Hurricane Dorian – Why Travel Insurance is so important for coastal property managers.

I am still surprised at how many coastal property managers allow guest refunds for stays that have to be cancelled due to named storms.   In North Carolina, whenever I’ve booked a vacation rental on the coast, the property management company always recommended the purchase of travel insurance.   They let me know at every stage of the booking that I would not be getting my money back in the event of a tropical storm or hurricane.   My only course of recourse would travel insurance and they highly suggested I purchase it – especially if my travel was during hurricane season.

As a guest,  that did not bother me.  I can understand why a business cannot allow mother nature to interrupt their cash flow.   Imagine having to refund all of those guests stays, especially during a busy Labor Day travel season, because of a hurricane.  Yikes, what a mess.

Travel insurance isn’t that expensive and it provides a lot more than just protection from named storms.  It protects against cancellation due to job loss, sickness and a death in the family.  It protects not only your vacation rental accommodations, but flight costs too, as well as costs associated with lost luggage.

Here is a list of some of the items travel insurance typically covers:

If your property manager isn’t offering travel insurance or effectively mandating it by not offering refunds under any condition, then consider purchasing travel insurance on your own. Lodgix has a travel insurance partner that is reputable and makes issuance super easy, just visit:

https://lodgix.pablow.io/

Happy travels!

 

By |2019-08-29T13:59:18+00:00August 29th, 2019|News|0 Comments

Updates for April

SMS Character Limit Increase

Today we increased the allowed number of characters for SMS messages from 150 character to 450 characters.   However, messages with >160 characters will be broken down into chunks of 153 characters before being sent to the recipient’s handset.  Each “chunk” is the equivalent of sending one sms.   So sending a 450 character text will require three “chunks” which cost Lodgix 3x as much as sending a 150 character text.   That’s why we’ve been slow to increase the character limit.   Most modern phones are now smart enough to combine those “chunks” into one seamless text.

Sending SMS messages to your guests for directions, door codes, etc..  will assure that the most important information gets read (and delivered) in a timely manner.

 

TripAdvisor Integration is Complete

Occasionally a small bug or two is found, however in general the connection is stable.  TripAdvisor has some odd nuances with their connection which can at times take a few days to resolve, however overall the connection is working well.  We will be adding rate multiplier and commission functionality later this week.

Support for Wifi Locks from RemoteLock is Pending

While we have always supported the algorithmic locks from ResortLock, the wifi locks were not supported.  That will soon change.  We have some testing to complete this week, however this additional functionality should be live soon!

Recode of Owner Documents

The file system for owner documents has grown dated and slow for some accounts.   We are currently experimenting with using the Amazon Elastic File System to store owner documents (owner statements, rental agreements, etc..).  Hopefully the tests will go well, and soon that functionality and interface will get a much needed performance upgrade.  Keep you posted!

Beta Calendar Tape

We spent a few more days on improving the beta calendar tape recently.   One of the most frustrating components was how dates were displayed.   We returned to the look and feel of the previous calendar for that, and we added it to the bottom of the calendar as well (helps those with larger numbers of properties)

Additionally we improve the spacing at the top of the calendar to make it more functional on all screens and mobile devices.

 

More work needs to be done and we are committed to making additional incremental improvements in the coming months.

Infrastructure Updates

A great deal of time continues to be spent on updating our core systems to more recent versions of Python and Django.  Lodgix has been around now for 11+ years, and every few years significant effort must be made to update the core systems to keep them current.   This takes a lot of time and testing.   However once complete it allows us to introduce new interfaces and new coding techniques that take advantage of the improvements present in more recent versions of Python and Django.   This update cycle should end in May and then we will have 18 months or so where the entire team will be free to code new functionality!

Happy Monday!

Lodgix

By |2019-04-15T14:00:06+00:00April 15th, 2019|New Features, News|0 Comments

Some Updates

TripAdvisor Rentals Integration is Almost Complete!

Within the next several days we will begin live testing our updated integration to TripAdvisor Rentals. While we’ve been integrated to TripAdvisor for many years,  TA has recently overhauled their connectivity options to provide more flexibility,  real time availability updating (no more ical!) and reservation syncing.  They have also added some wonderful people to their support team, which has made working with TripAdvisor easy and much more enjoyable then we ever thought possible.

Expected general availability is in the first week of March 2019.

Infrastructure Updates

A large portion of our development efforts the past several months have been focused on keeping our frameworks updated.  These updates to both Django and Python require a great deal of research, preparation, manual coding and lots of testing.   This is important.  Many applications fail to account for the time and cost of keeping systems up to date.  Over time the damage becomes irreversible.    Lodgix is constantly investing in the future and working hard to assure that the platform is kept up to date and secure.   While these update processes take time and detract a bit from the coding of more whiz bang features, they keep Lodgix stable and assure that our foundation is solid and ready for additional long term growth.

Once complete, our staff will be well prepped to begin working on many new enhancements to the application.   Thanks for your patience during this period!

By |2019-02-20T10:38:42+00:00February 20th, 2019|News|0 Comments

New Multi Property Booking Calendars Have Launched!

Our new calendars offer some great new functionality and speed:

  1. Filtering (drill down by date, amenity, location, etc.)
  2. Full screen option
  3. Colorful, modern designs and options
  4. Multi-lingual
  5. Anchored headers
  6. Importing of holiday dates
  7. Mobile friendly

Here are some examples:

56 properties for rent @ outrageouscabins.com in Tennessee

Hotel and vacation rentals @ The Enchanted Inn in Clearwater Beach, Florida

By |2018-10-29T19:28:09+00:00October 29th, 2018|New Features, News|0 Comments

Updates coming to Lodgix

..so it’s been awhile since our last update, sorry about that.    Let’s review where we are at.

The single property calendar relaunch is done, but yet’s it’s not.

While I’ve been happy with the concept, the actual implementation needed tweaking and more flexibility.   What I am seeing come out of this last round of tweaks looks good, but we’ll see.  Once I am happy with design, it will go live.

Discount and coupon code functionality will relaunch on Monday, January 22, 2018.

There are two primary reasons for the relaunch.   The primary reason was that today discounts and coupon codes are a universal setting.   It is not currently possible to have different length of stay pricing for various properties.  It is also not currently possible to assign unique promo codes to individual properties.  All of that will change on Monday

Additionally, the discounts and coupon codes interface will be retired and that functionality will be rolled into the interface where taxes / fees / services and deposits are currently setup:

For those integrated to HomeAway, the additional discount flexibility will also allow Length of Stay pricing that can vary by property.

SMS Messaging for Guests, Employees and Owners

Should launch early next week.   There will be a new field for “SMS Phone” that will appear in every owner, guest and employee account.  Guests will be asked if they wish to receive text notifications from you during the online booking process.

We currently offer SMS notifications for the primary subscriber to receive new booking notifications as well as SMS notifications to the subscriber when payment requests are completed.

 

By |2018-01-18T03:05:11+00:00January 18th, 2018|New Features, News|0 Comments

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.

By |2017-07-31T14:43:18+00:00July 31st, 2017|News|0 Comments

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)



By |2017-02-28T15:44:25+00:00February 28th, 2017|New Features, News|0 Comments

And the Winner is….

Entries were shuffled…
img_0096
…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!

By |2016-09-16T17:12:42+00:00September 16th, 2016|News|2 Comments