ResConnect can boost your revenue and brand by connecting you to Online Travel Agents (OTAs) and Specialist Agents in the African Tourism industry. Join ResConnect Partner Programme to expand your profile and increase revenue.
Connect your rooms, rates, and availability from ResRequest to online travel platforms so you can sell Direct, via OTAs, and via Travel Agents. Connecting to these online travel platforms is valuable as they specialise in electronic marketing and selling your rooms.
If producing content-rich, interactive itineraries that inspire your guests to travel is key for you, WETU is your answer!
WETU is the place to store and distribute your content for and to your travel partners, and it’s a quick way to get noticed. It only starts there, imagery and videos stored in WETU that are relevant to bookings are automatically added to your WETU itinerary, making your customer eager to convert.
Here is our favourite part… You can create a gorgeous WETU itinerary from ResRequest in seconds, with an easy ResRequest integration. In two clicks, your sales team can open their ResRequest booking, in WETU.
Paul de Waal, WETU CEO believes technology doesn’t sell travel, great content does. “You have a small window of opportunity to engage and communicate with your customers using your best content. Travel is back on everyone’s mind and this is the time for suppliers to be putting their best foot forward with their best content so that what we see is worth selling,” says Paul.
Launched in 2009, WETU came to be after Paul saw a massive opportunity to help the travel industry store, organise and share its content.
Today the WETU platform seamlessly, efficiently and quite beautifully arranges, organises and curates the complex, complicated world of different languages, cultures, time zones, suppliers – all perfectly wrapped up in a variety of streamlined itineraries, brochures and catalogues.
“People are bombarded with information, they want one place to go to that they can trust with accurate, informative and exciting content”, Paul explains.
How WETU can help you
- Centralised access to all your content
- Interactive itineraries bring that rich content to convert prospects
- Professional presentations that impress and inspire
- Centralised curation, storage and distribution for all your best content
- Exposure to over 200,000 global trade visitors to the Content Portal
- Digital tools such as iBrochures, itineraries, catalogues, APIs and file sharing to optimise your marketing and B2B collaborations
“It’s time to get intentional with what you put out in the world,” says Paul. “Suppliers who load their best-quality content to WETU are the ones that stand out from the sea of same and really leverage our incredible trade reach.”
Let the numbers speak for themselves
WETU has 1396 itinerary building clients (50+countries) and is available in 15 different languages. WETU statistics from January 2020 (before Covid):
- 550 000 unique visitors accessed content
- 69 000+ itineraries built
- 600 000+ itinerary views
Take a look at some WETU itineraries
Connecting to your key agents electronically will ensure you never miss out on valuable bookings. Tour operators use a host of software systems to stay on top of technology trends. Online bookings are one of the fastest growing trends.
ResRequest interfaces to a number of tour operating systems enabling, tour operators to book ResRequest properties when permission is granted. Recently we added to our channel partners and integrated to GranIT Safari.
GranIT Safari Software (GSS) is a specialist safari software product that manages tour operators’ business processes. The system has the ability to handle groups, F.I.T’s, packages, Fly-Drive packages and is currently being used by over 50 tour operators primarily in East Africa and Madagascar. It is available in English and French.
“With Safari Software we’ve reduced our response times to as little as 10 minutes.” Nilima Chandran – Naked Wilderness
Agents using GranIT Safari include Leopard Tours, Liberty Africa Safaris, African Horizons, Kobo Safaris, Utalii College and many more.
“It’s user-friendly, yet complex enough to deliver optimum options and endless possibilities.” Tomas Sorensen – African Horizons
GranIT Solutions’ partnership with ResRequest comprehensively links both the GSS and ResRequest software to be able to check room availability and book rooms in real time at the click of a button. Room availability can be checked at the quotation and tour levels. This ensures that the rooms booked on the itinerary are actually available.
“This software is the only one that does what we need without making us change our operating procedures to suit the software.” Richard Corcoran – Liberty Africa
You’ve seen them. You’ve heard about them. You’ve read about them. A group of people, probably in their early twenties to mid thirties, all with a mobile phone in hand and busy trying to get the perfect photo or selfie. These people are probably what society would term millennials, people aged between 18 and 37, and they are becoming increasingly significant as the fastest growing travel market globally.
This new and expanding market is influencing the travel industry in many ways. Let’s explore some of these trends.
