Everything you need to know to setup your hotel and manage reservations is covered here and in our other blog posts. Although our system is very easy to use for beginners you should begin by reading this document, then browse our other blog posts to take full advantage of all the available features.
Before anything else, we should be clear on how to get around in the application. After you have logged in, click the button labeled ‘bellebnb.com’ on the top left of your screen to open the main navigation menu. You can access any part of the application from this menu.
I. Terms & Definitions
Before we begin, we will introduce the various parts of the application suite, and the language used throughout this guide. Bellebnb is divided into three separate applications that work together to interface with the hotel, your guests, and other systems, such as online sales channels like TripAdvisor.
The main part of the application is the ‘Front Desk Manager’ or simply ‘Front Desk’. This is typically referred to as the Property Management System, or PMS. The hotel uses the PMS to create and manage reservations.
The next part is the ‘Booking Engine’. Your booking engine is a website that your guests can use to reserve a room at your hotel. You can embed the booking engine to take reservations from your own website, or Facebook.
Finally, there is the ‘Channel Manager’. The channel manager is used to collect reservations for your hotel generated by sales channels, like Airbnb and Booking.com, and send pricing and availability information out to all your available sales channels whenever you create, reschedule, or cancel a booking, or set a price for a room.
II. Setup Rooms & Rates
When you create your account, the system creates a test hotel with rooms, rates, reservations, and a staff. This is to make it easy for users in the trial period to click around and try everything before they dig deeper. You can view reservations, do check-ins/check-outs, manage guests, etc., without having to enter any real data.
After you have gone through the test data, you should setup your real hotel, starting with your rooms. Click the navigation menu on the top left of your screen, then go to ‘My Hotel > Rooms.’ Click to ‘New Room Type.’
All you need to enter is a name for this room. You can add as much additional information as you like, including price, max occupancy, bed configuration, etc. Click ‘Save’.
Room Types vs Rooms
What you just created is called a ‘Room Type’. A ‘Room Type’ is a description of the characteristics of a room, including occupancy and price; a ‘Room’ is an actual room where a guest stays.
Rooms are grouped by type to spare you the effort of creating basically the same room numerous times. For example, a hotel may have 20 rooms that have one bed and accommodate a single guest, two of which allow smoking. In this case, the hotel may create two room types: ‘Single’ and ‘Single – Smoking’.
After creating the room type, click the ‘Inventory’ tab to see the actual rooms available for that type. These are the rows in your calendar. One room is created automatically when you create a room type.
To add more units of a type, click ‘Add a Room’ and enter a name. In the previous example, you can add rooms ‘1A’, ‘1B’, ‘2D’, etc for the type ‘Single’ to represent the single rooms available in your hotel. (Assign the room names as they appear on the door of your hotel.)
When users view your hotel in your booking engine or other sales channels, the room types represent accommodations offered, and the rooms are the availability for each type. For example, if you have rooms of type ‘Single’ and ‘Double’ available for a given date and number of guests, the sales channel will display two results, along with the number of rooms available for each.
Now that you understand how accommodations work in your hotel, you should add more information to make your rooms more attractive to visitors. All this information can be added to the room type.
Select any room type and click ‘Actions > Edit’ to add descriptions and amenities. The most important thing is to add attractive photos. Select any room type and scroll down to the section titled ‘Photos’, then drag and drop photos, or click the button titled ‘Choose File’.
You will see the result of setting photos in the following sections when we discuss creating reservations through your calendar and through your booking engine.
You can price rooms by the day of week. For example, you may have a room that is priced at $100 on weekdays, and $120 on weekends.
To set pricing by day of the week, edit the room type and scroll down to the section titled ‘Pricing Per Day’. Here you can add pricing per day of the week. In this example, just enter 120 for Saturday and Sunday and leave the other fields blank. Any days with no special pricing will revert to the ‘Base Rate’ entered above.
You can also set a price for a room for a given date. For example, you may wish to raise your prices by 40% for the last week of December.
To do this, select a room type and click the ‘Pricing’ tab. Select the month, and then set pricing for the specific dates in the calendar, then click ‘Update Prices’. Any days with no special pricing (blank) will revert to the ordinary room pricing mentioned above.
