Newsletter: Holiday Letting System. 16th September 2011
Announcing Version 3.6 of the Holiday Letting System.
This newsletter contains news and information about the Holiday Letting System and was sent to customers and others who have registered interest.
We are pleased to announce a new release containing many new features.
In particular there are many new functions to help Letting Agencies manage their business, including handling management fees, account functions and reports. However, there are also many improvements for the owner manager, including better handling of cancellations, the ability to blind copy people to whom you are sending mail shots and many other improvements.
Existing users can upgrade to this new release free of charge.
The new version has been tested on Windows 7, Vista and XP. 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
1. HIGHLIGHTS OF THE NEW RELEASE:
- Cancelling a booking: This has been reworked to be much more intuitive, and also so that all the payments and refunds are now recorded on the actual days they occur to make more accurate accounting possible. A new dialogue during cancellation makes the options available much clearer. You can now more easily defer setting a cancellation charge where that charge will depend, for example, on whether you succeed in re-letting.
- Mailshots: Recipients for emails are now blind copied by default as most people will not want their email to be shown to others, although this can be overridden if required. You can set a subject to avoid having to retype it for each batch. Emails have to be batched when sent to more than about 80 addresses, Emails have to be batched when sent to more than about 80 addresses but you can now set your own limit to batch size in case your service provider imposes a limit.
- Formatted Email: Automated letters can now be formatted (using HTML email). Letters are, by default, sent by your mail client as plain text. You can now use bold, colour and specified fonts by switching to using HTML formatted email. The system continues to work as before if you don't choose to use HTML formatted email. You will need HTML skill to use this feature. Once installed, read Help Topic "Formatting automated letters using HTML".
- Export Bookings: This function, which outputs data in a format readable by spreadsheets, has been extended. Additional data can now be exported, including booking status, refunds (cancellation charges or returnable deposits repaid) and refund date. You need to recreate your templates from the default template if you wish to export these items.
- Improved integration with your web site. Almost all our users now have their own web site, and we have continued to make it possible to better integrate the data held on LetSys with a web site. A new data upload function improves the ability to support dynamic sites; for example your scripts can now be written to be quickly adapted when new properties are added or names change. (See below for more information).
HIGHLIGHTS FOR LETTING AGENCIES:
Booking Fee: You can now set one of the extra charges to be a Booking fee. The system can automatically calculate the fee, based on information you configure. This new feature is designed for letting agencies who can now account separately for this fee. This fee (normally non-returnable) is paid by the customer to the agent as opposed to being a fee charged to the owner.
Management Fees: For agents who charge owners a management fee based on rent (or total income) this can now be automatically calculated, and accounted for in the new Monthly Accounts. The management fee is configured separately for each property.
Monthly Accounts (for owners): This report contains a statement of income and expenditure for a specified month, by property including calculation and deduction of the management fee. Reports can be printed or sent by email. The expenditure part is optional, but if you want this, you need to configure and record your expenses as explained below. A summary report for the agent gives full details of fees and management fees received by month.
Expenses recording: LetSys now has the ability to record (and categorise) outgoings associated with each property, in an "Expenses File" by month. These expenses, together with income can now be reported by the new Monthly Accounts Reports. Be aware that this does not handle detailed (item by item) record keeping within a month, you simply enter the total amount spent by category in each month, ready for inclusion in the reports. New "Accounts" menu item: This is on the Status Window and groups together the monthly accounts and the expense reporting functions as well as the Payments Report. View Payments: This report, which lists past and predicted payments has been improved. It is now run from the new Accounts menu item on the Status Window (moved out of Tools). The comments are now clearer, and cancellations are handled more precisely.
- New "Accounts" menu item: This is on the Status Window and groups together the monthly accounts and the expense reporting functions as well as the “View Payments” function.
- View Payments: This report, which lists past and predicted payments has been improved. It is now run from the new Accounts menu item on the Status Window (moved out of Tools). The comments are now clearer, and cancellations are handled more precisely.
- VAT or sales tax: This is now configured on the General Tab of the configuration program, for consistency.
- List Overdue Items: The messages have been changed to be more explicit.
- View statistics: Report 1 (letting status by year) now allows you to override the year start day. The default remains the tax year start, but you can now change to any 12 month period you want (for example, to view performance by calendar year, change the day to 01/01.
- Security enhancement: The program now contains additional checks for data integrity - for example, the program now picks up the case where a user accidentally moved or deleted a specific property folder and writes helpful error messages.
- Improved messages: If you have not checked the balance Ack checkbox (in the Booking Window) the message written is now "Balance not acknowledged, send joining details?"
- There are some new "Mail merge" strings, for example <!DepDue> This inserts the date the deposit is due into letters.
- Comment length: The length of the comment possible in the booking window has been increased to a maximum of 400 characters, and the comment box is slightly larger.
- Letter Type deletion: (in the Configuration Program): You can now only delete the final letter type, so you need to first drag and drop a letter type to the end of the list. This ensures all proformas and letters are correctly renamed prior to deletion.
- Data base improvements: The system now keeps a more comprehensive list of payments and dates to make possible the improved accounting functions.
- A few bugs are also fixed.
Note: Versions 3.4 and 3.5 were beta versions that were not released as production versions.
The full list of the new features is here: http://www.erwwen.com/holletsys/releasehistory.htm
This new version is available at no charge to existing registered users.
IMPORTANT: When you upgrade your software:
- 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.
- Important: Make sure LetSys is not running when you run the install module.
- More details on how to upgrade are here: http://erwwen.com/holletsys/Support/upgrade.htm
Please note that this version is now the only supported version.
2. Web Site Integration.
A number of our users still seem unaware of the range of features available, including publishing your availability and rates to your web site, importing data from a web based booking request form, and writing dynamic web scripts based on the names of the properties.
Setting up these features does need Web Skill, and if your web site developer needs help we are normally pleased to offer this for a charge.
Please contact us for more details. See http://erwwen.com/holletsys/contact.htm
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.
Web site: http://holletsys.co.uk
88 Mount Ararat Road,
SURREY TW10 6PN.