This newsletter covers:
- A new release of the Holiday Letting System – now available.
- A discussion of the new General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) and the way it might affect users of LetSys
- A few other hints and tips, including about windows 10 email problems.
- A request for you to tell us if you still want to receive these newsletters.
This release offers a number of enhancements especially ones aimed at improving the ease of configuring and using the web site integration features. There is also one feature to help comply with GDPR and improvements to the diagnostic features. Highlights include:
Existing users can upgrade to this new release free of charge. The new version has been tested on all current versions of Windows.
The new version can be downloaded from http://erwwen.com/holletsys/download.htm
The full list of the new features is here: http://www.erwwen.com/holletsys/releasehistory.htmIMPORTANT:When you upgrade your software:
Please note that this version will now become the only supported version. While many users may not need the new features and may choose not to upgrade, we will not assist with problems unless you first upgrade to the latest version.
If you use LetSys you are holding personal data electronically, and you need to comply with the new regulation. There is much information online to help you plan, and you could usefully start with this checklist from the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO): https://ico.org.uk/media/1624219/preparing-for-the-gdpr-12-steps.pdf
YOUR PRIVACY IS IMPORTANT: Contact and other information essential to manage your let is kept electronically. You consent to this by placing the booking. We commit to keeping this information secure. We never share it with anyone outside the business and we never collect data about you automatically on our website. We retain your information only as long as necessary for tax and insurance purposes. We do not store any credit card or bank details. If you agree to this when booking, we may send you a maximum of two newsletters or special offers per year. You can change this choice at any time. You also have the right to see any information we hold about you on request. We conform to all applicable privacy legislation.
You must, however, comply with the provisions of GDPR touched upon by the above privacy statement.
It is essential to ensure that your computer, containing the customer data, is kept as securely as possible. Those of us who travel with the booking data on our laptops must be aware that these are often stolen and you should ensure your computers are protected by a strong password. You can also consider encrypting your hard drive with a tool such as bitlocker. LetSys stores customer data in a proprietary format, so most casual thieves would not be able to extract your customers contact details, but a competent hacker would easily manage this. However the risk is low for a number of reasons, including the difficulty of extracting the data and the fact that you will only be holding details of relatively small numbers of customers. But we think it advisable for you to have thought carefully about how to protect your data and be able to show what choices you made and reasons in the event of a complaint. Remember that LetSys stores all your customer data in a single “root” folder, normally C:\LetSys, and the LetSys backup tool is the best way to back this up with a single click. We recommend keeping your backups very securely, and delete them regularly. You can easily add a password and encrypt the backup files using 7zip (our recommended backup utility). We could enhance LetSys to automatically encrypt the backup files using a password which you would configure (and which would be stored encrypted.) If any recipient of this newsletter thinks they might want this feature, please let us know.
Another issue is whether you need to register with the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) which costs £35 per year for a small business. The online tool told us that we needed to register our own holiday letting business. However, after a long wait I managed to talk to Paul Damerill in the registration team, and was told we did not need to register, as a very small business. He seemed most interested in whether we did any credit checking or had CCTV (we don’t). You may get different answers of course.
Another question is whether you need to reconfirm consent from all your customers. Our view is that you almost certainly do not, providing you made it clear in the past that you were storing data electronically (which you were supposed to do under the previous data protection act) and that you delete data once it is no longer needed (see below).
But are you able to send news and special offers to your customers? GDPR seems pretty clear that you should not be sending emails out without asking your customers if they are willing to receive them. LetSys will now help with that for new bookings and you can record the answer with the "Omit from Mailshots" checkbox. But what about your old customers? Most of you will recently have been deluged with emails asking for consent from you to stay on various distributions lists which has been very unpopular, and the response rate has been as little as 10% - see reference below. However, if you think you already have consent from your customers (or others on your distribution list) to receive emails, separately from just making a booking, you may be able to skip this.
If you decide you need to do this, you can use the mailshot feature in LetSys to send out an email asking for old customers to reply asking to be kept on your lists, but you will have to manually process the reponses, unfortunately.
GDPR is very complex, and views are still evolving. This week new guidance from the ICO makes it clear that many people are misinterpreting GPDR. Please see: https://iconewsblog.org.uk/2018/05/09/raising-the-bar-consent-under-the-gdpr/ There was also an interesting article in the Guardian on Saturday 12th May https://www.theguardian.com/money/2018/may/12/why-the-gdpr-email-deluge-and-can-i-ignore-it
You do need to delete information once it is no longer needed for tax or insurance purposes and there is information about how to do this in the Help files under “The Archive / Cleanup window”. This discusses retention periods for tax data, which nets down to about 7 years! Insurance companies may suggest keeping data for longer than this
While LetSys supports Windows 10 fine, there have been recent problems with sending letters by email. These are nothing to do with LetSys, but rather are to do with Microsoft’s failure to fully test Windows 10.
Our support forum contains a fairly long thread about email problems (going back to Windows 7) here: https://www.support.erwwen.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=47 but the most recent problem on windows 10 is reported here: https://www.support.erwwen.com/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=90
If you have a web site, I'd like to repeat my usual offer. Search engine ranking is 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 my sample 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 webmaster to add this link, and then send me an email, and I’ll link to you!
I hope the system is proving valuable. Your views are always welcome.
You are receiving this newsletter as a licensed user of the Holiday Letting System, and this information is sent as part of the support process.
If you want to continue to receive these newsletters (there have been about one per year recently) please reply and tell us. Otherwise GDPR will cause us to stop sending you information. Please just reply and put CONTINUE SUPPORT in the subject line.
Iif you no longer need these newsletters (for example, if you no longer use the software) please reply and tell us. This time please put the phrase: STOP SUPPORT in the subject.
Best wishes to all users.
Web site: http://holletsys.co.uk
88 Mount Ararat Road, Richmond, SURREY TW10 6PN.