iCal Integration Issues And Resolutions

When a hotelier lists his properties on various platforms, such as Booking.com, Airbnb, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, etc., he needs to keep track of the bookings on these platforms. Manually doing so is a hectic thing if the number of OTAs subscribed is significant in numbers. He needs to synchronize reservations with such platforms in order to prevent double bookings by entering and reviewing all bookings manually. iCal Sync is a way to sync the PMS booking calendar with different OTAs.

iCal files are a file format that is used to share calendar files. iCal files are small text files that describe bookings in a machine readable format. They ‘re really small, easy to read by humans and machines, and easy to create and parse. For example, the Airbnb calendar file URL is exported and then imported to booking.com or vice versa. They are therefore synchronized. In this blog, we ‘re just looking at its limitations or complaints on sites like booking.com and some of the recommendations.

Challenges in iCal integration with Booking.com

There are drawbacks owing to the simplicity of iCal. Open / closed dates can be coordinated but you can’t offer prices, minimum stays or other details.

Issues on iCal sync have been said to exist from May 2019 on booking.com. During May 2019 a large percentage of Booking.com listings had the problem. Their iCal files were broken and this issue still exists. The complaints raised on different sites are huge in number, dated even 2 years back to 4 months ago. The issue is with the syncing leading to double bookings.

Some of the complaints collected from various forums:

The Booking.com calendar sync is broken. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Booking.com will tell you that although they provide a calendar sync to automate the process, calendar sync is actually a manual task. And like much of the rest of Booking.com systems, this community is poorly designed too. If it was well designed, you would have seen many other hosts / partners asking exactly the same thing about the calendar sync, and of course, the responses we post again and again and again ….

iCal does not work properly – it is not a time issue – the iCal sync is broken. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. It might work fine today, then completely lose all settings and booking information tomorrow. We can get double bookings today for properties that were booked 3 months ago.

I often get “Error syncing” and there is no notification sent to me. This is a problem because it is causing double bookings. I hit “Sync Calendar” again and after a while it usually works. I would really like to at least be notified via email if a sync error occurs. The only indication is when I have two guests trying to check into the same room. This has happened 6 or so times in the last few months.

Same problem here. I just synchronized calendars and blocked one day (for test) and nothing happens on the other site. Unless you refresh it manually. But this cancels the idea of having calendars synchronized, having to refresh them manually, doesn’t it?


Recommendations For the Customers

The customers when faced this issue are said to block all the dates on other channels manually, disable instant bookings on other channels until the problem is solved.

Another recommendation is to create a calendar of your bookings on Google. It will be only 1 calendar but for each property. Export iCal of Google. It means copy and paste link in your Airbnb and Booking.com calendars. You can test it. It should work.

Go to the Calendar Link in your google account (Gmail account). Please create single or multiple calendars based on the number of properties. Copy iCal link and paste into your Airbnb or Booking.com calendars. It means that you are exporting google calendar and importing into Airbnb or booking.com calendars. Now synchronize it. Once synchronized booking.com calendar booked date will be changed to the RED colour. It works. This will give you guarantee. You can use Google link anywhere but best to my knowledge one cannot import other calendars to Google.

Image courtesy: www.unsplash.com

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