Release 5.5 was published on September 13th, 2014. Below are the features & enhancements included in this Bookerville release:
1) Housekeeping Enhancements
2) Guest Reviews
As the owner of your Bookerville account, you can now access the My Clean/Inspect Property List (Dashboard ==> Master Calendar, lower-left area), and you have full clean/inspect permissions on all your properties by default.
3) Property Features Enhancements:
Bookerville now automatically solicits reviews from guests a few days after they check-out. This is an important part of our effort to launch our listing site pages, so that we can obtain bookings for you. Soon there will be a report where you can see these. In the meantime, our own listing site pages are only displaying reviews of 4 stars (out of 5) or higher. There is also a new embeddable widget you can use to display these reviews on your own site. You can control whether the widget shows reviews for one specific property, or all your properties, and you can also filter on a minimum score. See your Property Setup ==> Widgets & Colors tab, and ask us for help if you need it.
4) Brazilian Real:
We've enhanced the Property Features area to include:
a) "Loft" and "Studio" in the Property Class drop list.
b) Beach View and Lake View (to supplement Beach Front and Lake Front).
c) Linens (provided or not).
d) Pool is now a drop-list with "Private Pool" and "Public Pool" options.
e) Destination and Distance to Destination. (i.e., "Beach", "20" meters)
Be sure to populate as much of these as you can, as this will enhance our ability to market your properties and obtain more bookings for you.
Bookerville now supports the Brazilian Real currency. Ask us if need help setting this up.
6) Occupancy Report:
We've made several enhancements to the At-A-Glance tab, including displaying the guest name (instead of confirmation code), Clean/Inspect Alerts, and more
7) Rental Guardian Travel & Damage Insurance:
You can now filter out certain statuses (i.e. "Owner Occupied/Reserved", "Maintenance") from the Occupancy Report.
Want to offer your guests damage and/or travel insurance? Bookerville is now integrated with Rental Guardian, the premier vacation rental insurance provider. No hassle paperwork, automatic submissions. Offer as a choice to guests or make it mandatory. This can also be a lucrative profit center for the property manager. Ask us how we can help you get started.
KathyandJim, September 14, 2014:
I never received any information about these changes and just happened to stumble upon this today. I am confused about Bookerville requesting reviews. All of my reviews are currently on VRBO or Flipkey. I hand pick those guests I request reviews from and always like to send a personal note. My goal is to keep my reviews current. I have 40 reviews on VRBO but if they are not current people get suspicious. If Bookerville sends out automatic review requests that I have no power to stop and VRBO or Flipkey also send them out automatically, I fear guests will just be overwhelmed and not bother to do any. I would prefer to be able to see what is going out, make changes to that template like we do on other templates and then make it manual if that is my desire.
It also bothers me that I don't see a way to view those reviews anywhere. I see a way to put them onto my web site, but I don't want to do that without reading what they say first.
Will you be adding a way to respond to reviews? I typically reply to every review that is posted.
John Amato, September 16, 2014:
Kathy - thank you for your responses on this new feature. At this time, we don't plan on making this optional, for reasons I will get into shortly.
Some things to consider:
1) We've sent out thousands of review solicitations at this point (started in August), and have had absolutely zero negative reactions to them. People are quite accustomed to getting product (or service) review requests. Let's face it: everyone that matters is doing them. So people are used to it.
2) Our emails are very polite, very courteous, and we make it very clear that it is optional, while at the same time persuading them that it's crucial for Bookerville and our property managers to maintain quality. And as with all our emails, these are also CAN-SPAM 2003 compliant, with a working Opt-Out link at the bottom.
3) You discovered the new Widget for embedding these into your site: excellent. You can also filter that widget to only show reviews of a certain minimum score.
4) A report showing you all reviews is in development, it will be available in the next few weeks.
5) We are currently not showing these anywhere except on Bookerville's own listing pages, which your property currently doesn't appear on yet. And even there, we are currently only showing reviews of 4 stars or higher.
6) Yes we do plan to enhance this feature to allow managers to also provide a comment in response. It's coming...
