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Beginner's Corner (144 Topics)
News (6 Topics)
Feature Requests (99 Topics)
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Featured Topic:

Homeaway, VRBO, and Auto-Responders
by John Amato

Homeaway VRBO Auto-Responder

What's an Auto-Responder?



Before we get into the good news, let's briefly review what Bookerville's Auto-Responder is. Whenever you get an inquiry from a listing site (such as Homeaway, VRBO, FlipKey, AirBnB, etc.) they usually send an email to you with the details. You can automatically forward a copy of these emails to a special email address at Bookerville, and Bookerville will read those emails, obtain the information in them, and potentially automatically generate replies to the guests with quotes, links to book, see your other properties, or make online booking requests. This is configurable, and there are lots of options on how to run it. At a minimum, Bookerville records all these inquiries and presents them to you for easy administering in a convenient lead-management tool in your Dashboard ยป At-A-Glance tab. You can learn more about our highly-acclaimed Auto-Responder and what it can do for you.

Homeaway and VRBO Lead Management



About a year ago (2013), Homeaway and VRBO started hiding the guests' email addresses from these inquiry emails that they send to you. Because of this, Bookerville would be unable to automatically reply to the guest. This could also create a lot of back & forth in terms of data entry between your Homeaway/VRBO account and Bookerville. Suffice to say, most property managers were outraged by this. But there appears to be good news...

Tell Them You're Using an Auto-Responder



Our recent experience with our customers has revealed that Homeaway's policies provide for a workaround: if you explain to them that you are using an Auto-Responder, they will put the guest email addresses back into your inquiry emails. We've seen them do this for several of our customers, large and small. So it's certainly worth reaching out to your account representative to ask about this, as it appears they are willing to cooperate.

Calendar Synchronizing, and More



And while you have their attention, it's certainly also worth telling them that you want them to open up their API's to Bookerville so that we can integrate availability data, keeping your calendars synchronized automatically. AirBnB, FlipKey, and many other listing sites already do this using our iCal export feature, so it's about time Homeaway and VRBO make your life as easy as those other listing sites do, right?

 

Recent Discussions:

Re: "From" Address and Bookerville Email Delivery
Vacation Rental Spam and SPF

How Bookerville Sends Email



Bookerville has no choice but to default to sending out emails with a "From" address of noreply@bookerville.com, because the emails are in fact being sent from the Bookerville email servers. One of the first things spam filters look at is where (what ip address) the email came from, and then they do a reverse DNS lookup to see what domain that ip address belongs to. Of course, for Bookerville it's going to come back as bookerville.com, as it should.

If we place your email address in the "From" address and send it from Bookerville, it has an extremely high chance of getting rejected as spam, because the "From" address must be the domain that the email is sent from.

The Almighty "From" Address



So we instead place "noreply@bookerville.com" as the "From" address, and then place your email address in the "Reply-To" address. For most modern email clients, this will cause replies to be automatically drafted to go to your email address, but sometimes this doesn't happen: we do in fact get some correspondence that clearly is meant for the property manager, and then we have to reply to them and make sure they send it to you.

This also still causes some email systems to flag it as spam because they don't even really like it when the "Reply-To" address is a domain other than the one the email originated from.

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) Records



The real solution is to put your email as the "From" address. But in order to do that, you must grant Bookerville permission to send email on behalf of your domain. This is done with something called Sender Policy Framework (SPF) records. These are simple records that your domain-name provider sets up, and these SPF records are visible to the Internet. Mail servers will look up your SPF records and see that you've granted Bookerville permission to send email on behalf of your domain, and then let your emails through, even though the "From" address isn't the same domain as the one sending the email.

Clear As Mud?



In short: we are asking everyone to please go through the steps to establish SPF records to grant Bookerville permission to send email on behalf of your domain, so that we can reduce rejected email, and also reduce the number of emails we are having to manually re-direct back to you. Everyone wins, including the confused guests!

How Do I Do It?



To setup the proper SPF records to do this, you are going to have to work with your email/website and/or DNS provider, because it's different for all of them. Usually this is the same group, like GoDaddy, Network Solutions, HostGator, Enom, DreamHost, Namecheap, etc. Or you may be using Yahoo, Web.com, WordPress, or other services that combine domain-name, email, and web-hosting all in one package (this is very popular). They will need to work with you to setup your SPF records. Tell them you want to set up SPF records to grant Bookerville permission to send email on behalf of your domain. They should know what to do, but feel free to loop us in wherever we can be helpful.

If you don't have your own domain name, or even if you do but you're not using it for your email address, then it really is time to fix that. It's not at all difficult to set up an email address for your domain name, and you can ask your hosting group for help with that.

If you don't have your own domain, create one. This can be fun, and honestly it will only legitimze your business further and provide you with a more professional image.

Notify Us



Once the proper SPF records have been set up, please contact us so that we can switch your account to start using your own email address as the "From" in all your Bookerville-generated email.

More Material



Here are some other articles which go into some more detail:

Adding SPF records, GoDaddy Help

Sender Policy Framework (SPF) - Wikipedia

Email Spam and SPF Records

Setting up SPF Records With GoDaddy
Nov 12, 2018 in Blog: General by John Amato
Re: Looking for a Website Designer...
Thanks... i was able to find one and they are actively engaged at this point. Ill let you all know how it works out
Sep 13, 2018 in Website Integration by PACVL
Re: Looking for a Website Designer...
I can help you with WordPress development and/or Bookerville integration into your website. FreelanceWebProgrammer.com
Sep 13, 2018 in Website Integration by Web Developer
Re: Vacation Rental Owner Statements
It's no bother! Glad you got it working...
Aug 29, 2018 in Feature Requests by John Amato

 

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