Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Sharing - Reasons for having a Messaging System and Not a Reservation System

Hi Everyone,

I got a nice email today from one of owners with some feedback on our website. I am reviewing some of the points she has raised, and I would really like to thank her for the effort she put in to detail her thoughts and send them to me.

Below is her email to me, as well as my reply to her. I wanted to share the same as I felt some other owners may also feel similarly about some points and by sharing my reasons I felt maybe I can get some more feedback on whether we have made the right choice or we should move to a more direct reservation system.

Again, I would appreciate any and all of your testing the website as clients and reverting to me with your feedback. If anyone would like to test as a travel agent please let me know and I will create a travel agency login for you and send you the same.

Best Regards,


----MY REPLY-->

Thanks for your feedback. I can't tell you how valuable it is.

Here is our problem:
We have two kinds of owners on the website - owners who are resident in the property and rent out rooms and the other kind i.e. owners who own a holiday home and have a caretaker there and are interested in letting the whole place out.

Now, we initially toyed with offering a straight reservation system but realized that there could be quite a few variations with each booking - for instance in a 2-Bedroom villa, a comfortable occupancy number could be a maximum of 5 people. However, we have some owners and  travelers who are comfortable with even 7-8 people in the same. Similarly, with respect to location, hotels end up being conveniently located and landmarks in themselves, but private homes are a bit farther away. Hence some travel agents need to clarify the exact location before they initiate a booking.

So, until owners were comfortable with the system, we took a decision to offer a messaging capability where there could be communication between the traveler and the owner. They could clarify all important points as well as arrive at a price, number of people and the check-in-check-out dates. Once they did that, we would offer the customer or the travel agency, the ability to 'transfer money', i.e. pay a amount that the traveler specified, based on his discussions with the owner through the system. The owner would receive the amount and then create a reservation on the reservation calendar manually. This would then generate a ticket that would be delivered electronically to the traveler.

While this process is lengthier than going to a website and booking a hotel, and may end up taking 2-3 days to complete, we felt it was a better way to start until owners got comfortable with the volume of guests and with using the reservation calendar. Having said this, we may start the straight through booking system as soon as we feel that owners are comfortable using that kind of system and there will be no problems for customers.

Can you let me know which details you feel are not relevant in the registration screen, and I will review whether we need to have them there.

Best Regards,



Hi Roshan ,

I was testing your site recently as a client and wanted to give the following feedback :-

1) The registration process for generating login is quite unnecessary and details asked irrelevant .

2) Relevant details like a) date of arrival and b) date of departure c) no of adults d) no of children
d) pets etc should be asked in a form for quick bookings .

3) The present process is quite cumbersome and the response time is goin to very hig for any customer as compared to oter websites .

Kindly let us know a little more about how do you expect us to reply to the customer without knowing dates and no of people .

Lots is missing as yet as far as generating an actual booking is concerned .

Hoping you would take this feedback positively and make the site effeective for all homestay owners

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