Host On Call Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Availability
Bed and Breakfast Accommodation Host On Call
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Frequently Asked Questions

Bed & Breakfast and Inn Owners

1. Why should I use Host on Call?
2. How does it work?
3. How much does it cost?
4. What other features does it include?
5. What's the difference between "Room Service" and "Express Service"?
6. How do I join?
7. How do I add a link to HostOnCall from my website?
8. Do I need a website or email to use Host On Call?
9. How long does it take to update my availability information?
10. Is HostOnCall a Reservation system?
11. The town where my property is located is not currently listed. Can I still join?
12. Is this site only for B&Bs?
13. Can I list in more than one town or community?
14. What about events in my area? Will you link my property to our regional festivals and events?
15. How long does availability information remain in the database?
16. I already have a room availability feature on my website. Why should I change?
17. What features are you planning for the future?

Festival and Event Organizers/Marketing Links

18. We have an event I would like to add to the Host On Call events listing. What should I do?
19. Is there a cost for listing our event?
20. We have a tourism website that includes restaurants and things to do in our area. Can we add a link for this?
21. The area where our event is taking place is currently not displayed in the Host On Call city directory. Can we still be listed?

Technical Matters

22. Why does Internet Explorer keep telling me I have to Refresh or Retry to display data on the page?
23. Why can’t I get the calendar to display?
24. I have a user name and password. Why can’t I log on?
25. We've added a new room (or closed one). How do we update that information?
26. Why are we doing this for free? Here's some background on who we are...

Do you have a question? Click here.


Bed & Breakfast and Inn Owners

1. Why should I use Host on Call?
Host On Call provides a service other websites don't. Its purpose is to make it easy for visitors to find accommodations quickly within your tourism destination, by displaying room availability in the entire community.

This means guests don’t have to hunt and peck through dozens of individual websites to find the information they’re looking for, because it’s all right there, summarized on one page.

This helps bolster tourism and tourism spending in the whole community, because it gives visitors the best possible chance of finding overnight accommodations in your area quickly and easily.

Host on Call also makes it easy for you. How often do people ask you where else they can stay when you tell them you're full? Host on Call gives them and you an easy way to find out; simply refer them to the site, or look up the information yourself if they're standing right at your door.

Your guests will be grateful, and this generates benefits for everyone. It creates goodwill among visitors to your area, it maximizes occupancy and spending at local restaurants and retail stores, and they'll probably remember you and how helpful you were the next time they visit your area.

2. How does it work?
Host On Call dynamically displays room availability, property descriptions and photos that you enter online. The program keeps track of how many rooms you have booked and how many you have available. It even tells you if you make a mistake and accidentally overbook. Booking and canceling rooms is fast and simple.

Host on Call does not duplicate marketing services you already use. Instead, it links to and from your outside websites and email, and allows visitors to quickly check your room availability from any related site.

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3. How much does it cost?
Nothing. Host on Call is free. There is no cost to you, or your guests.

4. What other features does it include?
• Your own unique availability page, linked from your website, searchable by date
• Complete property description that you edit and control
• Up to three pictures (plus a photo of each room when registered under "Room Service").
• Unlimited links from outside websites to your personal availability page
• Live links from Host On Call to your outside website(s) – up to three different URLs
• Live links to your email address (with your email address securely hidden)
• Availability information is tied to registered area Festivals and Events when organizers post their events (also free!)
• email Reservation request
• Waiting List (helps you fill rooms at popular times when there are late cancellations)
• Searchable amenities
• Bathroom information
• Number & size of beds, rooms with 2 beds
• Cancellation Policy
• Restrictions or conditions
• Mapping
• Check-in, check-out times
• Price range
• Breakfast service
• Other amenities that make your property unique

Host On Call can also be an ideal one-page website for anyone who doesn’t have one. And if you do have another website, the additional information shown here is a great reminder for people as they’re checking availability for your property.

To see an example of a finished page, click here.

5. What's the difference between "Room Service" and "Express Service"?
Both packages let you display complete property information, photos, email & live links to outside websites.

"Room Service" lets you display availability by individual named room. It also includes bedroom photos and additional descriptions, while "Express Service" lets you post only your total room availability.

The Room Service option is used if you have 12 or fewer rooms because booking individual rooms is easier. Express Service is used if you have a larger inn or motel.

Room Service is a much better option when each room has unique features.

Room Service is required in order to use our online reservation service, coming soon.

