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Reply to inquiry about unavailable dates

Triggers give you a powerful way to communicate automatically. You can respond to guests with personalized messages or notify third parties without lifting a finger! To read more about triggers, check out our Trigger overview support article. We've created a small library of trigger examples to help get you started.

In this example, we're dealing with an inquiry for the following scenario:

Scenario: A guest asks for dates that are already booked (i.e. unavailable dates)

Even with direct channel integrations and a real-time direct-booking website, there are times when guests will request dates that are already booked. Sometimes, it's because they requested a few minutes before someone else booked directly. Other times, it happens when your properties are advertised on regional listing sites that don't show real-time availability.

Whatever the reason, you want to answer these inquiries quickly and clear them from your inbox. OwnerRez can do that for you with message triggers.

Here are the steps for how to set up a template and trigger for this scenario:

  1. Create inquiry templates with your reply, saying the dates are unavailable
  2. Create a trigger that applies to inquiries with an "Unavailable Dates" status, and send your prepared templates
  3. Variations

Create inquiry templates with your reply, saying the dates are unavailable

Go to Settings > Templates to configure the message you want to send. Since this template will be used for inquiries, create an "inquiry" type of template.

There are three choices for the type of template you can create - email, channel, and SMS. These are the delivery methods that will be used for your response. To send these types of templates, the inquiry must have contact information you can reply to. For instance, if you want to send an SMS message as your reply, the guest must have provided a phone number with their inquiry. Likewise, if you want to send a message on Airbnb, the inquiry must have come through Airbnb to begin with so that our system knows how to deliver your response back to the correct Airbnb thread.

Replying by Email

First, we'll create an email template, so go to Settings > Templates > Email tab > click the Create Email Template button > select the "Inquiry" option. This will open an email editor with some sample field codes filled in. For detailed information about how email templates work, check out the email templates overview article and field codes article.

Copy and paste the following values into your new email template.


Unavailable Dates Email Template

From Name:


From Address:


To Name:


To Address:






Thanks for your inquiry about {PDISPNAME}.

Unfortunately, {PDISPNAME} is not available for your travel dates, {IARR} to {IDEP}.

Are your travel dates flexible? Are you available to discuss some other options?




If you're wondering what those field codes do, check out the field codes support article or use the "Preview" button on the inquiry to take a live look.

Here's a quick preview of what the above email message looks like:

Dates are Unavailable To Guest Template Preview

Notice how clean and personalized the content is. The subject line is dynamic to the guest name, property, and dates selected, so it will match the conversation that the guest created. The body addresses the guest by name and uses a different color, so it looks like the body is being written by hand. It includes the guest's original inquiry comment and requested itinerary to remind the guest of what they asked originally and to provide context for why this response is coming back to them. In other words, it looks like a hand-written manual response, even though it wasn't.

After copying and pasting the above subject and body into your template, feel free to play with the words and styles to make it your own. However, remember that we are creating a message specific to "unavailable dates" inquiries. This message assumes that all inquiries it responds to are unavailable dates, so make sure to customize accordingly. If this template is used for an inquiry that does not have unavailable dates, the body of the message would be confusing to your potential guest. Similarly, if you do not include the arrival and departure field codes ( {IARR} to {IDEP} ) in the body, the guest will not be told why their inquiry is being rejected.

We are now armed with a solid reply for any email inquiries that come in. But what about channel inquiries?

Replying by Channel

As cool as the email template looks above, what happens if you don't have the guest's email address?

Channels like Airbnb and Booking.com don't provide an email address for the guest, so you need to be able to reply on channel messaging platforms as well. OwnerRez directly integrates with the native messaging platforms at Vrbo, Airbnb, and Booking.com, so this is easy to set up!

For detailed information about how channel templates work, check out the Channel Templates and field codes support articles.

To create a channel template, go to Settings > Templates > Channel tab > click the Create Channel Template button > select the "Inquiry" option. This will open a message editor with some sample field codes filled in.

Copy and paste the following values into your new channel template.


Unavailable Dates Channel Template



Thanks for your inquiry about {PDISPNAME}.

Unfortunately, {PDISPNAME} is not available for your travel dates, {IARR} to {IDEP}.

Are your travel dates flexible? Are you available to discuss some other options?


Channel templates also have a Preview button, so as you type, take a quick look at the preview window to get a sense of how the message will look against real inquiries.

Here is a quick look at how the above channel template looks in preview mode:

Unavailable Dates Channel Template Preview

As you can see, this message is plain (no colors, images, or rich text), but that's good because it will be sent to the guest via the channel messaging platform, and the messaging platforms don't allow anything other than plain text. You want a concise message for the guest to read, and this does the trick!

