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Why now is the time to respond to every review?

As we have seen, guests now are spending more time searching and checking for an apartment. Safety and cleanliness became a priority for travelers and they will look for accommodation that will fulfill their requests. It is now more important than ever to have excellent communication with guests. If you didn’t have time or knew how to respond, now is the time to check all the reviews and respond properly to each of them.

Did you know that today 84% of people trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations?

Reviews of the guests who were staying at your accommodation play a big role in attracting new guests. It is best to respond to all reviews you receive, whether they are positive or negative.

When guests were looking forward to vacation and it does not turn out as they imagined, it is likely that they will write a negative review.

For a homeowner or Property Manager, a negative review can be a huge discouragement. You should always keep in mind that you are not only responding to a comment to that one guest, but to all potential future guests who are likely to read that response.

If the guest wrote something that is not true, then of course you will politely deny it and let everyone know what really happened.

Rule number 1. Always thank guests for leaving a review

By regularly and honestly responding to all reviews, you are showing that you care about your guests and that you care about their opinions. Through guest reviews, you can get an insight into what potentially needs to be changed to improve the quality of your property and services.

Since guest comments are not always positive, this is an additional reason to respond and explain the situation from your perspective. Do not forget that in this way you create a positive reputation with potential guests. Start each response by thanking the guest for staying in your accommodation and leaving a review. For example, “Dear xy, Thank you for staying at our apartment and for taking time to write this review…”

Rule number 2. Never start an argument

Whether the guest’s comment is true or not, your answer must always be professional, as objective and friendly as possible, as it suits the host. Do not engage in quarrels with guests, just briefly and simply describe your view of the event.

Rule number 3. Remind the guest of the offered solutions

When responding to negative comments, do not forget to mention that you did your best to solve the situation. Describe all communication, the compensation offered quick fixes, replacement of broken devices – briefly all the solutions you offered them while they were staying with you.

Rule number 4. Communication is the key

The worst-case scenario for a homeowner/Property Manager is that the guest does not inform him about the problem while he is staying in the accommodation, and the homeowner/PM finds it out from the review. In that way, the host doesn’t even get a chance to resolve the situation. It is best to point out on check-in that they can contact you always for help in case of any problems.

With a helpful and prompt response to a negative review, you have the opportunity to show what kind of a host you actually are. From your engagement, potential guests will see that you take guests’ comments seriously and that you wish to offer excellent service.

Since people usually are most interested in negative reviews, there is a big chance that they will read your answer, too. Use this possibility and turn the situation around to your advantage.

Advice:

Guests usually leave comments on booking pages like Booking.com and Airbnb. They also use Google Maps to leave reviews. Regularly check reviews for your accommodation on all platforms and respond to them.

Software solution for professionals

Booker Tools, Channel Manager and PMS, was developed for the needs of the World-Award-Winning Short Term Vacation Rental Agency, Direct Booker. By using this software, agencies are the first on the market to get advanced functionalities with which this agency records successful business results for years.

We are proud to present you with our first partner in Montenegro, the agency Cipa Travel. We talked to the founder and owner, Petar Ivković, an entrepreneur with almost 30 years of experience in tourism.

How would you introduce yourself to the public?

I was born in 1964 in Subotica, Serbia. My parents moved to Sveti Stefan in Montenegro in 1968, where I still live today due to circumstances and destiny.

My career as a tourist worker began as a seasonal operative in the travel agency Kompas during my high school education.  Shortly after finishing school, I got a permanent job in the Montenegro Express agency, where I acquired basic knowledge and skills, with a special engagement in the operation of then already organized private accommodation. This was the second half of the 80s, and in that period, I was the Head of the Operative Department for private accommodation.  I am especially proud of the cooperation and service of the first organized programs in private accommodation with Yugotours, ADAC, Neckerman,…

At the beginning of the wars in the former Yugoslavia, and the Western market’s loss, Montenegro began to rely on neighboring markets. The Great Recession, sanctions, and the economic downturn in tourism in Montenegro forced me to open my travel agency in 1992 and to do what I know the best.

From the founding of the travel agency until today, there have been many downturns and re-rises, especially adjustments to market trends. Thus, in 2004, following the example of several well-known online booking agencies, I set up a complete offer of private accommodation online. Even then, I realized that this trend would be the direction that will be inevitable in future business. Since then, with our complete accommodation offer, we have been present on the Internet, changing our access to the market several times to survive and follow the competition.

What is success in tourism for you as a long-term tourism worker with great experience?

Success in tourism is undoubtedly a satisfied guest and partner— when the same guests come back to you for years.

