatic dynamic pricing and minimum-stay rules

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Let’s introduce our brand new addition to the BookingSync App Center: PriceLabs, an awesome tool allowing you to access dynamic pricing and minimum-stay rules for your vacation rentals!

What’s PriceLabs?

PriceLabs is a revenue management solution dedicated to short-term and vacation rentals, and is available in all locations around the world. PriceLabs users access their dynamic pricing recommendations and automated minimum-stay rules through the innovative and easy-to-use platform.

Property managers who use PriceLabs save hours by automating last minute discounting rules, minimum stay rules, and orphan day stay and pricing rules. It is built for property managers with 1 to hundreds of properties. Streamlined dashboard, customization options, and responsive support team help you manage prices for your entire portfolio!

How to access PriceLabs revenue management tool

There’s nothing easier! You just need to create your PriceLabs account, and then connect your BookingSync listings, thanks to the PriceLabs app available on BookingSync, to receive their pricing recommendations.

Increase your vacation rental revenue by increasing and decreasing prices depending on seasons, future demand trends, events/holidays, day-of-week, etc, and updating it to your calendar daily!

PriceLabs says “Our data-driven pricing approach scans your market for historic and future supply and demand trends to automate pricing, while at the same time gives you many customization options to suit your needs. So no more worrying about the competition, or wrestling with the calendar for hours - we have your back!


Already a BookingSync client? Get the PriceLabs app from our App Center right now!

Dormis: a new way to list your properties

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Dormis is a vacation rental company started from Barcelona and now allows to rent and list properties all around the world. You can join the list of their property owners too!

Why choose Dormis?

Listing a property on the Dormis platform is very easy and quick.

Don’t worry about any hidden charges or annual contributions, as there aren’t any on Dormis. Listing is absolutely free! Service fees are taken from the guest’s down payment, representing 10% of the total booking cost.

Owners can choose between different payout options. The guests may pay in cash or by card upon arrival; you may set a 100% charge at the moment of booking or choose a down payment as a security deposit. Furthermore, many settings can be customised: setting up different rates for 4 guest types (adults, children up to 10 and 16, and babies), adding extra charges or season discounts.

More than 3.500 clients visit Dormis.com every month. Listing your property on the website will enhance your chances of getting more bookings! At the moment, the service is directed to Europe and the USA but is constantly improving its outreach.  


If your properties are already published on different platforms, you can use BookingSync’s iCal synchronization to avoid double booking while the calendars are updated automatically.

What’s Dormis’s vision?

Dormis care about both owners and guests and do their best to support them, and their property managers are always ready to answer your questions.

Dormis uses highly reliable encryption methods as high priority is given to security of either side. A smoothly running system tracks suspicious activity on the platform.Guests can only see a property manager’s or owner’s personal details after a booking is confirmed.

Interested in the platform? You can join the Dormis world too, and expand the tourists’ horizons providing accommodation in different corners of the planet! If you wish to test Dormis, you can connect via our partner RentalsUnited.

BookingSync devs recruitment: Whiteboards? No, thanks!

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BookingSync is proud to say we’re hiring without whiteboards: we only focus on your real-world technical skills!

What’s whiteboard recruitment?

Whiteboard is a metaphor used for interviews that are not focused on a candidate’s actual technical skills, but more on the interview skills or background in computer science. This solution is often used in IT.

Basically, during an interview, the potential candidate might be asked to implement an algorithm on a whiteboard: if you’re a developer yourself, you’ll know such a thing never happens in the actual job! Moreover, implementing such algorithms rarely happens in a real world scenario -unless someone is focusing more on computer science than delivering software.

What’s our approach?

At BookingSync, we want to focus on your real programming skills. We don’t want to lose (and make you lose) time on useless processes!

We strongly believe that the best approach for hiring good developers is starting with a take-home assignment which ideally would be similar to some real-world scenario that the potential developer will be working on. Indeed, we're a startup with a team located around the world. Every position we offer is remote, so what’s better than realising this test-assignment in real work conditions? Such assignment shouldn’t be too much time-consuming, but needs to be complex enough to give developers a chance to prove themselves.


The next step would be a technical interview which would include a discussion about the take-home assignment and the decisions made by the developer when developing it and also some open-ended questions. We don’t think that the questions like “what is the time complexity of binary search algorithm?” bring much value - unless the developer will be writing similar algorithms, such questions barely give any feedback if the person is a good candidate for the job or not. Even if it turns out that some developer is not familiar with time complexity, it won’t take much time to learn it. However, learning skills that are required for delivering high-quality software take a lot of time. That’s why asking about things such as Test-Driven Development, The Rails Way vs. Hexagonal Architecture are much more valuable than yes-or-no questions or questions about things that can be quickly googled. We also highly value willingness to learn more and master current skills, that’s why questions about some recent books or blog posts a developer has read and the areas of particular interest (performance optimization, architecture etc.) are important to us.

If you’re a developer and looking for new job offers, BookingSync may just be your next career opportunity: Full-stack, Ember, Rails… Apply for one of our offers and join us in our adventure!