New Version of XML API introduced, featuring “Get Bookings”

Instant World Booking features an advanced XML API, enabling accommodations to easily use XML feeds to:

  • Get Calendar Availability/Allocations
  • Set Calendar Availability/Allocations
  • Retrieve Bookings
  • Our latest version 2.1 was released today, and includes the capability to download bookings/reservations right from the system.  This version effectively completes Instant World Booking’s upgrade to a fully functional Calendar and Bookings XML Interface.

    If you use 3rd party software to manage your calendar or other front desk functions, contact your provider today.  Tell them you want them to integrate with IWB.  Integration is free to you, and can usually be completed very quickly.

    To get started with our XML API, begin by checking out our manual, or send it to your developer:

    Instant World Booking API XML Manual

    To read more about Instant World Booking’s XML feeds, and who currently uses them, see:

    http://www.instantworldbooking.com/blog_iw/category/xml-feeds/

    For more information, contact us today at: info@instantworldbooking.com

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    Get Free PPC (Pay per click) Advertising from BedBreakfastTraveler.com

    BedBreakfastTraveler.com (Instant World Booking) has proven to be very successful in gaining top search engine rankings for its listed bed & breakfast partners. One reason it is important to use the instant booking method is that we use pay-per-click (PPC) advertising to market your property on Google and other sites. Use of a PPC campaign can cost you hundreds of US dollars each month. However, for our B&B and hotel partners who use instant booking, we advertise your property in PPC campaigns for free.

    For more information and tips on how to step-up your online marketing, check out:

    Online Marketing Tips by Instant World Booking

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    Property Management Systems Integrating with BedBreakfastTraveler.com

    ASSD Hotel Property Management System is one of the latest PMS systems to interface with BedBreakfastTraveler.com (Instant World Booking).  If you currently use a 3rd party PMS or Channel Management System, or any Calendar Management System for your B&B, contact them today to tell them you want their system to feed BedBreakfastTraveler.com (IWB).  Perhaps you’re using one of the more popular Calendar Systems from Webervations, Rezovations, or others.  Most front desk software providers will be more than happy to integrate with booking engines of your choice.

    So, tell your front desk or calendar management provider today that you also want to feed your availability to BedBreakfastTraveler.com.  This is the best way to improve the management of your online services, save work, and increase the opportunity for more bookings.

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    Questions about BedBreakfastTraveler.com’s Booking Engine for B&B Websites

    Maybe you’re considering a new booking engine for your bed and breakfast website.  Maybe you’re looking for a better solution at a lower price.  Here are some of the questions you should be asking:

    1. What do you mean by “almost cost-free solution”?
    2. Are my customers charged a service fee?
    3. Can I still keep all my other third party services and software when I use this booking engine for my website?
    4. Am I required to use other services or software by Instant World Booking?
    5. What is Full No-show (failure to arrive) and Cancellation protection?
    6. How do I receive my deposit payments?
    7. What special discounts are available if I switch today from a competing provider?

    To get the answer to these and other important questions about booking engines for your website, please see: Bed and Breakfast Booking Engines and DEMOS.

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    Why Instant Booking using an Online Calendar is Best for Bed & Breakfasts

    We’ve discussed the request-only versus instant booking methods at some length, but for many bed and breakfasts, the choice continues to be request-only. This is fine, however, there are clear advantages to the instant booking method that far outweigh any administrative inconveniences.  We are happy to work with our partners in any manner they wish, but find that on average, online requests end up resulting in some degree of frustration. Here’s why instant booking using an online calendar is best in almost every situation:

    1. The vast majority of users searching accommodation on the internet want instant gratification. If they have to wait for a response to a request, they disappear quickly. With instant booking, you capture the booking immediately, before they have time to search elsewhere.
    2. Instant booking has a much higher reservation success rate because of (1) above.
    3. Some users will submit a request simply to find out what rates are, and have no intention to book soon. This forces the innkeeper to respond to requests that will never turn into reservations.
    4. A percentage of all users never receive the response email because they are using some free email service (e.g., hotmail, yahoo, gmail etc.) that blocks mail from new senders as spam, and they don’t realize that this is happening. This is a simple fact that affects virtually all online services these days. A user that falls into this category will either disappear or complain that they never received a response. Nevertheless, with instant booking, this is never a problem, since the user receives confirmation directly while they’re still online.
    5. Innkeepers that are concerned with managing a calendar online have many options available to them. If they don’t want to use our interface directly, they can use one of several third party interfaces that feed into our system (you can contact us for recommendations).
    6. The risk of an occasional overbooking is more than offset by the higher level of bookings, income, and benefits mentioned above that can be achieved with the instant booking method.
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    US Travel Promotion Act

    In a nutshell, the Travel Promotion Act is: “A bill to establish a non-profit corporation to communicate United States entry policies and otherwise promote leisure, business, and scholarly travel to the United States.”