You may want to offer additional items or benefits when your guests book a room. For example, you may want to offer breakfast at a discount to guests who purchase when they book. ‘Rate Plans’ combine amenities and cancellation terms with a rate adjustment when your guests reserve a room.
Rate plans encourage guests to purchase add-ons at the time they reserve, which means your hotel takes advantage of an important sales opportunity. Suppose you want to offer a ‘Breakfast’ rate that allows guests to purchase a breakfast plan for $5 per person per night.
Go to ‘My Hotel > Rates’ and click ‘New Rate Plan’. Call this plan ‘Breakfast’. Add a brief description, and leave ‘Local Rate’ checked. You can skip the ‘Amenities and Meals’ section for now and come back to it later. Also skip the ‘Discounts’ section for now. These sections are self-explanatory once you understand how to define a rate.
We want to enter the correct information in ‘Rate Adjustment’ so that the reservation price for this rate includes an additional $5 per guest per night. Enter 5.00 for ‘Amount’ (no currency symbol), and check both ‘Per Guest’ and ‘Per Night’.
In the ‘Cancellation & Refund Policy’ section, enter the number of days the guest has available to cancel the booking before their scheduled ETA, along with a penalty amount/fee for late cancellations. Enter a simple description of the refund policy to be displayed to your guests.
Guests who book through this rate will be charged both the room fee, and for the breakfast. You should also create an additional basic rate plan that has no rate adjustments, call it ‘Best Available Rate’ or ‘Standard Rate’ to see the difference with the ‘Breakfast’ rate when you create reservations in the following steps.
Taxes & Fees
You may want to have taxes included automatically when reservations are made or rescheduled. Suppose your hotel includes both a ‘Federal Tax’ at 20% (VAT) and a ‘Tourist Tax’ at $7 per guest (Tariff) for every reservation.
Go to ‘My Hotel > Taxes’ in the main navigation menu, then click ‘New Tax’. For the ‘Federal Tax’ in this example, enter 20 for ‘Amount’ and select ‘Percent’. For the ‘Tourist Tax’ enter 7 for ‘Amount’ and select ‘Per Guest’. You now have two taxes that will be added to every reservation, as in the example.
III. Create & Manage Reservations
Now that you have your rooms setup, you can create and manage reservations. There are two ways to create reservations in your Front Desk, each with its own advantages, and you can also book rooms through your Booking Engine.
Create a Reservation
I. Using Your Calendar
You can create a reservation directly in your calendar (navigate to ‘Front Desk > Calendar’). Click the date selector in the menu at the top right, and select the check-in date for the reservation. Use the left/right arrows to move between months.
Next, scroll down to the room you wish to reserve (each row represents one room in your hotel). Click and drag from the check-in date, highlighting the days included in the reservation. For example, if you wish to reserve from December 15 to 22 (i.e., checking out on the 22nd), highlight the dates from December 15, up to and including December 21 (not including the 22nd).
When you lift your finger from the mouse, you will be offered a guest selector. Enter the number of adults and children, then click ‘Continue.’ The next screen offers the rates available for this room and number of guests. Select a rate and click ‘Reserve’.
II. Using Room Search
To complete the reservation, just enter a name for the booking. You can also add a credit card to secure the booking, a contact email, or notes. Click the ‘+’ buttons to reveal these additional options. When you’re ready, click ‘Create Reservation’.
You can also create a reservation by going to ‘Front Desk > Reserve’. This is a less flashy, but more conventional method to search available rooms. Just enter the dates and number of guests, then click ‘Search’ to view all available rooms. Select any room/rate to book.
The advantage to this is you can see all the rooms and their prices for your chosen parameters. If a guest calls in, they may have a certain price range in mind, and this approach will make it easier to find a suitable room at the desired price.
To view a reservation, go to your calendar and search by date, then click the reservation name. You can hover your mouse over a reservation to see the basic details before you click.
The basic workflow for a reservation is as follows: process a deposit payment (optional); register guests; check-in; add items to bill (optional); check-out and process final payment. Not every reservation will include all these actions, but this is what a typical reservation entails.
