Kigo Blog

What If Customer Reviews Dictated Your Price?

Stand out with a innovative new approach to pricing
Have you ever felt mislead by a site or a review? There wasn’t something so bad that made you request a refund but you had the feeling that you were paying a little too much for what you received. Today we imagine a world where owners gambled their price against their service!
Imagine a scenario where Vacation Rentals were grouped into 5 categories, similar to hotels. This would be based on the location, setting and facilities of the property and would be decided by an impartial and independent third party.
  • The seemingly highest quality properties would score a 5, meaning their price was set at $5, the lowest at $1, and so on.
  • The property would then be scored out of 100 by customers that actually stayed there. This score would then be multiplied by their price category and this would set the price per night.
  • For example, a $4 property that scored an average score of 75 would have a per night price of $300. A $2 property that scored 86 would cost $172.

Customers pay the price set by the average score at the time of booking and submit their own score after their stay. This would ensure proper reviews from people that have actually experienced the property. It would also stop crafty guests aiming to queer the patch for a cheaper stay before booking.

How many vacation rental managers would sign up to this? Could it ever work?

Would it drive an emphasis on the quality of experience and fairness of price? Or would it collapse into chaos?

There are certainly advantages to the system. No business could ever afford to become complacent. A 5 star rating has consistently been based on the quality of the facilities in the hotel, but this rating system would be the first to concentrate on the overall experience. Every guest would have to be concentrated on with the utmost importance.

But there are also disadvantages – we operate in a free market where people are free to choose their own prices and the level of service that they provide. People would be reticent to let others set their price. Also, can we trust these opinions? Some guests may have unrealistic expectations for their stay and reflect poorly on a place that doesn’t meet them – even if they never professed to be a 5 star experience. Secondly, it is very easy to muddy the review of the accommodation with your overall experience of a holiday. It would be hard to give a glowing review for a place if your holiday was ruined by weather or some unexpected disaster.

It is far from a perfect system but it does serve to show that use reviews are becoming more and important. 29% of customers cite positive reviews as the most likely factor to make them book a holiday on-line. Sharing of information and personal experience is now part of the process when booking on-line.

So whilst this is just a hypothetical scenario, treat your business like this is the structure we have. Aim for a score of 100 with every guest. Treat their reviews as if they do dictate your price. And if you’re confident enough with your service, you could try it out. It would certainly be a risk but it would be an interesting and bold new strategy that may garner you some great publicity.

Let us know if this is something you would be happy to try.

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VRMA 2014 – The Party’s Over but We’re Just Getting Started

Recapping the main takeaways from this year’s VRMA conference

After this year’s VRMA in San Diego, we’re feeling rather exhausted but now the dust has settled we are thinking about applying the lessons we learned. This year set an attendance record: 953 attendees, 27% first timers, 39 states, and 9 different countries. It has been the biggest event in the history of the vacation rental industry. We’d like to thank the organisers for putting it all together and everyone that attended.

We met a great deal of partners, customers and other professionals over the course of the event. We learnt invaluable lessons from all the sessions we attended and have come away with some great ideas to develop in the coming months.

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If you were unable to make it this year, we have compiled the key lessons that we learned and think all vacation rental managers need to know.

It gave us a clear picture of where the industry is headed in 2015 and what we need to do to ensure we are still at the forefront of the industry as it changes and develops.

One of the biggest talking points was how much of the market is still available. The Homeaway census showed us that 146 million Americans have never stayed in a vacation rental. Imagine the numbers across Europe and the rest of the world. One of the prevailing moods was that of optimism and pride in our industry. All of the attendees had an infectious confidence in the quality of their products. The question wasn’t ‘why are these people not booking?’ but ‘How do we reach them?’. There was a sense that as we learn and improve the industry and people develop their brands that these people are going to become our customers.

There was a unified consensus that the benefits and practicality of vacation rentals are clear. A pleasing assurance in the industry and an unwavering desire to grow and improve the experience for the customers. The numbers we saw weren’t viewed as a problem, but an incredible opportunity for growth.

