Posts

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.

 

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.

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.