HomeAway Secure Messaging Update – Background – Part One

HomeAway recently announced that they will be moving to a secure messaging platform.    This is not a Lodgix initiative, we can only code our platform to make the changeover as seamless as possible for our users.  I do feel bad however for those who use HomeAway as the primary source of their bookings, as the whole platform has become must more restrictive and expensive over the years.   Hopefully more and more of you will take up the challenge to become less dependent on listing sites.  Having too much, if any, reliance on any listing site is a recipe for failure.

Summary of Changes

Initially the HomeAway Secure Messaging Platform will affect inquiry responses only.

Before (current):

  1. HomeAway provides guest email address in the inquiry feed.
  2. HomeAway allows HTML in the inquiry response.
  3. HomeAway allows URLs to 3rd party sites in the inquiry response.
  4. HomeAway allows property manager contact information in the inquiry response.
  5. HomeAway allows attachments in the inquiry response.

After (on or soon after August 7th, 2017):

  1. HomeAway will no longer provide guest email address, instead they will assign a temporary pass through email in the form of xxxxxxxx-xxxxxx@homeway.com
  2. HomeAway will NOT allow HTML in the inquiry response.   Text responses ONLY.
  3. HomeAway will NOT allow any links to any websites except their own website in the inquiry response.
  4. HomeAeay will NOT allow a property manager to include their phone, email, or website address in the inquiry response.
  5. HomeAway will NOT allow attachments in the inquiry response.

Line breaks are supported so that HomeAway can format a response – Tables and other formatting (bold, italics, etc) are not supported.

Recommendations from HomeAway for Property Managers:

  • Create a text-only response template for HomeAway inquiries
  • Populate the text-only template
  • Update automatic responses to remove urls, email addresses and phone numbers
  • Remove embedded images, including logos
  • Update verbiage that directs travelers back to website and/or special offers
  • Remove attachments
  • Perform a test inquiry to view inquiries and responses

Impact on Lodgix Subscribers:

  1. Ability to quote within an inquiry response will be very limited as none of the pretty HTML tables we supply can be used.
  2. No logos, no graphics, no images will be allowed.
  3. Potential guests can only book at HomeAway.
  4. No more automated ability to sell other inventory when the inquiry is for a property that is not available.
  5. No more deep links into your website to provide more information or reference a FAQ.
  6. No more use of the email signature in your inquiry response.
  7. No more no response followups to HomeAway inquiries.

I’d like to say there are some positives as a result of this change, but it’s only purpose is to drive ALL bookings through HomeAway to assure that HomeAway gets their service fee.  They believe they are becoming a booking platform and are no longer a lead generation platform.   On our end, it takes a simple process and makes it complex while limiting your access to data which is rightfully yours.

In our next installment, part two, we will outline the changes that will launch on Lodgix on Wednesday August 2nd to support HomeAway Secure Messaging.

SMS New Booking Alerts Have Launched!

It is now possible to configure a text alert (SMS) when new online bookings occur.   To configure this service:

  1. Navigate to settings > important settings within Lodgix (https://www.lodgix.com/system/isettings/bookings/)
  2. Go to the Bookings Tab
  3. Verify your mobile phone number, and then click on Verify Phone and enter the code that is sent to you via SMS.
  4. Once complete a SMS alert will be sent to that number for every new online booking (see example below)



And the Winner is….

Entries were shuffled…
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…and put in a candy treat bowl…(I had no hat readily available and I love Halloween!)..img_0097 ..and a winner was chosen!img_0099

…lucky number 13??

Even as I write this post, I don’t know the actual name of the winner of the iPhone7.  I emailed the final list to my colleague and have not checked the list to see which account correlates to lucky number 13.

Let’s go see…

winner-jody-steick

Jody Stelck of Surf City Rentals!!

is the winner of the new iPhone7!!   We will be in touch next week to make arrangements to get your new iPhone7 ordered!

Thanks to all who took the time to review Lodgix and thanks to all for being such great Lodgix customers!

iPhone 7 Giveaway is Today!

Thanks to all of the 64 Lodgix subscribers who left us wonderful reviews over the past few weeks.  To celebrate such a great response, we’ve entered all 64 reviewers into a drawing for a new iPhone 7 (up to $600 value).

Rather than using a random number generator online, I am going to do it old school.  Each entrant has been assigned a number from 1 to 64 based upon the timestamp of your review.  I have written each number on a piece of paper:

img_0095

All will be put into a hat and a number drawn at random.

Stay tuned, the drawing will be done in the next hour or so!!

1465221553-1273

Current Projects Update

Our two primary development projects have made significant progress since our last update.

Online Booking Page Redesign

I’ve seen the first online booking page redesign / recode test pages and can’t tell you how excited I am to get rid of our current pages.   Those pages continue to work well, however the design is dated and the mobile experience very sub par.   The new pages are responsive,  utilize the latest in buttons / icon designs and offer a great deal more flexibility.   It’s just a really big deal to flush the old code / design and usher in the new.   We still have several weeks of development of testing left, but great progress has been made!

I might have some screenshots next week Monday.

Merged Rates / Rules

An incredible amount of work has been done as we work to consolidate a the rates and rules setup for each property into one interface.  An immense amount of automated testing is being done to assure that all quotes and bookings from all services (booking calendars, WordPress users,  API users, channel users, etc) work as before with no downtime or discrepancies.

There will be huge interface differences which will be rolled out incrementally, however all guests should notice no difference in the rates and rules being used in quotes and bookings.  This update will only make property setup and maintenance MUCH easier, as well as make future coding MUCH easier and efficient on the development side of things.  It’s a much much needed update and one that I can’t wait to have behind us!

More soon!