How did you decide for the Booker Tools software, and how did you find out about it?

Since my agency manages more than 500 accommodation units, it is impossible to do quality work manually. For this reason, I was looking for an advanced and proven technological solution. With the recommendation of Viktorija Midžor from Petrovac, otherwise an associate of Booker Tools, I decided to use this software.

Which booking channels have proven to be the most successful in your business?

Booking.com, Airbnb, Tripadvisor, Despegar, E-domizil, HomeAway.

We know you use Booker Tools briefly, but can you tell us your first impressions?

First of all, ease of use is one of the essential items. Of course, specific prior knowledge is necessary for ease of use.

What are your predictions for tourism in 2021?

It is difficult to predict business in 2021 when it comes to tourism. Indeed, in light of the knowledge that vaccination against COVID-19 has begun, this year should be better than 2020, especially because Montenegro had an extremely restrictive attitude towards the entry of tourists into the country last year.

If you are an agency, such as Cipa Travel, which manages accommodation units, contact us with confidence and try our software for 15 days for free.

 

Our ultimate goal is that satisfied customers become promoters of our technology

Mario Muhoberac, one of the favorite employees of Direct Booker by his colleagues and partners, introduced himself in a few sentences. Mario’s journey at Direct Booker began five years ago, and during that period, he changed four departments, which shows his multitasking skills.

“When I came to Direct Booker, I started in the Information Department. Then I became Coordinator; after that, Sales Advisor for Booker Tools. Now I am in the Property Development Department. Our department currently consists of 9 employees. Our tasks are: preparation and setting up accommodation units on booking channels, solving technical problems, education, and set up with users of Booker Tools technology, technical assistance, and support to our franchise partners. “

Tell us what you like most about your job, and what motivates you?

“The job is interesting; we help partners maximize their income and improve their business. What I love about this job is the constant opportunity to learn and progress. The business environment is dynamic, every day is different, and we are constantly expanding the network of users.”

Mario shared with us how his typical working day looks.

“When I work, I always wake up at 6.50 in the morning. The first thing I do is making a shake for breakfast, which gives me energy for the whole day. After that, I drink coffee and go to the office. During the workday, I do meetings online, setup with users, and solve current problems. After work, I never miss workouts, and due to the current situation and the inability to go to the gym, I do it at home or in nature. Evenings are for my loved ones, and I try to go to bed earlier to prepare for a new workday and new challenges.”

What was your work experience before Direct Booker?

“I started working at the age of 18 in the Valamar hotel group in Dubrovnik, Croatia. I stayed there for eight years, in various positions such as janitor, pool lifeguard, tennis center coordinator, hospitality desk. All this work experience taught me how to be organized and effectively do business tasks and work in a team.”

The Property Development Department is there for Booker Tools users, as well as for franchise partners. How many BT users do you currently have and how many franchisors?

“The current number of Booker Tools users is almost 100. It is important to emphasize that the users are independent vacation rental owners with several accommodation units to those with 20 or more, then agencies similar to Direct Booker, ho(s)tels, and campsites. BT users are diverse, and more and more of them are deciding to use our technology, which is continually evolving. And as far as franchise partners are concerned, their number has grown to 22. There are franchisors from Croatia, Montenegro, Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Serbia, Slovenia, Italy, Poland, and Peru.”

What is the most significant benefit of Booker Tools software over other similar PMSs, in your opinion?

“Booker Tools was developed by Direct Booker, a World-Award-Winning Short Term Vacation Rental Agency. So the software is made by professionals for professionals. Users first in the market get advanced functionalities with which DB records successful business results. The quality is confirmed by numerous awards, the most recent came from Booking.com for Premier Connectivity Partner in 2021. “

Why do franchisors most often ask for your help?

They ask us to help place facilities on world booking sites, manage prices and restrictions, and solve all current problems. The department strives to be always available to its franchise partners and enable them to improve their business.

How do you measure and monitor the satisfaction of your customers?

“We monitor customer satisfaction through feedback conversations with them. By monitoring their satisfaction with our service, we strive to improve our organization and the way we work. Our ultimate goal is for satisfied customers to become promoters of our technology.”

 How do you deal with stressful situations at work, especially during the season?

“Hm, it’s not easy, but it’s much easier with my colleagues. There’s always a good mood and a positive atmosphere in the office, so one funny comment is enough to get over stressful situations. :)”

Where do you see yourself in the next five years?

“I still see myself in tourism. In addition to tourism, I would also like to continue to be part of technology development. Tourism and technology are the perfect combinations for me.”

