After much thought and research, you've decided to change reservation companies. As an Innkeeper, you know how important it is to keep everything in order, especially around something as vital to your business as the way guests book on your site. Sometimes, though, important tasks are left undone, which can cause havok down the line - here are some important steps to take as you make the switch from one reservation company to another.
1. Don't wait until the switch is made to alert your webmaster to update your links. What if a developer isn't immediately on-hand to do the work? Make sure to alert your webmaster when you have decided to make the change, as well as a rough date, so they can make sure to have someone to help you when the time comes. Give them at least a 24-hour notice before the changeover is done.
2. Make sure to be available to answer webmaster questions on the day the links are updated. You may have links in the header and body of your site, as well as calendar and availability widgets. We may need to know what you want to do if the new system doesn't have exactly the same kind of display on your website.
3. Make sure to provide all of the links, as these changes happen LIVE. We will need the new calendar links, individual rooms links (if applicable), and gift certificate links. We may need a contact at your reservation company - if you can provide that information, so much the better.
4. You will need to update some settings in Google Analytics, especially if you're using Universal Analytics with E-commerce tracking, which allows you to track revenue and transactions. If you don't already have that set up, now is a GREAT time to do so. Your webmaster can help you with getting this set up.
5. Once all of the links are updated on your website, you must start managing activity that may occur on your former system. Logically, no one will want to terminate their existing system before the new one goes live, but the moment that links to the new system
begin to appear on your website, you will have two different systems selling the same inventory and offering the potential for double bookings during the period where both
systems could be accessed by potential guests. It may be possible to turn off or remove availability in your existing system effective on the switchover date and forward - each system is different, and some may be easier than others to make this happen. You may already know how to do this, if you are closed for any off-season or vacation period(s) where you block reservations. Only when you completely terminate your former system account, and that company acts to make your old links “dead” can you be certain that all bookings will be made only on your new system.
6. In most cases, your website is not the only connection to your reservation system. Identifying and updating links from external sites in a timely, coordinated manner is your responsibility and is not part of your webmaster's work in this transition. Prepare in advance by reviewing your records and researching all locations where links to your reservation system exist – examples include TripAdvisor, Select Registry, AdWords campaigns, and many associations, chambers of commerce, and similar advertising sites. Verify that you have the correct login information to these sites to make the changes yourself or know who to contact if you cannot make the update on your own. If an external site only offers a link to your website, but not to reservations/booking/availability, then no action is needed.
It's always better to have a plan in place, with the knowledge and cooperation of the reservation company and your webmaster. If you're an Acorn customer, and ready to make a switch, contact our Support department as soon as possible for a smooth and seamless conversion.