But what about SMS? Wouldn't it be cool to fire off a short SMS text message to the guest if you can?

Replying by SMS

In certain circumstances, inquiries come in with a phone number. This typically happens when a guest is on your book-direct website or using your Book Now widget, and they include their phone number in the inquiry they submit.

Using our SMS premium feature, you can reply directly to their cell phone via SMS. For detailed information about how SMS templates work, check out the SMS Templates and field codes support articles.

To create an SMS template, go to Settings > Templates > SMS tab > click the Create SMS Template button > select the "Inquiry" option. This will open an SMS message editor with some sample field codes filled in.

Copy and paste the following values into your new SMS template.


Unavailable Dates SMS Template

To Phone Number:



Hi {CFIRST}, I got your inquiry for {PDISPNAME}. However, the dates you requested are unavailable. Are you available to discuss? ☕

Once again, smack that Preview button to see how this looks live! SMS templates are similar to channel templates in that they are plain text with no colors or formatting options, but you can still dress them up with personalized field codes and light-hearted emojis.

Here is a quick look at how the above SMS template looks in preview mode:

Unavailable Dates SMS Template Preview

Not a fan of emojis? No worries, edit that part out!

You'll notice that this SMS template differs from the email and channel templates in that it is much shorter. Instead, it's a quick sentence to get the guest on the phone. If you'd rather say something else - that's totally fine. For instance, you could include the website URL of your property and ask the guest to refer to that for availability. Or you could choose not to include the travel date field codes ({IARR} to {IDEP}) to send an even shorter message body.

Now that we have some message templates created, it's time to configure the trigger that will send them.

Create a trigger that applies to inquiries with an "Unavailable Dates" status, and send your prepared templates

Since each trigger can only send one message template, you'll need to create a trigger for each type of reply you send. Above, we crafted replies for email, channel, and SMS, so we'll need to create three triggers to send each one.

First, we'll create a trigger to send the email message. Navigate to Settings > Messaging > Triggers > and click + Create Trigger to pull up the new trigger screen.

Here is a list of all the settings the trigger needs to have:

  • Type: Immediate
  • Event: Inquiry is received
  • Add Condition > Inquiry Status: Unavailable
  • Add Condition > Email Address on File: Has Real Email Address
  • Action: Email Templates > Unavailable Dates Email Template

Now, let's talk about what the above settings mean!

The Type and Event fields will make the trigger run as soon as any new inquiry is received or recorded in your account. Remember that inquiries can be received or recorded in different ways.

Since we are targeting "Unavailable" inquiries only, we want to add a "Condition" to the trigger that will stop it from sending out messages for other types of inquiries. Imagine getting an inquiry for bookable dates from a guest who met your policies, but your trigger accidentally sent out a "no, your travel dates are unavailable" message. That would not be good! Adding the Inquiry Status condition will stop that.

Furthermore, since this trigger will send an email template, we add the "Email Address on File" condition and select the "Has real email address" value. This will ensure that only inquiries that include an email address from the guest will get this trigger.

Note: You'll notice that the Email Address condition has an option for "any email address," but we don't want to use that in this case. The "any email address" option includes inquiries from channels that use a platform or proxy email address like "joe.blow.12345@messages.airbnb.com" or "joe.blow.12345@messages.booking.com." These platform/proxy email addresses aren't real. If you send messages to them, your message will be collected by the channel, stripped, re-formatted and displayed on the channel's message platform in various ways that typically don't work well for email.

You may want to add other conditions, but for now, this is enough to make our trigger send the email reply when inquiries are both "unavailable" and have a real email address.

Finally, the last thing we select is the "Action" for the email template we want to send. Since this trigger is supposed to send an email reply, select the email template and be careful not to select the channel or SMS template.

At this point, your trigger should look like this:

Unavailable Dates Email Trigger Example

Nice and simple!

Below the message template drop-down, you'll notice that there are other actions you can select called:

  • Mark the inquiry answered
  • Mark the inquiry read

These actions do exactly what they say. When the inquiry comes in and the trigger fires, the inquiry will be marked as read/answered in the main Inquiries dashboard if those options are selected. This will help you avoid seeing or dealing with them later, as the trigger already answered them for you. However, for now, we will leave them unchecked and discuss them below in this support article's Variations section.

Note: You'll notice that the "Create a quote" action is crossed out because the system cannot create quotes for inquiries that are not in a "quotable" status. Since you selected "unavailable" as your status, the trigger automatically eliminates quote creation as an action item.

