How to create content in record time.By now you will have heard that having a blog is an essential part of running your website. It helps your SEO efforts, it attracts people to your site and shows your customers that you understand and care about your industry and your service. But how can you keep up with your blog when you have a full time business to run? Today we are taking the challenge of writing a blog post in 30 minutes and showing you how. Whilst a 30 minute blog post is probably not going to be perfect but what it will do is give you experience in creating. It will help you find your own style, the things you like to write about and your own individual style.Choose your subject The best posts will be something you care about personally. Your blog is not a place to report the news or provide facts. It is somewhere for you to give your thoughts on things that affect or concern your business and your customers. As soon as you find something that fits this criteria and interests you, try and write for 10 minutes on this subject. As you write you may find that your post takes shape as you create. It’s always better to write down ideas you can delete or edit later rather than forgetting them. Bookmark pages and links, have a notebook for sudden flashes of inspiration. You will soon have a hearty bank of content ideas that you can look to in a rush.Keep it relevant Remember that the people that will be reading your blog will be people that have an interest in your business or site. This should be your primary focus. You may have a great interest in certain subjects and can write engaging content about it but people will not be on your site for this. Your content may even be so good that it attracts others to your site, but if these are people that have no interest in your business then there will be no point.Keep it short. Posts between 300-700 words in length tend to be the most read. People don’t have a lot of time for reading online content so consider that people may be reading your posts in a short break or perhaps on their phone. Lengthy posts are not just unlikely to be read entirely but may even put people off as they are pressed for time. Once you have chosen a good subject and have practised you will be able to craft a 500 word first draft in 10 minutes or so!Write Drunk; Revise sober This mantra is often attributed to Hemingway and whether he said it or not, the point remains valid. Write without care, get all of your ideas down, try to write in your own voice. You may not have to actually get drunk but don’t try to write perfectly first time, every time. It may read like a garbled stream of consciousness at first but you can then return to it with a level head later. A break and a heavy edit will help turn your raw material into an interesting and considered post. Once you have got your content, spend as long reading and rewriting.Pictures and LinksSpend 5 minutes choosing a good picture and making sure all your links are working and go to the right page. These pictures are what will draw people into your blog. Your links make your content rich and worthwhile. Good content will be interesting enough for people to read as it is, the links are there for people that want to read more in-depth.This leaves you with 5 minutes to think up a title and a snappy header for your text. This needs to be intriguing as possible as this is what needs to make people stop and take notice. Try to write as many different options as you can and go with what you think sounds best. 5 minutes should be enough time to come up with 10 or so titles.So, 30 minutes, a few times a week and you can have a great page of content for your website. You can start a discourse with your readers and customers, and when the subject is fitting, find the time to create a longer a more detailed post.
Vacation rentals managed to capitalise on their current market share by offering experiences rather than amenities. They have been able to give people the chance to stay in remarkable and individual properties that allow guests to enjoy a stay on their own terms. This worked so well that many managers have not yet had to consider what else they can do. The next question is whether vacation rentals can start to offer the level of service that traditional holiday accommodation offer. Is there an option for vacation rentals to consider a concierge service for their properties?Whether a dedicated service or an online feature, there is the chance to offer a brand new dimension to your business with a concierge. For larger businesses, with lots of properties in one city or location providing a concierge that all guests can contact with questions and requests could be the extra touch that helps convert bookings. You can decide on the level of service offered. It could just be a question and answer service, providing local knowledge and recommendations. Or, if you want, you could provide the sort of concierge that can bring a brandy glass, filled with 1000 brown M&Ms to an apartment in Sri Lanka at 3am. You have the choice. The only thing to consider is that a large number of leisure travellers don’t even consider vacation rentals as an option because they don’t offer this kind of exacting service.Airbnb are currently beta-testing an online service, at the moment available in San Francisco that uses the power of the local community to provide unique and insightful advice and recommendations for guests staying in the city. Harnessing the knowledge of the community is a key part of this section of the industry and Airbnb have used it to their advantage. There is an underlying assumption that vacation rentals leave their guests all at sea in a new town. There is no-one to ask about the local area and how can you enjoy your holiday if you don’t know where to go. Hotels have staff, organised tours and years of experience in the area. They make a living in making sure their guests have a good time, in a rental property you are on your own. There is definitely a market for this extra service but you will have to decide if you are willing to be one of the pioneers. You don’t have to be on hand 24/7 to do this but if you can highlight that you do offer some level service then you may see a whole new section of bookings.One Spanish hotelier thinks there is an opportunity for hotels and vacation rentals to work together to provide a middle ground in the Venn diagram between holiday rentals and high quality hotels. Vacation rentals are partnering with these hotels to offer their guests use of the facilities in selected hotels. It gives guests a choice of which of the services to use and charges them accordingly. Do you think this sort of partnership could become widespread?The travel industry seems to be moving towards providing guests with as many options as possible but only charging for the parts they want. They are no longer bound by package deals or one agent deciding all elements of their trip. There are also dedicated apps that can provide concierge services. What seems clear is that people want to tailor their holidays to their specific needs.Do you think your business would benefit from a concierge service? Are you ready to take the plunge? Photo Credit
