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Auto-rates calculation can be very powerful, but some care is needed to set it up properly. It can completely alleviate the need to use the "Select Rates" or "Charge" functions except for special cases, and can help eliminate errors in selecting appropriate rates. Auto-rates functionality is based on your Rates definitions, so it's important to set up your rates properly to avoid multiple or inappropriate rate calculations.
Auto-rates can be used to fully automate charges (by automatically applying them upon reservation creation or check-in), or for semi-automatic functionality using the "Auto-Calculate Rate Charges" button on the Transactions or Select Rates dialog.
Rate Setup Examples
Be sure to go through the Rate Setup Examples for help with basic rates setup. We don't recommend attempting to set up your rates without working through some of the examples first!
Basic Auto-Rates Configuration
For basic auto-rates configuration, see Maintenance / Program Options / Auto-Rates. Here you enable/disable the auto-rates functionality, specify whether it attempts to find "better" rates than strict rate selection (e.g. select the weekly rate if they stay 6 days, if that's cheaper), define how re-calculated rates are applied, and define when auto-rates are applied and re-calculated.
The recommended setup is to configure it to auto-calculate rates on Check-in, so charges don't have to be changed or backed out when the reservation is changed before check-in or canceled. This also helps with transaction reports, so charges are reported on the same day that the payment is received for them.
You should also check the box to enable auto-calculation for the Check Rates and Quote/Confirmation functions. These functions can be used to tell the customer what the total will be without actually adding the charges to the reservation, so there is really no need to add charges before the reservation is checked in.
Rates Definition Rules
Proper definition and arrangement of the rates is essential for auto-rates to work correctly.
There are several rules that need to be followed when defining rates so that they work properly with auto-rates. The main thing to keep in mind is that the rates will be applied top-down (according to the list in Rates Setup) until the reservation is "covered". This is explained in more detail in the next section, Auto-rates proper order example.
All of the rate filtering is used, and it won't apply a rate that would cover dates that aren't in the reservation or have been covered by a previously applied rate. (Exception -- if you set it up to apply to longer periods to find a better rate, it will apply rates assuming the reservation is longer than it really is to see if a cheaper rate would apply.)
Add-Ons -- Auto-rates can also be set up for add-ons like 50A electric, pull-through, extra adults, vehicles, and so forth. This is done using the "Applies if field..." filter selection in the rates definition. However, an important point is that only one Add-on can be applied at a time for any given "Applies if field" selection (including none-selected). Once it finds a rate that applies, then it will stop looking for other rates with the same field selection. For instance, it can apply one Add-on for # Adults, one for # Children, one for # Pets, one for 50A electric, etc, and one for "none" (e.g. adds regardless of any fields, like a flat reservation fee). This can be helpful when setting up tiers, since you know only the first found matching condition will be used. However it also means that if you have multiple add-on charges to be applied, they must either be combined into a single Rate, or they need to be based on different Fields that can be specified.
Here are the basic rules:
•Rates will be applied top-down (see the next section, "Auto-Rates proper order example", for more detail). When adding a rate, think about whether it should take precedence over any rates listed above it (e.g. weekly takes precedence over daily, discounts, date-specific and site-specific rates takes precedence over the normal/default daily rate, etc.).
•Only Rental Rates and Add-On rate types will be used for auto-calculations.
•Put longer-term rates above shorter-term (e.g. so a weekly rate is applied instead of a daily rate for 7 days).
•Try to make rates mutually exclusive, so for instance only one daily rate would apply for any given site, discount, and date. If this is not practical, make sure all qualified rates are above the generic (default) rates so they get applied first if appropriate.
•Put discount rates above non-discount (if they aren't completely mutually exclusive by the definitions), so that the normal rate only gets used if none of the discounts apply.
•For monthly pro-rate daily rates, make sure the ">= ___ days" field is set properly to avoid applying pro-rates to reservations less than a month long. (Also be sure to set the <= option for non-pro-rate daily rates, or make sure the pro-rate rates are above the normal daily rates).
•If you pro-rate by the actual number of days in the month, have separate pro-rate rates (for 28, 29, 30 and 31 days) with season dates set appropriately.
•If a rate shouldn't be used for auto-rates (including monthly billing) , set the "Exclude from auto-rate calculations" flag.
•Only one Add-on rate for any given "Applies if Field..." selection can be applied at a time (see explanation above).
Warning -- reservations without a site assigned will probably use the first rate definition by default (since no site type/class is available for filtering). Obviously the reservation can't be checked in until a site is assigned, but this will affect the Quote/Confirmation, as well as if the Auto-calculate function is used on the Transactions dialog. If unassigned reservations are "allowed" for your park, it may be a good idea to have "dummy" rate at the top that could not apply to any normal reservations. Make it something like $.01 per day, and apply to a site type/class combination that's normally impossible (e.g. an "rv" site type and "boat" site class).
For further information on using auto-rates, see the Auto-Rates section in Working with Transactions.
Auto-Rates Troubleshooting Notes
The two most common causes of rates not working properly are the order in the list and the "Applies only to" filtering in the rate definitions. Please pay attention to these items. If the order isn't correct in the Rates Setup list, it could apply the wrong rate. If the filtering isn't correct, it might not apply any rate, or will apply the wrong one. It's common to set up the filtering to exclude too much, for instance setting a Discount when the rate should apply to non-discounted reservations, or using the "Applies if <= ____ days" setting when it really shouldn't be used.
When you try to auto-calculate a reservation, one of 3 things usually happens:
1. It adds the correct rates (congratulations!)
2. It doesn't add any rate. This typically means that the rate you want to add is "over qualified" -- i.e. there is something selected in the definition that is inconsistent with the reservation (e.g. a Discount is selected but the rate isn't the discounted rate), or is too specific (e.g. the Normal RV Site Type is selected but the rate should apply to all types or a different Site Type). Edit the Rate and review all of the selections below "Applies only to...".
3. It adds the wrong rate. So...
•If the incorrect rate being added appears ABOVE the correct one in the list, then that means the one it's using is applying to the reservation when it shouldn't -- e.g. it doesn't have the correct things selected under "Applies only to"... e.g. it's not filtering the sites correctly (maybe it has nothing selected so it applies to all, or has the wrong sites selected), or perhaps isn't filtering out the dates it should. It could also be that the order is incorrect, e.g. you have a more general rate above the more specific rate (see the proper order examples below). So focus on the one that is being applied by mistake, since that's where the error is.
•If the incorrect rate it's adding appears BELOW the correct one, then the problem is with the one it should be using. In other words, it's going past the correct one without thinking that it applies to the reservation. See #2 above.
Also see the Auto-Rates proper order example for more details.
Rates Setup Dialog
Edit Rate Definition Dialog
Auto-Rates proper order example
Rate Setup Examples