6. How do I join?
Just click on the “Register your Property” tab, above. It takes only a few moments to complete the forms, and you’ll be “live” and online.

Before you start, it's a good idea to have all your information, such as your property description "at the ready", either as hard copy, or in a form you can copy and paste from another document. Also, take a moment to located where your photos are on your hard drive, so that you can upload these after entering your basic information.

With these preparations made, the whole process should not take you more than about 15 minutes.

7. How do I add a link to HostOnCall from my website?
We have created a simple script that will quickly enable you or your webmaster to access your Host On Call availability page directly from your website. These instructions will be sent to you in an automated email once you have registered and completed the sign-up procedure.

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8. Do I need a website or email to use Host On Call?
No. A website certainly helps to market your property and email can be an excellent communications tool. But all you need to use HostOnCall and post your availability online is a computer with internet access.

If you do NOT have a website, Host on Call is a great way to establish a web presence. Where else can you create a web page with pictures, descriptions and room availability, for free?

9. How long does it take to update information?
Updating your availability literally takes about 10 seconds, and becomes part of your reservation routine. Update whenever you take a booking. The information you enter is posted instantly, and your site will always be current.

10. Is HostOnCall a Reservation system?
Not yet. Guests still need to contact you through the email links or by phone to make a firm reservation. We are currently completing a secure Credit Card Reservation function which will be released soon.

11. The town where my property is located is not currently listed. Can I still join?
Yes. When you click the Register your Property tab, you’ll have the option of selecting from the existing list, or creating a new city, province or state, or even country if yours is not currently listed. Your location is usually added to the list withing 24 hour.

12. Is this site only for B&Bs?
Not at all. Any type of property can participate, whether you are a B&B, Inn, motel or small hotel. If your business is tourism-related and you provide accommodations, Host on Call can help you maximize your occupancy.

13. Can I list in more than one town or community?
This is one of the great features of Host on Call. We know that visitors generally decide to visit a particular area based on the things they want to do there, whether that be hiking, shopping, rafting, fishing, bird watching, theatre, music… whatever the case may be.

We also understand that these experiences are usually not limited to one small town or village, and that visitors looking for a particular type of experience may be searching for accommodations in a much wider area. So, in addition to towns and cities, we also display your property according to some of these regional destinations.

Each property has a destination code which groups your town with a wider geographic area. Local Festivals and Events are displayed in a similar manner. This means that if an event is taking place in a neighbouring town, your property would still be displayed as part of that Tourism Destination.

14. What about events in my area? Will you link my property to our regional festivals and events?
We certainly want to, because this provides valuable information to your visitors. Here’s the problem: we can’t possibly be aware of all the events that are taking place in your area, so it’s up to you, your DMO, Chamber of Commerce, and most importantly, your local festival and event organizers to provide this information. All they have to do is click on the Festival and Events tab above to submit their information.

There is no charge to festival and event organizers to add their link to Host On Call. We do, however, ask two things. First, the event must have the potential to impact overnight stays in your area.

Secondly, we request that the event add a link to Host on Call on their website (if they have one), because this directly benefits you as the host. The script for this link is provided automatically as part of our confirmation email, and it will take visitors directly to your community's local availability page. Visitors who click on the event link do NOT have to navigate through the main Host on Call site to get to the the accommodation information they are looking for.

If events do not have their own website, they can still list their event with Host on Call, provided that it benefits local tourism. For events without a website, we have provided a form where they can post an event description.

We reservethe right to remove inappropriate listings.

15. How long does availability information remain in the database.
Host On Call displays forward availability only. All expired data is automatically deleted overnight.

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16. I already have a room availability feature on my website. Why should I change?
Maybe you don’t need to. But ask yourself how much that feature is costing you, and does it provide the same benefits to your tourism destination at large? Most of us work together already; would it not be beneficial to build on that co-operation, and provide visitors with an integrated and easy to use picture of activities and accommodations in your destination?

17. What features are you planning for the future?
Our first major upgrade, released in April 2006, switched us from a "framed site" to 'non-frames". This made Host on Call more search engine-friendly. As part of this switch, we also changed our scripting language from php to ColdFusion. This coding change was mostly transparent to users, but gave us a better flexibility to improve the site in future.

Some hosts have asked for additional tools such as an on-line reservation system and secure credit card transactions. These are optional features we plan to add in Spring, 2009.

Other ideas we are exploring include a "rate calculator", where guests will be able to enter the date, the room and the number of people in their party, and Host on Call will calculate and display the cost, based on the rate information you provide. This will be extremely useful if you have different rates for different rooms at different times of year, discounts for single occupancy, premiums for triple occupancy, and so on.

