Streamlining Stays: How Charge Automation Delivers a Slick Guest Experience

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In this podcast, the Boostly podcast hosts Flo, Chief Revenue Officer from Charge Automation. Flo discusses common issues in the short-term rental and boutique hotel industry, focusing on challenges such as fraudulent bookings and chargebacks. Charge Automation addresses these issues with guest verification and payment automation, enhancing the guest experience while protecting property managers from financial losses. 

Flo explains that Charge Automation offers features like contactless check-in, security deposit collection, upselling, and fraud protection, integrating with Property Management Systems (PMS). This creates a smooth digital journey for guests, allowing them to purchase additional services easily through a web app.

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Key Takeaways

Timestamps (audio)


A quick peek

[00:00:00] Flo: We have this on an ongoing basis. And for me, ever since I joined Charge Automation, it's been a real eye-opener to, uh, how much of a, of a, of an issue of this is in our industry where guests come to tell the property manager, like, Hey, by the way, this is property doesn't look at all as advertised. We don't like it.

[00:00:16] We want to leave. We want our money back. The property manager hands them a check. And then a week later, they saw that the credit card was charged back through the credit card company. So basically, they didn't just lose the booking. They also lost the money they, they, um, uh, Gave them via a check

[00:00:33] Liam: having a blast. Can I get it on the Brucely podcast? Bruce Lee? Let Bruce Lee because it's so hard on the tea's loose leaf. I was looking up those rhymes. Don't write it, just do it loosely. If you want my respect, you are better. Put direct. Here are the words in the podcast. That's what comes next.

[00:00:49] Hi welcome back to the Boostly podcast.

[00:00:51] The podcast that gives you the tools, the tactics, the training, and most importantly, the confidence. So you can go out there and get more. Direct bookends. Today, we're shining the spotlight on a service, which you need to know about if you're in the short-term rental industry or the boutique hotel industry.

[00:01:07] There's this service that is going to help you. And we do this every few episodes on the Boostly podcast, where we talk about services, which you. In hospitality, there's a lot of different tech out there. So we want you to know what the tech is, what it does and why you should use it. So today we've got a special guest.

[00:01:29] We've got Flo. He's the chief revenue officer from Charge Automation, and we're going to be diving into what Charge Automation is and how it can help you. So welcome along Flo. Thank you for joining me. Thanks, Liam. Thanks for the opportunity to present what we're doing. Thank you. So. First question, always start with the end in mind.

The takeaway from this episode

[00:01:47] What do you want people to take away from this about Charge Automation? How do you want them to remember you in this episode of the Boostly podcast?

[00:01:56] Flo: Uh, mostly I want them to remember that we exist. We keep joking that we are the best-kept secret in the industry. So I've been in this industry for about 10 years, joined the company about two months ago.

[00:02:08] And we've got several tens of thousands of properties in our portfolio. And several times now, when we demoed, when I joined demoed demos with clients or potential clients, some reactions were, Hey, this is slick. This is amazing. How come I've never heard of you guys? And I think this honestly, in a nutshell, I just want to spread the word that we exist.

[00:02:31] Uh, we'll talk about what we do. But, uh, yeah, ideally that, Hey, there's a company out there called Charge Automation. That could be quite helpful.

[00:02:39] Liam: Why is the problem that Charge Automation solves important to you?

[00:02:44] Flo: Um, why is it important to me? So I think, it links in really well, actually what, what boost, boost focuses on.

[00:02:51] And I think it's, we've got a really interesting love-hate relationship in our industry. Uh, with solution providers, everyone loves and hates the PMS, um, the Airbnbs and booking. com's that we can't live without. Um, but yeah, you do a great job in helping people get non-OTA revenue. And we focus 1 of our key focuses is helping property managers generate additional, um, revenue from upsells.

[00:03:23] Uh, which I try to refer to as the cool little brother from direct bookings because it helps you to be a little bit more independent from the big OTAs and bolsters your revenue. Um, and I think that's kind of dear to my heart. Um, this is kind of a, with a small business, uh, mindset, uh, I want to help people that are similar situation to be successful.

What is Charge Automation

[00:03:49] Liam: What is Charge Automation and what does it do?

