Working with Calendar Channels (ical connection) - Everything you need to know

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This article will help explain what a calendar channel is. Calendar-based channels such as Airbnb iCal connection*, VRBO, Flipkey, and Homeaway work differently than normal distribution channels. For example, only availability can be updated, no rates or any other stay restriction.

*Myfrontdesk can be connected to Airbnb via ical (limited connection through ical file) or API (normal connection, just like with Booking.com). Airbnb iCal connection which is mentioned in this article is considered to be calendar-based. 

1. General Details

Calendar channels sync using calendar files. Myfrontdesk sends the channel an iCal file that contains an "appointment" for the days with no availability, which blocks those dates from being booked. All other dates are unscheduled, so they remain available to reservations.

To import bookings, myallocator in turn needs a calendar file from the channel, which indicate which days have which bookings. In general the information in these files is pretty limited, which is why calendar reservations often do not have many details displayed. To view the full details you'll need to check within that channel's system

2. How are Calendar Channels different from normal channels? What they support?
  1. Two-way calendar channels only support the following:
    • Availability updates
    • Booking Downloads
    • Automatic Adjustments
  2. Calendar channels (including Airbnb ical connection) do not support rates. You must enter rates directly into your channel's extranet.
  3. It's also important to notice that when connecting to two-way channels, the existed bookings will be also imported to myfrontdesk. Because of that, make sure to not upload their bookings manually - if you already did, you will note duplications, in this case, you can delete the duplications - click here to check how to delete bookings.
  4. Unlike more conventional distribution channels, calendar channels do not support sending cancellation and reservation updates.
  5. If you receive an update or cancellation inside of Airbnb and you're using Airbnb ical connection, you must also change the reservation separately in myfrontdesk.
  6. The bookings will be imported with 6 Hour delay , this is inherent behaviour of Calendar Channels, and it's outside of myfrontdesk control.  That is why we always recommend to turn off "Instant Booking" when using Calendar Channels.  When Instant Booking is turned off, the property is always asked to "confirm" the booking.  Since the property has the opportunity to verify that the room is still avaialble, this is how overbookings are prevented.
3. Which channels can be connected to myfrontdesk through ical?
Channel Name Degree of Connection* Parent Channel (for secondary degree of connection)**
9Flats
Direct

Abritel
Secondary HomeAway
Airbnb (ical) Direct
Algue Temporada
Secondary
HomeAway
FeWo-direkt
Secondary
HomeAway
FlipKey
Secondary
Trip Advisor Vacation Rentals
GlampingHub
Direct
HipCamp
Direct
Homeaway
Direct
Homelidays
Secondary HomeAway
HouseTrip
Secondary Trip Advisor Vacation Rentals
Pitchup
Direct
stayz
Secondary HomeAway
TripAdvisor Vacation Rentals
Direct
VacationRentals.com
Secondary HomeAway
VRBO Secondary HomeAway
Wimdu
Direct
*Degree of connection can be direct (OTA gets connected through ical file directly to myfrontdesk) or secondary (OTA can be connected to myfrontdesk through another channel).
** This is the channel, through which OTA with secondary degree of connection can be integrated with myfrontdesk
4. Two-Way versus One-Way Calendar Channels

While myfrontdesk can always send Availability to a Calendar Channel that uses the iCal format, only certain channels send us their bookings.

When a Calendar Channel supports both Availability and Bookings, it means they are a Two-Way Channel.  Two-Way calendar channels include:

  • 9flats
  • Airbnb
  • Ebab
  • Housetrip
  • VRBO

All other Calendar Channels are considered One-Way channels.  If you choose to use any other calendar channels not listed above (such as FlipKey), you will have to manually adjust inventory for any incoming bookings coming from that channel.

Example: Let's say you choose to connect FlipKey to myallocator.  Here is the chain of events:

  1. Myallocator takes your Available inventory, and provides that in a calendar file to FlipKey
  2. Every 6 hours or so, FlipKey pulls information from that file and updates their calendar with your Availability
  3. When a guest books your property, FlipKey emails you the booking and places the booking in their Extranet
  4. Since FlipKey does not send us this booking, myallocator has no idea that the room has been booked
  5. The property must login to myallocator and manually reduce the Availability for the rooms and dates that have been booked.
  6. Once the property has confirmed that the room is still Avaialble, the property is safe to "confirm" the FlipKey booking.
5. How Bookings are Imported

Similar to how myfrontdesk provides Availability in our calendar file, myfrontdesk needs a calendar file from the channel which indicates which dates have each booking. In general the information in these files is quite thin, so that's why not many details are displayed within the Incoming Bookings screen. To view the full details you need to check with the channel's backoffice.

Example Booking Download

An example of what we receive from Calendar Channels is below:

BEGIN:VEVENT

DTEND;VALUE=DATE:20150608

DTSTART;VALUE=DATE:20150605

UID:123456--ht9wupf1f72k@airbnb.com

DESCRIPTION:CHECKIN: 05-06-2015\nCHECKOUT: 08-06-2015\nNIGHTS: 3\nPHONE:

+1 (505) 350-3606\nEMAIL: (no email alias available)\nPROPERTY: The Steading with Pool & Hot Tub\n

SUMMARY:Wendy C%$%^ (R1YN8Z)

LOCATION:The Steading with Pool & Hot Tub

END:VEVENT

As you can see, calendar channels do not send us Rates or the number of occupants (PAX).

How often does myfrontdesk import new bookings from calendar channels?

Calendar channel booking imports can take anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours to import.  This delay is because we are limited by these sites on the amount of traffic requests we can make to their servers.  Again - Calendar channels work differently from other channels, and the booking download time is part of doing business with them.

As mentioned above, disabling Instant Booking prevents any overbookings related to these import delays.

For Airbnb

For Airbnb (ical) specifically, we have developed a mechanism that enables us to download new bookings every 30 minutes.  

You can also connect Airbnb (API) which allows to download bookings in normal way

6. What information is imported when bookings are downloaded

When a booking is downloaded from a Calendar Channel such as Airbnb, the information sent via the calendar file is quite limited.

Typically, only the following details are imported:

  • Guest Name
  • Arrival Date
  • Departure Date
  • Room

As you will notice, the following major items are missing:

  • Rate
  • Occupancy (number of guests)

You will have to manually update the reservation with the information that is missing, such as:

  • Rate/Price
  • Number of guests
  • Any other details that you track inside myfrontdesk
7. How to handle Cancellations

Cancellations from a calendar channel cannot be transmitted to any 3rd parties (including myfrontdesk).

Since myfrontdesk is unaware of any Calendar Channel cancellations, the property must manage the cancellation (and inventory) manually.

8. Room Type Compatibility

Because of how the calendar URL system is designed, calendar channels are only able to connect to one of the rooms of a myfrontdesk room type at a time.

9. Can multiple units be booked for one room?

No. Since each listing is only for one room and one unit. As soon as one booking is made on a calendar channel, it won't be bookable again for that day. Other channels (even other calendar-based channels) will of course still be bookable if there is availability.

Creating multiple listings for each room is also not a solution, since you cannot assign multiple channel listings to a single myfrontdesk room type.

Because of this, calendar channels are not designed for dorms.

If you only have calendar channels (Flipkey, VRBO, Airbnb which you plan to connected through ical), the alternative mapping described in our Distribution Channel Mapping Guidelines may be an option for your property.

Have more questions? Contact Support

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