Do you have a question? Click here.

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Festival and Event Organizers

18. We have an event I would like to add to the Host On Call events listing. What should I do?
Easy. Click here to submit your request. Complete the form and your event will appear alongside the region where it is taking place, usually in less than 24 hours.

19. Is there a cost for listing our event?
No. Event listings are provided as a resource to visitors and as a support for their hosts. We ask only that you add a link to Host On Call from your event website within 10 days, so that people planning to attend your event are more easily able to find accommodations with our hosts.

When you submit your event, you will receive an automated email with specific instructions on how to link your event directly to your Host on Call Tourism Destination page.

20. We have tourism website that includes restaurants and things to do in our area. Can we add a link for this?
We’ve given you the ability to post your tourism-related link to your Host on Call destination page – at no charge. Just click on the “Add your Chamber or Tourism Marketing Link” tab and complete the form. When visitors want to learn more about your area, they’ll be taken directly to your site!

21. The area where our event is taking place is currently not displayed in the Host On Call directory of properties. Can we still be listed?
Unfortunately not, because there is no mechanism for events to “create” a new region. Only a new host property can do that.

Host On Call is primarily a resource to B&Bs, Inns and small resorts. As soon as at least one property from your area is registered, you will be able to list your event or add you Destination Marketing website.

Technical Matters

22. Why does Internet Explorer keep telling me I have to Refresh or Retry to display data on the page?
Since Host on Call continually pulls the most current information from the database, you may need to change your browser settings.

In Internet Explorer, go to Tools > Internet Options. Click on the "General" tab. Under "Temporary Internet Files", click on "Settings". Select the option "Every visit to this page".

(Example based on Windows XP operating system.)

23. Why can’t I get the calendar to display?
You need to make sure that Javascript is installed and enabled (go to www.java.com for the free download, then install on your PC.)

To do this on a PC through Internet Explorer:

Go to Tools > Internet Options and click on the Advanced tab (located on the far right) Scroll down until you see the heading Java. Make sure the "Use Java" checkbox is selected. (It should be by default) Click Apply, then OK.

24. I have a user name and password. Why can’t I log on?
Your password is cAse seNsiTiVe. Make sure you type it exactly the same way you entered it when you first registered. (Most browsers ask if you want the computer to “remember” your login information. We suggest you say Yes to this option.)

You must also make sure that your Cookie settings are turned on. To do this on a PC through Internet Explorer:

Go to Tools > Internet Options and click on the Privacy tab. Click on Advanced. Select "Override Automatic Cookie Handling." Then, at the bottom of the window, select "Always allow session cookies." Click OK. This takes you back to the Internet Options window.

The example above is based on using Windows XP. Instructions for other systems such as Windows 98 or Macintosh will be slightly different. Please consult your software documentation.

25. We've added a new room (or closed one). How do we update that information?
There is no way for you to make this change through your user options. Please contact us (webmaster@hostoncall.net, toll free 866-829-8848) and we will be happy to make the change for you.

26. Why are we doing this for free? Here's some background on who we are...
We are Bed and Breakfast owners, and operators of The 3 Bears B&B in Elora, Ontario, Canada. We came to the B&B business early in 2003, in a decision that involved moving two careers spent in corporate communications and advertising, out of Toronto and into a community and a lifestyle that we have been enjoying immensely ever since.

Why are we building Host on Call for free? Because we can. It's not something we have to rely on as a principal source of revenue, so my staff and I work on it in our spare time, whenever we get a chance.

One day, we expect this will become a paid service, but we're building the site as time permits because we strongly believe it can play a significant role in the development of the local tourism economy.

There is much talk about tourism partnerships, but in our experience, we have found that these almost always involve paying money to somebody. We believe there is much we can do as an industry that can be effective, beneficial for us and our guests, and that does not need to cost a lot of money. I call the concept "voluntourism".

We have been extremely pleased with the way Host on Call has helped us communicate with guests and visitors to our own community, whether they have stayed with us at The 3 Bears or not. We will continue to evolve and develop Host on Call in an effort to build a uniquely functional tool for tourism service providers, perhaps one day, extending around the world.

You can find out more about us, our background and what else we do at:
www.crunchcommunications.com
 

Our Vision is to build a globally accessible, globally representative destination marketing tool that quickly and easily connects visitor needs with available tourism products, at an affordable price.

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