App downloads are on the rise and are a particularly popular choice for millennials when travelling to a new city. Apps such as Google Maps provide real-time guided navigation and is free to download.
Social media counts
Social media drives the millennial’s travel choices and is a large part of their experience while on holiday. Make sure your social media efforts reflect the strongest points of your destination, especially any special features of your property or your services, which will stand out to followers and their sphere of influence. Millennials like to express their identity through travel so unique experiences will draw their attention.
Millennials also like travel experiences that cater to specific interests such as yoga or hiking. They want to be able to tailor their trips to their interests and create a personalised travel trip. Adventure travel is also growing in popularity for this reason. It offers a trip focused on a particular activity.
Millennials are online for the majority of the day and the internet is their go-two option for researching, communication and purchasing. Millennials use the internet for booking flights and accommodation and the industry will need to move a lot of their services online.
Since Millennials are an ever-growing market it’s increasingly important for industries to cater for their preferences. Are you keeping up with the demands of the markets that you target? How do these trends affect your business and how you strategically market your product? We hope this article has helped provide some clarity on how you can do this.
Read more Forbes
Expedia Group is one of the world’s biggest travel platforms. In the first quarter of this year, Expedia Group has brought in 92 billion USD in gross bookings and secured over 300 million bed nights through its over 200 travel booking sites in 75 countries.
Properties using ResRequest can now connect directly to Expedia Group without a channel manager. Having access to this online platform gives properties significant advantage, as online bookings are growing and Expedia Group is a leader in this field. Adding Expedia Group to our list of connection partners is part of our ongoing commitment to provide you with the best ways to grow your business through various sales channels. Connections to Expedia Group are facilitated through ResConnect, our API and controlled with user access permissions.
Key benefits of joining Expedia Group
- Gain global exposure – Promote your property on over 200 websites (Expedia.com, Hotels.com, Trivago, etc.) in more than 75 countries – generating over 675+ million monthly site visits, up 21% year on year.
- Increase low season bookings – Increase the appeal of your property and target new customers (including 69+ million loyalty members) during low season by participating in price promotions such as early booking discounts, last minute deals or discounts for longer stays.
- Attract travellers who book earlier and stay for longer – Our international and diverse customer base tends to stay longer, spend more, and book further in advance.
The connection process is simple.
Sign up with Expedia Group and an Expedia Group and ResRequest consultant will be in touch to get you set up.
Your rates and availability are distributed and updated on Expedia platforms, directly from ResRequest. Bookings made by Expedia Group are automatically highlighted in ResRequest for your central reservation team to review, along with an email. All you need to do is manage your profile information on Expedia Group – they’re really helpful and have a team to assist with these housekeeping items.
Cost for using this connection.
A once off ResRequest setup fee of approximately 1 hour is billed at our standard data set up rate. The Expedia Group sign up is free and commission is only charged from the first booking.
Track the success of the connection.
As bookings are automatically linked to an Expedia Group agent and an Expedia Group source. Your marketing team can run their favourite report to track bed nights, yield, average length of stay and revenue filtered or grouped by the Expedia Group agent or source.
Customers have already started using the connection.
We have over 40 properties active with the ResRequest-Expedia Group connection. Join this growing number of customers and start selling your bed nights fast and easily!
For more info on all the online options available, see our Channel Management starter pack.
Knowing your ResRequest system well is key to effectively running your business and departments. We want to give you great tools and the opportunity to upskill yourself on ResRequest. Use our new ResRequest support website to learn about the system in your own time or refer to it whenever you have a question. We’re adding to this site all the time so there are lots of tutorials you’ll find useful even if you are an advanced user.
|How to make a booking?
Learn the reservation basics in the Central Reservations module which has been designed specifically for the reservationist. Get to know how to navigate around the system, make bookings, manage booking communications and accounts. Use the Property Management module to learn how to manage your front-of-house operations while working with a Property server.
How to offer online bookings?
Learn how to show your ResRequest availability online with our Channel Management module. Take a look at how you can receive bookings from your website, distribute your stock to your favourite agents and even sell on established OTAs.
How to use ResRequest add-ons?
Learn more about ResRequest’s free add-on products like ResConnect and ResNova. Get to know what agent connections are available to you through ResConnect and how to connect to them. Learn how to use and set up ResNova’s website booking widget so you can show availability on your website.
