Vacation rentals live and die by their reviews. With every property different from the last and a range of companies offering a range of levels of service, people need reviews before booking. Everyone wants to avoid being the protagonist in one of the Internet’s cautionary tales of trusting an untested site. It is sometimes not enough to have a great property and exceptional service. Your guests may well enjoy their stay, but by the time they are home, vacation rentals are out of their minds and the review they once thought about never materialises. Quantity has a place alongside quality. If one property has a wide range of reviews and another, just a handful of 5 star ratings, the property that has a large number of reviews often seems to be the better choice, even if these reviews are not all perfect.People read online reviews with a touch of cynicism. We all know that fake reviews exist. You can even pay companies to fill up your review slots with hastily copied and pasted exhalations. Your guests know that not everyone is always so enthusiastic and gushing about their two days in Montauk Bay. They look for reviews that show a real aspect of staying at this property. One that doesn’t skirt the possible shortcomings but stays balanced and measured.Reviews are a tool that let us get a quick sense of what we can expect from a property, the features, the amenities and the overall experience. But, more than that they allow us a sympathetic glimpse into what sort of holiday we can expect to have. Reviews are about creating a sense of anticipation for the guest as much as they are about duly checking off the things you need to know.And more than that, first-time bookers will be wary of the process, echos of vacation rental ‘Horror Stories’ in their minds. They will want to see that your business is legitimate. Real, verifiable people have stayed here and can describe the realities of staying in the property.So, how can you ensure every guest leaves a review?First things first, is remember to ask. There is nothing unethical or distortive about requesting reviews from your guests. Once your guests are home and no longer have to think about your business it can be all too easy to forget about leaving a review. A simple reminder to leave a quick review if they enjoyed their stay will see their numbers of reviews rise dramatically. What you should avoid is requesting specifically good reviews. Having one or two reviews that mention some of the least popular features of your property gives your reviews an overall sense of authenticity.Providing Encouragement But sometimes, just asking isn’t enough. Offering something extra as an incentive for guests to leave a review is a way you can ensure that every guest wants to review your property. It can be small things, such as a free late checkout or a bottle of local wine to take home with them. A small touch shows your guests that reviews are important to your business and that you appreciate them taking the time to write them.Returning GuestsAs well as getting reviews, your promotions can also help to ensure repeat custom to your site. The rewards for posting reviews can be set so they only apply to your customer’s next stay in one of your properties. This means that happy guests will leave positive reviews and then have an incentive to stay at your property again. If you offer a perk for guests that review and then book again, you are not only building an online reputation, but you are also building customer loyalty. Encouraging your guests to leave reviews is an important part of establishing each of your properties as an appealing prospect for new guests. If you have guests that want to talk about your business, make sure you encourage them. Find out how Kigo can provide automated emails to ensure that every guest leaves a review. Photo Credit
In this edition of the Kigo blog we are going to feature an in-depth look at what makes a successful vacation rental website and business. We’ve chosen http://espaibarcelona.com, a business from the city we share; Barcelona. Featuring this business is a way that newcomers to the vacation rental business can get their business started on the best possible footing. Established businesses can also check that they are managing to keep up to date with every innovation. We’ve taken a look at their site as it is a fantastic example of how vacation rental businesses can establish themselves with a recognisable brand and professional website. Espai Barcelona has used its site to help establish itself as one of the main vacation rental agencies in a very competitive city for tourist accommodation.We’re going to look at how they have managed to do this: Their site is clear and easy to use, its photos are clean and bright and they jump at your from the page. The website has a pleasing professional sheen and works with satisfying accuracy. But, these days, these are the basics. We want to know what it is about their business that makes them unique, and how they have managed to cement themselves into the industry of the city All information is visible from the first page. Guests can immediately see the key details that they need to know if the property is suitable for them without having to click and delve into the links. Location, size and capacity are things that people are going to want to see immediately. How many property descriptions would you click through to find out if the apartment is even big enough for your group? A sign of a good site is that a user can navigate through to the information they require with as few superfluous clicks as possible. One of the innovations of Espai Barcelona had that we thought was a great idea, is how they offer block apartments that are grouped together in a certain area. This means that up to 47 people can book these properties and all stay in comfort only a few minutes walk from each other. In some cases, the apartments are in the same building. This is a good way to get bookings from big groups, including people travelling for business or any of the big conferences in the area. It can also appeal to sports team, business trips or students. Either way, it’s way that you can fill calendars in multiple properties from a single booking. Even the biggest vacation rental properties cannot offer the level of group accommodation that large hotels and other types of accommodation can. This can be a barrier for people considering a trip with a large group. This is an inventive solution to this problem and could increase revenues for larger agencies that have numerous apartments in a single area. The site chooses to feature reviews right on the page where you can book. You don’t have to click away to third party sites to check the reviews. Giving your potential guests the information they require without diverting them away from your site is the best way to ensure that they use your site to book their stay. So, if you’re looking for an example of how to set up a professional site for your business that will generate bookings, have a look at the example of Espai Barcelona and see how Kigo can help you create your own site with features like these, and more!