    International travelers are an important customer in the US travel industry.  Visits to the US are below 2000 levels, and this has a great impact on the North American economy – especially the micro-economy of the travel industry.

    Some B&B owners and innkeepers have do not support this bill because it would involve a new $10 fee on travelers from visa-waiver countries. Compared to what Americans pay in similar fees when visiting European countries (most fees are hidden in taxes and fees in your airline ticket) this is very minor.  The question is whether $10 fee that is good for two years would prohibit people from traveling to the US.

    PAII.org, the Professional Association of Innkeepers International, supports the bill.  For more information on what the bill might mean to your bed and breakfast business, please see their blog at:

    http://www.innkeepingblog.com/2009/09/action-alert-to-innkeeping-industry-help-pass-travel-promotion-act-now/

    To understand more about the powers of the bill and how it would be funded, click here.

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    How to – Link Building for B&Bs

    Your bed and breakfast’s website is one of your most valuable assets.  Like all of our assets, we wish to grow their value.  But how can we do this, even in a down economy?  Your website and the traffic it brings is an asset you can grow anytime.

    One of the most important value “drivers” of your website is search engine ranking.  Obtaining quality inbound links to your website from 3rd party sources is a major component of your search engine rankings.  Most search engines consider a link to your website as a “vote” for the importance of your website.  The more links that point to your homepage, the more important your site becomes when people search on major search engines.
    Reciprocal linking is not the way to go, although it can be used sparingly.  Major search engines today are able to figure out what links are reciprocal or not, and reciprocal links are heavily discounted, along with you website if you employ them.  Reciprocal links should be used sparingly, and only with websites of actual bed and breakfasts.  It’s fine to trade links with other B&Bs.

    The highest-quality links are one-way links to your website that come from related, relevant, and quality websites.  Building links can take a lot of time, but is worth the effort.

    For another form of link that can drive qualified traffic to your website, BedBreakfastTraveler.com offers free links to your webpage with any free listing on our service.  There are over 100 websites in BedBreakfastTraveler.com’s network (Instant World Booking), and an average bed and breakfast may have listings on up to 15-25 sites, all with one free listing.  This means that on any of these SEO-optimized listing pages, a link to your homepage will appear.  Free links on our network display your website in a shadowbox on the listing page, and do not re-direct the user to your webpage.  Your entire website is visible however.  Free links also do not appear on premium sites like BedBreakfastTraveler.com and InstantWorldBooking.com

    Introducing Paid Links

    For a small cost, paid (sponsored) links are available to gain even more traffic to your website.  Paid links will re-direct the user right to your website, and paid links appear on our premium sites.  Note that all our links are constructed in strict agreement with Google’s guidelines.

    Again, all you need to do is have a free listing on BedBreakfastTraveler.com, and then you can access either the free links which are automatically provided to you.  Or, purchase paid links by signing in to your listing at BedBreakfastTraveler.com.

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    RezOvation Pricing

    If you’ve been reading our Intelligence for B&Bblog, you know that BedBreakfastTraveler.com believes in transparency, especially when it comes to pricing of services for your B&B.  Occasionally, we profile other services which compete with ours.  We don’t care so much that mentioning competing services basically amounts to free advertising for those services.  We’re more interested in transparency for you, our consumers and clients.  So, when selecting services for publishing, marketing, and booking your bed & breakfast, please remember to compare prices.  And, don’t overpay!