How to set user access?
If you’re the system administrator then the System setup functions can show you how to create new code tables, such as Extras and Rate types, or set user access for a new user. The module includes basic tutorials like creating report profiles for different user groups, as well as more complex guides such as setting defaults to implement system wide changes.
It’s been a busy year. Here is what we’ve been up to!
We exhibited and attended a record number of trade shows in 2017 – WTM Africa, Cape Town Indaba, Durban. Our sales team then toured Zimbabwe, Kenya and Tanzania and attended the Sanganai Tourism Expo, Magical Kenya Travel Expo and the Swahili International Tourism Expo. They were all successful endeavours and we enjoyed meeting clients and making new contacts.
We said goodbye to Dylan and Ant this year and welcomed Ntando, Sam, Brandon and Keenan to the team. Ntando joined the Sales team, Keenan and Sam take over from Anthony in testing and Brandon assists Walter in technical support.
A few mini-people also joined the ResRequest family this year with two of the ladies giving birth to sons.
Our Durban office was spruced up with a makeover to accommodate the expanding team and the Empangeni office who will be moving to new and improved location over Christmas. Exciting news!
Our mid-year function this year was a movie challenge which got everyone dressed up and in character as they produced a murder mystery short film with hilarious plot twists and some surprise actors!
This year our Give back formed part of our corporate wellness programme, ResFit. Each team had a budget to select a charity to support. Learn more about ResFit here! Initiatives that the teams supported this year were a revamp and repairs of a local church in Zululand, a collection for the local SPCA and sponsoring designing and producing promotional banners for The Neema Foundation. Team members also did their own Give back activities such as volunteering to fix computers at a school or taking children from a orphanage out for the day.
We can’t wait to see what 2018 has to offer!
Imagine working with an online travel agent who understands how African lodges work. Someone who specialises in attracting customers who want your African experience. Someone who understands how your transfers and extras work and who can sell your beds, without you having to do anything!
Many of Africa’s top booking agents and safari specialists are investing in development to be able to link to ResRequest via our ResConnect product. Allowing them to easily check availability, quote accurately, and even book – saving the guest, agent and lodge time.
As a FREE business to business interface, ResConnect enables remote lodges to have a greater online presence and increase their sales by having real time inventory available for their agents. This is a safe and hassle-free way to streamline agent business whilst having full control of the shared information.
If you have any questions or want to know the next steps to getting connected, please contact us on: [email protected].
See what our connection partners have to say!
“At Expert Africa we breathe a sigh of relief when one of our lodges moves to ResRequest. We know it’s a reliable platform, we know it’ll work well even when comms are challenging, and we know that we’ll easily be able to access their availability information through ResConnect – which speeds up our business of sending travellers to them on tailor-made itineraries.”
-Chris McIntyre, Managing Director, Expert Africa
“Our travellers can get all the safari lodge information they need in one place, from wide screen photos to number of beds, map location, Trip Advisor reviews, amenities, as well as availability which ResConnect provides dynamically.”
-David Tett, President, Bushtracks Expeditions
“ResConnect allows us to provide our African Safari Experts with access live availability and rates information – This enables them to instantly engage with travellers and rapidly develop and dispatch available and accurately costed itineraries 24/7/365.”
-Joanne Dickson, CEO, Go2Africa
“ResConnect is going to allow us to make our booking process for lodges much more efficient”
-Johnny Prince, CEO, Timbuktu Travel
Timbuktu Travel is an online platform empowering people to easily discover and book hand-picked safaris across Africa.
followme2AFRICA is happy to partner with ResRequest to provide their clients with a seamless online booking platform. The integration will allow our clients access to rates and availability, ensuring maximum sales penetration as well as an easier way to transact. The integration will ensure reduced time for the booking process, a key requirement across their client-base.
“The channel allows our clients to now access far more room stock as well as offers real time ability to up-sell on accommodation. This is a proven method to increase revenue for both our contracted suppliers as well as the company itself.”
-Tony Brink, General Manager & Head of Product of followme2AFRICA
“Our continual partnership with important channel distribution platforms such as ResRequest reiterates our commitment to offering our clients the best service, platform connectivity, and booking efficiency as possible”.
– Rory Mathew, IT Manager of followme2AFRICA.