That's it! Click Save, and now you have a trigger ready to go.

But we're not done. You created templates for channel and SMS replies, so now you need to create triggers to send those, too.

Using the instructions above, create two more triggers with the same type, event, and conditions, but select the channel template and the SMS template as your "Actions" instead of email. In the Conditions section, make sure to remove the "Email Address on File" condition since channel and SMS replies don't care about the email address. There is no "Phone Number on File" condition, but that's okay because the trigger won't send an SMS reply if there's no phone number to send it to. The same is true for channel replies. If the inquiry did not come from a channel message platform (e.g., Airbnb or Booking.com messaging), the trigger will silently skip sending the reply since there is no way to send it.

All done! You now have active triggers in place that will automatically send email replies to any inquiry with "unavailable" requests.


You may have wondered about a few things as we walked through the template and trigger configuration above.

For instance, what if the guest sent in an "unavailable" request but also included a comment where they asked for either their requested property, but maybe you have another property available for their travel dates? Sending a "not allowed" message without acknowledging their comment might sound cold and unprofessional.

Or, what if it's daytime and you have time to respond versus nighttime when you can't? How does that change what you want to send?

All of these scenarios can be dealt with by creating different types of triggers with additional (or different) conditions. Here are a few variations.

If they included a comment and it's daytime

Let's start with the scenario where an "unavailable" inquiry comes in, but it also has a comment from the guest, and it's in the middle of the daytime. In this scenario, some users or PMs don't want to fire off an auto-reply because they want to read the comment first and then reply manually. Because it's daytime, they know they will have time to read it and respond quickly.

To make this change, adjust the trigger we just created (above) and add some additional settings:

  • Add Condition > Contains a Comment: No
  • Add Condition > Received after: "8:00 AM"
  • Add Condition > Received before: "8:00 PM"
  • Action > Mark as Answered: Yes
  • Action > Mark as Read: Yes

This will limit the trigger to only apply to inquiries that arrive between 8 am and 8 pm (daytime) and don't have a comment. You can, of course, adjust the received times to whatever hours you want based on your own schedule.

If they included a comment and it's nighttime

But doing a daytime-only triggers means that nighttime inquiries won't be answered at all, so now you need to handle inquiries that come in overnight.

Create a duplicate trigger using the same settings as above, but change the conditions to target nighttime:

  • Add Condition > Contains a Comment
  • Add Condition > Received after: "8:00 PM"
  • Add Condition > Received before: "8:00 AM"
  • Action > Mark as Answered
  • Action > Mark as Read

Notice that the AM and PM times are flipped around so that you are now targeting inquiries coming in after 8 PM and before 8 AM (or however you change the hours to match your own schedule). Notice that we removed the "contains a comment" condition because we don't care if it has a comment at nighttime - we just want to answer it quickly. We removed the mark as read/answered because we want the inquiry to remain unanswered so that you remember to look at it again in the morning.

You could further refine this to use a slightly different template body that has "An auto-responder sent this. We will answer your question or comment in the morning." to the body of the reply, and use this different reply if the inquiry comes in during nighttime and has a comment. This would give the guest a fast response overnight while also addressing the comment.

Sending too much information; how to limit

There may be situations where you send multiple triggers simultaneously for the same inquiry. It's rare, but it can happen.

The most common scenario is when a direct inquiry comes from your personal website, and the guest includes both their email address and phone number. If you have a trigger set up with an email reply and a second trigger set up with an SMS reply, the guest will get hit with both messages simultaneously - once in their email inbox and again on their phone from the SMS message. Maybe this is what you want, but be careful in crafting messages to accommodate these scenarios. One way of limiting this is to have two versions of the SMS trigger - one that handles when there is an email address and one that handles when there isn't.

The first trigger that handles the situation where there's an email address should use a short message that speaks to the email like this:

SMS Template > Body:

Hi {CFIRST}, I just sent you an email about your inquiry. Let me know if you don't get it, and thanks for reaching out about {PNAME}! ☕

And on the trigger settings:

Add Condition > Email Address on File: Has real email address

The second trigger that handles the situation where no email address was included should assume that the SMS message is the only thing going to the guest and use a message like this:

SMS Template > Body:

Hi {CFIRST}, thanks for reaching out about {PNAME}. However, there's a problem with your request. Are you available to discuss? ☕

And on the trigger settings:

Add Condition > Email Address on File: Doesn't have real email address

Adding the "Email Address on File" condition on the trigger will ensure that each SMS trigger only goes out once and that they are mutually exclusive.