Booking.com Premier Connectivity Partner 2021

The travel industry has been going through a rough time this year, because of that we know that strong and productive partnerships are more important than ever.

Booker Tools, software which is used to manage more than 8000 accommodation units and which was made and developed in Dubrovnik, Croatia, is announced as 2021 Premier Connectivity Partner by Booking.com, one of the largest booking platforms in the world. The ‘Premier’ category is part of the Booking.com Connectivity Partner Program 2021; a new incentive program to stimulate the performance of its partners. Premier partners are top and highest-value connectivity providers. These providers offer the most advanced systems with the widest range of products and services.

There are three tiers in this program ‘Standard’, ‘Advanced’ and ‘Premier’. Depending on the number of points accumulated in the year, the providers are classified on the relevant tier.

Booking.com has recognized the efforts and commitment we put into our work. This is just one more step that will motivate us to do better every day and reach for the stars!

Golden Leaf Properties: “We do 99% of our business and will do it through BT”

Booker Tools, Property Management Software (PMS) and Channel manager is a Croatian product intended for professionals: agencies, ho(s)tels, camps and vacation rental owners. The software was developed by Direct Booker, a world-award-winning short-term rental agency, which uses it for its own needs. The number of BT users is increasing daily and is currently used by thousands of users with over 8000 accommodation units in 9 countries.

One of the satisfied partners is Golden Leaf Properties, Property Management Company specialized in high-quality short-term rentals of villas and apartments. We spoke with Ivan Staničić, the General Manager of the company who revealed the specifics of their business, as well as satisfaction with the use of BT software.

– Tell us the story about Golden Leaf?

The Golden Leaf Properties brand provides services for people who don’t know a foreign language and don’t know how to work on a computer, cannot for any reason, or simply don’t want to manage their own property intended for short-term renting.

Golden Leaf has been around for more than 6 years and the company’s founder is Maksimilijan Šprung, a Croat from America who entered tourism by successfully managing his private real estate, which delighted his neighbors and friends who asked him to do the same for them. I joined him in 2018 when we connected so that together we could offer clients more.

I got into the business 2015. when my friend left Croatia and asked me to take over the management of accommodations and reservations for several of his clients… Since then, the business has grown steadily and I hope that it will continue despite the whole situation with the corona virus and the bad impact it has on business in general and us in particular in tourism.

– What is your position in the company?

At Golden Leaf tours d.o.o. who owns the Golden Leaf Properties brand, I hold the position of General Manager, but in this time of crisis due to the Coronavirus, I have to admit that only at the end of the day can I say what I actually did that day. In case someone did not understand me, I suggest that they try to deal with tourism 2020. 🙂

– What’s the secret to your success?

As I was between several jobs and I am an experienced entrepreneur(in my opinion, an entrepreneur becomes experienced when he goes bankrupt at least once), I quickly realized that this type of job is something that suits me and that I will certainly be able to make “something” out of it.

Since then my inventory has been growing and the business has become more and more automatized.

Automatisation is something that helps the business immensely, but the secret ingredient of this business is that we still do not automatize certain things because this business is successful only as long as the owner is satisfied with our service. I mention this because the relationship with property owners and our employees is our “secret sauce”. We will always pay attention to that.

We are constantly using all available technologies that will make our job easier and differentiate ourselves from the rest of the companies and individuals involved in this business, so we have become the first and for now, the only ones in Croatia to have cooperation with Homes & Villas by Marriott International. This is definitely one of the greatest achievements and something we are proud of.

Our mission is to have healthy growth in the number of facilities we manage and customer satisfaction with our service with maximum sustainability in all fields. We strive to make our actions speak for us and our greatest recognition is when our clients bring to us new clients because that says everything about us and what we are trying to accomplish in this business.

– Where is the headquarters of the company, how many units do you have?

The company’s headquarters are in Split, in Mostarska Street, and the branch office is in downtown, near Vestibule on the Peristyle.

The number of units that we fully manage, which means we replace the owner 100% is slightly more than 40. The number of units for which we work exclusively on the realization and processing the reservations is slightly more than 100. The number of units for which we work exclusively on the realization and processing of reservations with other agencies is slightly more than 200.

– What are the specifics of your business compared to other similar agencies?

Our company records with a top-notch 3D camera that contains the latest technologies and generates shooting results in the form of a 3D virtual walk that we have not yet seen with our competition. Walks can be uploaded to Google Streetview, mention in the description on Airbnb that the walk is posted on another website and it can be published on HomeAway.com. This is a representation of space as we predict it will be a “must-have” in the future.

