Account Set-up Launchpad
This article provides a guide to various things you should think about when beginning to set-up your account, many of which are decisions that will be informed by the way in which you currently run, or intend in the future to run, your self-catering business. This is not an exhaustive article, but thinking over the questions below should help you to set-up your account in a deliberate and intentional way, and ensure that it will provide the most benefit to you going forward.
Is your Property going to operate on a 'Book Now' or 'Enquire Now' basis?
Your properties can be set-up to offer three different booking processes. Most guests prefer to place a booking directly, and to know that their preferred dates are reserved for them immediately. However, some properties, in particular large group or Exclusive Use properties, might prefer to operate on an 'Enquire Now' basis. Each of the options is explained briefly below.
- 'Book Now' - This option allows the guest to choose their dates, add any options/extras you have set-up, enter the information required by the booking form, and then place the booking, which will immediately block the dates. If you have a Payment Processor set-up, you can also receive the payment of the deposit at the time of booking too.
- This article illustrates the Guest Booking journey from start to finish, and explains how to test and preview it before the SuperControl calendars are added to your website.
- 'Book Now' (with 'Check Before Booking') - It is also possible to make the property directly bookable, but to include an additional pop-up message asking the prospective guest to check availability prior to booking, as shown below.
- Once they have contacted you as directed, and you are happy for them to proceed, they can then add any options/extras you have set-up, enter the information required by the booking form, and then place the booking, which will immediately block the dates. If you have a Payment Processor set-up, you can also receive the payment of the deposit at the time of booking too.
- 'Enquire Now' - It is also possible for Website bookings to configure a property to operate on an enquiry basis. This means that the guest is able to see availability and pricing for the property, and is then directed to 'Send Enquiry' via your Enquiry form. This will register interest, but no payment will yet be taken and the dates will not yet be blocked in the calendar.
- You will be notified by email that an enquiry has been made, and can then respond accordingly. If you are happy for it to proceed, you would then convert the enquiry into a booking, thereby blocking the dates in the calendar, and send an email with the Booking Summary appended to inform the guest of how much to pay, and if you have a Payment Processor set-up, you can include the payment link to allow them to pay their deposit by card.
- N.B. Any integrated third party-listings for the property will be governed by the settings set-up on that third party, and so will not necessarily be able to be 'enquiry only' if the third party mandates instant booking as a pre-requisite for connecting the listing with SuperControl.
How will you enter your Pricing?
- Using a Dynamic Pricing package is the simplest way to get your pricing in place. To find out more about how dynamic Pricing can help you to maximise your revenue, Click here.
Non-Dynamic Pricing Models-
The Short Break Pricing can then the set as a fixed percentage of the weekly price (as shown below) or manually entered into the Price Planner Price Bands. Note that you should still include, for example, a 1 night price, even if you don't offer one night says. 1 night won't be bookable if you configure your short break bands with a higher minimum nights stay, but it is still needed if you wish to offer stays of longer than 7 nights, since the system uses the weekly price + short break price to quote for longer stays. Thus, a 1 night price is required to quote a price for an 8 night stay.
- If you wish to use non-dynamic Daily Pricing (i.e. a price for each night of the week plus a 'weekly price' please ask for this to be enabled in your account.
What will your Start Days and Short Break Settings be?
- You should think about your allowed Start Days for Full Week Bookings throughout the year, as well as the short breaks that you wish to offer. The allowed Short Breaks can be made to vary throughout the year, and once set-up, can easily be copied from one year to the next, or from one property to another.
- If you require a more complex short break set-up (for example with days that are allowed as departure days but not as arrival days, or with different settings for 7+ night stays) then you can ask for the 'Short Break Departure Grid' to be enabled, to give you greater control of your short break settings.
Have you considered your Terms & Conditions & Policies?
Do you need to ask any Custom Booking/Enquiry form Questions?
- You might need to add custom questions or statements to your booking form and/or enquiry form to gather pertinent information, which can easily be set-up following this guide, for example, to ask how beds should be made up (double/twin), for the addresses of additional guests, or to create a compulsory check box to ensure that the guest assents to a requirement of booking (i.e. that their booking conforms to current government guidelines).
