If something differentiates a vacation rental website, it is the booking engine. As booking engine, we understand the software that allows to book the stay in vacation rental house or apartment, from a website.
The rates management is the central axis from the booking engine, which to cover the needs of a vacation rental has to contemplate the following aspects:
Rates by periods of time and accommodation unit.
It has to be possible to stablish different periods of minimum stays, so that to book a vacation rental property, a minimum number of nights is required, which can vary throughout the year.
It must be possible to determine which days of the week arrivals and departures are accepted. In the vacation rental business, it is quiet common that arrivals and departures are just accepted on Saturday and Sunday.
Offers with different variants, as a percentage discount, last minute offers, early bookings and long stay offers. After all, discounts that let to reduce a rate on a certain moment, in an easy way.
Among the offers, the promo codes or coupons, deserve a special mention. As they have become a very common practice in the e-commerce. It is about a code, which is given to the guest, to obtain a discount entering it at the moment of confirming a booking.
The most effective booking system for a website, is online booking. That is to say, that the guest can book the vacation rental directly from the website, without the intervention of the owner. The booking engine manages the available days and lets to book them, within its booking process.
However, sometimes direct online bookings are not possible, and that’s why the booking engine has to allow booking periods, in which the booking process starts from a request, that the owner has to accept, before the guest can confirm it via the website. This is the case, for the vacation rentals that work with Booking.com and other listing sites, that just accept online bookings.
A website booking process, has to be as simple as possible, to be effective. The first step, will be to check prices and availability for a booking, with an option to book and start the booking process. At this point, the booking engine has to present a clear summary of the booking, with the property name, the arrival and departure dates and the total amount. Next to a form, in which the guest could enter its information. This form, could include the credit card information, to make the payment. Although often, one more step is added, to confirm the booking information, in which in addition to the information mentioned above, the booking engine shows the information entered by the guest, from which will be confirmed the booking with the payment of a deposit or the total amount.
Finally, a booking engine of a vacation rental website, has to allow the payment of the bookings, either a deposit of the total amount. This payment must be made with a credit or debit card, with immediate confirmation, to validate the reservation at the same time it is processed.
Payment getaways are complex systems, that have to offer a high degree of security and reliability. In fact, there are not many firms in the world, developing such systems. For this reason, the most usual is that the company developing a booking engine, integrates some of those payment getaways into its system, as could be PayPal, systems linked to financial entities or Stripe, among others. In any way, it is necessary that the transactions are made in an encrypted environment and that the information of the cards, do not pass trough the booking engine software, but rather from the guest’s computer, it goes directly to the payment getaway system.