This is the latest statistic from a US industry report and it could be a big part of why you have empty rooms. Whilst the industry has grown exponentially over the last decade, vacation rentals are still not even an option for more than half of the American market. Whether through a lack of awareness of the options or a lack of recognised brands, vacation rentals simply do not register. In fact, only 17% of leisure travellers in the last year decided to stay in a vacation rental. This may sound like bad news but it means there is still 83% of the market to appeal to. What can be done to turn vacation rentals into a viable option for these people?Awareness With 68% of people not even considering a rental the biggest problem seems to be exposure. As a relatively new force in the travel industry, few businesses have the resources to compete with the marketing of major travel brands. Vacation rentals have been forced to pursue online reviews and social media as a way to promote themselves. This has been a great way to establish an identity and build reputations for smaller business, but it just cannot have the same impact as a multi-media marketing campaign from a large company. Whilst it can seem that your social media and current advertising campaigns are reaching sufficient people, remember that 68% of people basically don’t know that you exist.Perception The next problem is perception. For some people vacation rentals have connotations with sharing a room in a flat, or even just a sofa. There is an attitude that vacation rentals are just rented time in a stranger’s home rather than a business that cares about the the quality of your stay. You will have to fit your holiday around the wants and needs of the property owner, rather than the other way round. Good reviews, social media posts combined with accurate photos and listings have helped to show the true nature of vacation rentals. What this study shows is that the industry still needs to accurately define itself in the minds of a large portion of the market.One of the best ways to do this will be to utilise the power and popularity of the many different portals. Names like HomeAway, FlipKey and Booking.com are developing into globally recognisable brands. By listing your property on these you can capitalise on their publicity and the confidence that the public have in these companies. Take a look how our Channel Manager can help you administer your properties on over 45 of these portals at once.Advertising Have you ever considered alternative forms of advertising? Think about if you didn’t know about vacation rentals, how would you go about booking a holiday? Travel agents, magazines and TV are all options that people look to when booking. Paid internet ads, such as Google Adwords can be a good way to promote your site to people that will start by searching for their holiday location rather than the term ‘Vacation rentals’. You can read a case study about how a small business used paid ads and the results here. Investing more of your budget into new advertising campaigns is certainly a risk but there are so many potential customers to reach that the rewards could quickly outstrip the initial outlay.And despite Internet transactions being almost ubiquitous there are still large pockets of mistrust. When paying large amounts over the Internet you need to know you are dealing with a reputable and professional website. We’ve all heard horror stories from people arriving at half-built hotels or shysters with fraudulent pages. Having your own properly produced and professional website will inspire trust from first time customers. A quick response time and an active on-line presence will show that you are in control of your business and can be relied on to provide dedicated and competent service and assistance.Services Finally, out of the 68% of people not even considering vacation rentals, half of these say it because of the lack of services that travellers have come to expect. Front desk staff, concierges and room service have become a part of the luxury experience that people want from a holiday. It seems that people are reticent to give up these services. For some, a vacation rental just provides a space or location and misses out the things that make a holiday truly relaxing. If you provide these services, make sure you let your customers know. If you have it; promote it. Owners need to demonstrate that their businesses are not just a side project, but a full time and properly run operation.Whether you can convert any of the 68% that don’t consider vacation rentals is secondary. The first step is understanding the scale and accepting that the industry has a great deal of scope to grow and develop. Constantly experimenting and diversifying your approach to promotion and exposure will help to ensure that more and more people see your business and then begin to seriously consider vacation rentals.Photo Credit
What time are you reading this? One guide says I should have sent it at 10pm. Another says 3pm would be better. What is the magic time that I can use to guarantee that my social media content is read? The answer is…14:28 – no. As ever, there is no one answer. The secret is not just to use guides but to try, check, and try again. If you want your vacation rentals to get exposure the best way is just to give it a go. You can then see what reaches your customers, and at what time it is most effective. The first thing to decide is what you are actually going to say. There is an established concept in social marketing that your output should vary between producing content, advertising your business and just interacting with people in your networks. Another established theory is that only 10% of your output should really be considered as advertising. This blog calls it ‘Stock and Flow’. You should be making content that will last- blog posts, articles and infographics. This is your ‘Stock’. You should also have shorter, less permanent posts; comments on articles, Tweets, Likes, and Shares. This is your ‘Flow’. A good social media presence will show that you are involved and immersed in the industry. You converse with your customers and competitors, and