Spring 2009 Newsletter
Welcome to the WebReserv.com Spring 2009 Newsletter.
Many businesses are busy ramping up for the summer season and chances are that your business is one of them. Based on the activity on WebReserv.com we can tell that customers are out there searching for lodging and recreational activities for the summer season and they are booking!
If your calendar is not filling up fast, it may be time to take another look at your online marketing and web presence. Our 10 Most Important Marketing Tips from the January 2009 newsletter is a good place to start and we have included the tips in this newsletter for your convenience. You should also list your business on free sites such as Craigslist.com or Backpage.com.
Did you know that WebReserv.com is directly connected to Chase Paymentech, one of the largest payment networks in the USA and that credit card payments can be processed automatically when a booking is made? The payments are automatically deposited to your bank account within a couple of days. Take the hassle out of manual payments and get setup for automatic credit card processing before the season kicks off.
You can find more information about automatic credit card processing in our Introduction to online payments.
In this newsletter we also present new features that many of you have been asking for. In particular, we are pleased to present a new booking calendar, specifically designed for those of you with many different types of units. We hope that you will find the new improvements helpful and as always we welcome your feedback.
New booking calendar
Many of you are using the WebReserv booking calendar (also called booking widget) on your website. Next month we'll release a new and updated booking calendar with integrated date search capability.
The new booking calendar allows your customers to search for available units based on dates and quickly compare units and prices before making a reservation. It's a significant improvement from the existing calendar, which requires the customer to select a product before they can view availability.
Similar to the existing booking calendar, the new calendar can be styled to match your website's color-scheme so it will blend in with your website.
When you link to the new booking calendar from your website, your customers will be presented with a list of your units along with a date-search field. The customer can enter or select a specific date range in the list and can quickly see what units are available and what their rates are. As with the existing booking calendar, your customers can complete the entire booking process in just a few minutes.
What happens to the existing booking calendar?
The existing booking calendar will still work the way it does today. If you want to use the new booking calendar, you will have to change the URL (Internet address) to the calendar.
Is there any cost for using this new feature?
No, the new booking calendar is included with your Gold or Multi-Location account. The new booking calendar is not available for account levels below the Gold level.
Can I use the new booking calendar for fixed schedules?
The new booking calendar will show all products, however, it will only show rates and availability for units that can be booked daily.
This sounds great, when will it be available?
The new booking calendar will be available on May 18th.
Reminder: 10 Most Important Marketing Tips
There are always plenty of tasks for small businesses and it can be challenging to determine where to spend marketing time. So we have put together a handy list of the top 10 most important activities to improve your online listing. Most of the tips can be implemented in less than an hour, and it will pay off during the entire year in terms of more business, so put it on the top of your today list today.
1. Update your business description.
Updating your business description is critical. Customers favor businesses with comprehensive descriptions of the business and each rental unit or service. To update your listing, log on to your WebReserv.com account and go to Setup - Business Information - Description.
2. Update your pictures.
It is said that a picture says a thousand words and it is especially true for online shoppers. Review your pictures and upload new pictures if necessary. The more pictures you have, the better. Ideally, each picture should have a resolution of 800 by 600 or 1024 by 768. These pictures looks the best on most computers. Don't forget to add a description for each picture so that your customers will know what they are looking at. To update your pictures, go to Setup - Business Information - Pictures.
3. Update your business category.
We continue to increase the number of categories on WebReserv.com. Go to Setup - Business Information - Category to review the available categories and change your category if necessary.
4. Update your search keywords.
The keywords is what Google, Yahoo, MSN and other websites look for when customers search for your business on the Internet. The keywords should as a minimum include what you provide, where you are located and business name. For example, if you have a boat rental company in Miami, Florida, your keywords could look like this: Miami Boat Rentals, Boat Rentals, Miami, Florida, luxury boat rental, motor boat rental, watercraft rentals, Joe's boat rental. Go to Setup - Business Information - Search Keywords to update your keywords.
5. Update products/units descriptions and pictures.
Just like you can describe your business and upload pictures of your business, you should review the description of each product/unit as well as the pictures. To do this, go to Setup - Product & Reservation Rules and review your products one by one.
6. Update rates for the 2009 season.
Customers can only make a reservation if the booking system knows the rate. Make sure that you have rates to the end of 2009 or even later. Go to Setup - Rates and review the rate lists and the valid from and valid to date for each rate list. You need a new rate list for each time the rates change. For example, if you have different rates for spring, summer and fall, you should have 3 rate lists, one for spring, one for summer and one for fall. Tip: If your existing rates goes to the end of 2008, simply change the valid to date to 2009 and update the rates to reflect the rates for this 2009.
7. Add reviews to your business listing.
Possibly one of the most important ways to increase the number of new customers is to provide reviews from other customers. Send an email to your existing customers and ask them to provide a review for their last stay or rental. On your own website, you should create a link to the customer reviews on WebReserv.com.
8. Offer discount to repeat customers and referrals.
Use the discount code feature on WebReserv to incite existing customers to come back and/or refer new customers. It's easy to create a discount code. See the article on our blog (http://webreserv.wordpress.com/2008/05/08/attract-more-customers-with-discount-codes/) on how to create discount codes.
9. Send a newsletter with discount codes to customers.
WebReserv makes it easy to download a list of previous customers. Go to Frontdesk - Reports and select Customer Report. You view the report as an HTML file or download it as CSV and import it into most database and spreadsheet programs.
10. Get links to your website.
Ask other businesses if they want to partner or would be willing to add your link to their website. It's free advertisement in most cases and you would be surprised how many small businesses take advantage of linking with others. This will improve your position with the major search engines and make it easier for customers to find you online.
Tips & Tricks: Easier rate setup
We have added a new setting Auto select best rate to the products & reservation rules. The new setting allows WebReserv to automatically select a higher rate if that rate is better than the daily rate.
Unit A has a daily rate of $100 and a weekly rate of $500. If a customer reserves the unit for 6 days, the total rate using the daily rate will be $600. But with the new setting, you can instruct WebReserv.com to automatically select the weekly rate of $500 instead.
Auto select best rate is enabled by default for all new units. However, to maintain compatibility with existing configurations, it is disabled for existing units. If you want to use this new setting for existing units, go to Setup - Products & Reservation Rules - Product - Reservation Rules and change Auto Select Best Rate to Yes.
Important: As always when you modify rate calculation rules, we recommend that you test your rates from the frontdesk or using the rate tester to ensure that the system is calculating the rates the way you want it.
Have a question? Write us and let us know.
We want to hear from you
We always want to hear from our customers. Your suggestions are invaluable for us to continue to make WebReserv.com
even better. If you have ideas for features that can help you run your business smoother, let us know by sending your
thoughts and suggestions to support.
We look forward to hearing from you.
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