How will you take Payments for Bookings?
- Using a Payment Processor allows guests to easily pay the deposit for their booking whilst placing it, and enables you to easily send them a payment link, manually or automatically, when their balance is due. We integrate with two main payment processors as well as PayPal. A summary of the two Payment Processor features is below, and we have a whole section of guidance on signing-up and getting started with payment processors- just click here!
- You can also set -up other payment methods, for either guest or Admin use, such as Bank Transfer, Cheque or Cash. you can also create custom payment methods if needed. To select the non-card options you wish to offer, click here for guidance.
A note about Online Reviews of Payment Processors-
Integrating a payment system properly is a complex task, which is why we have chosen to integrate with two payment processors fully, and build preferrential relationships with them. One thing to mention, is that online reviews of Payment Processors don't usually provide an accurate reflection of the way a Payment Processor works in practice. The reason for this is that a Paynent Processor system does not operate in a standalone manner, but are always experienced as part of a larger, integrated system. The quality of those third-party systems can vary immensely, and those integrations can improve over time. The online reviews thus reflect their integration with a particular third-party system (of greater or lesser quality) and at a particular point in time. SuperControl, for what it is worth, has a better quality integration than most others, more direct company-to-company communication channels, as well as preferrential terms around payout times (i.e. a few days after payment is made, rather than remittance a few days after the arrival date) etc.
What will your Guest Communication Journey look like?
- First impressions count! Properly planning your guest journey, from the time that they first search the dates they are interested in to the time that they receive a thank-you email and review request helps to ensure a happy guests and minimises Admin for you.
- At the beginning of set-up, we recommend thinking about which emails you wish the guest to receive, and at what points they should get them. Planning your guest journey will help you to set up and automate your templates in an intentional way.
- Email templates can be set-up with tags to pull through guest, property or booking-specific information, and the link to make payment via a payment processor can be added by appending the booking summary.
- Automating your Email Templates make it easier to manage your guest communication. You can use automated emails to automatically send your guests arrival instructions, reminders to pay their balance, a thank-you message, or almost anything else they might need to know, at a point before arrival or after departure determined by you, or only when a criteria is met (such as if their balance remains unpaid past its due date). You can even send an email automatically only to bookings that have selected a particular booking extra, such as a dog guide only to those who have chosen to bring a dog? Click HERE for Written Instructions on Automating emails
- Another useful way of optimising your guest communication journey is using the SuperControl Guest Login. This enables guests to manage their bookings themselves. If they want to add any options or extras, enter in guest names or pay an outstanding balance, they can do this from their own login area. They can also view their previous bookings. Within the Guest Login, you can enter custom pages to provide more information about your business. The good news is that it’s very easy to set up.
- Click HERE to Get Started with the Guest Login!
Are you linking your SuperControl account with any Third-Party listings?
- Every owner loves a direct booking, and we at SuperControl are committed to helping you achieve more direct bookings.
The self-catering accommodation sector is however a highly competitive market, where the on-line travel agents (OTAs) are increasingly prominent and therefore an essential part of your marketing mix. Channel bookings in SuperControl have grown by an average of 44% year-on-year over the last three years. A quarter of all bookings taken in SuperControl now come through OTAs. Each day our channel manager calculates more than 734 million prices to send live to OTA listings.
Channels are not something to be scared of. used correctly, they are a valuable tool to increase the visibility of your properties, and branch out into new markets.
There are broadly three types of Channel that you can integrate with through SuperControl-
- The International Channels- such as Airbnb, Booking.com, VRBO/HomeAway and TripAdvisor.
- UK based and Regional Channels- these include Cottages.com, Premier Cottages, VisitScotland, and SimpleView (which powers a great many region-specific platforms).
- The Niche/Specialist Channels- we integrate with a number of channels that cater to a specific type of guest or specific market. These include Camping/Glamping sites, Family-friendly travel sites, Group booking specialists and many more.