Newsletter: Holiday Letting System. 27th September 2012
This newsletter contains news and information about the Holiday Letting System and was sent to customers and others who have registered interest.
In this newsletter we discuss:
- A new release with a number of improvements especially additional functions for web integration.
- Using “the cloud” for backup. Some of our users are now using cloud tools like Dropbox.
1. New Version (V3.7) available.
We are pleased to announce a new release containing many new features.
The main focus of the new release is better integration with a Web Site. There are also many new functions to help Letting Agencies manage their business, including handling management fees, accounting functions and additional reporting. There are also improvements for the owner manager, including better recovery, the improved web site integration and other useability improvements.
Existing users can upgrade to this new release free of charge, as discussed below. The new version has been tested on Windows 7, Vista and XP (and even the pre-release version of Windows 8!). We longer test on older versions of Windows although it should continue to work.
The new version can be downloaded from http://erwwen.com/holletsys/download.htm
Highlights of the new release:
The full list of the new features is here: http://www.erwwen.com/holletsys/releasehistory.htm
- New format availability calendars. LetSys can now upload your availability data so that your web specialist can write a script to display your availability in a calendar form. This is particularly useful for properties where a lot of short lets are taken, when the old week by week table was not very easy to understand. You can see an example of the sort of calendar that can now be created at http://erwwen.com/holletsys/Support/samples/calendar.htm or a live example on one of our customer’s sites: http://www.dunskiag.co.uk/availability.htm
- Availability searches: The new uploaded availability status can be used for other purposes. Larger agencies can now implement search facilities on their web sites to allow a potential customer to search for properties that are available for a specified week. You can see an example of a search application on another of our customer’s sites: http://www.causewaycoastrentals.co.uk/
- New web page containing samples: To give you more idea of the various ways your rates and availability can be displayed on a web site, we have set up a new section on our web site showing a variety of samples. See http://erwwen.com/holletsys/Support/samples/
Please be aware that you will need web specialist skill to write the web scripts. If you don’t have the skill, please contact us.
- Configuration Program Changes:
There are additional buttons on the Web Tab. Both relate to publishing rates and availability to a web site.
- Check files. This button is for users with a large number of properties and web availability files. It is easy to get them mixed up, especially if you have been copying options from a different property. Click this and you will see a report on the availability file names for each property, including whether the file exists, is a duplicate, or is not specified.
- Renew Availability / Rates Files. This new feature automates the production or renewal of your web availability files from a template. It is very useful where there are more than one or two properties and therefore files to update.
There is also a new button, using the rather cryptic symbol “>>” with hint “Create Availability file from Template” on the “Edit Options for Property” window. This allows the template mentioned above to be used when you create or modify a specific property and you need a new web availability file.
- Formatted (HTML) EMail: If you use this facility, there is now a blank CC: field shown on the "Send HTML EMail" window to allow you to copy additional recipients. Multiple recipients can be copied, separated by a semi-colon. We are still trying to produce a good WYSIWYG editor for HTML emails, so we suspect not many people will want to use HTML email.
- Data recovery: The change log file is improved to log copies of all changes to your booking records, including the most recent. This makes it possible to recover a complete set of bookings from this file as well as view all previous versions of a particular booking. A new tool allows you to extract the most recent version of each booking from the change log. Please read Help topic “How to recover lost data” in the Help, once Letsys is installed.
- Web Options when configuring a new property: When you copy options from another property, the availability file name is no longer copied. This file is used when you "Publish to Web. This forces the user to specify a file name instead of using the wrong file (leaving this unchanged caused a number of problems). A new button on the web options panel (of the property edit page) now makes it easy to add a new availability file from a template. Read Help topic “Create web publishing file from template” once installed.
- Automated Letters to Owners: For letting agencies, you can now send automated letters to the property owner as well as to the tenant. Additional “Mail merge" strings are now available.
- Useability improvements:
- When viewing in Multi-property mode with more properties that will fit on the screen, you can now rapidly page up and down using the Page Up and Page Down keys
- When a letter is created successfully (for both email and printed letters) the letter form now closes automatically. There's no need to close it.
- In the configuration program, you can now double click the property name to edit property settings. Before you needed to first select the property and then click the Edit button.
- When viewing statistics a new button allows you to view a list of bookings with no source. This makes it much quicker to resolve which bookings don't have this useful information.
- Other improvements: A few minor usability improvements are also made and also a few bugs are fixed.
IMPORTANT:When you upgrade your software:
More details on how to upgrade are here: http://erwwen.com/holletsys/Support/upgrade.htm
- First, take a backup (we strongly recommend the built-in backup tool found under tools on the menu).
- Do not uninstall the previous version, or you will lose your settings and data. Just install “on top” of your existing version.
- All options you have already set are preserved. You do not need to re-enter your registration code.
- It is essential that LetSys is not running when you run the install module.
Please note that this version will now become the only supported version.
2. Backup and recovery – including backup to “The Cloud”.
Our most frequent support request involves the loss of data, due to many reasons such as hard drive or computer failures. Please use the built in backup tool. This tool,
unlike other backup methods, not only backs up your data as a single compressed ZIP file, but also backs up your settings and makes it very easy to recover these.
Offsite Backup: A family member was recently burgled, and lost not only his computer but also his USB backup disk. All his pictures and other data for a 2 year period were lost forever! A major fire could also destroy your computer and all your on-site data. With sensible precautions, your LetSys data can be completely secure, even from such disasters. Read our updated Help topic “Backup and Data Security” to ensure you are taking reasonable precautions. In particular we discuss ways to keep a copy of your data offsite.
One offsite solution is "cloud" backup. Place your LetSys backup files into one or other of the various tools that backup data using the internet, and store it in “the cloud”. Or you can even use this to contain your LetSys folder. We have at least one customer who now places his LetSys root folder into a "Dropbox" folder, which is synchronised automatically. There are alternatives to Dropbox, but it is currently one of the best for this purpose, and offers up to 2GB free. See http://www.dropbox.com (I have no connections at all with Dropbox – honest!)
3. Help improve your search engine rankings.
Search engine rankings are significantly influenced by the number of other sites that link to you (preferably in the same or similar business areas). Would you be willing to put a link to our web site into your site? In exchange I’ll add a link to your web site into our list of users. Better still – give me a reference quote to use as well. See the current list (including references) here: http://www.erwwen.com/holletsys/refs.htm
Here’s an example of a suitable link: “For other owner/managers: this property is managed with Holiday Letting System software from www.holletsys.co.uk or www.erwwen.com/holletsys/ “
Please ask your web master to add this link, and then send me an email, and I’ll link to you.
4. Comments please!
I hope the system is proving valuable. Your views are always welcome.
Best wishes to all users.