Don’t Wait to Update Your Vacation Rental Calendar: Time Blocking and Reservations
Like many of my neighbors and fellow owners in Hawaii and Lake Tahoe, I love surfing, skiing and snowboarding, so why would I own property anywhere else? It comes as no surprise that, like me, most vacation rental owners buy homes in the places they like to visit themselves. And they visit a lot.
During my first year of owning a pad in Maui Kamaole, Hawaii, I visited 5 times. I stored my two surfboards in the closet, bought an annual pass on ATA airlines and eventually realized the importance of manually updating my vacation rental calendar.
In my previous post I talked about a very simple way to setup automatic calendar synchronization, once and forever. Here we discuss how to update your calendar manually.
At Rentini we have two options for updating calendar:
1) Create a blocking – an easy one step process
2) Create a reservation - a two step process which requires you to record payment.
There are multiple ways to add a reservation or time block to your calendar. The most intuitive would be by following navigation tabs:
- Rentals >> Blocking >> Add Blocking
- Rentals >> Reservations >> Add Reservation
Another way of adding a time block or reservation would be by opening the monthly calendar page from the Dashboard or on Edit Listing page.
Select a month and roll your mouse over any date until an Update button appears. Click on the Update button or anywhere in that cell. A new window will pop-up, which will let you choose a type of action. Available options are:
- Add Blocking
- Add Reservation
- Add Rate
We will discuss how to add different types of rates in future posts. For now, let’s just focus on blockings and reservations.
Rule of thumb: Use blockings to mark dates unavailable.
To block, choose your start and end dates and hit the Update Calendar button. You can also put in a note for future reference, such as “My last minute getaway!!!” or “Uncle Sam promised it’s his last trip this year”
The process is a bit more complicated with reservations as there are a few different scenarios worth considering.
IMPORTANT: Keep in mind that the dates on your calendar will not become unavailable until payment is submitted by the guest or the homeowner marks the reservation paid manually.
Reservation on Guest’s behalf: You are Expecting Payment
You may create a reservation on guest’s behalf and assign a custom rate to it (optional). Let’s say someone calls you and says, “I would like to rent your place. How do I proceed from here?”
All you need is their name and email address. Just open Rentals >> Reservations and click Add Reservation button. Select the Yes option for email notifications. This way your guests will receive an email invitation to pay the required amount as well as all future reminders. This is convenient, as you do not need to remember important dates to remind your guests about payment dues. The system sends out reminders automatically.
If you do not want them to receive automatic reminders, just select the No option for email notifications.
Reservation on Friend’s Behalf
If a friend of yours wants to visit and you only want to charge them a cleaning fee, they may leave a check for the housekeeper or pay in advance.
To facilitate the pay in advance option, just click Add Reservation and enter $1 into the Custom Rate field (sorry, the system doesn’t allow to enter $0). Select the Yes option for Email notifications and then hit Update Calendar. An email invitation will then be sent to your friend so he/she can pay online. Once they complete the payment process, the dates will be marked unavailable.
If a guest calls you and wants to submit a payment, you may accept credit card payments over the phone. However, it is important to note the recent PCI compliance standards, which do not allow keeping your guests’ card on file unencrypted.
Protecting cardholder data is also good for your business because PCI security prevents stolen customer data, and:
- Prevents lawsuits
- Saves you money
Rentini payment portal becomes handy when you need to accept payments and stay PCI compliant. We incorporate all the latest standards, which could also be another selling point for those guests who are concerned about Internet fraud and unauthorized credit card abuse. Working in IT data security for 13 years taught me to keep my hands away from sensitive information wherever possible. When a vacation rental guest offers me their credit card over the phone, I politely refuse to accept it. Accepting payment via a PCI compliant online system gives you the piece of mind that you won’t be liable for any data breach.
If you have any suggestion on how to make our reservation system better, please leave your feedback in comments!