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Best Practices for IRM.Net
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Added 4/9/09 SS/TC
Article ID#: KINet0013
Updated:  12/12/12


This article provides recommendations for customizing and configuring IRM.Net for optimal appearance and performance.

Appearance Performance Other Best Practices
Integration with Marketing Site Click Photo to Enlarge Include SSL Security Seal Icon on IRM.Net Pages
Updated Information on Using iframe - 12/12/2012 Meet IRM.Net Specifications
Loading the IRM.Net iframe Measure Internet Connection Speed
IRM.Net iframe size Enable HTTP Compression and Caching
Room Descriptions Optimize Rates Configuration
Room Photos Minimize Image Sizes

Appearance Best Practices

Integration with Marketing Website

IRM.Net is designed to be seamlessly integrated with your marketing website to provide the guest with a consistent look and feel.  This is best accomplished by creating a custom theme for IRM.Net, matching the colors, fonts and images used on the marketing website.  In addition, custom page headers and footers can be created for the IRM.Net to match the marketing site. 

When guests navigate from the marketing site to IRM.Net via a 'Book Now' link, the page styling will be consistent. Include a link back to the marketing site within the custom IRM.Net header.  Alternatively, IRM.Net can be included in an iframe imbedded within the marketing site creating a seamless look.

Best results are achieved by creating a custom color scheme to exactly match the marketing website.  As a starting point, choose the closest match from the 12 color schemes that IRM.Net provides.  (Use RDPWin IRM.Net/Configuration Appearance tab to change the IRM.Net theme.) For more information:

Examples of IRM.Net
Integrated within Marketing Websites
RDP Online Demonstrations Customers Live with IRM.Net

Condominium Property 
Hotel/Resort
Vacation Rental
Timeshare Property 
Campground

Mammoth Reservations 
Chula Vista Resort 
The Lodge at Whitefish Late 
Executive Apartments
   
Knowledge Base Articles
How to create a custom IRM.Net theme
How to integrate IRM.Net with the Marketing Website
Customizing IRM.Net
Display Room Details in a Popup Window

Updated Information on Using iframe - 12/12/2012

RDP no longer recommends placing the IRM.Net in an iframe. The reason for not using an iframe is that the browser SSL lock icon will not display when IRM.Net is in an iframe (unless the marketing website also has an SSL). This has the potential for lost bookings because guests cannot see that your site is secure. Also, with the iframe, it very difficult to avoid the double scroll bars, which can be confusing and hard to maneuver. 

Instead, a custom theme should be used to style the IRM.Net to complement or mirror the marketing website. Use the customizable Bannerheader.htm and Bannerfooter.htm files to add images and link back to the marketing site, or use the same links as the marketing site's banner and/or footer. Code the marketing site link to the IRM.Net to open in new tab or just navigate through to it. For details on creating a custom theme, see IRM.Net Custom Themes.

Loading the IRM.Net iframe

If deciding that the iframe is the right choice for your property, connection speed and caching can take a few seconds for IRM.Net to load into the iframe.  To fill the blank iframe it is helpful to display a 'Loading' animated gif during this time.  See an example by clicking on the 'Check Now' button in RDP's IRM.Net Demo.

Several sample animated gifs are provided with IRM.Net (in the /IRMNet/Images folder, LoadingBlue.gif, LoadingBrown.gif, LoadingGreen.gif) or a custom graphic can be created to match your color scheme.  For details on how to display an animated gif while the iframe loads, see the knowledge base article "How to Display a Loading Animated Gif".

IRM.Net iframe size

Make sure that the iframe large enough to accommodate the available rooms display.  If it is too small, the result is often double scroll bars - one for the iframe and another for the containing page.  The inner scroll bar can be prevented by increasing the height and/or width of the iframe.  Test with both Internet Explorer and Firefox, as they often have differing results. 

By default 8 units at a time will be displayed in IRM.Net's available rooms list, but this count is configurable (RDPWin IRM.Net/Configuration Appearance tab) if fewer are desired.  More than 8 is usually not recommended.

Room Descriptions

Several options are available for displaying unit descriptions and photos. Each unit can be labeled with either the unit number, unit type, unit number and type, or a name created specifically for use with IRM.Net.  This is configured from RDPWin IRM.Net/Configuration Appearance tab.

A short description and thumbnail photo of each unit on the IRM.Net available rooms list is recommended; however, either is optional if preferred.  Consistency with the marketing site's use of font type, size and colors will result in the most seamless look.  Brief sentences, phrases or bullet points are usually most effective for the short descriptions.  (See the links above for some IRM.Net examples.)  For details on including short descriptions and thumbnail photos, see the knowledge base article Customizing IRM.Net.