Except for the cooperation with Homes & Villas by Marriott International, the fact that we know all of our vacation rental owners by name and we maintain contact with them on a personal level if it suits them is one more thing that makes us special.

We also have a “data scientist” who makes additional estimates of prices for each object regarding the situation on market to maximize their profit at full potential.

– How did you find out about Booker Tools?

I am responsible, along with Maksimilian, for our company and employees, so finding an optimal software on which we can base our business was a must. I found it literally on Google a couple of years ago, but at that point, I had no need to change the PMS I was using at the moment. We made many presentations with Croatian and foreign service providers and concluded that BT gave the most “correct” answers from the first call to the sales department, all the way to the presentation itself.

– Which Property Management Software did you use and why did you stop using them?

We used PMS Vreasy and BookingPal. Vreasy is now shut down after it was bought by FantasticStay, and their new software doesn’t suit us, so we took BT for that part of the business, and we use BookingPal because it’s our only choice to update the channels for one big partner we work with.

In other words, we do 99% of our business and will do it through BT.

– How long have you been working and are you satisfied with Booker Tools?

We have to wait a while for a full assessment of the functionality of PMS until we see how it will look like in practice when we start using it in full form. What we can say right away is that we are very optimistic about the potential of BT for our business and we believe that in the future it will prove to be the right choice for our needs.

– How satisfied are you with customer support?

For the customer service, especially Mario, we have only words of praise and we expect to continue our long-term and successful cooperation in the future.

If you are looking for a technological solution that will make the managing of camp, ho(s)tel, agency, or private accommodation easier, try BT free for 15 days.

Camp Management Software

If we would ask travelers all around the world what is their first thought regarding bookings and travels they would definitely answer Booking.com, Airbnb, Expedia… For managing sales in short -term rentals it is necessary to use reliable technology, for example, our Property Management Software (PMS).

There are several solutions worldwide, and one of them comes from Croatia.

Booker Tools is a Croatian software developed for the needs of World-Award-Winning short term rental agency, Direct Booker. Channel Manager and PMS are used by thousands of users connected to 8000 properties in 9 countries.

It is a big challenge for finding a suitable technological solution for camps because of specifics in their accommodation units and business models. We asked Maggie Bačelić, Business Manager at a company that rents mobile houses for camps that are located in Pirovac and Vodice.

“I was looking for a technological solution that would make my business better. While I was googling PMS, I came across Booker Tools, which fits perfectly to all my wishes and requests.”

Booker Tools solutions are based not only on the needs of various users but also on the needs of Direct Booker, one of the most successful short term rental agency in the world, based in Dubrovnik, Croatia.

“The Direct Booker reference was a key component in choosing the software, as well as the fact that the software has proven itself in several countries, for several types of users and accommodation units with an annual turnover of more than 100 000 reservations. All of the above gave me the answer to my question – it is a proven and reliable software.”

Thanks to Booker Tools, a small company Direct Booker achieved enviable results of savings and revenue growth. Software was also offered on the market for camps, agencies, ho(s)tels and vacation rental owners.

“Booker Tools is a simple and practical technological solution to increase business efficiency – with an emphasis on saving time and a significant increase in the number of direct bookings. We have all regulations, invoices, fiscal cash register, calendar, guest details in one software. Booker Tools allows you to manage units in multiple locations and fulfils all the needs of users with more than 30 accommodation units. “

You can forget calendar’s manual closing, concerns about overbooking, price modifications and restrictions in each separate sales channel. Booker Tools allows users to automatically synchronize bookings, prices, restrictions, availability, and content across the world’s largest sales channels, communication with guests from one system (without individual login), direct reservations… All in one place.

“I would highly recommend Booker Tools to all camp owners. The software enables automation and increases business efficiency. I can easily see all bookings and details on one screen. There is a mobile application with which I can have control over my objects at any time. Plus, online device management in multiple locations and automatic entry of guest data. I need one user account for all objects with an overview of all important information in one place and automatic synchronization with Phobs.”

Booker Tools PMS can be connected to other channel managers for a better and complete software solution. It was exactly the ideal solution for this user, who connected it to the Phobs channel manager. At Phobs, they develop tailor-made tourism solutions and their customers are hotels, hostels and campsites.

“Booker Tools and Phobs are the perfect combination for my business due to the specific camping connections that Phobs has. The combination of Booker Tools and Phobs solved the problem of 24-hour booking control. I am delighted with the combination of Phobs and Booker Tools, which makes my job very easy. Previously, all reservations had to be entered manually via the web in the PMS software. It was not easy to track availability on our site, so we had fewer direct bookings. “

Booker Tools is more than just technology or software. Our customer support consists of professionals who, based on many years of experience working in the short-term rental business, offer consultation and constant customer support.