Trade fairs and exhibitions are a big part of the travel industry. They generate huge amounts of turnover and revenue for the attendees and the industry as a whole. But more than that, they are where real change is affected. The direction in which the industry is headed is steered from events like VRMA, like BIT Milan, and like ITB Berlin.So, when one of our customers, Fahrettin Cetin, from www.flatall.com/ sent us a photo of his stand at the Emitt Tourism Summit we decided to interview him to find out just way he attends exhibitions like Emitt.
The Evoteli Team With the Mayor of Bodrum
- How long have you been in the vacation rental business? We have been running a vacation rental business for over 11 years now. In fact, we were the very first professional company who offered vacation rentals in Bodrum/Turkey. We manage over 200 properties exclusively and have many more homes which we share with other vacation rental agencies.
- What made you decide to attend Emitt? We wanted to introduce our new project www.evoteli .com (Turkish version) and www.flatall.com (English) to a wider audience. Both websites will be a portal where owners can add their properties very easily. The software was written by our own team completely and we will use the Kigo solution as a channel manager with other portals and agencies.
- What are the benefits for your business from attending? We can already say that our stand was a big success. We were able to introduce our project to many professional agents and owners of apartment and villa complexes all over Turkey. They have already started to add their properties to evoteli.com – even before the fair was over!
- Do you recommend that other businesses attend trade shows and exhibitions, if so why? We strongly recommend them. Although the Internet is a great tool to introduce your company to your target group, nothing compares with meeting them face to face. Having your own stand at a fair gives your company the professional reputation to emphasize the difference between you and your competitors.
- What would you most like to see happen to the vacation rental industry in 2015? In Turkey, we have a problem that many “private agencies” operate in the vacation rental industry without adhering to certain standards. This causes many problems for the owners and guests. We are member of the “Home Hotel Committee” of TÜRSAB (Association of Turkish Travel Agencies) and this committee is in contact with the Turkish Ministry of Culture and Tourism to push them to establish laws and regulations to prevent private agencies from doing business that jeopardizes the whole industry.
