All About iCal and How to Set Up iCal Syncing

by | Jun 10, 2024 | Docs

Why iCal is Important

At Mapmelon, it’s critical that your room availability is always up-to-date. Keeping your availability accurate helps avoid issues like double bookings and ensures a smooth experience for both colivers and hosts. We accept your iCal feeds from your calendaring system and also provide our own iCal feeds so your calendaring system can get updates from us.

Up-To-Date Room Availability is Critical

In almost all cases, ‘live’ availability is fed in from your Channel Manager or primary iCal supplier. Warning: If you reject a booking because your availability isn’t accurate multiple times, you will be automatically delisted from Mapmelon and may have to pay a re-listing fee. It’s not worth having your Stay delisted because you overbooked or rejected our bookings, so we recommend you get an iCal supplier at the very least.

We have been working on Mangobeds to solve this and other issues colivings experience on their day-to-day to help them save money and time. Contact us at info@mangobeds.com to get a demo and discount on any of our plans for being a Mapmelon member

PMS, Channel Manager, or Online Calendaring Systems

To keep availability up-to-date, many Stays use some form of PMS, Channel Manager, or online calendaring system to automatically share availability information with their agents. These systems work by having a single source of availability information that is automatically shared with many other party’s computer systems.

The iCal Format

The iCal format/system is one of the most popular technologies used by many Channel Manager systems. iCal is short for iCalendar and is a global technology standard for sharing calendar info. While it wasn’t designed for the hospitality industry specifically, it’s become one of the big standards these days. Here’s an example iCal URL address:

https://login.smoobu.com/ical/detail/1019629.ics?s=6SyGCBzh88

MangoBeds, Booking.com, VRBO, Airbnb, Smoobu, and many others all have iCal feeds that Mapmelon can read. When you give us the iCal feed URL (its internet address) for one of your rooms, we insert this into the Room Record for that same room you’ve listed on Mapmelon. From now on, we will pull a copy of your iCal Availability from your master source.

Finding Your iCal URLs

Here are some tips on finding your room’s iCal address:

If you have several rooms, it’s likely you’ll already have multiple iCal addresses. One iCal address for each of your rooms. When you send us the iCal URLs, you’ll need to tell us which of your rooms each of the URLs matches.

Add your iCal URLs

Once you’ve got your iCal URLs, simply add them to Mapmelon.

Go to your coliving > property > accommodations > select the accommodation > select the unit > edit the unit > select the source > paste the link

If you need help, email us to support@mapmelon.com

Getting Your Outbound iCal URL

Our system also produces a Mapmelon iCal URL for each of your iCal rooms (outbound iCal). You can get this Outbound iCal URL from the Rooms area of your Stay Dashboard. You can then paste this into your other system(s) according to how that system works. The other system then has the ability to ‘pull’ your closed dates from Mapmelon. How often they do this is up to their own procedures. (Mapmelon pulls from all other iCal systems each hour).

Limitations with iCal

Synchronization Delays

iCal ‘synchronization’ happens at fixed time periods set by each company, so it’s not instant.

Master iCal Source Preferred

Choose the Master source of availability so that everyone gets the fastest update from your best source. For instance, if ‘MangoBeds’ is the best source, then it becomes the ‘Master’ source, and you should share the ‘MangoBeds iCal URL’ with Mapmelon and all your other agents. If you share the Booking.com iCal with Mapmelon and Booking.com only updates their records from MangoBeds every 12 hours, it could take a total of 14 hours before everyone is updated (12 hours for Booking.com and then 2 hours for Mapmelon). This creates a risk of double booking during this unsynchronized time period.

Making Changes to iCal Availability

You need to make changes to your availability at the Master Source location you’ve chosen. Mapmelon just pulls a copy of the data from your Master Source. If you want to open up rooms that were blocked before, you should edit them in your master source. If you open them up in Mapmelon only by mistake, the edits will be overwritten in an hour when the latest copy is pulled from the Master Source.

What Happens if I Don’t Have an iCal or API feed?

If you’re a small operator, it’s likely you can’t be listed on Mapmelon without an iCal. If you are a large operator with many possible rooms (20+), you can be invited to give us ‘free-sale’ rights on a few of your room types. This allows our system to take bookings without checking your availability first. With ‘free-sale’, we have an Extranet facility at Mapmelon that allows you to manage your own inventory directly with us. This means that if you get really busy, you can block out your free-sale availability until things return to normal.

We have been working on Mangobeds to solve this and other issues colivings experience on their day-to-day to help them save money and time. Contact us at info@mangobeds.com to get a demo and discount on any of our plans for being a Mapmelon member

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