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Caldwell House Bed and Breakfast
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Thought of the day…. “Practice isn’t the thing you do once you’re good. It’s the thing you do that makes you good. ” —Malcolm Gladwell
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Pick of the Day... #ClearwaterSloop drifting down the #HudsonRiver at sunset, Photo by Andrew Halpern
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Great post on Reservation Systems by Scott Thomas!

How to choose a booking engine for today
by Scott Thomas
When this blog started out, quite a few years ago, it was intended to focus primarily on marketing and evaluating reservation or booking software. With changes in the industry, and in my situation, that emphasis has shifted, but, from a high-level view, it has all been related. However, it has been some time since I've written specifically about booking engines, but for some historical perspective, you can find some useful information here and here.
There are several reasons why reservation software (booking software) has not been the focus of posts here. Among them, is sheer volume of the offerings. There were over 40 different offerings emphasizing B&B bookings when this blog began. Today some of those have gone out of business, but many are still there, in one form or another, and there are literally dozens of new additions to the field. Another reason is that my consulting work has lately been occupied with specific booking systems, so I have been reluctant to write about systems I'm evaluating for clients. Yet another is that several of the existing systems have promised to provide me with demo access so I can do a full review, but have failed to come through with the goods. Hmmm. What does that say about their ability to follow-through for customers, I wonder? Meanwhile, many (perhaps most) of the posts have explored ways to evaluate your marketing using Google Analytics - an area of much greater concern to many I speak with.
Getting Started
Whether you are considering a change of booking engines (and for our purposes I'll be using the terms "booking engine", "booking software", and "reservation system" or "reservation software" all to refer to the same thing - an external system for capturing guest bookings that can be - or appear to be - attached to your website), or whether you are looking into online booking systems for the first time (Wow! I'm truly amazed, if that is the case), a review of all the systems out there would reveal some very obvious common features, and some differences.
For example, all the systems (at least all I've seen, and that is a lot of them) will be able to at least look somewhat like your website (though with some older systems the similarity isn't very close!), take booking information, payment information, and either enter the booking in your system, or send you notification of the booking (whether by email, text message, or carrier pigeon).
Those are the bare bones of what a system should be able to do - take a complete booking and let you know it is done. It is the additional features that make the systems different from each other. Sometimes the additional features come at additional cost.
Your choice, then, will depend on cost coupled with the additional features, and how valuable you perceive them to be.
Defining Your Objective
Like most things in life, it is easier to see what systems will be best for you if you know what you expect of them. Put another way, if we have a goal or objective for the system, we can more easily see if the system will achieve that goal.
We will take it as a given that we want the system to
Capture guest identification information
Capture guest payment information
Capture booking details
Transmit all the above to the property
In addition, to compete in business today, there are a number of features I consider to be essential, and some more that you may find important, or others may find less important. I've identified these as "Essential" and "Optional" in the sections below. You may want to use these to create a checklist you can use in your evaluation.
You'll need to decide for yourself how important features such as providing the referral sources of bookings, mobile friendliness, and more, are for you.
Essential Features
There are some additional features that I consider to be essential in today's business climate. Here is the list, with brief explanations.
1. Does it support Ecommerce tracking?
I have said it before, but it is well worth repeating: If your booking engine does not fully support ecommerce tracking, you need to get a new booking engine! This is the number one feature if you want to know if you are spending money effectively on marketing. Most booking engines did not support ecommerce about five years ago, but said it was "coming soon." Now, after five years, most booking engines still do not support ecommerce tracking, or they only partially support it. Get one that does!
What is Ecommerce tracking? There are a number of posts on this blog that go into details, but basically, it uses Google Analytics to track the referral source, and the revenue you receive, of every individual booking made online. That allows you to see how much revenue your paid sources (as well as free listings) are generating through online bookings.
2. Is it mobile friendly?
If you think this is a question about whether or not you need a mobile web site, you need to read this article, this article, and this article.
OK, now that we are all talking about whether or not your booking engine pages are "Mobile friendly" according to Google's standards, you can test it yourself. Paste the booking engine page url into the Google mobile friendly testing tool and see for yourself.
3. Is the page design consistent with your site?
You may trust your booking engine, but your prospective guest will usually be unfamiliar with them. Consequently, they will feel much more confident in them (and in you) if the site appears to be a seamless extension of your site.
Many booking engines will not customize their look to be an exact match of your pages. While an exact match might be desirable, a consistent feel, even if not identical, will probably do the job. The idea is to avoid (like the plague) a booking engine which creates a jarring response in the viewer, as they have quite obviously left your site, and been taken somewhere they have no reason to trust with their personal and financial information.
