Updates & blog
Bookster, vacation rental and industry news

Summer hours

Today is the last Friday at work until September - we will be working on "Summer hours" in June, July and August.

This means no work on a Friday at Bookster during the Summer.

field summer sun meadow


The not-very-long Scottish summer can whiz by and we should take advantage of the longer, hotter days.

Summer should be more that just about work.

It is not an original idea, I read this article by Kris Niles at Basecamp and thought it would be a great idea for us too.

There is more too it... mixing things up can kick us out of a rutt and make us think about what we are doing:

Summer Hours hone prioritization

When we say 4-day work weeks (32 hours), we mean it. We aren’t cramming 40 hours into 4 days. This is essential to our practice of Summer Hours. Why? The key is in the constraint.

Removing a day each week forces you to prioritize the work that really matters, and let the rest go. It’s not about working faster, but learning to work smarter. It’s about honing your prioritization, scope hammering and judo skills.


Rentals United - listing on the biggest vacation rental websites

List on 50+ global channels

Use Bookster and Rentals United to publish to over fifty global vacation rental websites and super-charge your bookings.

rentals united

Bookster is integrated with Rentals United which gives you access to the biggest audience possible for your holiday rental business.


Internship at Bookster: Alicia

Hi, I am Alicia Deriano, a French student who lives in Tours (France’s middle).

I am in the first of a two-year technical course specialised in international trade business and during the first year I have to do an internship abroad for 2 months. So, I searched a lot of companies who could probably take me, it was very complicated to find a company who is not in the same country, who don’t speak your language… from my classroom.

But, thanks to a friend, Mr Robin Morris (the director of Bookster) answered to my email and accepted my friend and me as interns in his company, located in the centre of the great town of Edinburgh, Scotland.


Reframing those rough reviews

Online reviews have become an important part of the holiday rental industry - so how do you handle those unsavoury reviews?

Image of an open book with the page title thats reads we care

The Bookster booking experience

The experience of booking a holiday rental should be easy and that is what Bookster seeks to acheive.

When a guest books a vacation rental on Bookster, what steps do they go through?

Booking a holiday

Property access codes

Giving access without the meet and greet.

door lock

Holiday home owners who are killing it on Instagram

Instagram presents a fantastic opportunity for vacation rentals.

instagram sun

Email marketing - too powerful to ignore

Email marketing is way too powerful to ignore. You should be doing it right now.

Emailing prospective guests presents a massive opportunity. Not doing it? You should be.

If it is not providing great returns, you make some changes and improvements, because the stats don’t lie when it comes to email marketing.


Where should I advertise my vacation rental?

Marketing strategy for holiday let owners and managers.

Holiday lets are big business these days. Their popularity amongst savvy travellers means there is greater demand than ever before.

With demand comes competition

You’ll need to take some time to think about where you list your property if you want to get the most from your vacation rentals.

searching for holiday rentals

What would you search for if you were looking for a holiday in the area?


Booking.com and Bookster

Use Bookster to sync your vacation rental with Booking.com.

Booking.com logo

5 start up tips to getting noticed in search

NOTE: this is a basic guide for holiday rental businesses starting up.

Now, if I knew the answer to coming top of search results at all times I would have retired to my own private island some time ago.

Having said that, there are some simple steps that can help ensure search engines at least know your vacation rental website exists.

holiday sea views

Your vacation rental can have the best views, but you need to get the word out to get bookings.


Your own domain

Setting up your Bookster website on your own domain.

Of course hosting, maintenance and ensuring that your website is live 24/7/365 is all included when it comes to your Bookster website.

The final touch is to set it up and running on your own domain - it is your website after all.

In Bookster you can set that up yourself!


A better guest experience

Giving the guest control - make payments and update party details.

We have a clear philosophy to capturing bookings and communicating with Guests:

  1. Make it as simple as possible for a guest to book; then
  2. direct to Guest area to review their booking whenever they need to.

Zapier and Bookster

Use the automation tool Zapier with Bookster.


Bookster has an API that can talk to Zapier and carry out some pretty cool tasks with other web applications.


3 ways to use Email Marketing to super charge your bookings

Harness your email lists to boost your bookings.

Email marketing is available to all paid Bookster accounts.

Bookster automatically creates lists of previous guests so you can market directly to your customers.

  1. Reviews

    Ask guests for feedback

    Use "Automations" within Email Marketing to send an email requesting that your guest posts a review after their stay.


    Use Trip Advisor or Google to collect reviews of your properties and service.

    Why does this work?

    Your good work will be rewarded with positive reviews and that will drive bookings.

  2. Good times

    "Remember your great trip to York?"

