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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…

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…

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,…

QR Codes: How to Get Started

The basics of creating and using QR codes [caption id="attachment_316" align="alignright" width="194" caption="Sample QR code linking to our Freeport Maine Bed & Breakfast"][/caption]There has been a lot of buzz recently about QR codes. Most articles tell you what they are (think of a bar code, that smartphones or other mobile devices can read, and usually link to a URL, an image, or some useful information), and give some ideas of what QR codes can be used for, or even how to make QR codes more attractive. But where does the non-technical person begin? One reason most articles don't really explain how to make your own QR codes, and how to use them, is that it is a very easy process. There, no need to feel intimidated! Try it yourself if you have a smartphone or other mobile device with a camera. Just activate your Bar Code Reader app, and point your device at the QR code in this article, and see what happens (you may have to download a Barcode Reader app, if you don't already have one). OK, What are QR Codes, Again? Others have described them in detail (see the two articles in the first paragraph, above), so we'll simply say that QR codes are like a bar code. You can scan or read them with a mobile device's camera, and they provide a link to something. You decide what the something is - that's why most of the articles are called "15 way to use QR codes" or similar titles - the possibilities are nearly endless. So, the way this works is that you put a QR code somewhere (on your business card, in a magazine ad, on a web site, T-shirt, billboard, anywhere in the physical world). The prospective user sees it, reads it via their…

Software Review: Book At Once Property Management Software

Book At Once provides a powerful and innovative approach to their software for managing bed and breakfasts and other small lodging properties. For many, their power and innovation will be very attractive - especially in the free version. For others, it just may not be their cup of tea. Overview Book at Once is a German booking system, reaching out to become a worldwide provider, and particularly to reach the American, market. Book at Once has also become a vendor member of PAII, as part of its efforts to reach out to the US and international innkeeping market. One of the most interesting aspects of their product is that it is priced according to the features you select. The basic system is free, and that could be powerful enough for some properties. If not, additional feature bundles can be added for a monthly fee per room, or Book at Once can tailor a bundle to your needs and price it according to the features selected. Pricing for the product is given in Euros per room per month (easily converted to US Dollars or other currency), on the basis of a two year contract. We were given a full system for the review, so if you were to purchase a different option, your features may be different. The technical design of Book at Once makes it an enormously powerful system – so much so that as you use the system you are left with the feeling that it can do even more than you can see. That leaves great possibilities for future growth. User Interface [caption id="attachment_253" align="alignright" width="300" caption="Book At Once Dashboard"][/caption] In evaluating the user interface, we consider the layout of the screens (or web pages), ease of navigating the program, ease of entering (or changing) booking or guest…

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