Make iCal feeds more flexible

Hi all

I've been setting up Checkfront for a few weeks now and we are using it as our booking system for our apartments in the French Pyrenees. Impressed so far and we are using the WordPress and Facebook plugins which are great.

As we are just starting up. like many others, we need to reply on the big rental sites to get us bookings as well. I hope this will change but at the moment we can't do without them.

So to start with I have been putting the apartments on AirBnB, tripadvisor and homeAway.

This is where I've found the problem. I want our CheckFront calendar to be authoritative. I know I can't have real 2 way communication with availability and pricing with these sites but at a minimum I just want the availability to be run from Checkfront so I don't get duplicate bookings and have to update multiple sites all the time.

However, I've found the webcal calendar feed that Checkfront supports to be incompatible with tripadvisor and homeaway. AirBnB will accept it. I believe this is because the others are expecting the URL in the format

http://calendarurl/something.ics

whereas the checkfront url is the format:

webcal://calendarurl

Because this is not working I am currently having to use AirBnB as my authoritative calendar because tripadvisor and homeaway will both sync with them fine. So to make a booking I have to take the dates from Checkfront and quickly put them in AirBnb.

I believe this is a trivial change, so would like to request it as a feature, either have 2 request URLs for calendars or make it part of the filter feature which already allows you to filter the output of the feed. It would also be useful to have an option that did not output the booking name, just "Booked" or something similar as if the feed has too much data in HomeAway does not allow it to be used to block dates. I tried using a Gmail calendar with it and this was the result.

I am thinking of writing a little webapp that consumes the Checkfront ical feed, takes out the names etc and then provides a URL that I can put into all these other sites. When called it would get the latest feed from Checkfront and return the feed in the .ics format that most seem to require. However, if you are willing to add this as a feature I wouldn't need to.

Checkfront is great but I believe this small feature would make it better for small businesses like us.

Thanks!

Comments

  • Hi mattlt,

    Thank you for reaching out on our Forum!

    The way the webcal://calendarurl works is functionally the same as if it were http://calendarurl. Which means that in most cases, you should actually just be able to swap out the webcal:// for http:// when importing it into services that have specific URL validation.

    If for some reason this still doesn't work, feel free to let us know and I will certainly put in a feature request for displaying multiple iCal URL formats!

    Thanks for reaching out with your feedback. We appreciate it!

    Best regards,

    Brett
    Checkfront Support Team
  • Hi Brett

    Thanks for the quick reply.
    Yes your support (and I) thought that if you changed the protocol it would work.

    Having tried it again on Tripadvisor it works so not sure what I was doing there!

    I've tested it on HomeAway which is one of my main sites, and it doesn't work.

    It will sync with AirBnB which is of the format:

    https://calendarurl.ics

    So I think it would be a good feature to provide a second url for situations like this. I've logged it with HomeAway as well but I bet there are other apps out there that will only accept the .ics format.

    Thanks!
  • Update:

    I've contacted HomeAway and explained that while your iCal URL passes all validation tests online, their site will not accept it.

    Just to mention, all the OTA sites I'm using use the .ics type URL in their calendar exports (and SSL encrypted), so it would be useful if you guys could provide the same.

    Many thanks

    Matt
  • Hello Matt,

    Thanks for replying,

    The iCal URL that we provide is an access code that provides the .ics file. This is one of the safest ways to provide this files and most booking channels are able to handle this process. We also do have SSL encryption on the site and you can access the file by changing the http to https.

    The reason that we don't just have a link to the .ics file is so that customer can provide this files to other parties with only access to certain item or categories. 

    Best Regards,
    Charles Roy
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