4. Can you change rates, add specials, etc., yourself?
It is essential that the innkeeper be able to make changes to the booking engine settings without the need to contact the vendor to make the changes for you. The reasons for this should be obvious: you shouldn't have to pay anyone to change your settings for you; innkeepers don't work regular business hours, and may not be able to contact the software support for help while they are available; and delays in some changes (imagine a delay over a weekend while an erroneous price is on the booking engine!) can be very costly!
5. Is the company large enough to support a growing clientele?
Several times over the past years a small company has appeared offering, or seeking to find customers for, a new booking engine. In many cases this is a "one man band" approach - the single software developer is the entire company. They offer an attractive price, so what could go wrong?
Plenty! Do they have enough experience in the hospitality/lodging space to create something that is actually useful for innkeepers? Is the software fully developed and tested, or are the customers expected to be the testing department? Who will provide support? It can sound appealing when the solo developer says they can customize the system to add features you want, or to correct bugs you have discovered. As a practical matter, though, this means the features will be added like a patchwork quilt, rather than according to a master plan. The result will be software that eventually becomes unnecessarily complex and disorganized, and will eventually need to be replaced. In addition, support from one person is hardly adequate as the number of customers grows. If the developer is building custom features, who is supporting customer problems? And even developers need to sleep some time, so who is providing emergency support during that time?
6. Does the software generate reports that are adequate for your purposes?
This is a topic that is routinely overlooked, both by developers and customers. Developers overlook it because it can be time-consuming, and because they often do not have a sufficient understanding of the business of their customers to create appropriate reports. Customers overlook it because they assume the reports will be adequate, or they aren't sure what they will need.
What reports are adequate is somewhat subjective, but, depending on your specific business circumstances, I submit that, at a minimum, you should have:
Revenue by day, week, month and year, with separate categories for types of revenue and types of taxes
Occupancy overall and by room, by day, week, month and year
Revenue by guest location, separating country, state or province, etc.
Revenue by referral source by day, week, month and year
Taxes by type of tax by (at least) month and year
All of these reports with the ability to compare the current period against the next prior period and also against the same period last year
Optional Features
These features, by their nature, will be more important to some properties than others. Some will consider some of them to be essential, while others may find those same features of no particular value. Your priorities will determine how you value them.
1. Ability to do cross-domain tracking of analytics goals
If your system is one of the few that properly supports ecommerce tracking, you can skip this feature, as it is a workaround to imitate ecommerce tracking on systems that don't support ecommerce tracking properly.
If you absolutely refuse to change to a booking engine that can properly handle ecommerce tracking, you can imitate it by using goals. This will require your booking engine (and your website) to properly share data between them (called cross-domain tracking - that is tracking from your domain to the booking engine domain) as outlined here. The results are significantly less precise than ecommerce tracking, but better than not having any tracking.
2. Support for Universal Analytics
Google Analytics' current version of the code (which has to be placed on both your website and the booking engine pages) is called Universal Analytics. There are a number of really helpful and interesting features in this new version, but the thing we are most interested in is that it handles cross-domain tracking much more successfully than the prior version did. This is important for both ecommerce tracking and for cross-domain tracking using goals.
As yet only a few booking engines support Universal Analytics, and the support of some of those is only partial. Hopefully it won't take as long to implement Universal Analytics as it has taken to implement ecommerce tracking.
3. Fully responsive booking engine pages
One of the ways to achieve the "mobile friendly" designation from Google is to have responsive pages (pages that adapt themselves to the size of the device they are being viewed on). Google has made it plain for several years that their preferred method of handling mobile pages is for the pages to be responsive.
4. Support that is 24x7
Even some of the larger systems do not provide this. However, there are plenty of horror stories (search your favorite forum to find them) of properties whose booking engine went down on Friday evening or Saturday morning, and they could not access any customer records until Monday morning. Yikes!
5. Connection to online credit card processing
If you take full payment at the time of booking, or if you take deposits, this is essential, yet many systems do not provide for this.
6. Connections to other booking systems
More and more properties are listing their availability (or some of it) on booking.com, on Expedia, Priceline, etc., either directly, or through one or another of the GDS mechanisms. If your booking system supports it, you can update that availability and keep everything synchronized through your booking engine - and it may save money on the fees charged at the same time. Check out the options.
7. TA TripConnect
Similar to the previous feature, some booking engines can interact with TripConnect, to keep everything updated at once.
Of course, there will be other features that some properties want that have not been mentioned, and, as mentioned above, some properties will not need all of these features. If there are features you feel are important that have not been mentioned, feel free to mention them in the comments!