[00:03:53] Flo: Yeah. Okay. I'll give you, I'll read you the marketing spiel and then we'll do this in, in how actual people talk. So on our website, it says vacation rental managers use Charge Automation guest experience solution for contactless check-in. payment automation, security deposit collection, upselling, chargeback fraud protection, and digital guidebooks.

[00:04:20] Now that's a lot. Um, but what it means in a nutshell, and this is kind of how it helped me understand what we do when I joined, is the PMS, was initially built and does a great job of helping you with your internal operations. You put your descriptions, your pictures, and your pricing, it's facing you as the operator, but the PMSs haven't traditionally done a great job of offering anything guest facing, to help with the guest communication and guest flow from the moment they book to the moment they check out.

[00:04:56] And we help property managers to provide a slick guest experience and then bake in, um, um, payment automation and, uh, credit cards, fraud protection and upselling in this process. Um, in a neat way.

What does that look like from the guest's point of view

[00:05:15] Liam: What does that kind of look like from the guest's point of view? What is that kind of experience?

[00:05:20] If I'm a host and I've got Charge Automation and flow, you're my guest. How, how is your experience? How do you know, um, what, what is the difference? I guess.

[00:05:30] Flo: Yeah, the difference. That's exactly, what I think I want to point out. So at the moment, it's fairly established that, uh, I guess it makes a booking.

[00:05:41] Okay. And then in the PMS, there's kind of a series of messages scheduled where the 1st, you have the welcome and the thanks for booking confirmation. Then, hey, here's a link to how to get to the property. Maybe you send out some recommendations in regards to what can be done close by to the property recommend some restaurants, um, some activities.

[00:06:04] Um, then close to the check-in, you'll provide the guest with the message with the door code. and so on. But now if you put yourself in the guest's shoes, that means that from the moment you book to the point you check-in, you have somewhere between five to 10 or even more messages with pieces of information.

[00:06:25] And if you've just been on a 12-hour flight, or I had this in Mexico, flew around halfway of the world, I arrive, Pull up my phone, um, try to find the messages on, try to talk to the taxi driver, where to go, show him on my, my phone with, it's just kind of a, not an ideal way to communicate. So taking this, um, the situation, what we've done is, so first of all, we integrate with the PMS.

[00:06:54] And then in this very first message where the property manager says, Thanks, Mr and Mrs. Guest for booking with us. We bake in a link that brings the guests to a digital journey where they can verify themselves so they can upload. So hold on. First of all, they see the booking information. That's me. That's my name, the dates.

[00:07:14] We pull this from the PMS. Then they can upload an ID to verify themselves. which is good for the property manager to protect them from fraud. Um, then they see the payment details, when, what will be charged, that there will be put a hold on the security deposit, everything very transparent, very visual, really slick and easy for them to understand on a web app, no download required, um, uh, captures the screen size, understands the language setting on the device.

[00:07:47] So they don't have to change anything there. And In that process, we bake in, as mentioned, a, um, uh, protection from credit card fraud, which means that guests will have to verify payments. Which then brings also the burden of proof away from the property manager in case there's a chargeback claim. And once they kind of went through this kind of verification process, which is just a couple of clicks and can be very much tailored to the booking source or the property itself, um, they justified getting access then to the, what we call the guest portal, where you then have access to the door codes.

[00:08:34] The wifi details, um, for the information on how to, um, yeah, make the best out of your stay in the property. And what's slick? And this is, I think one of my favorite features here is because we tap into the payment process of our clients. So we don't take the money. We just automate processes here.

[00:08:58] Um, we have the Cardon file and very much like an Amazon experience. The guests can be presented with a catalogue of products, early check-in, mid-stay cleaning, late checkout, airport pickup, welcome baskets, and whatever you can reasonably provide to your guests. The guest just has to, similar to an impulse buy, Where they can just select this from a catalogue and continue, and it will be charged on the fly.

[00:09:28] There's no messaging going back and forth, uh, um, very, very convenient from the guests. And they can do this in this pre-author, uh, pre-authentication phase throughout their stay, sit on their sofa, say, you know what, this looks a bit messy around here. How about we order mid-stay clean? While we go to the beach and then we'll come back and the place is nice and tidy.

[00:09:50] And you just click on your web app and purchase this super easy.

[00:09:55] Liam: Nice. So it's super, super slick from the guest's point of view. How does that work then for, um, the owner for the host? Would they just get an email, a notification saying this person's purchased late checkout?