    Again, use "Automations" to send a template email to guests once every year after they last booked with you reminding of the great times they had when they stayed with you before.

    email marketing anniversary screen grab
    Why does this work?

    If they did not have a good time, they will most likely ignore your email or unsubscribe so not to worry.

  3. Our blog!

    Keep a Blog, tell everyone about it automatically

    Within Email Marketing you can set up an Automation that will check an RSS or Atom feed for new posts.

    email marketing blog automation screen grab
    Why does this work?

    Keep your followers updated with the goings on in your area or improvements to your holiday homes and they are more likely to visit. Simple.


New website theme

New Bookster Website theme available now: "Chelsea"

Apply this awesome new theme to your Bookster Website today.

Chelsea Bookster website template

There is a brand new website theme available for your Bookster Website.

Chelsea theme demo

  • Modern
  • SEO friendly
  • Mobile ready
  • Own domain
  • Cross property availability searching
  • Filtered searching

Visit Scotland

New marketing Channel: Visit Scotland

Visit Scotland (visitscotland.com) is available as a Channel within Bookster.

Visit Scotland logo

Full syncing

Hook up your Visit Scotland listing and your holiday rental will appear within availability searches on Visit Scotland, giving Bookster properties higher visibility.

Bookster will sync up:

  • Availability
  • Pricing
  • Bookings

VisitScotland and Bookster

Select Visit Scotland within Bookster:

Channel drop down

Select Visit Scotland within Bookster


Percentage Extras

Define a charge based on the value of the booking

Bookster allows you to define options and charges for your guests. These can be optional or mandatory, charged or free.

One of these options is now to create an additional charge based on a percentage value of the booking.

screen grab of percentage extras within Bookster


Conversion rate tools for holiday let websites

If guests are able to navigate your holiday let website with ease, and find everything they need, they will be much more likely to book with you.

So how do you ensure your website is working as hard as possible for you?

Here are a selection of top tools we recommend to people looking to improve their website.



A great place to start is to watch strangers use your website. UserTesting.com allows you to purchase videos of people using your site, whilst describing what they see and understand.

We recommend starting with just three videos, as you’ll likely have a long list of changes to make after those three. Make the changes, and come back at a later date for another three videos.

UserTesting.com also offer a great service called Peek, which allows you to see and hear a five minute video of someone using your website for free.



Sometimes it can be difficult to know what you should change and what you should keep the same. It’s also tough to know if changes will improve conversion rate, or destroy it.

Split testing is the easiest way to test out and verify and changes you are making. From basic changes like colours and images used on your website, to more advanced layout and copy changes.

Optimizely is a split (or A/B) testing solution that’s very easy to use. Run a couple of tests and see which ones provide the best conversion rate.

If you use Bookster to power your website, Optimizely is fully integrated and so it will be very easy to set up.



I’ve used this at Reserve for as long as I can remember. The genius of it is in the simplicity.

Qualaroo is a non-intrusive pop-up that appears in the corner of a web page and asks a simple question (which you can define, or just choose from one of the templates provided). You can choose when the pop-up appears (after viewing 5 pages, being on the site for 10 minutes, etc.).

It gets a great response rate, isn’t too annoying for other users, and provides a real mine of useful feedback.

Google Analytics


Every website should have some form of analytics set up. To tell you where your site visitors are coming from, what they are doing on your site, and why they leave.

Google Analytics is certainly one of the best free solutions available (and it competes rather well with many paid solutions too).

Analytics will tell you everything and anything that you could possibly want to know, and that’s part of the problem. There’s often information overload when looking at the data provided by Analytics, so it’s often best to look at a few reports only, or to access Analytics with a view to finding answers to specific questions (how many people visit our contact page, what page do most people last visit on our site, etc.).

Many of the tools listed here provide qualitative research (videos, feedback, etc.). Analytics can provide a healthy dose of quantitative research.


Beyond simple but, as a result, many people don’t do it.

People that have just booked with you can be a great source of information. They will almost certainly respond to your emails, and they’ll often be happy to spare the time to provide valuable feedback.

Ask them why they booked with you. What other sites they looked at. What they didn’t like about other websites they used.

The downside here is that you’ll only get to speak to those that have already booked, but there’s so much useful feedback to be gathered that it’s certainly still worth doing.


Why conversion rate matters

Not all websites are created equal. Some look better than others. But what’s really important is how well they work.

screengrab of analytics

What is conversion rate? Imagine a shop…

On a nice sunny Saturday, 100 people come into the shop throughout the day. As you would expect, not everyone buys something. But 5 people do. The shop’s conversion rate would be 5%, because 5 out of 100 people bought something.

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