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Nice to see a network like CNBC giving a realistic report on Airbnb
New York is doubling down on the push back from some big cities against home rental sites like Airbnb. Helen Rosenthal, NYC Council Member, weighs in on what some call these sites, "illegal hotel rooms."
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Has anyone been able to get their municipality to say - only list licensed establishments?  They allow for a license number, but don't require it on airbnb.  Has there been any city that has said - no license number - take them off and succeeded?
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Pic of the Day...#SaugertiesLighthouse by John Fischer Photography
#hudsonvalley
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Looks like Boston is going to go the licensing route....
A Boston lawmaker says short term rentals can have a detrimental effect on a neighborhood.
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In their circles
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From Our Blog: Summer is a great time to get out and kayak the River! Storm King Adventure Tours is a place to start.
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Thought of the day…. “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit. ” —Aristotle (384-322)
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07.31.15... #Eagle on nearby #SchunemunkMountain by Scott Cavalari
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Got my Facebook Beacon. Followed the instructions on setting it up but I now have no idea what to do with it or what it may be doing. Any thoughts/suggestions?
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I just can't see what a B&B would ever do with this kind of technology.

Its very similar to a stupid initiative the local Nature trust had a few years ago. They put up bluetooth beacons (with big signs) in our local dale (an area of outstanding scientific interest) to give passing walkers information about the plant and wildlife in the area. It must have cost a fortune. It lasted about a year before they removed them as a waste of time.  Of course it is even more useless outside because of cause you can't see the information on your mobile screen if it is too bright and the whole Bluetooth thing just doesn't work that well especially as most people have Bluetooth turned off on their phone for security and battery wastage reasons. 

I assume they may be of some partial use if your are trying to sell additional products etc but a sign has always worked in the past and is more cross platform compliant. 
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Doubt this is news to anyone but serves as a good checklist for things to constantly monitor....
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Thought of the day….  “Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.” —Unknown
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Contact Information
Map of the business location
25 Orrs Mills Rd Salisbury Mills, NY 12577
25 Orrs Mills RoadUSNew York12577
(845) 496-2954caldwellhouse.com
Bed & Breakfast, Boutique Hotel
Bed & Breakfast
Boutique Hotel
Inn
Multi-award winning Select Registry and "Diamond Collection" Hudson Valley Bed and Breakfast.Striving to be the most romantic, luxurious, and greenest Inn in all of New York! Enjoy delicious homemade breakfasts and warm hospitality while taking advantage of the many area attractions including the USMA at West Point, Storm King Arts Center, Brotherhood Winery, Woodbury Commons Outlet Mall, and lots of hiking/biking

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19th-century home turned B&B, with refined rooms & a 3-course breakfast, plus free WiFi & snacks.- Google
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Corinne Jones
2 weeks ago
Everything about the Caldwell House is executed to perfection. The atmosphere is completely serene and there is so much to do that is really close by. There is a hiking trail in walking distance, Sugarloaf shopping just a 10 minute driving away, great restaurants, Storm King art center. We absolutely love this place and have made it our home away from the city whenever we can scoot out for a few days. John and Dena are the kindest hosts we have ever experienced, breakfast is AMAZING. The house offers lovely room choices and romantic details like fireplaces and soaking tubs. I make friendly with the hammock which is so cozy and beautiful to watch and listen to birds. Really special getaway.
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Response from the owner - 2 weeks ago
Thank you so much for such kind remarks. Dena and I look forward to each of your visits as you are so much fun to be around. Thanks also for pointing out all the great things to do around here, too. It really is a special area! Finally, as promised, I am going to order a few more hammocks so that you are assured of always having one available!!! ;-)
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Alex Gittleson
4 months ago
Outrageous! Who can expect this level of accommodation, amenity and all around personability in one place?? John and Dena have buttoned up the Caldwell House with attention to even the most minute of details. Smart TVs logged into their own Netflix and Hulu Plus accounts? A fully charged iPad in every room?! They have spared no expense in seamlessly nestling modern comforts in with classic design. Come breakfast time, John holds court and engages in hilarious conversation while Dena chimes in between kitchen trips offering seconds and thirds. My girlfriend and I felt like we left with a whole new set of friends, nay, family 60 measly minutes from our NYC apartment. A true-to-form Hudson Valley experience with all the comforts of family and home.
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Response from the owner - a month ago
Thank you so much. Your remarks are very kind.
