Tutorials on how to effectively use the Lodgix.com vacation rental management application and how to be a great vacation rental owner and manager

Booking Banners for your Website

If you would prefer to embed a nice looking booking banner on your website, rather than the booking calendar itself, we provide a several professionally designed buttons / banners of various sizes that might interest you.

Click on the Banner Wizard Menu Item

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Add a New Banner by Clicking on the "+" Sign

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Follow the Four Step Process

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Step #1: Choose a Theme. This is the color scheme of the online booking page that the banner will trigger.
Step #2: Click "Next"

Choose a Banner and a Banner Size

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Click "Next" at the bottom of the screen

Choose a Calendar

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If you have multiple units, you might want the banner to open the online booking page and display the multi-unit calendar or you might want to open the single-unit calendar for your property. It’s your choice!

Click "Next" to continue.

Copy and Paste the Provided HTML Code into your Website / Blog.

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Step #1: Click the copy button and paste into your website where you wish the banner / button to appear
Step #2: Click on the Save Button for future reference

By |2011-01-10T21:54:59+00:00January 10th, 2011|Tutorials|0 Comments

The Concept

Lodgix.com wants to be more than just a management and online booking platform, we want to help you market your property(s) as well. We can do this by distributing your property and / or room data to other vacation rental marketing sites that will in turn generate inquiries for your rentals.

Do you REALLY want to put all of your eggs in the HomeAway / VRBO.com basket?

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For many vacation rental owners sites the HomeAway network is a necessary component of their marketing plans. That’s fine, they do deliver results and they are the premier vacation rental listing network in the world. However, there needs to be a viable alternative to the HomeAway network. It’s never a good thing to have a monopoly and outside of a few up and comers like FlipKey, etc. there really aren’t any head to head competitors out there anymore.

HomeAway has taken in over $500 million dollars in venture capital. At some point these investors will want out of their investment via a HomeAway IPO. When this occurs HomeAway will look at ALL ways to drive up their revenues. They are very cognizant that many property owners derive the majority of their business from their listings on HomeAway. Many property owners generate hundreds of inquiries per year, not including the 50 or more phone inquiries they might get – all for $400-$600 per year. This model simply will not last. HomeAway will move to a per inquiry pricing model, and inquiries generally price between $8 and $10 per inquiry, with phone inquiries being even higher. For many property owners this will raise their annual listing fees to $1000 – $3000 and they will be forced to pay it, because there are no alternatives that will generate similar results.

The Lodgix.com Solution to the HomeAway Problem

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Most property owners do not list their properties on more than 1 or 2 listing sites because of the time required to add and maintain multiple listings on multiple websites. Keeping rates, images and marketing text up to date is a pain, and it’s hard to determine the ROI from advertising on smaller vacation rental listing networks.

Our solution is to put all of your property data (images, marketing text, amenities, rates, availability, etc.) into an XML feed and then distribute that feed to as many free third party listing sites as we can. The math is simple. A HomeAway might generate 100 inquiries per year, and a 2nd tier site like VacationrRentalDirect.com might generate 10 inquiries per year. Therefore if we distribute your property to 10 sites that generate 10 inquiries per year, that would equal the 100 inquiries that you might normally generate from the HomeAway network.

The end result is that the property owner / manager gets a great alternative source of leads and mitigates their dependence on the HomeAway network in the event that HomeAway decides to change their revenue model and charge you more (much more) each year for your listing.

How do I access my property listings on other third party sites?

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Go to Settings –> Marketing Partners and then click on Review Offers

Activating or Pausing Your Listings

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For each of our third party marketing partners you will see links to both the primary website as well as links to your listing pages on the partner site. If you wish to pause / activate your listing, just click on the "pause" link and your listing will be removed from XML feed, and thus removed from the third part site within 12 hours.

VacationRentalDirect.com

Our initial marketing partner is VacationRentalDirect.com. A listing on the VacationRentalDirect.com site normally is $99.00 per year. However, since we also own VacationRentalDirect.com, we cut a deal with ourselves and are offering all Lodgix.com customer FREE listings for as long as you use the system. In order to qualify for the FREE annual listing each property must meet the minimum listing requirements, which are:

-minimum of four images
-google map address
-marketing text completed

Once those requirements are met, your property listing will appear on VacationRentalDirect.com within 24 hours. Of course you have the option of "pausing" the distribution of your listing(s) at any time. Any changes made to your listing on Lodgix.com are automatically updated on our partner sites within 24 hours. Availability data is updated immediately.