Africa Travel Resource is a travel company specialising in assisting travellers to create authentic and innovative trips to Africa.
Next steps for lodges: Connections are quick and easy – just build a relationship with the agent you’d like to connect with. Set them up in ResRequest as an agent and user, then send a request to [email protected] to link you up. Each connection is FREE – with a nominal once off setup fee.
If you missed our webinar on connections – we’ve written up this blog to share the details, Q&A and upload the presentation slides and audio recording. We have separated the presentation visuals and sound for ease of following due to the live technical glitches and delays.
The panel of speakers begins 15 minutes into the webinar.
15:00 Craig van Rooyen – Tour d’ Afrique
24:00 Erica Gardner – New Frontiers
33:00 Chris McIntyre – Expert Africa
46:00 Terri Boshoff – Wetu
52:00 Nicole Kanz – The Elewana Collection
In this webinar blog, we’ll introduce you to ResRequest’s online sales options and then focus on why connections are important to the trade. We spice things up even more when each of our panelists responds to questions we’ve put forward to them. Questions that address what makes connections so important to their business model.
We’ll start with the basics. The screen you’re looking at shows a room inventory on ResRequest’s availability calendar.
Your inventory is set up in ResRequest and adjusts as your team books, blocks or cancels bookings. This means ResRequest is your inventory hub and we see it as our responsibility to make sure that your sales partners can easily check your availability and rates, and make bookings.
When you implement an online sales strategy you should consider three target markets. They are:
- Your direct customers who enjoy shopping on your website
- Agents who would like to buy and sell your product and who prefer instant response rather than delayed communication with your res office
- and mass market Online Travel Agents like Expedia and Booking.com who depend on online responsiveness
Direct online customers are a priority for us. We are constantly upgrading our booking plugin, ResNova, and enhancing our booking form which are ideal tools for this sector. Our booking tool for direct customers gives your online guests the ability to book directly from your website. They get an instant response and result – which is what online shoppers expect.
For Online Travel Agent sites, we support a connection to Expedia which is further extended to Hotel.com and Venere.com. Our connection to Booking.com is complete and currently in certification with them. We also support 100s of OTA platforms via channel managers.
But these are not the only agents who work with online programmes, traditional trade agents have extended their business models to include online bookings to ensure they’re able to capture guests searching on the internet. These agents specialise in different locations which makes holiday shopping a breeze for customers looking for an experienced-based trip. This is definitely a market you should be working with. How can you work with this market?
One of the great features of ResRequest is that it is a cloud-hosted application. This means you can give your agent a login so they can check your inventory, rates and make bookings. It’s a manual connection but something you absolutely should make use of to support agents that work with manual or isolated systems.
But what about agents that do have an in-house software application? These agents don’t want to be routed to a manual login or re-routed to different web sites to find out rates, check availability or secure bookings. These agents have implemented in-house solutions to be competitive in the online space. To have that competitive edge, they need instant access to availability and rates for quick quoting and they need to be able to make a booking to close the sale before their customers go Googling. They need to bypass human interaction at the transaction level.
Many of these agents also extend their booking services to a web interface offering a B2B2C platform. This is to ensure they can service online shoppers, much like OTAs, but with their specialised knowledge and skills translated onto their website.
We generally see that agents with high volume profiles have automated in-house and online solutions. They do need to be a certified integration partner of ours for you to connect their system to your ResRequest system.
We have direct electronic connections to over 40 specialist agents and online travel agents and the list is growing…
So how do these connections work?
An API, which is an application program interface, is simply an interface that allows two systems to communicate with each other. So, with our API, and some custom development, we are able to connect your ResRequest system to your agent’s in-house system.
If you’re still asking yourself: “Why would my agents need an electronic connection?”
A reminder of the two strongest motivators: The first is that many specialist agents now incorporate an online sales model – so they can attract travellers 24 x 7, essentially competing with OTAs like Booking.com and Expedia. This model needs an automated booking engine in order to satisfy their online shopper. To support automation, connections are needed.
The second reason agents need connections is that some agents have implemented an in-house system to speed up their business processes. Their holy grail is fast quoting and sale closure. Implementing a connection between your ResRequest inventory, rates and bookings and these agent’s systems, generate sales for you more easily which means you keep doing business with them.
A question we’re often asked is: “Can I control what these “connections” can see and do in our system?” Absolutely! Each connection is linked to a user you create in ResRequest with controlled access.