“I’ve been using a different channel manager for many years. I stopped using it for several reasons; one of them was the negative customer support experience. On the other side, Booker Tools customer support is excellent, with issues resolved as soon as possible. “

If you also manage a camp, agency, ho(s)tel or private accommodation, and want to check Booker Tools options, try it for free 15 days. We look forward to new partnership and expansion of the network of satisfied customers.

How to become a successful vacation rental owner?

Technology continuously changes and dictates market trends. It allows vacation renter owners to independently manage sales on a professional level. Brand recognition, market exposure, and sales strategy are three extremely important factors which determine the success of accommodation renting. Year after year, there are more and more early bookings since people are planning their vacation year in advance. This is why having prices prepared on time is important. 

Some vacation rental owners do this at the beginning of the year and only then release the sale, and until then they are not present anywhere, which is a big mistake. It is important to be present for the sake of marketing exposure and visibility which can be achieved only by preparing a sales strategy on time.

Technology is divided into the reservation and operational technology. Reservation technology is a tool that enables sales management and generates reservation on all connected reservation platforms through the channel manager. There is the possibility of generating instant direct reservations from the official websites of the accommodation unit using the booking engine.

Operating technology includes all those functionalities that make it easier for users to perform operational activities such as registering guests to eVisitor system, issuing invoices or updating reservation information.

Working together with private vacation rental owners provides an insight into the state of the market trends and the needs of the rental owners themselves. The system is made according to the needs of the vacation rental owners which is constantly being improved. Starting next year. our clients will be connected to as many as 7 global online reservation platforms: Booking.com, Expedia, Airbnb, Hostelworld, HomeAway, TripAdvisor and Hotelbeds. Such market coverage, while maintaining price with automatic closing of sales on all connected channels with each newly created reservation, without the adequate technology is only possible in theory.

Ivan, Booker Tools IT manager

The leading regional private rental agency, Direct Booker, focuses on technological solutions to make it easier for vacation rental owners.

They are barely thirty years old, all highly educated and enthusiastic, information technology is their daily preoccupation, and presenter Ivan Bogoje, 37, is the eldest in the eight-member team. Regardless of the time of year, the IT department of Direct Booker, the leading regional private accommodation rental agency, is always active.

Direct Booker is a combination of a travel agency and IT company.

Locals from Dubrovnik still perceive us only as a travel agency, however, since 2016, the company has been more focused on the technology. We have successfully combined the services of a private accommodation agency, with which we have been present on the market since 2010, and the development of high technology, keeping pace with global trends –  says Ivan.

Direct Booker was named the third fastest-growing company in Croatia last year by Lider Magazine, and prominent magazine Rentals United had classified it among the top 10 property management agencies in the world. Direct Booker franchises are present in 8 countries, but the company also has big plans for the future:

The future development of the company is based on four directions of development.

The first is accommodation management on the leading accommodation booking portals.

The second direction is developing service Booker Tools for owners who manage their units independently, and agencies similar to us.

The third direction is to further develop the franchise: our business model can work anywhere in the world where there are supply and demand for private accommodation, and fourth is our booking site for direct reservations, for which we have big plans in the future.

As an IT department they are particularly proud of independently developing  Booker Tools, a technology solution for renters who manage their units by themselves.

We started developing Booker Tools in 2017, and a lot of effort has been put into it. Years of experience and knowledge were applied on the product for those who do the same business as we do – renting private accommodation.

Today it is a complete technological solution, an all-in-one tool for vacation rental owners, as well as other agencies.

This is actually the same technology used by Direct Booker employees and our 22 franchises, just packed into one simple and easy-to-use web / mobile app.

It is very difficult for owners to function today without the right technological support.

There are many advantages of using tools like Booker Tools.

For example, if a reservation is made through Booking.com, the owners must go to 5 or  6 other online channels and close the calendar to prevent overbooking – Booker Tools do this automatically. Also, there are other useful services, such as managing prices from one source, logging in / out of eVisitor, invoicing, “booking engine” for your own website, etc. This ultimately means a big time saver for the owner and a minimal amount of effort, with a reduced chance of error.

The Booker Tools system is currently integrated with booking sites such as: Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway, HostelWorld and TripAdvisor, and new channels are coming soon.

Integration with E-domizil and Hotelbeds platforms, as well as modules for enhancing guest communication and direct sales is currently under development. Let’s not forget that Google is growing and becoming a bigger player in the industry. So over the next half year to a year, we will be integrating with Google to provide user as many direct bookings as possible.