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How to choose a booking engine for today

When this blog started out, quite a few years ago, it was intended to focus primarily on marketing and evaluating reservation or booking software. With changes in the industry, and in my situation, that emphasis has shifted, but, from a high-level view, it has all been related. However, it has been some time since I've written specifically about booking engines, but for some historical perspective, you can find some useful information here and here. There are several reasons why reservation software (booking software) has not been the focus of posts here. Among them, is sheer volume of the offerings. There were over 40 different offerings emphasizing B&B bookings when this blog began. Today some of those have gone out of business, but many are still there, in one form or another, and there are literally dozens of new additions to the field. Another reason is that my consulting work has lately been occupied with specific booking systems, so I have been reluctant to write about systems I'm evaluating for clients. Yet another is that several of the existing systems have promised to provide me with demo access so I can do a full review, but have failed to come through with the goods. Hmmm. What does that say about their ability to follow-through for customers, I wonder? Meanwhile, many (perhaps most) of the posts have explored ways to evaluate your marketing using Google Analytics - an area of much greater concern to many I speak with. Getting Started Whether you are considering a change of booking engines (and for our purposes I'll be using the terms "booking engine", "booking software", and "reservation system" or "reservation software" all to refer to the same thing - an external system for capturing guest bookings that can be - or appear to be -…

Online Booking Software Prices: Part Two

Last week we looked at a survey by BedAndBreakfast.com, apparently designed to help it determine new prices for its online booking software products. Depending on the number and kind of bookings you take, the proposals could be better, or significantly worse, for your property. This week we'll look at other ways vendors set online booking software prices. One thing is for sure - no matter how the survey BedAndBreakfast.com is conducting turns out, the results will be very suspect. Why? We've learned from more than one innkeeper that they were able to access the survey from multiple email addresses. That means that there is no control over the number of times one person can respond to the survey. No need to stack the voter rolls with cemetery occupants, multiple email addresses seems to do the trick. Back to the topic at hand... Note that we'll assume a 7 room property since most products are priced differently by the number of rooms, and 7 is about the average size according to the PAII Operations Studies. To contrast with the new pay-per-booking models BB.com seems to be considering, their current model has several components (some of which are optional, and others are only for RezOvation GT users). Here are the basics (according to their published information as of this writing - note that we know the upper limit of the BB.com online bookings is 30%, but were unable to find details of lower rates on their website, hence, that information is from memory - happy to correct it if accurate information is different): RezOvation GT guest management software with booking engine: $90/month BedAndBreakfast.com online bookings: 25-30% per booking depending on percentage of inventory constantly listed Expedia and partners bookings: 25-30% per booking depending on percentage of inventory constantly listed The RezOvation booking…

Online Booking Software Prices: How Much Should You Pay?

A recent survey from a vendor considering changing the pricing for its online booking products raises the question, "How (and how much) should you pay for online booking software and property management software?" Since the prices of online booking software and and property management software can be considerable, this two part series will look at the online booking software prices suggested by this survey, as well as the way other vendors price their products. Yesterday (August 7, 2012) some innkeepers received an email from BedAndBreakfast.com asking them to complete a survey to express their preferences about several new proposals for pricing their booking products. On first blush the pricing sounds attractive. On deeper consideration, it may not be as good as it sounds. When considering different vendors of online booking and property management software, it is important to keep in mind that RezOvation sells property management software (RezOvation GT, for example) as well as online booking software (RezOvation Booking Engine, Webervations), but its sister company, BedAndBreakfast.com (both are owned by HomeAway) also makes money on bookings through its own bookings on the directory website, and through Expedia and partner sites. That brings at least three separate products into consideration for our purposes. The survey sent to innkeepers (presumably those using ResOvation GT, since most of the prices suggested would apply to that product) asked for responses indicating how innkeepers would feel about several different pricing structures. Currently RezOvation charges a monthly fee based on the number of rooms the property has, with one rate for RezOvation GT only, and a higher rate for those using both RezOvation GT and its Booking Engine, its online booking software. Meanwhile, BedAndBreakfast.com charges a commission in the 25-30% range for bookings through its directory booking button or through Expedia and its partners. The survey…

RezOvation GT – Preview of the Next Generation

Our review of the current version of RezOvation GT was published January 24 (during the 2012 Innkeeping Conference in Little Rock, Arkansas). At the conference, RezOvation invited current users to see a preview of the upcoming release, and to provide feedback on some of the anticipated features. We attended that preview, spoke with some of the RezOvation staff, and have some notes to share here. At the outset, the staff stated that the goal with this release was to give it a feel that would be very familiar to existing RezOvation GT users, while making it much more intuitive and much easier to use. Overview The first, and most obvious, change is that the new version, expected to be out later this year (2012), is a web-based product. Before you begin thinking that your desktop version will be obsolete, wait until you hear some of the good choices that have been made, to continue to keep the desktop usable. We were told that this new release is seen as an upgrade, so there is not expected to be any additional cost to existing RezOvation GT users. The new version is based on Microsoft's Silverlight (if you're not familiar with Silverlight, it is similar to Flash in many respects). According to the RezOvation staff, Silverlight will allow the new version to be run on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms (Linux users will need the free "Moonlight" version of Silverlight - which, according to online discussions, seems to have some incompatibilities). In essence, you'll install a Silverlight plugin for your web browser, then when you log in to the RezOvation server, Silverlight will connect to the RezOvation database and provide a very familiar RezOvation GT look and feel. The existing desktop version of RezOvation GT is intended to continue to function normally,…

Software Review: RezOvation GT

RezOvation GT began as a re-creation of the very popular Munsenware GuestTracker software. It aims to be a full-featured program, providing a simple interface, and all the features necessary for daily lodging operations. Some six years ago, when RezOvation GT was in its infancy, we researched and tried several different programs for use at our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast, and settled on RezOvation GT as the best choice. In all honesty, we were not excited about choosing it, as it was relatively untested, and had a number of significant blemishes and a very high price tag, but we considered it to be the best choice despite many shortcomings. In the ensuing years there have been many improvements, and a few miscues, but there is little doubt that RezOvation GT is now a much more mature product, and is one of the top choices available today. Overview Unlike most reservation systems released in the past few years, ResOvation GT is stand-alone system, installed on your local computer, rather than a web-based system. The primary advantage of a stand-alone system is that they tend to offer many more powerful features than web-based systems, especially in the area of the reports you can obtain, and also generally allow for more user choices and preferences. The primary disadvantages of most stand-alone systems are (1) the need to back-up your data yourself, and (2) they can be difficult (or impossible) to access remotely. RezOvation GT deals with the back-up issue by mirroring your data remotely (at their facility), and suggests using LogMeIn as a secure way to access the system from a remote location. There is also an online option, called RezOvation GT Online. We have not tested that version, and have heard sharp criticisms of it, so thorough testing is recommended before signing…

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