There are three general types of Agents, each of which can have multiple channels depending on the online distribution channels you choose to set up. Some Agents are set up by BookingCenter (Master Agents), some are created by you (MyPMS Agents) and some are added automatically after you have signed up for an OTA contract Rate program (Net Rate Agents).
Agent Types (See Agent Types for more details)
- Master Agents: These agents control the availability and rates to your basic channels: They must have allocations in order to function properly, and only BookingCenter can edit them as they control 'shared' agents such as Expedia, Airbnb, or Booking.com agent allocations. But the allocation of your rates and availability to these Agents is unique to your own property.
- PMS Agents: These are "special" agents that you have set up in the My Agents area. This Agent is also used to set up Promotional Codes and can be used to create a 'Suppress Agent Rate' process during Kiosk or Mobile Self Check-in for your guests. When using the 'Suppress Agent Rate', Self Check-in can use a unique eSign document and hide specific rate information when your Guest uses Self Check-in, and this can be used for unique approaches to Self Check-in. For example, 'Booking with Pets' needs a unique 'registration' eSign that specifies pet policies but all other Guests get the standard eSign document; perhaps you use this PMS Agent for 'Booking with Activities' which needs a unique eSign Letter which is a waiver for risk, while other Guests get the standard eSign 'registration' document. There are numerous such examples.
- Net Rate Agents: These agents will only be visible if you have signed up for a Contract Program with a major OTA. Some of these Agents are what is referred to as 'Suppress Agent Rates', such as Expedia Collect or Booking.com pre-paid reservations. These Agents, when involved in a booking, create different views by the Guest during Self Check-in and the deposit and cancellation policies that are showed to a Guest when checking in via Kiosk or Mobile Self Check-in.
- Kiosk Agents. These Agents are applicable only to customers of the Kiosk Self Check-in product from BookingCenter, and offer unique settings such as one Kiosk for Hotel rooms, another for RV slots, and another for Cabin rentals. Each Kiosk Agent can thus have unique business rules and branding, with unique allocation of rates and availability to 'book and checkin' via each unique Kiosk. It is critical the following are set for the Kiosk to be used:
- Phone and email are provided here so that a Kiosk user can alert you if they are having difficulty.
Kiosk Active Message - You make a Letter and set for your Kiosk that acts as a 'screen saver' for showing when the Kiosk is ON and in 'welcome' mode.
Kiosk Inactive Message - You make a Letter and set for your Kiosk that acts as a 'screen saver' for showing when the Kiosk is OFF and cannot be used.
Kiosk Confirmation Message - You make a Letter and set for your Kiosk that confirms what is sent to the MyGuest system for when a User sets a Kiosk to 'On' so that staff can know that Kiosk mode is now 'On'.
- Suppressed Rate Agent: If you are using Self Check, then this Agent will be used to manage the Payment Policy and Gateway used in bookings via an Agent set as 'suppressed rates'. For example, if you participate in Expedia Collect (Expedia collects money from the Guest and provides a virtual 'Expedia Credit Card' to cover Room +Taxes) the booking often can't be 'authorized' as your typical authorization policy, as the card will decline any amount over the exact terms Room +Taxes amount (what MyPMS calls 'Projected Income'). Thus, we'd use a Suppressed Rate Agent to set a profile for how these bookings occur, most often setting 'Payment Policy' to NONE, and Online Gateway to: NONE so nothing was charged to these specific bookings via this Agent when using Self Check-in.
Since pre-paid bookings are often sold at different rates than are found in the PMS, this 'stream' can <optionally> present a unique eSign document that would 'suppress' rates from view of the Guest.
An additional common use of this Agent when using Self Check-in is to require an incidental credit card during self check-in, and then you can use your normal authorization policy to authorize the incidental card. However, keep in mind, if you do this, the Guest will have had their credit card paid to Expedia for the initial booking in full, then this new authorization you want on their incidental credit card, so you could be taking too much money in authorization for a pre-paid booking and create a customer support problem for your staff.
Additionally, the Self Checkin process - for bookings linked to an Agent set as a Suppressed Rate Agent - will STOP asking for an incidental card if the booking has 2 credit cards on file. This assists the situation where a 3rd party 'virtual credit card' was sent with the booking; then the Guest added their own credit card (either via the front desk of your property or via the MyBookings area prior to check-in - such as when they signed the eSign agreement) prior to going through Self Checkin. Thus, there are 2 credit cards on file, one set as 'guarantee by:', when the guest desires to check-in. If the Self Check-in system identifies 2 credit cards, then it allows the Guest to progresses without asking for an additional one.
Because the use of the Suppressped Rate Agent can be confusing, a Site can choose to set in General Settings "Require Incidental Credit Cards for Suppressped Rate Self Checkins?" to NO and requesting an incidental credit card won't occur at all, even with a booking linked to an Agent set as a Suppressed Rate Agent.
- Non-Suppressed Rate Agent: If you are using Self Check-in, then this Agent will be used to manage the Payment Policy and Gateway used in these bookings.These are usually 'normal' bookings made via your website, front desk, or OTA/GDS channels that haven't been pre-paid by the Guest. The value of this Agent is that you might choose different Payment Policy and Gateways for Self Check-in bookings than those via your front desk.