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Blog and News

Travelbug now links to TripIt.com

clock March 15, 2011 14:42 by author daniel

Great news Travelbuggers!

Travelbug itineraries are now supported by the world’s leading itinerary aggregation website – TripIt. TripIt turns chaos into order by making it easy for anyone to organise trip details into one master online itinerary, even if arrangements are booked at multiple sites.

Here’s how it works:

  1. You make a booking on Travelbug ( and why wouldn’t you? Smile )
  2. You receive your Travelbug confirmation email and forward it to plans@tripit.com
  3. TripIt generates an itinerary for you which is then viewable on the TripIt website, or using one of their many supported apps including the iPhone and Blackberry handsets
  4. You can then share this itinerary with whoever you want via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and so forth. You can even add it to Outlook

 

Here’s how an itinerary looks all nicely formatted and viewable anytime, from anywhere, on the TripIt website: 

 

So get booking, and happy itinerary-building!

Cheers,

Daniel and the Travelbug team

First annual Travelbug Awards 2011 announced

clock March 9, 2011 09:57 by author daniel

This week, Trade Me's accommodation website Travelbug, announced the first annual Travelbug Awards for 2011. The awards recognise excellent performance by accommodation operators who list on the website. The awards winners were selected based on statistics derived from the BookIt booking engine.  Criteria for judging the awards included number of bookings, quality of guest feedback, management of real-time inventory and availability.

Travelbug has the widest range of bookable accommodation in New Zealand and all properties are automatically eligible for the awards from holiday parks to hotels.

The five categories of awards presented are as follows:

Best in Region and Best in District awards are Travelbug’s highest accolade and were received by the top operator in each of Travelbug's geographic locations. To those operators who received this award, congratulations!

The Best Reviews Award is effectively judged by guests who have stayed in the properties. Operators with a 100% "thumbs up" result across a minimum number of reviews received the award. These hard working operators can proudly display the Best Reviewed 2011 award to show potential guests that their property is a great place to stay.

The Platinum Award is received by only the very best performing operators. The benchmark for this award is very high with only around 5% of properties being successful in receiving the Platinum Award, so well done to the winners! 

The Gold Award recognises excellent achievement within the judging criteria and again only awarded to the very top performers. This award was presented to properties who performed within the top 10%.

Daniel Bridges, Head of Travel at Trade Me, explains that the awards have been gratefully received by the properties.

"The response has been overwhelming. With a range of large and small properties on Travelbug, we have received some really great feedback from operators who are thrilled to be recognised for their hard work."

"To recognise the winners further, we will be adding a notice on the winners’ pages on Travelbug over the coming weeks. This will be a useful tool for visitors to Travelbug when selecting accommodation.  The team here also has some great ideas for the 2012 awards and work is underway to build on this great first round of awards." explains Daniel.

An announcement of Awards for Christchurch operators has been delayed due to the earthquake and these will be presented in the coming months.

For more information please contact support@travelbug.co.nz or call toll free on 0508 266548.

Best in District 2011 Winners

Mirabell Chalets Alexandra
Oakwood Manor Auckland Airport
All Seasons Auckland Auckland City
Admirals Motor Lodge Blenheim
Deco Homestay Carterton
Wyuna Bay Waterfront Studio Apartment Coromandel Township
Central Gold Motel Cromwell Cromwell
Scenic Hotel Southern Cross Dunedin
Benvenuto Featherston
Ivory Towers Lodge Fox Glacier
Scenic Hotel Franz Josef Glacier Franz Josef
Emerald Hotel & Conference Centre Gisborne Gisborne City
Kingsgate Hotel Greymouth Greymouth
Hahei Retreat Accommodation Hahei
Ibis Tainui Hamilton Hamilton
409 Apple Motor Inn Hastings
Te Mata Lodge Havelock North
Jade Court Motor Lodge Hokitika
83 By The Sea Motor Lodge Hutt Valley
Balmoral Lodge Motel Invercargill
The Northerner Hotel Kaitaia
Asure Kapiti Court Motel Kapiti Coast
Woodlands Motel & Conference Venue Kerikeri
Kingston Motels & Holiday Park Kingston
Proximity Apartments Manukau Manukau City
Martinborough Village Camping Martinborough
Highwayman Motel Masterton
Chalets @ Terraced Gardens Motueka
Atlas Suites and Apartments Mt Maunganui
RiverSong Cottages Murchison
Scenic Hotel Te Pania Napier
Arcadia Motel Nelson City
The Devon Hotel & Conference Centre New Plymouth
Fernz Lodge and Conference Centre North Shore
Station Lodge Ohakune
Te Aroha Holiday Park and Cottages Paeroa
Copthorne Hotel and Resort Bay of Islands Paihia
Kingsgate Hotel Palmerston North Palmerston North
Ocean Motel Paraparaumu
Picton Lodge Backpackers Picton
Punakaiki Resort Punakaiki
Asure Queenstown Gateway Apartments Queenstown Airport
Novotel Queenstown Lakeside Queenstown City
Waimarie Raglan
Ibis Rotorua Rotorua City
Stratford Heritage Lodge Stratford
Hilltop Ruapehu Taumarunui
Barcelona Motel Taupo Taupo
Hotel Armitage & Conference Centre Tauranga
Kingsgate Hotel Te Anau Te Anau
Rolleston Motel Thames
Motuoapa Lodge Ltd Accommodation Units 23 Turangi
one7five Waiheke Island
Waikanae Hotel - LODGE ACCOMMODATION Waikanae
Kaikora Homestay Waipukurau
Wanaka Edge Apartments Wanaka
Anndion Lodge and Apartments - Wanganui Wanganui
Warkworth Lodge Warkworth
Airport Motor Lodge Wellington Airport
Ibis Wellington Wellington City
Westport Motel Westport
Pacific Coast Motor Lodge Whakatane