[00:10:07] Flo: Exactly. So you could have, for example, a product that when you always know that you can provide this, like it may be a welcome basket.

[00:10:15] Um, it's just instant pay. If it's an early check-in, and you might want to check with the operations team, or you're not entirely sure if you can provide this, it would be by request, meaning exactly like you said, you'll get notified as a property manager, Lisa inquired about early check-in, you look at your calendar, do you have an orphan day, you talk with the cleaning team Can I, can I not offer this?

[00:10:43] And then you accept it or decline it. If you accept it gets immediately charged to their credit card. And if you decline it, the guest will be notified that um, unfortunately, we can't provide that, or they can't provide the service.

[00:10:57] Liam: Yeah, that's, that's cool. I mean, this, it seems pretty, um, Pretty good that it communicates in the way it needs to, needs to communicate.

Protecting Against

[00:11:07] One question I'd like to dive into is actually from one of our members within Boostly. Kimberly has spoken to me today about a situation where she's with Stripe. Her PMS links directly, into Stripe, but she's had the unfortunate case of, some credit card fraud. So, um, I explained to her that it would need to be two-factor authorized in most situations.

[00:11:30] Is that the kind of thing that Charge Automation could help to protect against? Is it, is that that kind of ballpark?

[00:11:37] Flo: Exactly. So we have a special agreement with Stripe, which allows you, allows us to do several things. Um, one of them is yes, this fraud protection where the credit card holder will be triggered to use a PIN, meaning there's no chance for stolen credit cards to be used.

[00:11:57] Um, same situation, for example. Uh, and this is. We have this on an ongoing basis. And for me, ever since I joined Charge Automation, it's been a real eye-opener to, uh, how much of a, of a, of an issue of this is in our industry where guests come to tell the property manager, like, Hey, by the way, this is property doesn't look at all as advertised.

[00:12:21] We don't like it. We want to leave. We want our money back. Um, the property manager hands them a check. And then a week later, they saw that the credit card was charged back through the credit card company. So, they didn't just lose the booking. They also lost the money they owed. They, um, gave them by a check, um, damage on the property where the guest says, I never stayed here.

[00:12:46] No idea who these people are. And withtheses 2factorsr, a factor of authentication, what now happens based on the financial institution's rules is, as mentioned earlier, the burden of proof lies with the guests. They have to show that there was some fraudulent activity and then you as a property manager, have the credit cards, you have.

[00:13:09] The idea you have a signed rental agreement, you have the name and so on. So fraudulent charges will be reduced to 0 and then it gets narrowed down to and there's, really, then it's going to be tricky if they smoked in your property. And there's a no-smoking policy so sending a picture of the smell is very tricky.

[00:13:34] So there are still cases where you will go through a claims process. And, um, you might lose this process, but for, like I said, when it's clear fraud, or when it's someone breaking your rental agreements, like the cancellation policy, which is also, um, uh, anecdotes, which we hear from clients that guest books, and then 2 or 3 days before the check-in their plan changes, they decide they don't need the property anymore.

[00:14:03] Send a message saying, like, hey, I'm cancelling property manager says, okay, get it. But due to our cancellation policy, unfortunately, I, uh, there won't be, um, we won't return the money on your booking and then guests are trying to claim the money back through their credit card company saying there was some something fishy going on and they never made the booking and these are kind of situations that we can remove entirely.

[00:14:28] And. Um, when we talk to clients, large organizations, and they tell you we had 30, 40, 50, 000 worth of chargebacks last year. And if you can reduce this to a half or a third. Um, by paying a small monthly fee, then that's, it's an absolute no-brainer.

[00:14:50] Liam: Thank you so much for spending your time with us. And, uh, yeah, I'm sure there's going to be a lot of people reaching out as if you do want to reach out and you've enjoyed this podcast, uh, the show notes will have the links in, so you'll be able to go and check out Charge Automation and the cool things there.

[00:15:05] And if you've got value from this podcast, just share it, like, and share it and, um, send it to somebody else who will get some value from it as well. Thank you very much. That's it for me. And uh, thank you very much. Flow. Having a blast. Gonna get it on the Bruce Lee podcast. Bruce Lee. Let Bruce Lee 'cause it's so hard on the tea loosely looking up those rhymes.

[00:15:24] Don't write it, just do it loosely.