    Rezovation offers services for property management and online reservations.  As a business manager, if price is important to you, please do compare.  According to the Rezovation.com website, the minimum cost for Rezovation GT Online is $50 per month.  But, that’s for just the smallest B&Bs of 1-4 rooms.  If you have at least 10 rooms, the price more than doubles to $110, and for large properties (50+ rooms), may be at least $300 per month, with an added setup fee of $999.00!  Yes, Rezovation GT is a great property management tool for those who want to lay out the cash, but there are many cheaper alternatives for small inn businesses.  Again, the prices quoted here are directly from the Rezovation website

    BedBreakfastTraveler.com (by Instant World Booking) offers a premier online booking service, including credit card acceptance.  Booking engines for your website is a particular specialty of ours.  If you have the cash to pay for the competing Rezovation GT service, and want online bookings, there is an additional per-reservation fee up to 30%.  For more on the additional fees see our separate article at:

    http://www.bedbreakfasttraveler.com/blog_bb/2009/12/bedandbreakfastcom-pricing/

    Now, compare with BedBreakfastTraveler.com (by Instant World Booking).  If you want a fully integrated booking engine for your website, you can choose from many custom options starting at our lowest cost of just 1.9% of total reservation volume.  This is the absolute industry low for a booking engine on your website.

    What about credit card processing?  Rezovation GT offers optional credit card processing for an additional monthly service fee and per-transaction fees.  Note that this is above and beyond the fees you are paying to maintain your own merchant account.  BedBreakfastTraveler.com on the other hand offers integrated credit card collection for your online bookings, and you do not even need your own merchant account.

    Finally, if you want to connect to the Global Distribution System (GDS), Rezovation GT offers a premium option, allowing you to connect for just $649 + $15.50 per reservation + $250 / yr maintenance after first year.

    For an unlimited budget, there are many services out there that can maximize your online exposure.  At BedBreakfastTraveler.com (Instant World Booking), we offer the maximum cost-effectiveness for online exposure.  Don’t pay the high prices unless you’ve tried Instant World Booking first.  If you don’t like your experience, you can always try the others and pay higher prices later.

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    Negative Reviews – Can they Help or Hurt your Business

    A while back we published an article on how “Fake” reviews can impact your bed and breakfast’s online business.  Read it again here:

    http://www.bedbreakfasttraveler.com/blog_bb/2008/06/fake-user-reviews-do-they-really-hurt-your-bb-hotel-business/

    Now, there’s some new evidence posted at BedandBreakfast.com on how negative reviews can actually help your business.  For more about bed and breakfasts and reviews, see the following links:

    http://blog.bedandbreakfast.com/Eric/post/2009/12/16/Five-Ways-Negative-Reviews-are-Good-for-your-Business.aspx

    If you’re afraid of negative reviews, and whether they can hurt your B&B, or any small business for that matter, read:

    http://www.smallbusinesssem.com/negative-reviews-good-for-business/2075/

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    BedandBreakfast.com Pricing

    At BedBreakfastTraveler.com, we frequently get asked how our pricing compares to BedandBreakfast.com.  We’re going to answer that question.  In this global economy, margins mean everything to B&Bs and inns, and BedBreakfastTraveler.com (operated by Instant World Booking) can really make a difference to your bottom line.

    BedandBreakfast.com is a great service, and we would never recommend not using a competitor’s service.  However, if as a B&B manager, price is important to you, please do compare prices.

    BedandBreakfast.com advertises 2 participation levels for their online reservation program.  This is a feature that basically allows booking of your bed and breakfast by guests directly on their website. 

    Here are BedandBreakfast.com’s costs :

    Preferred Participation – 25% Commission

    Standard Participation – 30% Commission

    These prices also include some limitations.  With the Preferred plan you must make available at least one room daily (properties with more than 15 rooms are required to offer two rooms daily) for an entire year.  With the Standard participation, you may offer any days of the year and it doesn’t need to be an entire year. They do ask you to maintain at least 180 days of inventory in a year.

    If these prices seem high, then please compare to BedBreakfastTraveler.com, which can instantly start improving your bottom line.

    Here are BedBreakfastTraveler.com’s costs:

    Standard online booking –  8% Commission

    Booking Engine with online bookings on YOUR website – 1.9% Commission

    Booking Engine with deposit collection of at least 30% from guest – 5% Commission

    These are just a few examples of our pricing, and we offer custom solutions to suit your custom needs.  But, the numbers basically tell the whole story.

    At BedBreakfastTraveler.com, we offer Guaranteed Economics.  If you currently use another provider’s service, please contact BedBreakfastTraveler.com.  We guarantee that we can offer the same or improved service for better economics. All you need to do is contact us and ask.

    We are not affiliated with BedandBreakfast.com, and always try to publish the most accurate information.  If any reader has more recent information about BedandBreakfast.com pricing, please feel free to post it or correct us.

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