The 'View Details' link for each unit provides a means for more detailed information and/or photos to be displayed doe a particular unit.  The link is optional or can be relabeled with alternate verbiage (for example 'More Information'), which is configured from RDPWin IRM.Net/Configuration Appearance tab.  When enabled, three alternatives are available for displaying the room details:


  1. Details can be displayed in a popup window.  This is the recommended alternative as it will be the fastest of the three methods and is consistent with what users expect from a 'details' type of link.  Use this option if you are creating room detail pages for the first time or if existing room detail pages fit within a 800x600 popup.  See an example of this method in RDP's IRM.Net Hotel Demo, click on 'Check Availability', then any of the 'View Details' links. TODO - need knowledge base article link.  Either the LongDesc file or url configured in the room master can be shown in the popup.


  2. Details can be displayed in a separate browser window (or tab).  If you already have room detail information pages on your marketing website, you can take utilize them with this method.  If the detail pages fit within an 800x600 popup window, then use option a).  If the detail pages are too large for the popup window, then they can be displayed in a separate browser window (or tab, depending on the browser configuration).  See an example of this method in RDP's IRM.Net Condo Demo, click 'Check Now', then 'View Details' on an odd numbered room. For details on displaying existing room detail pages in a separate browser window, see the knowledge base article "Customizing IRM.Net".


  3. Details can be shown imbedded within the available rooms list, directly below the short description.  This will be slower than displaying the details in a popup window, but use this method to leverage existing long description files from IRM Classic. Note that changes to the formatting of long description files from IRM Classic will probably be needed in order for them to look attractive within IRM.Net. See an example of this method in RDP's IRM.Net Vacation Rental Demo, click 'Check Now', then 'View Details' on an even numbered room. For details on displaying long descriptions and additional photos imbedded in the available rooms list, see the knowledge base article "Customizing IRM.Net".

Room Photos

A short description and thumbnail photo of each unit on the IRM.Net available rooms list is recommended; however, either is optional if preferred.  For details on including short descriptions and thumbnail photos, see the knowledge base article "Customizing IRM.Net".

In addition to the thumbnail photo displayed for each unit in the IRM.Net available rooms list, more pictures can be shown when the 'View Details' link for a particular unit is clicked. How the photos are displayed is dependant on which option is being used for viewing detailed room descriptions.  Please review the 'Room Descriptions' section above.

  1. When displaying room details in a popup window, include the photos within the long description page.  This is the recommended alternative as it will be the fastest of the three methods and is consistent with what users expect from a 'details' type of link.  TODO - for more information.


  2. When displaying room details in a separate browser window, include the photos within the details page on the marketing website.  Use this method if you already have detail pages on your marketing website that you would like to utilize.


  3. When details are shown imbedded within the available rooms list, additional photos can be displayed either above or below the long description.  This will be slower than displaying the details in a popup window, but use this method to leverage existing long description and photo files from IRM Classic. Note that changes to the formatting of long description files from IRM Classic will probably be needed in order for them to look attractive within IRM.Net.  For more information on including additional photos, see the knowledge base article "Customizing IRM.Net".

Click Photo to Enlarge

If option a) or c) above is being used for display of detailed room descriptions and photos, then IRM.Net supports the ability to click on a thumbnail photo to see an enlarged version.  (If option b) is being used to display already existing room detail pages from the marketing website, they may also have a click to enlarge capability - but this is outside of IRM.Net.)  Use of this feature is an effective way to display several smaller images of a room at first, then allow the guest to zoom into each for a better look.

  1. If you are using method a) to display room details and photos in a popup window, then see this article for more information on how to implement the enlarge photos capability.  TODO


  2. If you are using method c) to imbed room details and photos within the available rooms list then see this knowledge base article for details on implementing the enlarge photos capability.  Be sure to include a small 'Click on photo enlarge' heading in the long descriptions so the guest will know larger photos are available.

Performance Best Practices

Meet IRM.Net Specifications

IRM.Net requires a dedicated web server at your site, whose requirements are listed here.  IRM.Net makes additional demands on the web server over IRM Classic; adding IRM.Net to an existing server hosting IRM Classic will not perform adequately.

