Hostaway now supports unlimited iCal rental channels!

February 4, 2018

Many users have asked if we can sync reservations from channel X to Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia, HomeAway and other supported channels. We have great news. You are now able to connect and sync any vacation rental channel by Hostaway as long as the channel offers iCal reservation export and import.

A fantastic way to add all your vacation rental websites to your Hostaway channel manager account.

What is iCal?

ICal or iCalandar is an international standard for a digital file type and link that can be used to send and receive appointment data. Most mid-sized and larger vacation rental channels allow the user to import blocked dates by iCal or to export them to their personal calendar or booking systems.

Every iCal file contains a list of all the events that are listed in that calendar. When a computer, calendar or user access the .ics link it can read all the information and use it to update their own calendars.

In the vacation rental industry the iCal is only used for appointment information. Not for adjusting settings, updating daily rates, messaging and other connection needs. To do that you need other connections like direct API integration that works a lot faster and can do more.

Who can use this?

At Hostaway we understand not all clients can be experts to setup their accounts. We designed our platform to make it as easy as it can be to work with for all users. This new custom channel option is a bit different from all other channels and while it offers major customizations, it may need more time to set it up correctly.

Basically there is no standard for the information the iCal file per channel may contain. If you know what iCal is, how to use it and don’t mind spending time on finding the right settings, then this is a great tool for you to use.

If you don’t know how to download your iCal file to your computer. Don’t have time to “play” with the settings, it is strongly advised to contact Hostaway sales support for paid setup support options.

How it works

For your new sales channel you need to find the “reservations” that are stored in the iCal file. Some channels are also including Inquiries, manually blocked dates and other information. This should not be imported as reservations in to Hostaway. When you add a new channel to your listing in Hostaway you need to filter out all non-reservation related content.

To start with it, you need to download the iCal from your channel to your computer and open it in for example Notepad++ or any text editor. Then you need to review how your channel is using the options Summary and Description for all events and what you should filter out during imports.

In Hostaway under menu channel manager you find the option “Custom iCal imports”. When you activate it you can select the listing that you wish to import the sales channel reservations for.

  • Fill in the iCal link that belongs to the listing.
  • Give it an internal channel name to use in Hostaway.
  • Add all phrases, comma separated for events that should be ignored during sync.
  • Decide if you wish to import empty field events or not.

Save the import settings and review how it imported the reservations in to your Hostaway account. If the information is incorrect you can edit the settings and try again. You can use the “add new” button to add new channels to the same listing.

Exporting iCal reservations

In menu “Listings” you will find per listing the button “iCal”. Copy this link and add it to the import function of the rental channel. It is advised to do this to all channels if they offer it.

Syncing time

When you connect a new manual channel it will instantly download all relevant filtered data from this vacation rental channel. After this initial import your Hostaway account will download the iCal linked file every 30 minutes to see if you have new reservations. The new reservations will then be processed and synced to other API connected channels, usually in 2-5 minutes.

It is depending on the sales channel when they import the Hostaway iCal you have provided. Some channels will do it every 30 minutes just like we do. Others might only update every 24 hours. We at Hostaway can’t force channels to update faster, but you can always ask the sales channel to increase their iCal import interval.

If your channel offers API connections to channel manager software companies, feel free to reach out to them and let them know you like it to work with Hostaway channel manager software. It might take 3-12 months before the faster API connections like we have with Airbnb, Booking.com, HomeAway, Expedia and others are build, but it will be a start.

Maintenance for your manual iCal channels

Most channels will not change their current iCal information to often. However it may happen from time to time. Usually the channels send information out to clients before the changes take place. It would be advisable to ask your channel account manager, how to stay informed about any changes.

With thousands of possible sales channels and millions of different ways they work we offer the most flexible way of setting up your personal needed iCal import. This also means that the Hostaway is not able to adjust the settings before, during or after changes made by your sales channel.

We advise you to be informed well by the Vacation rental channel about their update policies and check randomly the sync and imported information.

Hostaway support

This new function will help you syncing vacation rental channels that are not yet included in the Hostaway channel manager software. We are looking forward to get your feedback on it.