The first section in the reservation details is the ‘Booking Summary.’ The booking summary includes information on where and when the reservation was created, the check-in/out dates, and the rate details. Once the reservation has been checked in, the second panel will list the exact date and time that check-in was completed, and what member of your staff did the check-in. The same goes for the check-out panel. The rate details panel informs the hotel of what the guest is entitled to under the selected rate. For example, if the rate includes breakfast, spa treatment, etc.
The most important part of the reservation details is the guest information. Before you can complete check-in, you must add all the guests included in the reservation. For example, if a room is reserved for three guests, all three guests must be registered and added to the reservation before check-in. The ‘Check-in’ panel for the reservation will also indicate how many guests must be added before you can complete check-in.
In the ‘Guests’ section of the reservation you will see the guests registered for the room, along with the number of guests that must still be added. In the search box titled ‘Add a Guest’ type in a guest name and click ‘Search.’ If the guest already exists in your records, you can click ‘Select’ to add to the reservation, or click ‘Register Guest’ to add a new guest to your records.
You can add as much or as little information as you like for each guest, but you must include a name and address. In addition, you can also scan and upload and ID document (passport, driver’s license, etc) for each profile. Just click ‘Add ID Document’ to add a photo or scanned PDF file. We recommend using the Dropbox iOS/Android app to scan documents using your phone camera. It’s free and easy to use, and your PMS is fully mobile ready, so you can log in through your phone to upload guest ID documents.
Once you have added all the guests to the reservation, you can click ‘Check-in’. No additional guests may be added after check-in, so be sure to add everyone before you complete the check-in. If there has been a change in the reservation and there are fewer guests than expected, click ‘Cancel’ in the ‘Add a Guest’ panel.
Note that the ‘Cancel’ button is titled ‘No Additional Guests.’ If you click this button, all the additional guests will be removed from the reservation. This may affect the price for the reservation, if the associated rate is computed per guest (c.f., ‘Rate Plans’). For example, if the rate includes a $5 breakfast per guest per night, and only 2 of 3 expected guests arrive, the rate will be adjusted to remove the additional $5 per night for the missing guest. You will see the update in the ‘Invoice’ section.
The invoice includes the itemized list of billing items for this booking, grouped by type, including room price, taxes/fees, and general items. Billing items can be added to a reservation after Check-in. If this reservation includes more than one room, the invoice for the main room will include the invoices for each of the additional rooms.
You can process a payment at any stage of a reservation. A ‘processed payment’ is a record of a payment taken from the guest by the hotel. In most cases, a hotel will charge a deposit when a reservation is created, and then process the balance on check-out. For a full discussion, read the ‘Payments Workflow’ section in our blog post Payment Gateways: Part I.
You may see additional information in the right column, following the ‘Check-in’ panel. There may be warnings for missing guests, late arrival, or overstay. Bookings that include credit card data will show the guest’s payment info.
Bookings made through exterior sales channels, such as Booking.com and Airbnb, may include information about small errors, such as the reservation price being sent in a different currency than the one listed for the hotel.
One important notification type for channel bookings is ‘Price Match.’ When guests reserve through an exterior channel, they do so at the price listed by the channel, which may differ from the internal price you set for your hotel. For example, a room listed in your booking engine for $100 may appear on Booking.com for $120. Adjusting a reservation may result in a price change. This can happen if you need to move the reservation to a different room, add or remove days from a reservation, or even remove guests from a booking (c.f., ‘Guests’).
In the case of an adjustment, the price for a reservation is computed using local prices. This may result in the booking price being different from what the guest paid/agreed to pay when they made their reservation. In our example, the room booked via Booking.com will be recomputed using the local rate of $100 instead of $120. The ‘Price Match’ panel informs the hotelier if there is any difference between the original booking price, and the current/adjusted price. The hotelier can adjust the invoice by hand to match the original price, if necessary.
The reservation can be checked out on the date indicated in the ‘Booking Summary’ section. For example, if a reservation is made for 2 nights from June 5th to June 7th, the hotel can complete check-out at any time starting at 12am on June 7th. If the guest needs to check-out earlier or later, you can reschedule the reservation by resizing it in your booking calendar. Just drag the right end to the desired check-out date.
