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Staff Reference

Messaging - SMS Overview

SMS Messaging is a powerful way to send information directly to your guests, bypassing email. Our SMS feature also works with templates and triggers so that you can send automated personalized messages at scheduled times. For common questions, check out our SMS Common Questions support article. 

SMS Brand Applications are only available for businesses located in the United States or Canada at this time.

When users set up SMS Messaging, they will be asked to submit their SMS Brand. An "SMS Brand" is basically just a profile (ie. business name, phone, and street address and/or PO Box number) that you provide to carriers like Verizon and T-Mobile that identify you when they are sending your Short Message/Messaging Service (SMS) or text messages to their customers.  It's basically like Caller ID for SMS.  It tells the world who you are and continues to ride along with your SMS messages even if you change your SMS phone number.  It establishes a sending reputation so that the carriers know you're legit and don't flag your messages as spam or slow down their delivery.

As of December 2023, SMS Brand Applications may take approximately 2-3 weeks to process. Users will receive a separate email once a determination has been made by the vetting partners.

SMS Brand Requirements

New federal requirements necessitate having an approved Brand and business website URL for all business-related text messaging. In order to apply for an SMS Brand, all OwnerRez users are required to enter the following information about their business.

  • First Name
  • Last Name
  • Position
  • Title
  • Full Business Name
    • Legal business names and Tax Registration Numbers must match exactly, or your SMS Brand application may automatically be rejected.
  • Business Type
  • Business Website URL
  • Registration Status (select one only)
    • Sole Proprietor and do NOT have a government issued Tax ID (usually the case if you file taxes under your own SSN or ITIN)
    • Businesses that DO have a government issued Tax ID for my business (NOT a Social Security Number or ITIN)
  • Tax Registration Number
    • Failure to provide the correct Tax Registration Number and Full Business Name may result in the automatic rejection of your SMS Brand application.

In the US, SMS Brand Registration applicants can register as either a Business or a Sole Proprietor.

  • Businesses are absolutely required to register with their active Employee Identification Number (EIN). 
  • Sole Proprietors can apply for an SMS Brand without an EIN. 

Users can register for an EIN but the EIN must be issued no less than 30 days from the date of brand submission.

SMS Regulations

SMS regulations cover consent, identification, opt-out, content restrictions, data protection, anti-spoofing, filtering messages, and forbidden words, safeguarding users from unsolicited messages, fraud, offensive content, and misuse of the messaging system. 

Message providers are forced to comply with these regulatory rules that cover numerous things, one of which is forbidden message categories for SMS in the US/Canada, which includes the following.

  • High-risk financial services
  • Third-party lead generation services
  • Debt collection or forgiveness
  • “Get rich quick” schemes
  • Illegal substances/articles
    • Cannabis (United States)
    • CBD (United States)
    • Fireworks
  • Prescription drugs
  • Gambling
    • Casino apps
    • Gambling websites
  • "S.H.A.F.T." use cases
    • Sex
    • Hate
    • Alcohol
    • Firearms
    • Tobacco

Users that include content in their SMS messages that fall under these forbidden message categories run the risk of having their SMS messages filtered, marked as spam or even worse...get blocked by the message provider.

In order to avoid having their SMS messages filtered, marked as spam or getting blocked, OwnerRez recommends that users keep the following best practices in mind when crafting their own SMS messages.

  • URL shortening: Do not send links that have been shortened using shared public URL shorteners, such as TinyUrl or free Bitly links. 
  • If possible, when sending URLs/links in your messages, use only domains that you control. 
  • Don’t use emojis, or unnecessary special characters/capitalization, and watch your grammar and spelling.  
  • Do not send content that is illegal in your sending or property location. See the forbidden message categories list above for content that should be avoided.

OwnerRez recognizes that SMS regulations can be frustrating for our users. However, compliance is necessary to ensure SMS is used properly, protect consumers, maintain network integrity, and prevent misuse or abuse of the messaging system.

SMS Messaging Pricing

OwnerRez SMS Messaging is a premium feature that is not included in the regular OwnerRez monthly service fees and is invoiced monthly, as determined by the Pricing Calculator.

The current pricing for SMS Messaging is $15.00 per billing cycle (per month). Usage fees apply after 500 outbound message segments (incoming are free) for up to 500 outgoing message segments. There is no limit or cost for incoming messages.

Outgoing messages above the monthly allocation of 500 are charged at the rate of 1.5¢ ($0.015) per message segment. Fees will be assessed at the end of each billing cycle and charged to the credit card we have on file. Please see the what a message "segment" is FAQ to understand segments.

Be sure to check out our SMS Segment Calculator!

Note that the pricing may change at any time, based on the rates we are charged by our telecoms partner.

SMS Configuration

To create your business SMS Brand, go to Settings > Messaging > SMS Numbers.