value their input and opinions. You offer useful content as well as being focused on your own business. Experiment to find the right balance.Another contentious issue is ‘when’. What time will Facebook, Twitter or G+ updates give you the best results? There are plenty of very logical sounding guides in all of these sites. Tweeting between 1-3pm on a Monday gets the most reach. So, this is when you should post on Twitter, right? What you will need to consider is that this an average, based on world-wide results. The chances that your business or your content fits this paradigm might be more remote than first seems. What blogs like these offer is a great place to start.Once you have your times set then comes frequency.This is where updating your social media can feel like a full-time job. However, as always, think about your business first. Companies such as news outlets are going to need to update far more often than vacation rentals. There is a fine line between inundating and having an active presence. Post a few times a day and see when your likes, comments and retweets seem to drop off. This will give you a good indication of when your audience have reached their limit with your content.Next up is how many times you should say it. Repeating your high quality content will always manage to reach a few more people that missed it first time round. It will also reach new followers you have acquired since the original post.You social media should refer to your site, but this doesn’t have to be one way. It should be seen as an intrinsic part of your business, not just an alternative channel to your website. Your site should also link to your social media. Have a look how these Kigo templates feature social media links and the other social media packages we offer.There is so much advice out there about using social media it can be tempting to move from one set of ‘must-read’ rules to another. We think the best way is to test, analyse and modify. No site or blog truly knows your target audience, or the profile of your customers. The person that knows this best is you. There is plenty of great advice available but you will always need to put it through the filter of your own business. It may sound obvious but little things like knowing the timezone that the majority of your customers are in is part of this. If you tweet at 9am on the recommendation of a blog post but forget that it is 3am where the majority of your customers are, you are not going to get the results you want.So read and post, all the time. Have a look at your most impactful social media posts, how do they differ from your less successful ones? Could it be the time, or the content? Perhaps it coincided with a major news story and got buried amongst the traffic. The one secret is to use guides, but to trust your results.Photo Credit
We look at both sides of the argument. High Tech – The Home Gadgets of the FutureIt is 2014. By now I am supposed to be living in a floating city, writing this telepathically as my robot butler delivers me my food pill for the week. But, unfortunately, I’m not. It seems the technological ambition of the 80’s and 90’s far outstripped what we are actually able to do.Today we’re looking at the ways you can automate the processes in your home, and turn it into a SmartHouse. Holidays are about leaving work and responsibilities behind so what could be better than a rental that does nearly everything for you.Keyless entry Imagine not having to hand over your keys or have the worry of ever losing them. Keyless systems make your life easier and your home safer.Nest Thermostat Easy temperature control for your guests whilst being able to turn it off remotely whenever your property is empty. Save money, and the environment at the swipe of a phone.LeakSmart Just imagine a pipe bursting as your are 300 miles away, guests are arriving and it is midnight. Now imagine getting an update with a warning 2 weeks before this ever happened. LeakSmart could save you from a waking nightmare.Nest Smoke CO2 detectorTransparent TV This TV blends perfectly into the background before turning on, offering the same resonant colours, deep blacks and sharp images of a standard LCD TV. Practical and breathtaking.LED Ceiling Allow your guests to paint the ceiling in light. A truly special touch for families.Wifi Fridge Never run out of the essentials again. This fridge can monitor the levels in your fridge and send you reminders when you are running low.These features are more than just the latest fad. Exquisitely designed and produced, they are the perfect way to manage a home remotely and make your property individual and exciting. Low Tech – Simplicity is KingAs the queues for the new iPhone, snaking through cities, will attest: People always want the latest development in technology. But is it ever right to rush into the latest gadgets and devices for your property?If, like me you seem to be connected to some sort of network, with some sort of device at all times, you might want a respite from this on holiday. I’m relaxing when suddenly my WIFI-enabled fridge reminds me about my work emails piling up as I grab a beer. The toaster chimes in with a log of my carbohydrate intake. By the end of the holiday I have abandoned civilisation and am living in the woods, catching fish with a spear.Today we look at whether choosing technology is always the right option.A holiday should be a respite from the daily buzz, a time spent doing something different to the usual grind- have a look at how these vacation rentals have embraced this by highlighting just how ‘off the grid’ they are.If we think of words that describe a great vacation rental, what comes to mind? Secluded? Remote? Peaceful? Relaxing? Kitting out your property could be an expensive and time consuming way to make it less appealing. Do you think guests are enticed by the latest household equipment, or would any of them truly make your life easier? Would you be better off concentrating your time and resources on just making your properties as comfortable and well designed as possible?New technology is just going to be the latest thing collecting dust in your property. If you have the most important things about your property right, your guests won’t care about toys and gadgets. A truly great vacation rental is about the property and the setting and this is what you should concentrate on. A great property should be too eye-catching and engaging for your guests to be looking at a tablet or a computer. So what do you think? Are you a technology lover or do you relish the escapism? Would you use any of the products we have listed or do you think you’re better off keeping it simple?Photo Credit