Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Clickstay.com - first with instant vacation rental bookings and confirmation

This week RentalSystems announced that they've launched a new website ClickStay.com which claims to be the internet's first and only site that allows customers to book vacation holiday rentals direct with the owner and receive an instant booking confirmation.

Based on the existing RentalSystems booking engine, Clickstay.com presents to the customer the subset of RentalSystems properties that have guaranteed availability by showing only those properties which offer instant confirmation so it becomes as easy to book a Gite holiday as it is to book a hotel bedroom.

In RentalSystems there's an option that you can set to allow customers who request a set of booking dates to receive instant confirmation of their booking and proceed straight through to paying the rental deposit. Obviously this is only going to be of use to you if you're sure your RentalSystems availability calendar is 100% up to date as otherwise you risk confirming bookings for dates that you've already rented out via another source.

For me I'd previously not marked my property as being available for instant bookings as I wanted to give customers the option to check details etc before I confirmed the booking to them. Having said that though, I do always update the availability calender for our holiday home on Rental Systems as I don't want the embarassment of having to turn down bookings, and anyway I've always ended up accepting all the RentalSystems bookings that we've had, so turning the option on wasn't such a big deal for us.

When you turn on Instant Booking Confirmation you do get a few options that you can select and enable you as to which bookings will get processed via the normal request dates/confirm availability/accept booking cycle; you can select to filter on booking requests:
- over the christmas period
- more than a certain number of single sex occupants (e.g. if you want to prevent "lads away" type bookings)
- less than X days ahead (e.g. to allow you time to inform whoever does your changeover)
- with party members greater than a set age (e.g. if there's limited access upstairs)
- with party members less than a set age (e.g. if you don't want kids just turned 18)
- with more than a certain number of children (e.g. if you've only a certain number of cots or single beds)

If you choose to set these filters (and you don't have to) then you're not actually saying you won't allow bookings from customers that meet any of these criteria, what happens instead is that the booking's not automatically confirmed, instead you're sent the booking request and asked if you want to accept or decline it.

ClickStay.com's available for no extra charge over and above the normal RentalSystems booking commission (of 10% + VAT) so for me I decided to go for it as it's another possible booking source which is no bad thing.

Obviously if it doesn't work out and I start getting bookings that for whatever reason I can't proceed with I may change my mind.

If you use RentalSystems what do you think, are you available for Instant Confirmation? If not, what's your thoughts?
Please do leave a comment

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2 Comments:

  • I originally decided not to enable the instant confirmation option on VillaRenters. My concern is that this system is fine if you only use VillaRenters (or Clickstay.com). There is then no chance of double booking.
    However, I use a variety of different sites to advertise, and if you accept a booking via another site you will have to update VR very quickly. This might not always be possible if we are away ourselves, and there could be a couple of days 'lag' in updating the calendars. I also tend to hold a booking for a customer pending them finalising their arrangements, such as discussing with relatives/friends and booking a ferry. This would be problematic for me to do with an instant booking system that could gazump the pending booking.
    Lastly, I also feel slightly uncomfortable about just accepting a booking without any review of the potential guests - where are they coming from, how many of them, etc. It hasn't really happened so far, but I do like the option to decline a booking if I don't feel I can entrust the care of a very expensive asset to a party who loan it for a very small sum of money.

    By Anonymous Martin, at March 14, 2008  

  • My problem with systems such as this is that they're only as good as the availability data that's supplied.

    If an owner doesn't update availability, the booker still gets instant confirmation regardless of whether the availability data provided is correct. From personal experience, I would hazard a guess that many villa/gite/apartment owners are not as diligent at updating availability info as they should be. Not all of course, but those that don't rather spoil the system.

    By Anonymous France Hotels, at April 20, 2008  

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