SMS Numbers

In order to allow OwnerRez to send and receive messages directly to and from your guests' mobile phones, users have to Turn on SMS Messaging.

Turn on SMS Messaging

Confirm that you are turning on the SMS Messaging premium feature in OwnerRez by clicking on Yes, Turn On.

SMS Messaging Confirmation

On the Create your SMS Brand page, users will enter information about your vacation rental business. All fields with the gray exclamation point icon are required, including your business title, Business Website URL, Tax Registration details and Business Address. Click on Save and Submit.

Create your SMS Brand

After filling it out, the form will disappear with a message telling you that your SMS Brand is pending review. On this page, users can Create a SMS Number and can view their SMS Brand submitted information by clicking on the right SMS Brand button.

SMS Numbers

Our carrier will notify you if it was approved or rejected. If your SMS Brand is rejected contact the OwnerRez Helpdesk.

SMS Brand Approved

Beyond the value that this brings to your SMS delivery, please know that the industry (and US government) has enacted rules that require SMS Brands to be in place for all "A2P 10DLC" messaging. That might look like a bunch of gobbledygook, but it basically stands for "application-to-person messaging using regular 10-digit phone numbers" which is what OwnerRez does. You have a 10-digit phone number, and it's used to send SMS messages from a business application (OwnerRez) to a person (the guest).

Here are some interesting things to know about SMS Brands:

  • The brand info (profile name, number, address) cannot be changed after submitting it. So, what happens if you move addresses? The answer is: we're not sure yet. SMS Brands are a new thing based on new regulations, and we've built according to the latest specs that have been published. We should have an answer for that in the future. If you need to change your brand info, contact us and we can reset your entire SMS Brand and have you start over. But generally speaking, once you submit the brand, you're done, and it's locked in place.
  • Nothing is sent to any government. While there are government rules in the US about the adoption of Brands and A2P sending, the information we submit is only used by our SMS carrier to prepare your "Caller ID" stuff with the carriers. We cannot say what happens to it beyond that, but OwnerRez does not transmit anything to any governing bodies, which we would not do anyway based on our Privacy Policy.
  • Where did the SMS Brand button or page go? After submitting your brand and getting approved, we purposefully hide the SMS Brand area so as not to confuse or frustrate you when you can't change the information. Don't worry, your SMS Brand is still there under the covers, and we'll use it when sending your messages. In the future, we may show approved SMS Brands if there's something you can do with them.

Create an SMS Number

After setting up your SMS Brand, users will want to Create an SMS Number. Navigate to Settings > Messaging > SMS Numbers > Create SMS Number.

Create SMS Number

 

You will NOT be messaging from your personal phone number but can search and select a new number from our database of available numbers.

Before you begin searching phone numbers, be aware that the area code directs calls to a broad region while the prefix is a smaller area within that region, like a city. With that in mind, enter the 3-digit area code and 3-digit prefix you’d like your messages to come from and “Search”. If we do not have any numbers assigned to that area code, please choose another area code. (Our telephony operator has millions of available numbers, but not all area codes are covered.)

Create an SMS Number

Choose a phone number you like and select the “Claim” button beside that number. (When you click “Claim” the messaging service will be enabled and that number will be added to your account. You will be charged as shown above.) Please Note: numbers displayed are those available at that moment. There is a possibility someone else may select that same number and complete their set-up before you, which will result in an error message at the end of the Create Phone page. You’ll need to go back to the page where you input the area code and select a different number.

On the “Create Phone” page enter a name for the number – a business name or a personal one.

On that same page, select how you’d like to handle incoming voicemail messages: You may use a pre-recorded message (one that you’ve provided) or you may select “text-to-speech”. If “text-to-speech” is chosen, you will type the message you want a caller to hear, and an electronically generated voice will “read” the message.

If you want voicemail messages to always be forwarded to another number, enter that number in “Forwarding Phone Number.” The message will still be available within your OR account, also. If you decide to forward to another phone, be sure to select what incoming number would you like to see displayed on that phone:

  • the actual number that sent the original message (e.g. your guest’s number)
  • your own OwnerRez SMS Message number, so you know it's an OwnerRez message

Delete SMS Number

Users can delete an SMS number by navigating to Settings > Messaging > SMS Numbers, selecting the checkbox next to the SMS Number they wish to delete, and clicking on the Delete button.

Delete SMS Number

To avoid future SMS fees, users can follow the instructions to turn their SMS Messaging off.

Turn SMS Messaging Off

Decided that the OwnerRez SMS Messaging premium feature isn't for you? Sold your vacation rental property? Yes, you can turn off your OwnerRez SMS Messaging by navigating to your account drop-down menu in the upper right corner of the OR app and selecting Billing.

More detailed instructions are located in the Cost & Fees support article, Turn Off Premium Features section.

After an OwnerRez user turns their SMS Messaging premium feature off, their assigned SMS phone number will be released, and available to others, after 30 days.