7) Does VRBO, Homeaway, FlipKey, AirBnB, etc. give you a choice on their guest review solicitations?
RentJekyll, December 23, 2014:
Is bookerville emailing my customers directly??????? And I am not being told about it??? How long has this been going on? Can I see a sample of what is being shown to my customers if this is true??? I am seriously concerned and confused about this.
John Amato, January 6, 2015:
RentJekyll - it's been going on since approximately August (2014).
The email that is sent to guests is very simple, it reads like this:
[GUEST NAME]: Our records indicate you recently stayed at [PROPERTY NAME]. We would love to learn about your experience. Would you please take a quick moment to tell us?
Click here to Review Your Stay: Review Your Stay <which is a link to click>
We are always striving to improve guest experiences, and we need your feedback to do this.
What are your concerns, and confusion?
tristarland, January 15, 2015:
I appreciate the simplicity of the template you are using, and the fact that you're dedicated to helping us better understand our guests and grow our operations. And let's face it - what this ultimately translates to is less work on our end. I also understand the benefit of soliciting guest reviews from Bookerville's perspective, as it will aid in your effort to launch listing site pages. Not to mention the fact that this will directly benefit property owners and managers in the long run.
We have an automated email set up to solicit reviews from our guests and weren't aware that Bookerville was also soliciting reviews. We came across the template on a vacation rental marketing blog. It reads something like this:
Dear [GUEST FIRST NAME],
I trust you had a safe trip back home after your stay at [PROPERTY NAME].
I would appreciate your feedback and comments on your vacation, [PROPERTY NAME] and the services provided. It is important for us to receive your opinion in order to maintain consistency and help improve our guests experiences.
I would also welcome your rating from 1 to 10 (10 being best) on the following criteria:
Was the property as described in the web site:
Was the booking easy to do:
If you have enjoyed your vacation and the service, please feel free to connect with us on Facebook and Google+ and share your experience and vacation images.
Lastly if you have your own travel blog and would like to add some high quality photos of [PROPERTY NAME], just let us know so we may send you some of the great images we have.
In advance, thank you and I look forward to hearing back from you.
With best regards,
In our experience, 99% of the guests who take time to sit down and provide feedback do so because they thoroughly enjoyed their vacation. At that point, we reply and provide them with a link to "share their experience publicly" so that other potential guests may better understand what to expect from booking with us. I guess you could say this is the long way of achieving the same outcome that we can achieve with the option of restricting the publicly visible Bookerville reviews to those that are 4 stars and above.
As managers and owners, we all strive to build lasting relationships and foster repeat guests, and we also know that it's the little things that often have the biggest impact. Having said this, have you considered allowing owners and managers the option of personalizing the solicitation?
Our repeat guests have stated that they have plenty of options for renting, but they choose us over competitors because they like working with us. They don't mention the fact we have an awesome company supporting us from behind the scenes to make this all possible. For example, if you just returned from a stellar vacation, would you be more likely to take the time to respond to an arguably generic email from - let's say - firstname.lastname@example.org, or a personal thank-you and request to share your experience from the weird, albeit funny guy you spoke with so many times over the phone and exchanged emails with for months beforehand? In either case, let's say you respond. Which is more likely to influence your decision on who you book with next year? In my mind, guests would choose the latter option.
I'm 100% on board with the fact that reviews are a must-have, but my fear is that the solicitation of reviews by Bookerville has the potential to hinder the mission of owners and managers who value the personal interaction and relationship-building aspect of the business, and who benefit from providing guests with a personal memo to remember them by. If we were allowed to at least personalize the feedback solicitation email, I feel that Bookerville could still reap the benefits of building a strong review database while helping owners and managers gain a competitive edge in building a solid portfolio of repeat guests.
Our goal is to become less reliant on VRBO and other marketing channels and instead to build a powerhouse of a website where we have all of the control. I'm excited to transfer our review-hosting over to Bookerville and for all of the innovation that I'm sure will occur between now and then. Thanks for your time!