Homestay Systems - FAQ

Is there a quick start?

Step 1: Set Your Base Currency

The default base currency is British Pounds (GBP). To change it, go to Configuration, Currencies to reach the "Manage Currencies" screen. This screen shows all the currencies you use, and your base currency is always at the top of the list. You can't delete the base currency, but you can change it. Click on either the Currency Code or the Currency Name to reach the "Edit Currency" screen. Select your base currency code from the list and enter the other details.

Step 2: Set Up a Unit

Whatever you rent out, and whatever you choose to call them, at the back end The system always refers to them as "Units". The system installs a "default" Unit for you which is called "Unit One", although you can change its name whenever you want. Go to Configuration, Units, and click on Unit One. In the Edit Unit screen you can change the name of the Unit and add a description for it. 

Step 3: Set Up Some Prices
The next most important job is to setup some prices. The system price record is a date range with a price. It's important to understand that a price record is for a single period, so if you manage weekly bookings you will have up to 53 price records per unit, per year. If you manage daily bookings, you will have up to 365 price records per unit per year.

Of course, we don't expect you to create each price record individually. That would take ages! The pricing screen allows you to create multiple prices at a time. If you have more than one Unit you need to do this for each Unit.

Step 4: Set Up a Front End Menu Item
We will setup 2 sample units available for rent, but you should now begin to see how the system is managed. Now might be a good time to experiment with some of the other front end pages, or "views". To start with, you can leave all the parameters at their defaults.

Step 5: Set Up an Enquiry Page

Configure Your Email Address
In the systems's back end, go to Configuration, General. Enter your email address in the first email field. All systems administrative emails will be sent to this address.

Set Up an Enquiry Page
The Enquiry Page would have been setup. Messages sent from this page will be sent to your email address AND be entered into the Enquiries list in the back end. 

Step 6: Create a Booking
Booking records hold all the details for a booking, and control the availability shown on the front-end pricing and availability page. Bookings can be created in two ways - by your customers making an online booking, or by you, in the back end.

When you initially implement the system, you will want to input all your current bookings in order to display the correct availability.

Go to the Bookings list, click New, and fill in the fields. Validation will make sure you enter all that is required. You can use the Get Prices button to have the system automatically calculate prices, or you can enter your own price. When the booking is saved you will see the availability change on the front end.

Later on, you will see that it is well worth entering all your historical bookings as well, in order to benefit from the various reports.

Step 7: Set Up Online Booking

Setup an Account
To accept online bookings, you need to define at least one payment type. The system has three payment types: PayPal, Skrill (formerly Moneybookers), or Bank Transfer. The first two of those actually take payment online via a payment gateway. The Bank Transfer payment type is simply a promise from the customer that they will pay by bank transfer, and is very easy to setup.

Go to Configuration, Accounts, and add a new Bank Transfer Account. Give it a name, choose a button, and you are ready to take bookings online.

Configure Your Payment Schedule
The system allows you to configure the calculation of up to four payments per booking. The payment schedule is shown to the client during online booking, and the first payment is collected during the booking process.

Enable Online Booking
Once you have at least one payment gateway account setup, you can enable online booking by enabling the book now links or the “Book now” button, which is an option on most of the views. Once your clients click on one of these links or buttons they will be guided through the online booking process.

When a client makes a booking online, an email is sent to you (the systems administrator), an email is sent to the client, a booking is created in the Bookings list, and (for real payments) a payment is created in the Payments list. Again, there are numerous options to be looked at later.

Step 8: Extras, Units, Currencies, and Lead Sources

Extras are things like linen, towels, cleaning, infant cots, etc. You define Extras using the Extras Configuration option. You can choose whether or not to show Extras on the front end views. Published Extras are always offered to clients during online booking, and the client can book up to the maximum number of each extra available.

Units are your rentable rooms, houses, cabins, or whatever it is you rent. The system initially has one Unit, “Unit One”. You can change its name but you can’t delete it. You can add as many Units as you like.

The system initially has one currency, the system base currency, which defaults to Pounds Sterling. You cannot delete the base currency but you should change it to your own business base currency. You can add as many other currencies as you wish. If the system finds more than one published currency, it automatically shows the currency selector list on the front end. Currency rates can be automatically updated.

Lead Sources
“Lead Source” is a marketing term that describes where a sales “lead” came from, in other words, by which marketing activity a potential client came to you. It is very useful if you can find out, as often as possible, how your clients found you, so that you can measure the effectiveness of each type of marketing that you do. The system helps you to collect and analyse this information. In Configuration, Lead Sources, you can setup all of your Lead Sources. If the system finds more than one published Lead Source, it automatically shows the Lead Source selector list on the Enquiry and Online Booking pages.

Step 9: More Options
If you successfully completed all of the above steps, now is a good time to take a look through the many advanced options available. There are many options in the various Configuration screens, and a few options on the menu items. 

Step 10: Install the Notifier Plugin
This is optional, but very simple and very useful. The Notifier automatically runs once per day, sending out any necessary reminder emails and updating your exchange rates.