Posts Tagged: public booking requests

The popular “Public Booking Request” features of MIDAS allow non-users (i.e. visitors to your website) to check the availability of your venues and submit booking “requests” online. These requests can be quickly approved by an administrative user with just a couple of clicks and converted to “confirmed” bookings, or they can be rejected just as easily.

To make a public booking request, a requestor would go to https://your_midas_url/request. If requests have been enabled they can then select a venue (or venues), date (or dates), times, and resources, and check availability accordingly. They can then enter their details, and any additional details relating to their request and submit their request online.

For v4.15, we’re giving administrators more flexibility when it comes to the initial venue selection step of the Public Booking Request process.

Previously, a requestor would need to manually select the venue (or venues) they wish to request. However, in v4.15 an administrator can instead replace the traditional individual/manual venue selection for Public Booking Requests with automatic venue selection instead.

If the automatic venue selection option is enabled, a requestor simply selects a venue group. MIDAS will in turn automatically select a venue from within the selected group accordingly.

Automatic Venue Selection when making a Booking Request

This is ideal if you allow public requesting of similar rooms. For example, if you have 10 identically sized/equipped meeting rooms, a requestor doesn’t necessarily care which one of these rooms their meeting takes place in. These new options would allow them to simply select that they wish to request a “Meeting Room”, and MIDAS will allocate a meeting room accordingly.

How MIDAS allocates venues when the automatic venue selection option is enabled may be configured by an administrative user….

Automatic Venue Selection when making a Booking Request

Auto Venue Selection options include:

  • Random – MIDAS will attempt to select an available venue at random from the all publicly requestable venues within the selected venue group.
  • Venue Order – MIDAS will attempt to select the next available venue from the all publicly requestable venues within the selected venue group, based on the order your venues are configured to appear within MIDAS.
  • Least Used (Number of Bookings) – MIDAS will attempt to select an available publicly requestable venue from the selected venue group with the least number of existing bookings in it.
  • Least Used (Venue Utilization) – MIDAS will attempt to select an available publicly requestable venue from the selected venue group with the most free time in it (i.e. the least utilized venue)

These exciting new option for Public Booking Requests allow far grater flexibility, make it easier for people to make booking requests, and ensure more balanced usage of your venues!

Inundated by lots of booking requests? Following customer feedback, MIDAS v4.14 includes new “Reject All” and “Approve All” buttons on the Pending Booking Request screen. These new buttons provide an easy way to “bulk reject” or “bulk approve” all outstanding requests on your current Pending Booking Requests screen.

Bulk Approve or Reject Booking RequestsClicking the “Reject All” button will then allow you to enter an optional brief reason why you’re rejecting the requests (unless the “Approve/Reject requests silently” option is selected). This reason will then be included in the rejection email notifications sent to the affected client.

If the “Approve/Reject requests silently” option is selected, clicking “Reject All” will first show a confirmation of the number of booking requests to be rejected which if confirmed will then reject all those requests.

The “Approve All” button will also provide an indication of the number of booking requests to be approved. If confirmed MIDAS will then attempt to automatically approve all these requests.

The order that these requests are automatically approved in is important. It may not be possible to automatically approve all booking requests. For example, if two requests are made by two different clients for the same venue and times, they can’t both be approved.

In such instances, a “Bulk Approval Order” setting (found via MIDAS Admin Options → Manage MIDAS → Web Requests) determines the order (priority) in which booking requests will be bulk processed for approval. The four possible options for this setting are as follows:

  1. Earliest Requested First (Requests that were made earlier will be approved before requests that were made more recently)
  2. Latest Requested First (Requests that were made more recently will be approved before requests that were made earlier)
  3. Earliest Commencing First (Requests for bookings starting sooner will be approved before requests that start further in the future)
  4. Latest Commencing First (Requests for bookings starting further in the future will be approved before requests that are due to start sooner)

You can read more about some of the other exciting improvements coming in v4.14 here!

One of our customers recently contacted us to report a strange issue whereby booking requests made through their MIDAS scheduling system were seemingly vanishing from their system.

The “Booking Request” features of MIDAS, allow people to submit booking “requests” which then require approval by an administrator before becoming a “confirmed” booking.

There are a number of reasons why a booking request may legitimately appear to “vanish” from the system; first of all, another administrative user may have already rejected the original booking request, or the original requestor may have changed their mind and canceled their own request.

When a person makes a booking request, MIDAS automatically send them an email notification containing details of the request they’ve submitted. These email notifications also contain a “booking request cancellation link” allowing them to cancel their request if for whatever reason they’ve changed their mind before their request is approved.

Inspecting the provided “Recent Activity Log” for the customer’s MIDAS system, there was no evidence to suggest that another user had simply rejected the missing booking requests.