Questions that we posed to our agent panelists:
- What’s changed to make online sales more important?
- Why do agents need to see availability, rates and make bookings?
- What are the essential components for connections to work for you?
- What frustrations do you have with the industry or technology?
Questions that we asked our customers – safari accommodation providers:
- What impact has using API connections had on your business?
- What would you say to other suppliers who are unsure about working with connections?
Questions that were asked during the session:
Q: How do you handle waitlist in your system?
A: Erica – Waitlisting is a challenge. We can hold a waitlist booking, however, we prefer to hold a confirmed reservation. It is also a manual process.
ResRequest – From a software perspective, an agent who makes a booking and exceeds the number of rooms available has to give a reason when holding the rooms. This will automatically be created as a Waitlist booking.
Please note: Even if ResRequest supports certain functionality in the API – the agent buyer who has done the development to their system may have opted out of some of the available functions as they do not require them for their business practice.
Q: Does it help to see ‘‘provisionals’?
A: Yes – it is very helpful for agents to see if provisionals are being held when they view your availability. This will encourage them to still consider your property rather that look somewhere else when your lodge appears full. They cannot see the actual booking details, only that provisionals are being held on the dates that are search for.
Q: How much would the operator see if they were given access?
A: You can fully control the access that you grant to an operator, ie: view / read only or create bookings / update. You can also limit the properties, room types and even the number of rooms at room type level. Also the rates that are only applicable to a specific agent can be shown.
Q: Is a email notification sent once a booking has been made by an agent?
A: It all depends on what development has been done. Our API has the information available for a notification to be generated however if an email notification is not set up then a ResRequest customer would only see incoming bookings via the Req Received button / report in their system.
Q: How do you deal with different rates for same rooms, i.e. International vs SADC?
A: Multiple rates can be assigned to an agent contact and toggled to select the correct rate for quoting or booking.
Craig – In Tourplan we always load our contracted rates first. If we don’t see the correct rate, then we sometimes need to query this – however if multiple rate categories are given ie: STO, RACK and BAR then we have more options to book the property. Please note: We can only hold confirmed bookings and cancel a booking in Tourplan. We do not see any Waitlists or Provisionals, so unless you are going to oversell your property and make more rooms available we are limited in what we can book. Bigger properties tend to oversell.
Q: Can you only look up the availability of a specific camp or supplier?
Q: Is there any way to look up availability of a region and show results of multiple camps?
A: Not at this stage with this type of direct connection.
Q: Is there an API adaptor to get rates of the camp via ResRequest and upload these into a system like Tourplan?
A: We do support and send rates via ResConnect. Our Channel Manager and OTA interfaces support bulk rate push, this is developed to map to the OTA’s / Channel Manager’s interface.
Q: Does ResConnect offer a Close To Arrival (CTA) tool within the API to reduce dead nights?
A: Not yet! We’ll get to this.
Q: Is there a way to filter Wetu properties based on availability?
A: Not currently. Availability is not a searchable feature in Wetu.
Q: Do you need to be on a higher package to get the Live Availability option in Wetu, or can anyone listed on WETU have access to this tool?
A: Two part answer here:
- As a Supplier: you do not need to be on a higher package to show availability for your property, however, each supplier needs to opt into showing the availability with their relative availability provider. It is not something that is automatically activated.
- As an Operator: you do not need to be on the highest package to see the live availability of the properties who do have it.
Q: Are the users of Tourplan happy with the ‘confirmed’ only status they offer when connecting via API ResResquest?
A: Tourplan do not currently cater for provisional bookings; however, our API does support provisionals.
How to get connected?
Now that you know more about the importance of this space for your business you’re probably asking: “What do I do next?”
Here’s all you need to know about getting direct connections set up. All you need to do is email us and one of our connections team will confirm all the setup details, such as the user permissions for the connecting agent. This setup takes approx.1 hour and is charged at our standard support rate.
Some agents only have view functionality enabled, however, more and more operators are moving towards wanting to create bookings. So, if they are able to create bookings they will request this access. It is up to you to decide on the permission you wish to grant, however we do encourage legitimate confirmed bookings to be held where possible.
If you have any questions about this process please drop us a line.
For the full version of the webinar – you can find it uploaded onto YouTube here.