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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…

Booking Form App for Facebook

Just over 2 years ago we posted instructions for creating a booking form app for Facebook. That method used Facebook's FBML app as its base. Of course, as some readers have noticed, Facebook later discontinued the FBML app (existing apps based on it continue to work, but no new apps are permitted to use it), so it is time (past time, some might say) to update the steps using newer methods that Facebook allows (at least as of this writing!). The New, Improved, Booking App for Facebook In some respects, this is not too different from the old app - at least the steps should look somewhat familiar. The new Facebook timeline makes things a little different in the details, but basically, you create the basic app (we'll use an app that was created by someone else, to avoid re-inventing it), paste in your booking form code, change the icon and position as desired, and you're in business! Let's get started... As we begin, make sure you are logged in to Facebook as the administrator of the page on which you want the booking app to appear. Then we need to use an app that qualifies for the current Facebook rules. For us, that will mean an iframe-based app. One we like, and have found easy to use, is the Static IFrame Tab from Woobox. It has a variety of options, and allows you to install it multiple times on your page, if you need to create several apps. Once again, we'll use Webervations as an example, but any booking engine that allows you to insert a widget into your page (with some exceptions where the widget relies on JavaScript that Facebook may not allow) should work similarly. Here are the steps: Go to the Static Iframe Tab by clicking…

Why You Should Use Multi Channel Funnels in Analytics

In our prior post on Measuring Social Media Impact we briefly mentioned Multi Channel Funnels and promised to discuss them soon. This post will discuss Multi Channel Funnels and what they can tell innkeepers about reservation sources. What are Multi Channel Funnels? [pullquote]A significant number of visitors make multiple visits before booking. That, alone, should make us pause before we draw conclusions about the value of a referral source only from the number of visitors it sends.[/pullquote]If you've used Google Analytics (GA) for enough time to be comfortable with it, you've either realized or learned from others that one problem with much of the data it relies on is that it is "last click" data - GA identifies the source that sent the visitor to your website, but historically didn't credit any other source that may have sent the same visitor at an earlier time. Nevertheless, we in the B&B industry know that nearly all visitors make multiple visits to your website (as well as other sites) before booking. Google knows that, too, and, in August, 2011, released Multi Channel Funnels (sometimes known as MCF) to help identify the sources that contribute to a goal conversion. In the B&B industry, a product has existed to record these visits for quite some time: Intell-A-Keeper, from Acorn IS provides similar information about multiple sources contributing to a booking. When discussing Multi-Channel Funnels, we speak of conversions (that is, a visitor having completed a goal you have set up), rather than bookings, because Multi-Channel Funnels are based on Goals (and you must have at least one goal set up in Google Analytics to use Multi-Channel Funnels). In addition to having a Goal for an online booking, Multi-Channel Funnels can also use Ecommerce Transactions as Goals. What Can I Learn from MCF Reports? There…

How to Use Google Analytics to Track Goals Through Checkout

If you've experimented with Google Analytics, you probably know you can set up and track Goals with it, but two things can make it challenging - (1) how to track goals from your site through the booking process, which usually takes place on a website managed by your booking software company, and (2) how to set up your goals so they are useful. Just to add to the confusion, Google has recently updated Analytics, changing the way you track from your site to the booking engine. In this post, we'll look at the way to install the Google Analytics (GA) code, and how to set up your goals to track your bookings. Overview of Tracking from Your Site to the Booking Engine If you don't care how it works, you can just skip to the next section to begin putting it together. [pullquote]Google has changed the way you track visitors who go from your website to your booking engine.[/pullquote]When you have GA tracking code on your site, it creates a cookie to track a visitor, storing bits of information, like the way they arrived at your site, the time they arrived, and the path they take through your site. Normally these cookies do not allow other sites to read them. As a result, when the visitor goes to your booking engine, the tracking code sees it as another site, and the booking engine cannot read the cookie from your site. This means your Analytics will not show the source of the booking as being from the true referring source, but will show it as coming from your site. In order to track the visitor through your site, to the booking system (and potentially back to your site again), you must set up the tracking code to allow the booking engine…

Software Review: ResNexus Reservation System

Based on data from its sister company's directory (Destination Nexus) Reservation Nexus bills itself as the most popular and most used all-in-one reservation system for US bed and breakfasts and inns. With all due respect, data from a sister company (only), and excluding data from much larger directories, makes that conclusion just a little suspicious. Nevertheless, there is little doubt that ResNexus is one of the top reservation systems, both in popularity and in features. Because of its popularity, the apparently large set of features, and its effort to position itself as the top reservation system available, we were eager to give it a try at our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast. Since one of the claims made by ResNexus amounts to a claim that you will get more online bookings than with other systems, we decided to go ahead with a full month's trial, rather than just a brief demo of the product. That also allowed us to more fully explore its features, and to take advantage of its advertised "Red Carpet Service." Overview Like many modern reservation systems, ResNexus is a web-based system. Most of these fall short, either because they don't attempt to be a full-fledged property management system, or because they have not implemented a full-feature set as is found on more complete systems. That is not the case with ResNexus. Virtually every feature provided by the best systems has been implemented in ResNexus, and new features continue to be added. That said, there are still occasional perplexing design choices that make you wonder what the developers were thinking, and the pricing structure leaves something to be desired. User Interface Most of the user interface (web pages) seems to have a logical flow, and is relatively easy to navigate, so while the comments may seem negative,…

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