BookIt August 2010 Newsletter

clock August 18, 2010 15:47 by author daniel

Spring is just around the corner (I promise) and we're pleased to be able to announce that we will soon be launching a Travel category on Trade Me. Please read on for more information about that and much more.
  • Trade Me Travel auctions
  • New Travelbug feature
  • Vianet shutting down 30th September
  • GST changes
  • Rugby World Cup 2011
  • Reseller feature - Kidsfriendly
  • E-tourism conference, Auckland, 31st August
  • New resellers in the network
 
Trade Me Travel auctions
We will soon be launching a Travel category on Trade Me where anyone will be able to list their accommodation, event tickets, flights and other tourism-related product. But the really exciting news is that you will be able to load and manage Trade Me accommodation auctions through your BookIt account. Trade Me members will be able to bid or "buy now" and then redeem through Travelbug.

This will take payments, re-listing, reporting and traveller communications out of your hands so you can concentrate on selling rooms.

Watch out for further information from us in the next couple of weeks.
New Travelbug feature - on request clarification
We have added on-request indicators to Travelbug's booking calendar to make it clearer to travellers whether their booking is going to be instantly confirmed or if it will be subject to confirmation. Instantly confirmable bookings are the traveller's preference, so you should switch to instant confirmation in BookIt if you can. BookIt links to most channel managers and many PMS, and you can also allocate rooms using our 'inventory manager'.

Visit your Travelbug listing and see how your property looks to potential guests.

New Travelbug feature - on request clarification.
Vianet shutting down 30th September
We will be turning Vianet off for new bookings on 30th September 2010. Forward Vianet bookings and funds are safe and you will still be able to log into your Vianet account to review existing bookings and draw down funds. The upcoming change in GST has helped define the 30th September deadline. While BookIt is ready to go for these tax changes, Vianet would need a lot of work to allow it to process bookings at the new tax rate. As the intention was always to switch Vianet off by the end of the year, it is practical to do so before these changes take place.

If you are using Vianet in your website to process bookings, you'll need to swap the Vianet tools out for BookIt ones. The code can be downloaded within your BookIt login. Simply visit the Product setup > edit business > link manager page and you'll find what you need.

GST changes coming into effect 1st October
On 1st October 2010, the GST rate will rise from 12.5% to 15%. The main questions suppliers are likely to have are when will the traveller be charged 12.5%, when will they be charged 15% and what rate do I need to account for? The rate to be charged is dependent on when 'supply' is deemed to have taken place. Under the GST Act, a supply is deemed to have taken place at the earlier of an invoice being issued or the time of payment.

When a traveller books through BookIt on or before 30st September 2010, an invoice is automatically issued and the applicable GST rate will be 12.5%. This is the rate at which you will receive payment for that booking. All bookings made from 1st October 2010 onwards will have GST charged at 15%.

This approach is consistent with the professional advice sourced by TIA and the NZ Hotel Council. A copy of which is available on the members section of the TIA website at www.tianz.co.nz. Alternatively you can contact us at accounts@bookit.co.nz.
Rugby World Cup 2011
You may already be sick of hearing about the Rugby World Cup, but we thought it important to remind you that some BookIt resellers can sell your rooms for the Rugby World Cup already. Do you know what price your property is selling for in September 2011?