Another key point was that of 24-Hour Booking and Book Now features. We heard numerous predictions that this was going to become a must have feature within the next 18 months. With organising time off from work, booking flights and trips – waiting to confirm accommodation can turn people off. Customers want to be able to confirm their trips right there and then. Websites that fail to offer this may see themselves left behind. If your website doesn’t offer this yet, have a look at our custom designed sites that come with this feature.

An ever popular topic, and no different at VRMA 2014 was technology. What are the features that are going to make managers’ lives easier and customers’ vacations better? There were talks about apps that could organise and schedule guest transfers, allow them to order groceries and add optional extras to their stays at the touch of a button.

The next point we took away was that vacation rental managers are going to need offer something special and different for every guest they receive. The CEO of HomeAway, Brian Sharples outlined this in his engaging keynote speech. This is going to take the form of Content, Local Expertise and Personalisation. Doing your utmost to make every booking unique and memorable by using your own talents and personality and engaging that those of your guests.

And whilst of course there will always be competition in business we got the sense of a spirit of cooperation. Building up the industry and being consistent with products and services is going to benefit everyone. There was a pleasing understanding that increasing the focus on the quality of the product first, customers and profits will naturally follow. Here at Kigo we subscribe to that ethos. If you spend your time making sure what you offer is the best available then the rest of your business is so much easier to run. There were was an electric feeling of being part of something about to take off and we are so glad to be a part of it.

Let us know what you took away from this year’s conference.

How To Turn Your Personal Story Into Your Company Brand

There’s an old line of sales advice that says, ‘People don’t buy things, people buy people’. It may sound like a clichéd selling mantra but there is still some truth in it. More and more, people want to know the story behind the brand. How it came from an idea into reality, and how it relates to them.

Social media has seen a rise in people being able to connect with businesses directly. We are getting a look behind the curtain. Brands are keen to show what drives them. It can be hard to know where to start when branding your business so we are discussing how to use your personal story to create an effective and stylish brand.



Faceless corporations are often criticised for being just that, faceless. There is no connection between them and the customer. Bland, soulless and impersonal. Think about these words, often used to describe the corporate experience. They describe the company and the service, not the product. There has to be a story behind why you do what you do, why it is important to you. Showing that you care about what you do is the only way to get other people to care too.

This isn’t reserved for small businesses or start-ups, big corporations are always trying to capture ‘Human stories’ and show personality behind their brand. Think of Coke’s latest effort; branding each bottle to be shared with a specific name. It puts personal interactions and experience at the forefront of what it is offering, the product is almost secondary.

So, with vacation rentals you already offer experiences. But now you can show how you built this business. How every booking made has the weight of your brand and personality behind it. Why you made it, and why you love it. It is what makes your business unique and relevant. Use your personality and charm to show why you chose this business, why it means a lot to you, and why you are good at it.

This doesn’t have to be a complete backstory of everything to led you to where you are, but just some elements of your personality. Not only is it engaging for your customers but it builds trust and confidence. People will be able to see a human behind your business, they will want to empathise and trust.


We imagine things you could include in your website or your brand. What parts of these could you include in your properties? The best way to start a personal brand is to think back through your business, and what are the most important parts of it to you. What aspects of your business and service do you consider to be the most important?


What inspired you to choose vacation rentals? What is your background, what made you give up your previous job and start here?

How did you start your business? Was it difficult? Did you have a partner? What would you do differently?

Who are the people behind your business? Is it a family run business? Do you run things yourself? These are the people that your customers will connect with.

What is individual and interesting about your business? Think about what makes you stand out from the others, what is different about you and your business.

How can you set yourself apart and succeed in your industry? Where are you looking to head in the future?

So ask yourself these questions. Think about how you have got to where you are and what makes your business unique and interesting. People will engage with this, genuine passion and commitment will build trust with your customers and make them happy and confident to book with you. You can use the answers to these questions to think about your company name, slogan and images.

Your brand should be reflective of these ideas. It should also be consistent and clear throughout your business. By the time you have created and implemented it, it should be recognisable as your business and synonymous with the quality and service you provide.