Measure Internet Connection Speed

Measure your internet connection speed from the IRM web server to various locations using a site such as speakeasy.net.  Log in to the IRM.Net web server and browse to www.speakeasy.net/speedtest from Internet Explorer running on the IRM.Net server.  Perform the speed test to several locations throughout the US and at various times of the day, noting the upload speed measured (the upload speed rather than download speed is most important for the IRM web server).  An upload speed of no less than 1300kbps is recommended for optimal performance. 

Enable HTTP Compression and Caching

HTTP Compression is an IIS feature that allows available bandwidth to be used more efficiently and is supported by IIS 6 and IIS 7.   Installed with IRM.Net are batch files that enable static and dynamic compression as well as set content expiration dates on the appropriate IRM.Net directories.  See the IRM.Net knowledge base article "Enable HTTP Compression" for instructions.  It is strongly recommended that http compression be enabled on all IIS 6 and IIS 7 IRM.Net web servers.  For more information on http compression in general, see the following Microsoft article "Using HTTP Compression".

Optimize Rates Configuration

Tremendous flexibility in configuring rates for IRM.Net is available, with the optimal rates configuration for performance being a single IRM rate plan.  IRM.Net supports the various rates features available in RDPWin such as seasons, rate plan patterns and lowest rate sets, which allow variation in rates based on dates or length of stay within a single rate plan.  A single IRM rate plan results in not only quicker calculation of rates and hence faster display of pages, but also fewer clicks and a simpler reservation process for the guest.

If different rates are desired for different dates, it is much more efficient to accomplish this with seasons on a single rate plan than with separate rate plans for the various date ranges.  If different rates are desired for different stay lengths, it is much more efficient to accomplish this with a rate pattern on a single rate plan than with separate rate plans for the various stay lengths.  See the IRM.Net knowledge base article "Rate Plan Patterns and IRM.Net" for more information on configuring a rate plan pattern.

If multiple rate plans are available for the IRM, consider enabling the 'Display rate plan choices' dropdown.  (RDPWin IRM.Net/Configuration Reservations tab).  This should only be done if the IRM rate plans are not dependent on specific dates or stay lengths.  If a rate plan only available in the summer were to be included in and selected from the dropdown, but January dates chosen, then the rate would be calculated as not available.  Examples of rates that could be included in the rate plan choices dropdown are a AAA rate, or a seniors rate - these are not dependant on date or stay length choices.

If multiple rate plans are enabled for the IRM, then each must be calculated for every room displayed in order to determine if it is available for the dates, stay length, people requested.  The more rate plans enabled, the more calculations that must occur, which effects both the performance and ease-of-use of IRM.Net. To maximize IRM.Net performance, be sure to consider these tradeoffs before enabling multiple rate plans for the IRM.

Minimize Image Sizes

Check the file sizes of the thumbnail photo images displayed on the available rooms list (those named xx_small.jpg in the /IRMnet/Custom/.../Images/Rooms folder).  A display height of about 100px is typically used and the thumbnail image file sizes should be no more than 20-30KB.  The additional photos displayed with the room details should also be kept to a minimum both in file size and number of photos - six  pictures is usually enough.  Use the 'Click to Enlarge' capability to show larger images on demand only.

Other Best Practices

Include SSL Security Seal Icon
on IRM.Net Pages

When an SSL certificate is installed on the IRM server, the IRM.Net pages including private information are accessed using Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocol. However, when the IRM.Net is displayed in an iframe within a non-secured page (which is usually the case when integrating with a marketing website), the lock icon that is normally displayed by the browser when accessing a secure site is not visible because the containing page is not secure.

It is not possible for IRM.Net to change this behavior. Instead, a security seal from the SSL vendor can be displayed showing visitors that the site is secured by SSL technology. When a visitor clicks on the security seal, a link to the SSL vendor is displayed showing full business authentication information. See more information regarding Verisign's Secured Seal.  Other SSL vendors provide a similar capability.

If it exists, IRM.Net pages include the file /IRMNet/Custom/<dataserver>/RDPnn/UserText SecuredSeal.htm. Create this file and modify it to include the security seal code to be obtained from the SSL vendor.

The SSL security seal can be displayed within the IRM.Net pages whether or not the IRM.Net is included in an iframe (provided that an SSL certificate has been purchased and installed). It is a highly recommended practice if the the IRM is included within an iframe as this will be the visitors confirmation that the site is secured by SSL.

(The place holder for SecuredSeal.htm is included in the pages as of IRM.Net version 2.091.20. Prior to that, the security seal can be included in BannerFooter.htm.)

See IRM.Net Troubleshooting for additional IRM.Net issues.

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