Take this chance to login to BookIt today and make sure that you are happy with your rates and availability. Travelbug sells rooms up to 12 months in advance, so as soon as individual tickets go on sale on 10th September, you should be ready to receive bookings.
Reseller feature - Kids Friendly New Zealand
KidsFriendlyTravel.com is a one stop shop for families who love to travel. The site has teamed up with blue chip operators, the likes of Air New Zealand, Qantas, Budget Rental Cars and BookIt to provide families travelling with children an easy way to choose and book a trip. Along with flights, rental cars and campervans, visitors can start to book their accommodation from any page on the website. The site is ideal for any activity or accommodation business which targets the family market. Check their site out here.

E-tourism Conference
Daniel, Chris and Alex are heading along to the e-tourism conference, to be held at the Ellerslie Event Centre on the 31st August and 1st September and they hope to be able to say hello to you in person at our stand.

Take a look at the programme here.
New resellers in the network
Chris keeps signing up resellers and helping them come over from Vianet. Here are the resellers that have gone live with BookIt in the last month:

 
Reseller name Reseller type Website target region
Automatic inclusion
NZ-tourism.com Travel directory National
Contact reseller to register
Destination Rotorua RTO Rotorua
Destination Lake Taupo RTO Taupo
Kids friendly travel Specialist travel directory National
Go Country Specialist travel directory National
Holiday Homes Plus Specialist accommodation site National
Thanks for your continued support. If you have any questions at all, make sure you contact us on 0508 BOOKIT or email support@bookit.co.nz.

In the meantime, watch out for more news soon about managing Trade Me auctions through BookIt!

On-request Bookings and the Waiting Game

clock July 23, 2010 12:13 by author daniel

Last weekend my wee girl had an accident and I had to take her to the after hours clinic (she’s fine now, don’t worry). As we all know, a visit to the after hours clinic involves a lot of waiting around. But it struck me that it wasn’t the waiting that was the problem, it was the waiting without knowing how long the wait was going to take or what the outcome would be after all that waiting. Was she going to need a cast on her arm, was she going to miss her sleep, what would I get her for lunch?  

Waiting for an on-request booking request response from an accommodation operator can be a similar experience. Will my booking be confirmed or declined? Should I wait to hear back before I request somewhere else? In managing Travelbug for the last couple of years, there is one thing that has been a constant thorn in my side. It is the cause of more support requests than anything else and the biggest cause of leakage on our reseller network than any other factor: poorly-managed on-request inventory.

On BookIt (as on Vianet), operators can manage their inventory in a variety of ways. They can be fully realtime and offer instant confirmation inventory managed through a direct link to their PMS, through a channel manager or by using our inventory manager tool. They can also manage their inventory on-request meaning that a traveller making a booking on any of our reseller websites must wait to hear back from the operator to see if their booking is going to be accepted or declined.

If it is accepted then that’s great, but if it gets declined then the traveller is faced with a decision. Do they go back to the website and find another place and try and book again (and possibly go through the same painful process) or do they give up on that website and try something else? Either way, significant damage has been done to their impression of that website and the property concerned.

Let me be clear, I’m not against on-request per se, just poorly-managed on-request. I understand that there are certain high-demand periods where operators may need to take extra care regarding double-bookings, and properties with only a few rooms that want to be distributed widely online may need to protect against that possibility as well.  On-request fills that need and allows a safety net.

Outside those two situations, however, if you are choosing to go on-request on a website then you should be actively managing your inventory and blocking out dates as soon as they become unavailable.  On-request as an availability option should not be treated as a free listing or a set-and-forget way of appearing on websites to drag-net for booking leads. It needs to be updated and managed pro-actively to keep the listing as fresh and accurate as possible.

Here’s four reasons why:

  • Your listing is the first experience a traveller has with you. Waiting for a reply for a booking is bad enough, but having a booking declined is even worse. A bad experience in making a reservation means that you are on the back foot already.
  • Travellers that have bad experiences spread the word, so declining a booking might not just mean you are unlikely to get that traveller’s booking, you might be unlikely to get their friends’ bookings either.
  • A declined booking is lost revenue. Many travellers have flexible dates and if they could clearly see which dates are unavailable, they’ll request the available date. This means you’ll be able to accept the booking and everyone wins.
  • The websites don’t like lost revenue or declined bookings either, and will likely have measures in place that will decrease your visibility on their site based on how often you have declined booking requests.

The best way around on this is to offer instant confirmation if you can manage it. Your visibility lifts, you have access to a far wider range of promotional possibilities, you don’t lose bookings and travellers have a great experience right from their first interaction with your property.

If you can’t manage instant confirmation then I’ll leave you with this one thought – don’t leave potential guests in the waiting room wondering if they are going to need a cast. Don’t use the on-request feature as a means of getting a free listing. Give it the attention it deserves and update your inventory as often as you possibly can. Use it as a way to increase your familiarity with managing your inventory online and you may be more comfortable with offering instant confirmation.



 

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