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London Calling! Kigo is heading to the WTM

Between the 3rd and 6th of November, Kigo will be attending the WTM World Travel Market 2014. This is a must-attend event for anyone in the travel industry. With over fifty thousand professionals from the travel industry there last year we can’t wait to get to London and get involved at the ExCel, London.London phone box At WTM 2013 £2.2 billion of new business was generated for the global travel industry. 55% of visitors had direct purchasing responsibility. The event itself manages to generate £160 million for the London economy. It drives a sea-change in global tourism. In the age of information being so readily available on the Internet events like this reinforce the inimitable power of genuine human interaction. WTM stats But not just the financial incentives, this is the best place to learn what is happening in our industry. You can find out the latest trends from people not just in the industry, but also holidaymakers and government ministers. It is a superb forum to listen and learn as well as meet buyers.This is not your average conference, real change is affected here, real steps forward are made. Here at Kigo, we want to be a part of this.This year there will be keynote speeches from executives from diverse companies such a Buzzfeed and Sainsburys, awards for innovations in responsible tourism and an interview with a CEO of a charity that prevents rhino poaching. There is an understanding at WTM that a successful market is more than just driving sales. There is a progressive attitude. Tourism and travel do not occur in a vacuum, to improve we have to understand every aspect and realise that development and growth can come from surprising sources. It is this forward thinking that brings the most exciting and creative people and ideas to the WTM.One of the main points of attending this events will be the things that we just can’t expect. You never know who you will meet, or what you will learn. We are looking forward to this being so much more than a sales experience. We will be listening to talks and events by our fellow professionals to find out what direction the industry is moving in. We are so pleased to be part of the excitement and optimism that 2014 has held for the travel sector.Our team in London is going to be looking forward to the events on e-tourism and innovations in the travel sector. Last year held host a great number of ground breakers and innovators so we are very excited to hear their ideas this year. In case this seems a little overwhelming WTM have even created an app in order to make your life easier when you get there. You can find buyers and visitors, exchange messages and make the most of your time at WTM. We are going to be here answering questions and doing demos throughout the three days so if you want some more information about what we can do for you, come and say hello at booth Nº TT579. You can book a demo to beat the queues here. So, we look forward to seeing you all there. And, if you know somewhere good to stay in London, let us know! Photo Credit 

Top 4 “Must See” Vacation Rental Articles This Week

Do you consider yourself a savvy short-term rental manager? Are you ready for VRMA next week? We’ve been doing our best to stay abreast with all the news and changes in the travel industry. We want to make sure that we are completely ready and up to date with everything we need to know. Luckily for us, there is a wealth of blogs and articles that help us do exactly that.


Here’s a quick look at the top 4 not-to-be-missed vacation rental industry articles that caught our eye this week and got us in the conference-ready mindset:


San Francisco Makes Airbnb Legal At Last Business Insider’s quick read on the city’s new “spare room” ruling and how it helps Airbnb but not Vacation Rental Managers and aggregation portals like HomeAway, TripAdvisor,, etc.The new law allows San Francisco residents (what Airbnb calls hosts) to share properties for 30 days or less as long as they personally live in these units at least 9 months a year. Read Airbnb’s Statement on Legislation in San Francisco.


Interview: HomeAway CEO on Big Players Acquiring Vacation Rental Companies HomeAway’s CEO Brian Sharples provides good insight about the importance of pay-per-booking to its prospects, their partnership with Expedia, and much more. Catch Sharples at Tuesday’s General Session Keynote at VRMA and read more Dennis Schaal CEO Interviews on the future of travel bookings here.


FlipKey Partners with TruPlace to Offer Interactive Floor Plans for Listing Pages Flipkey take another step forward in bringing listings to life. Their new feature allows potential guests to get a real feel for your property. Detailed floor plans with interactive features gives them the chance to have a virtual tour and see everything your property has to offer.


How to Make the Most of the Annual Conference We’re ready for VRMA, are you? From staying connected to educational sessions and the Vendor Showcase, this article sums up what you need to know to navigate the conference and make the most of your time there.


If you are going to be attending VRMA 2014, make you come and talk with us at booth 308/310. You can schedule a live demo here so you can skip the queues and make the most of your time in San Diego!


And finally, check out this Smart-Suitcase that we’d love to be taking on board when we set off to San Diego.


Have you read anything we should know about? Let us know in the comments below.

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