During check-out, the balance for the reservation will be processed. For example, if the reservation is $500, with $200 processed as a deposit when the booking was made, the balance of $300 will be automatically processed on check-out.
To cancel a reservation, go to ‘Actions > Cancel.’ The ‘Reservation Details’ panel will include the cancellation info for the selected rate (c.f., ‘Rate Plans’). For example, the ‘Breakfast’ rate may include a 30% cancellation fee for cancellations received less than a week in advance. The hotelier can use this information to decide on the ‘Cancellation Fee’ to charge.
The payment for the cancellation will be processed when you click ‘Submit.’ If you decide not to charge a cancellation fee, as in the case of a full refund, enter ‘0’ for ‘Cancellation Fee’ and select ‘No Payment Required’ for ‘Type.’
IV. Your Booking Engine
Your booking engine is a website that guests can use to reserve rooms and manage their reservation. Reservations generated through your booking engine are commission free—you keep 100% of the revenue generated via your booking engine.
View Your Booking Engine
To view your booking engine, go to ‘Channel Manager > Booking Widget’ in the main navigation menu and click the link in the ‘Status’ panel on the left. Here you can search rooms and make reservations. You should start by making a test reservation for your hotel. Select any room, select a rate, then enter your booking details.
Once your reservation has been created, your guests can use the booking engine to view and update their reservation. Guests will be emailed a confirmation message with a link to their electronic invoice available via your booking engine. When they check in, they will be offered the range of extra services your hotel has to offer (c.f., ‘Guest Services’ section below).
To view the reservation you just made, go to ‘Front Desk > Inbox’ in the main navigation menu. Click the new reservation to view the booking details. Under the ‘Guests’ section you will see a notification panel for the guest included in your booking. Because this reservation was generated by and exterior channel and not by your staff through the Front Desk, this reservation is identified as a ‘Channel Reservation.’
In the case of a channel reservation/booking, the PMS will try to match any guests included with the booking with an existing guest. You will be offered a list of potential matches. In the case of a match with an existing guest in your records, select to ‘Merge’ with the existing guest. This way you can avoid generating duplicate guest records for repeat visitors. Otherwise, click ‘Confirm’ to add the new guest to your records.
You can add custom HTML emails to send to guests when they reserve a room through your Booking Engine. Go to ‘Settings > Email Settings’ in the main navigation menu to see the message options available. You can find more information on Email Settings in our blog post HTML Emails.
You can add photos and HTML descriptions to make your rooms more attractive. Your hotel’s room types are the main attraction in your booking engine, and you should include as much information as possible. You can add up to 25 photos for each room type, along with a list of amenities, views, and other information, and you can even add this information in several languages to accommodate international visitors.
For more information on how to customize your booking engine, see the following posts:
If you have your own website, you can use your booking engine to accept bookings directly from your own website. To generate an embedding widget for your website, go to ‘Channel Manager > Booking Widget’ in the main navigation menu. You can find more information on how to use your booking engine on your own website in our post on Embeddable Booking Engine.
V. Guest Services
Your booking engine comes equipped with a guest services portal to facilitate interaction with your guests once they are checked in to your hotel. They can use your booking engine to put in a room service order or communicate with the front desk.
Room Service & Messaging
To enable your guest services portal, go to ‘Settings > Room Service’ and then ‘Settings > Instant Messaging’ to enable both services. Your booking engine will still provide electronic receipts and allow your guests to cancel their booking even no additional services are enabled but you should enable at least during the Free Trial period to get an idea of the full extent of your booking engine.
Go to ‘Room Service > Menu’ to view the items available to your guests. You can enter as many additional items as you like. You have a standard set of test items added for you when you create your account.
To view your room service menu from a visitor’s perspective, create a new reservation your booking engine with a check-in date of today (one guest, one night is good enough). Keep your browser window open when you get your booking confirmation. Open a second browser window, log in to your Front Desk manager, and complete the check-in for this reservation.
Having completed check-in, refresh the window opened to your booking confirmation to see the additional services offered to your guests after they check in. Browse your room service menu and put in an order. After entering the order, refresh the reservation in your second browser window to see the order in process in the reservation details.
