Availability calendars - updated automatically for free
Today there are usually 3 to 5 places that most owners want to keep their availability information to to date:
- HomeAwayConnect.com (old Rentors.org) as it's popular, supports multiple HomeAway sites and affects ranking
- Their own website - preferably embedded
- Their management system - where the reservations are recorded
- On their pc or desktop calendar for quick reference (Google or MS Outlook, for example)
- On their mobile device (PDA, Smartphone) such as the Apple iPhone or Google Droid
So how do you keep them all the same?
For 1 and 2, most people keep the HomeAwayConnect calendar up to date and put a link on their own website to that calendar - or embed it in their own site with an IFRAME. Note that the more often this is updated the higher the Rank your property will have so there is incentive to do this.
For 3, some systems allow a one-off synchronization with HomeAwayConnect and after that you need to keep HomeAway up-to-date manually. Only a few Management systems will keep the HomeAwayConnect calendar up-to-date for you based upon changes in your reservations.
For 4 and 5 there are manual ways to import CSV (comma separated values) files into the calendars - but you have re-do that each time there's a change. These calendars do support automatic updates from a website URL that provides calendar data in the iCal standard format - if you can produce your calendar in that format then you can get your calendars onto these devices automatically.
Using HomeAwayConnect for your own website's Availability Calendar
- This is easy to do - a simple link or embedded with an IFRAME
- Other Listing sites often allow links to this calendar (supplied by their main competitor!)
- A link takes people away from your website
- The calendar format is not customizable to make it fit in with your own site if you want to embed it
- It's owned by a single (very large) Listing site - it's not independent any more and they can change it at any time. The HomeAway group need to make lots of money to pay back the millions of dollars that their investors contributed with profit. We all know who is expected to pay for that!
When using a vacation rental management system
Vacation rental management systems consider themselves to be the golden reference for availability - they have to do that to avoid double-bookings. This means that all other calendars need to change when reservations in that system change. This usually means doing it by hand at HomeAwayConnect and wherever else you have one, unless your management system can update it automatically for you.
- You are independent of any one Advertiser - you can drop any of them without having to re-think how you display availability on your own website
- You can store more information about your reservation
- You get the benefits of other management system features
- You may still need to update the other calendars that you have or care about by hand.
How about a FREE solution to all of this:
- Fully independent, open to share with any Listing site, designed for this purpose.
- A customizable calendar that you can embed in your own website and make it look like it belongs there. For multiple properties, show them all at once with the multi-view option.
- Automatic synchronization to or from HomeAwayConnect - you choose if you want to continue using HomeAwayConnect as your main calendar and keep that up-to-date.
- Synchronized to or from another calendar source using the standard iCAL format
- Regular synchronization to HomeAway calendars even if your reservations have not changed - this keeps your HomeAway site Rank higher. (Must use MyVRZone as the up-to-date calendar for this.)
- Immediate calendar updates when your availability changes (when using MyVRZone as the up-to-date calendar).
- Supported synchronizations:
- Availability sources
- Reservations in your MyVRZone account
- iCAL feed/url
One of the following can be chosen as the "up-to-date" calendar - the one that defines what's available.
- Updated listing sites
- HomeAwayConnect, servicing listings on:
- HomeAway.co.uk (formerly Holiday-Rentals.co.uk)
- Any site that can take an iCAL feed/url
These sites can be kept up-to-date automatically.
- Use MyVRZone's iCAL feed/url, for Personal and Mobile Calendars:
- Your own website
- Google Calendars
- MS Outlook Calendars
- Windows Calendar
- iPod, iPhone, iPad
- ... and many others
- Other updates
- All MyVRZone Partner Listing Sites
- Any number of MyVRZone calendars used by your own website
This centralization and synchronization is what the MyVRZone online vacation rental management software was originally designed to do and you can use it now at no cost - check out the the calendar examples and the knowledgebase for help on how to set up synchronization and customize them.
Set it up and forget it if you want to use the HomeAwayConnect calendar as the main up-to-date calendar - you'll still get the embeddable calendar working for you without any further intervention.
See these pages for information on getting your availability displayed on your Google, Outlook or other iCal-compatible calendars.
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