Does it matter if Facebook is too ad-ridden and filled with spam? Are the only people you are reaching just other marketers, scouring the site for content? There are still 1.23 billion people on Facebook but where is the next step? We are reaching critical mass with social media. It’s growth and popularity can surely only last so long, can it?Might some businesses abandon some social media just for the exclusive cultural cache that it may provide, ‘Company A – oh, they’re not on Facebook’. If you jumped ship, would you land in the icy, Arctic waters, or in the lifeboat, rowing to safety? There is a new social media network, called Ello. It is currently attracting 35000 new sign ups an hour. The emphasis of the site is the users and content. Its main attraction is that it is free from adverts and has a sparse, minimalist design. Does this exodus mean that people still require social media but want an alternative to the stream of adverts? More choice could mean that we start to resent the companies that continue to push adverts and marketing on social media. Are adverts on Facebook becoming so ineffectual and disliked that they will become obsolete? Currently, Facebook and social media are too big to ignore but that doesn’t mean it will be here forever. We watched Myspace crash into oblivion and AskJeeves follow suit. They first rose like Pacific islands, steaming from the depths. Then sank under their own weight, leaving us with only an online atoll as a reminder of their existence. However, neither was as big as the social media giants of Facebook and Twitter. Neither had the reach or the power of the big two sites we have today. Each is now big enough to weather the storm of public opinion and maintain an active presence despite fluctuations in popularity. But stories of insidious data retention and calculated, targeted marketing have alienated users. Generally, where marketing becomes ubiquitous, people leave. Facebook could become a ghost-directory of abandoned profiles. A virtual mausoleum to how adverts suffocated content. As George Orwell said, ‘Advertising is the rattling of a stick inside a swill bucket’. Has the social media bucket run dry? We would say the answer is NO. What we are seeing is not a death but a shift. There is a shift from Facebook being a bastion of youth culture to it being adopted by more and more older people. Whilst this is certainly tarnishing the initial element of ‘cool’ it once had, it is not necessarily bad news. Older people will have more disposable income and are far more likely to be able to commit to renting a property after connecting with one of your posts.The key takeaway of this is that Facebook and social media are always changing. It will most likely be around for a long time yet but that is no reason not to consider other options when you see them. If you are trying to appeal to an exclusive youth market then perhaps there are better places than Facebook to market your properties. But, if you are aiming at the mass market then Facebook and Twitter are still important marketing options. It is as simple as just not being able to ignore the sheer numbers. With more than a billion active users, it really is a worldwide force. If you are unsure how to utilise social media for your business, have a look at how our social media package can manage this for you. Photo Credit
How many days before travelling would you start looking for a vacation rental? Forward planning is required. Last minute bookings are not generally an option for people that want to book a vacation rental for their trip. For many, it’s a complicated process that demands a lot of research, emails back and forth and then finally, confirmation and payment. You can’t just roll up to the lobby of a vacation rental and slap a credit card down. There are processes, bureaucracy that must be endured first. Last minute bookings are not something that are traditionally associated with vacation rentals.There are now stand-alone apps such as HotelTonight that just offer last-minute bookings for hotels, booking.com is now launching an app to rival it. It is easy to let last minute slip past but as we operate in an age where the Internet is everywhere, we now the chance to book accommodation from wherever we are and irrespective of the time. Today we’re outlining the ways vacation rentals can start to capitalise on this. Having A Dedicated Page This will be the best way to generate interest in last-minute bookings for vacation rentals. A page set aside where people can view the last minute deals you are currently offering on your website. They will know that these properties need to be booked soon and will be the perfect place to look if they are booking a trip at short notice. If you have a dedicated page, last minute customers will be more likely to head to your site first rather than your competitors as they know they can quickly find accommodation, at short notice.Of course, last minute bookings do not have to mean the literal last minute. It doesn’t even have to mean the last week. Bookings within 30 days are generally considered to be fairly short notice for vacation rentals and can feature in your last minute promotions.Reducing The Price One of the expectations of last minute bookings is that the customer will be able to book at a more attractive price. Reducing the price and using bright, attractive images to highlight your offers will help to attract guests to your offers. Social media and email campaigns can also be used to bring people to this page. This will be a good way to encourage last minute spontaneous bookings from people that were not planning on renting a vacation rental until they saw your page. When reducing your price remember that whilst bringing in revenue is always preferable to empty calendars, your price should still be competitive and profitable. If you reduce your price too far you may deflect business away from your regular rentals.Fill Your Calendar A promotion can allow you to book up the awkward stray few days between larger bookings. These are often mid-week and for shorter stays so are naturally harder to sell. When advertising last minute bookings a good practice is to offer set stays that fall between dates when your property is already full. This is a great way to have a complete calendar in peak season and fill up your property during slower months.Guaranteed Service and Response Time This will be one of the most important factors when starting to secure last minute bookings. You need to be able to guarantee that your customers will get a response and be able to complete the transaction plenty of time before they have to set off. The benefits are clear; starting to capture last minute bookings will reduce empty calendars and increase public confidence in the service of vacation rentals for all types of bookings. Photo Credit