As time progresses we hope to add a slew of free listing sites as marketing partners. Sites like:

Craigslist
Google Base
Google Local
Backpage
BeachHouse.com
Vacation Rental Connection
Hutz.com

And from there we will solicit special deals from other paid listing sites to push your property data into their systems.

Connectivity with the HomeAway Network

If and when the HomeAway network publishes an API we will gladly connect Lodgix to their platforms to allow for seamless updating of your listings and calendars on their websites.

By |2011-01-08T20:21:18+00:00January 8th, 2011|Tutorials|0 Comments

Invoicing and Guest Reservations

Many times throughout the week I encounter Lodgix.com customers that are not using best practices when it comes to guest reservations and invoicing. As a vacation rental owner myself, I cannot fathom how a vacation rental business owner can manage their business effectively if they aren’t accurately recording the payments and refunds associated with each rental.

Each invoice has a status, that status can be:

1) Unconfirmed
2) Confirmed
3) Paid-in-Full
4) Refund Owed

An invoice is in an unconfirmed state of the guest has not paid the reservation deposit requirement which must always be setup within the Universal Rules area of the application. For most properties, the reservation deposit requirement is 50% of the rental charges or 100% if the rental is <30 days to arrival.

For example, if today is January 7th and a reservation is made today with a June 7 arrival date, then 50% of the rental charges would be due now to make the reservation. The invoice will remain in an unconfirmed status until the 50% is paid. THE INVOICE WILL ALWAYS TELL YOU WHAT PAYMENT AMOUNT IS REQUIRED TO BRING THE INVOICE TO A CONFIRMED STATUS.

All invoices with an "Unconfirmed" status are displayed in the pending reservations area of your dashboard. There should never be reservations that are in the past with an unconfirmed status. That means you as a business owner are not matching the real world transaction with the invoice transaction, and it will make your vacation rental accounting very difficult in the long term.

The invoice is always your point of reference. If you receive a check in the mail for a payment, it must be recorded against the correct invoice. If you owe a security deposit refund to a guest after departure it must both be matched against the invoice and recorded within the invoice to ultimately bring that invoice to zero.

Pending Reservations Example (BAD)

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This is an example of a property owner who is NOT CLOSING OUT EACH INVOICE AND BRINGING IT’S BALANCE TO ZERO. If today is January 7th, 2011, then every single one of these reservation is in the past and these all show that the guest still owes the property owner money. I know this because the reservation is in a pending status, which means that the reservation is in an "Unconfirmed" status, which means that the guests owes me money to confirm the reservation. But that can’t be true, because these reservations are over!!! So either the property owner did not collect enough money (unlikely) or the property owner collected the money and failed to record it correctly on the invoice (likely).

Pending Reservations Example (GOOD)

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The property owner is using best practices. If today is January 7th, 2011, all of his reservations are in the future. That means each of those reservations has yet to occur and are not confirmed because the property owner is awaiting payment or has received payment and has not had time to record it (check, cash, etc.)

Refund Due (BAD)

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This property owner has a lot of reservations that are showing as being owed a refund. Some of these invoices are from early 2010. It is highly unlikely that the guest has not received their refund because the property owner would be in a lot of hot water if they were intentionally not refunding security deposits. It is more likely that the property owner experienced some damage and refunded only a portion of the security deposit or simply failed to record the refund at all. If only a portion of the deposit was refunded, then the remaining amount which the invoice shows as being owed to the guest needs to be countered by adding a "breakage fee" to the invoice and applying it versus the deposit amount that is showed as being owed.

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In this example, the property owner $742.00 in rental charges (item #1) that are due + payment of the $100.00 security deposit, so $842.00 is due (item #2). However, for some reason the property owner processed another payment of $100.00 (item #3), resulting in a credit balance in both the rental charges and the other deposits columns. Thus the guest is currently owed $200.00

The guest departs and the property owner see that the guest broke an expensive lamp and did not report it. Per the property owner’s policies she wants to retain $50.00 of the $100.00 security deposit and must update the invoice appropriately.

