Don’t get tagged as spam – make an SPF record

BookServe, the online reservation software, does a great job of keeping you in touch with your customers.

But to do that you need to make sure your guests’ email systems know to expect mail from YOUR domain (info@PropertyDomainName.com) from the BookServe server.

Wanwaiting for responset to make sure your emails are getting through from BookServe to your guests?

First make sure you have control of your domain’s DNS settings. If this sounds difficult, don’t worry, your Web Developer can help.

Horse unseats rider.
DNS Changes. Need careful handling.

Then you need to edit the SPF record. The SPF is a type of DNS record. You can read about SPF here,

If it’s your first time at the DNS rodeo don’t try this without your Web Developer. An incorrect change can bring your site and email down, and it can take hours to fully recover.

An SPF record is a particular type of TXT record This is an example Register365 mail record for a BookServe customer.

The part ip4:109.74.198.82 refers to a BookServe server.

It tells the Internet ‘Hey, all these servers can send mail for @PropertyDomainName.com

v=spf1 mx a:smtp.reg365.net a:outgoing-smtp.reg365.net a:smtp.hosts.co.uk a:athena.hosts.co.uk a:hermes.hosts.co.uk a:outgoing-smtp.namesco.net ip4:109.74.198.82 ?all

Screenshot of Kitterman record Testing
SPF Records. Test them.

Once you’ve setup the SPF, it should be tested. The good people at  Kitterman Technical Services, Inc. have an <a href="http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate more helpful hints.html” target=”_blank”>excellent tool for this. Don’t get caught out. Test.

http://www.kitterman.com/spf/validate.html

gombeensguidelogoGot a question about SPF? Let us know in the comments below and we’ll do what we can to help.

8 Tips for selling your accommodation online.

Things are picking up and it’s back to business: selling hotel rooms to visitors. But margins are tight, and 20% booking fees are a luxury no one can afford. Competitors are all offering online booking and they’re undercutting you. And then there’s AirBnB to compete with. What to do?

Easy: Take control of your own web presence!

You can easily run your own online presence, and you’ll be surprised how quickly the bookings start coming in. Read on to find out how.

1. Get yourself a Local Website Designer

Gone are the days when you needed to go to Silicon Valley to get one of those website thingys made.

Two figures in front of local shop from BBC Archives
It’s best to use local content for local websites.

Get a local web developer to create a modern, responsive (that means mobile friendly) website. Big agencies can be expensive and lack the local content imagery and linkages that make for engaging content and Organic Search Success.

Go local. You can have a website for a few hundred euro with local support. Perfect.

2. Take Really Good Pictures

Generic Inn Photo
Exterior Photo of Property should feature on homepage of site.

Gombeens naturally assume that their customers are telepathic and because they know what their premises looks like, so will their customers.

So don’t get caught: make sure you have really good pictures of your property. You’re going to need them again and again.

Get good photography of all the room types you have. Show off the features. Good imagery sells.

3. Right image, right place.

A 14mm lens on a full frame camera will show off a small room to its best.
A 14mm lens on a full frame camera will show off a small room to its best. Don’t forget to use a tripod.

You want more bookings through your website, right? Your customers need to see what they are booking.

A Gombeen that expects to be able to use a picture of their bar, car park, or grandmother to sell a room. This is a sure recipe for disappointment.

Show wide-angle images of whole rooms in the online booking room descriptions. These ‘set the scene’ and help convert lookers to bookers.

Be accurate with the room contents when you take the pictures. Don’t sell features that aren’t there.

4. Offer online booking.

Waiting for a reply
Enquiry Forms – Unpopular and slow..

If you don’t sell online, you’re losing out to rivals that do. No-one waits for you to come back to an enquiry form.

Be wary of commission heavy services. The cost has to be passed on somewhere, usually in room pricing. This has a tendency  to divert bookings into traditional channels, taking up precious staff time.

We recommend our product, BookServe (ahem). You can sign up in minutes.

5. Check the rates in your area

Man with binoculars looking at a webpage
Published Rates are easy to Find

This used to be done by getting your cousin to ring up and ask for a quote. Half the time they knew it was her and quoted her a much higher price, just to mess with you. Now with D’Internet,  it’s more straightforward.

Check the rates around and be competitive. If you find you’re getting visits but no bookings, high prices are usually the problem.

6. Consider listing on Expedia

Untitled-1
Billboard effect on Room Nights. The green line is the hotel’s own website.

It can be worthwhile to connect to Expedia. Share your excess rooms with Expedia and raise the traffic to your own website with the ‘Billboard Effect‘.

This effect works because visitors use Expedia to make a list of hotels and then look on the hotels’ own websites for direct booking.

It gives a lot of ‘reach’ for very little effort and expense.

7 look at more info. Be Sociable

Kiev, Ukraine - August 26, 2013 - A collection of well-known social media brands printed on paper and placed on plastic signs. Include Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Google Plus, Instagram and Tumblr logos.
Connect with your customers over social media channels..

Be social. Get onto FaceBook, register a business page.

Respond quickly. Be gracious. If you can’t ‘do’ social media, then hire people that can.

If an applicant says that they can run a campaign, hire them at once.

FaceBook page response time snippet
Social Media – Exposes weakness in social media. Be professional, friendly and prompt.

8. Go completely DIY, ya mad thing.

MeetupLogo
Meetup is people getting together to learn something, do something, share something.

If you’re technically inclined and want to make your own website, the best thing to do is join other like minded individuals.

Meetup is a great place to find those people. Click here for a list of WordPress related groups in Ireland.

gombeensguidelogoThe Gombeen’s Guide gives straightforward advice for running your own real-world business, online.

It’s written by a cat, because cats have historically been the most successful species at building an online profile.

Follow us for updates and if you have a question, or something you’d like us to cover email us.