Regina Lotz
4 months ago
Best Bed and Breakfast ever. Our family stayed at the Bed and Breakfast after my son's wedding in NY. We were in the main house and had all the 6 rooms in house. The house is beautiful. Every room was different but was so pretty. Everything was so clean. The Breakfast was excellent. John and Dena are so helpful are so friendly. I hope to go back soon and stay longer.
Response from the owner - 4 months ago
Thank you so much Regina. We only wish you and the family could have stayed longer. We had so much fun with you guys.Please come back and see us again soon, John and Dena
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Lily Ip
6 months ago
I booked a room for a two night stay at the Caldwell House to celebrate my husband's big 40th birthday and for some much needed rest and relaxation. We got just that and then some! Breakfast was delicious and VERY filling both mornings we were there. Dena was SO nice and accommodating. She gave us a voucher for a free coupon book to use at Woodbury Commons Outlet which we spent the majority of our weekend. We were planning to venture out and check out more spots as suggested on their site but because of the icy rain, we only went to the Outlet. The second morning, we got to meet John and thoroughly enjoyed conversations with him. As for the room, we stayed in the Catherine Caldwell Room. It was beautifully decorated and very romantic. The floors are a bit squeaky but that's to be expected in an old home. The room was immaculate and so cozy. The mattress was a bit saggy in the middle but that was perfect for snuggling. :-) My husband wants to return when it's warmer so we can enjoy the beautiful landscape and maybe try out the places we wanted to visit while there. Definitely a nice bed and breakfast and highly recommended.
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Response from the owner - 6 months ago
Thank you so much! We are so glad that your husbands birthday weekend was all you had hoped for. We, too, look forward to seeing you back here in the warmer weather - if not, sooner!! Thanks again and all the best to you, John and Dena
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Linda Vongkhamchanh
4 months ago
Dena and John run a superb B&B in the Hudson Valley. My boyfriend and I just wanted a little getaway for the weekend and found just the spot. From the moment we walked in the door, we were delighted by John and Dena's hospitality. And it certainly was a cherry on top when Dena came running over to let us know that she had upgraded us! We stayed in the Harmony Hill room in the main house and it was simply perfect. We felt like we were at home, especially during the wonderful three-course breakfast, with a family we sure won't soon forget.
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Response from the owner - 4 months ago
Linda, Thank you! We really enjoyed hosting you - you guys are such a sweet couple. We hope your hike went well and that you'll be back again soon. Until then, take care! John and Dena
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Ivy Terrace
5 months ago
Thanks to Dena and John for a wonderful stay at The Connemara House. The room was huge and I really appreciated the excellent sheets and lovely soaking tub! Snacks were provided as were water bottles ( which you can take home) and filtered water. Bath salts were another plus. Most important to me was the comfortable mattress and cleanliness.... favorite perk was the iPad mini all charged up and ready to go! Keep up the great work, hope to be back soon.
Response from the owner - 5 months ago
Thank you! We thoroughly enjoyed hosting you and the group attending your off-site Board of Directors meeting. Everyone was so nice to us and we are pleased that your stay was everything you expected. We hope to see you here again very soon! John and Dena
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Christine Elizabeth
8 months ago
Great experience. Beautiful grounds, the rooms are rustic yet completely updated. Gorgeous bedroom, double sideded fireplace and whirlpool tub (our favorite), along with a Smart TV. From the home made pies waiting for you in the evening to the delicious breakfast in the morning~ you almost never want to leave your room. The staff is warm and welcoming. We felt like we were friends staying over for a few nights. We would highly recommend this B&B to anyone!
Response from the owner - 8 months ago
Thank you Christine. We were honored that you chose us for your wedding day and are so happy that we were able to play a small part in making your day so special. We look forward to seeing you again real soon! John and Dena
Caitlin Malik
6 months ago
My husband and I stayed at Caldwell House for a few days after Christmas (12/26/14-12/28/14) as a short getaway. All I can say is it was beautiful. The rooms are perfectly decorated and homey and very updated. The breakfast Dena cooks is amazing- and they are more then willing to accommodate for anything. The area itself (Salisbury Mills) is a great getaway from the city and I think most importantly John and Dena (owners) go out of their way to make your stay the best it can be. They are great people! I'm sure we'll be back.
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Response from the owner - 6 months ago
Thank you so much! You guys were fantastic guests and we enjoyed your company so much. Please come see us again soon. Until then, wishing you the happiest, healthiest, and most prosperous year ahead! John and Dena
Not only is this a favorite of many of our guests, it is Dena's favorite Burger place - by far!!! Woody's food is delicious and fresh. The restaurant is clean and the staff is attentive and friendly. Highly recommend!!!
Public - 4 months ago
reviewed 4 months ago
1 review
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