Although your front desk staff can view room service orders in progress, hotels typically have a kitchen staff to prepare and deliver orders. You can create staff members, with login privileges, who only have access to kitchen operations. Your kitchen staff can view a list of active orders and mark them as completed when they’re delivered. Items are only added to a reservation’s invoice when they are marked as delivered by your kitchen staff. For more on staff management, including kitchen staff, refer to the ‘Staff and User Accounts’ section below.
Next, go to the messaging interface and send a message. In your Front Desk browser, go to ‘Front Desk > Inbox’ to view and reply to the message. Messages load automatically for both guests and staff, so if you leave both windows steady after creating or replying to a message (don’t refresh), you should see the updates come in on their own.
Your guest services portal also includes an in-house review system. Guests can review both the facilities and staff, if you have enable staff reviews. To enable your Review Engine, go to ‘Reports > Reviews’ in the main navigation menu in your Front Desk. To allow staff members to be reviewed, go to ‘Settings > Hotel Staff’ and select individual staff members for review in their profile by selecting ‘Enable for Review.’
To write a review, you will need to check out a reservation. Guests are offered the chance to leave a review after they have completed check-out. Keep the browser window for the previous example open/available until tomorrow, once you can complete check-out. If you entered your email address for one of the guests in the booking, you will be sent an email directing you to the review page after check-out. Remember that reservations cannot be checked out until the date indicated, so keep the test booking for this example to one day in length.
Go ahead and complete check-out when you can, then refresh the guest services page. You will now be directed to the review interface. Guests can include a brief 5-star rating for staff and facilities, along with a brief comment for each.
Your staff is the most important aspect of your hotel, so the hotel manager should have an idea how guests are being treated. Each staff member has historical review data, along with other statistics, such as check-ins/check-outs available in their profile. Average star ratings are available for each member of your staff. Your staff members don’t need system access privileges to be enabled for review.
Your services portal is mobile ready, so guests can access your additional services from any phone or tablet they have at hand. There is nothing to download, nothing to install, which means you can reach people through whatever device they have available to them. To get an idea, create a booking from your smartphone and repeat the above example, but with your phone and a browser window, instead of two browser windows.
VI. Staff and User Accounts
You can add as many staff members to your account as you need. Staff members may or may not have access privileges to the system. For example, you may register staff members purely for review purposes. For staff members who have system access, there are five different account types that can be assigned: Front Desk, Kitchen, Maintenance, and Property Manager. For a full description on how to create and manage staff members, see this post: User Management.
One of the account types available to your staff is ‘Maintenance.’ Maintenance staff are responsible for preparing rooms after your guests check out. Users who are assigned only ‘Maintenance’ privileges only have access to the list of rooms to be prepared for today.
Maintenance users logged in can go to ‘Maintenance > Prepare Rooms’ in the main navigation menu to see the list of rooms to be prepared. Click ‘Mark as Ready’ to make the room available to the next visitor. Rooms that have not been prepared after check-out will appear in this list, and the next reservation being checked in will include an alert notification until the room is prepared.
VII. Generate Reports
You can generate reports for reservations and payments for a given period. For payments, go to ‘Reports > Payments’ in the main navigation meu. Enter the dates in the top right dates selector, then click the search button to view the payments registered for the selected period (endpoints inclusive).
To view reservations, go to ‘Reports > Reservations.’ Enter the dates in the dates selector and click the search button to view the reservations that overlap the given date range. Click the ‘Export’ buttons in either the Reservations or Payments reports to generate a CSV file that you can import in your favorite spreadsheet, like Excel or Google Docs.
VIII. Channel Management
The channel manager coordinates price and availability between all your sales channels, including your booking engine. Whenever you receive a new reservation from any source or create a new reservation by hand in your Front Desk, the channel manager sends the inventory update to all your sales channels to avoid overbooking, or makes the room available to all channels in the case of a cancellation.
This User Guide is constantly evolving with the new features included in our software suite. Be sure to subscribe to our blog to stay up to date on new features and tips for power users. We have covered as much as possible, but there are many topics that we leave for the blog and the FAQ.
We have yet to mention the most important feature for the entire application: the chat button on the bottom right of your screen. If you have any questions, just log in to your account and click the button on the bottom right of your screen to ask us anything you’re confused about. We’re always happy to help.