There was however evidence that the booking request cancellation links, contained within the notification emails sent to original requestors had been clicked.

The customer was confident that no-one had clicked these cancellation links in their emails.

Now, the “Recent Activity Log” within MIDAS is very useful – not only does it record actions performed within a MIDAS system, it also records the user who performed the action (where applicable), the time/date the action occurred, and the IP address of the device which performed the action.

This allowed us to correlate booking request cancellation link clicks with the IP addresses from which each originated.

Interestingly, the IP addresses could all be traced back to Barracuda Networks, Inc, a company offering security products, including email security and spam filters.

So what was going on?

Once upon a time spam filters could easily detect spam email messages, as spammers tended to the same domains in their spam. As a result, spam filtering software could simply scan the content of an email message, and cross-reference any links contained within against a list of known spamming domains.

Many spam filters still behave in this way, however, in an attempt to stay one step ahead of the spammers, some spam filtering software/services – such as those provide by Barracuda Networks, Inc, go one step further and actively “click” EVERY link in every email they scan. The purpose behind this is to analyze the content and domain every link points to.

Whilst this will most likely help reduce spam further for the recipient, it can have a number of undesired consequences for users!

For example, if the recipient subscribes to any newsletters/mailing lists which contain a one-click unsubscribe link at the bottom, they will be automatically unsubscribed simply by receiving the email itself, before they even open it – let alone click the unsubscribe link!

The same thing was happening for our customer’s booking request notification emails – the booking request cancellation links were being automatically “clicked” by the spam filtering software/services which were scanning the recipient’s email.

Balancing user convenience vs aggressive mail scanners

We’ve always believed in making things as easy as possible for users – which is why we originally made canceling booking requests as simple as a “one-click” link – click once, and your request is canceled.

However, in light of these recent issues, we’re making a small change for MIDAS v4.12. Canceling a booking request will now unfortunately be a two-step process. Clicking a booking request cancellation link in a notification email will take the requestor to a web page where they will need to then click a confirm button in order to cancel their request.

The introduction of this second confirmation step, whilst less convenient for the end-user, will at least prevent aggressive mail filtering software/services which automatically “click” every link in every email, from automatically canceling booking requests without any human interaction.

The same “two-step” behavior will also be applied for links in booking/invoice reminder emails to suppress future reminders from a MIDAS system.

In the meantime, if you’re running an earlier version of MIDAS, and notice your booking requests being automatically canceled without any intervention, please check and adjust the settings in your mail scanning/filtering software. You may need to add email from your MIDAS system to an “allow list”, or prevent the automatic following of links within email.

The next substantial update to our popular web based room booking and resource scheduling software is just around the corner, and so we’re taking the opportunity to outline some of the new features and improvements you can expect to see in the upcoming v4.07 release….

This post covers some of the improvements coming to the Public Booking Request capabilities within MIDAS.

Pre-Populate Selected Dates/Times

Public Booking Request Header

The standard public “Booking Request” process has the following five stages/screens

  1. Select Venue(s)
  2. Select Date(s)
  3. Select Times
  4. Your Details
  5. Finished

When a member of the public makes a booking request for your facilities, they follow these stages in order. In v4.07, we’re giving you much more flexibility, by allowing you to “hard code” venues and/or dates into your public booking request links to allow requestors to “bypass” the first couple of stages using data supplied via your link.

For example, if the Public Booking Request for your MIDAS is https://your_midas_url/request, appending a “?venue=Hall” to the URL/link will jump straight to Stage 2 (Select Date(s)), with the “Hall” venue selected.

Alternatively, appending “?date=YYYYMMDD” to the end of your Public Booking Request URL will preselect the date you pass – Example: appending “?date=20141015” to your public booking request URL will pre-select the 15th October 2014.

You can also pass a combination of both a “venue” AND a “date” parameter at the same time to bypass stages 1 and 2 of the booking request process and jump straight to Stage 3 (Select Times) – Example: “https://your_midas_url/request?venue=Hall&date=20141015

Furthermore, you can optionally pass multiple venues and/or dates by simply separating them with commas. In the following example, “Hall” and “Gymnasium” venues are preselected on 15th and 16th October 2014:


“Remember Me” Option

Remember Details For Next Visit On the “Your Details” stage of the public booking request process, there’s now also a “Remember Me” tick box, allowing the requestor’s browser to optionally remember their details (name, organization, email address) for the next time they make a booking request from the same browser – so they won’t have to manually enter the same information each time.


Custom .css Styling

External Custom CSS We’re also giving you even more control over the “look and feel” of your entire Public Booking Request process, by allowing you to override the default visual “theme” for your MIDAS, and use your own external .CSS style sheet instead! You can specify an external .css style sheet via MIDAS Admin Options → Manage MIDAS → Templates → Web Request