In item #5 she creates a new fee and calls it a "Breakage Fee" and then choose to assess the fee against the security deposit (Item #6). IT IS VERY IMPORTANT IF YOU ARE WISHING TO REDUCE THE AMOUNT OF SECURITY DEPOSIT REFUNDED that you first create a fee and assess the charge against the security deposit and not rental charges. In step #7 she sets the amount of the fee at $50.00.

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The result is that you can see that a breakage fee has been added to the invoice for $50.00 (item #1), but has been paid for from the security deposit monies already collect (item #2) and thus all that is owed to the guest is the remaining $50.00 of the security deposit and the $100.00 which the property accidentally overcharged the guest (item #3) resulting in a total credit due to the guest of $150.00 (item #4).

Guest Refunds

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Because the property owes the guest a refund for both the security deposit ($50.00) and an overpayment of rental charges ($100.00) two separate refunds must be recorded to bring this invoice to zero balance.

Step #1: Press the Record Refund icon
Step #2: Enter the amount of the refund
Step #3: Choose whether to apply the refund towards the security deposit or rental charges
Step #4: Choose the refund method
Step #5: If via check, record the check # of the refund
Step #6: Press "Record Refund"

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The transaction history of the invoice will update and you can now see that the balance of the Other Deposits column has been reduced to zero after the security deposit refund has been recorded. Now all that is left is to issue another refund for $100.00 and apply it towards the rental charges balance.

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The final invoice now accurately reflects what transpired with this particular guest. The invoice now has a zero remaining balance (item #1) and reflects the rental charges refund due to the overpayment and both the rental charges and the security deposit accounts have a zero balance.

This invoice is done!!

By |2011-01-07T17:16:33+00:00January 7th, 2011|Tutorials|0 Comments

How to Move Guests Between Properties

Moving guests between properties is relatively easy. However the method varies depending on whether you are moving a guest between rooms within a roomtype (common for b&bs, boutique hotels, condotels, etc.) or whether you are moving guests from one single unit to another single unit (cottages, homes, condos, etc.). The methods are different for each and described below.

Moving guests between single units (cottages, homes, cabins, condos, etc.)

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In this example we are going to pretend that the guests in Condo #11 need to be moved to another unit. These guests have paid $10.00 and have a $75.00 per night rate. It’s important that you make mental note of the per night pricing and any other items that are present (or not present on the invoice) on the invoice. It might even be good to quickly print the page to make sure everything jives when the guest is moved.

Step #1: Click on the Details tab at the top of the invoice

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Step #2 – Delete the current unit (condo #11) from the reservation by pressing the red X icon.

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Step #3: Click the "+" icon to drop down a list of available properties. If you have a lot of properties, please wait a second or two for the list to populate.
Step #4: Choose the new property
Step #5: Press the "Confirm" button to confirm the property
Step #6: Press Save. If the reservation violates any rules for the property, you will be asked if you wish to "Save Anyways" and override the rules.
Step #7: Once saved you can click on the invoice number at the top to return to the invoice and make any required adjustments to the invoice.

The rental rates for the new unit will reflect what has been setup in the application for the dates of the reservation. Likewise any fees or taxes that are associated with this property will be added to the invoice. Thus really all that is occurring is that you are retaining the same invoice number and retaining any payments that have been applied to that invoice, but all other items are wiped from the invoice and it’s up to you to modify the invoice to make sure you are in sync with the guest in terms of pricing / fees / taxes expectations that were present on the original invoice.

Moving guests between rooms within the same roomtype

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This example would be for a property manager who maybe has 20 two bedroom condos, and needs to move a guest to a different two bedroom condos. If you wish to move a guest to a room within a different roomtype you’ll have to follow the process outlined earlier.

Step #1: Click on the "Change" link within the invoice
Step #2: Choose a different condo from the drop down menu and click the "Change" button once complete

That’s it!

By |2010-12-30T21:24:57+00:00December 30th, 2010|Tutorials|0 Comments