Follow my blog with Bloglovin


Friday, 23 January 2009 16:14 by Ben

Having some sort of internet presence for your holiday home rental is a no-brainer! Even by the UK tourist board’s conservative figures, over 60% of people use the internet when booking a holiday. In reality, it is probably far more. The real question, therefore, is whether to create your own website or use a well known portal to drive the internet side of your holiday home business.

There are compelling arguments for both. Certainly, you are never going to get as much traffic on your own property website as the big property listing sites. Finding a suitable holiday home and booking online is huge business and the big players attract tens of thousands of daily users to their sites. However, therein lies the downside. The big property listing sites are just that, big! And your holiday home is hidden amongst the rest, just one property in the midst of an excess of others returned in the search results.

Conversely, if someone is browsing for a holiday rental has found your website, with just your property on then there’s no competition. Providing you be easily contacted, or better still, the user can book your property online and pay a deposit instantly then you’re ten steps ahead of the crowd!

Of course, the difficult part is attracting the surfing public to your holiday home site (and then keeping them interested). All too often, I have clients for whom we build a great property website and they instantly think it is going to start appearing in the search engines. We all know this is unrealistic, unless you’re one of only a handful holiday home website in your location (very unlikely these days unless you rent out your own island - not unheard of). To get anywhere near the top of the searches takes focus (on certain keywords), time and a lot of hard work.

The best strategy, in our opinion, is to use make intelligent use of the listing sites to drive custom to your own website and property booking system. This way you are getting the exposure of the big sites, you have your very own property showcase and online booking system, and you are not losing out on the booking commission that a listing site would take if you booked using them. We have a few guidelines on how you can effectively combine listings with your own site:


  • Choose – choose the listing sites you apply for very carefully. Investigate how many properties they have listed. If they boast 50,000+ properties then don’t list. If they will not give you a link back to your site, again, don’t list. If they demand booking exclusivity of your property or if they charge an exorbitant commission, once again, don’t list. Ask for website traffic statistics – you want sites that generate a lot of traffic but have manageable number of properties listed.

  • Location – Try and get listed on sites that serve your area. You are far more likely to get quality referrals on popular sites for your location than on general holiday home booking sites. Alternatively, target your property type; you could be an exclusive villa?

  • Track – install tracking code like Google Analytics and monitor closely the referrals and bookings you get from the property listing sites. If the sites are not generating bookings, do not renew your subscription.

  • Link – make sure you get a link from any sites you list with. Not only will this directly funnel visitors to your property booking site, it will improve your own position in the search engines.

  • Pay – don’t be put off if you have to pay for a listing. A year’s subscription is more than likely only a fraction of a week’s holiday home rental. But remember to follow the above guidelines: don’t go for a big listing site, try to specialise either by area or property type, or both.

  • Bookings – it’s all about bookings! Make sure you invest in quality reliable booking software and that it is fully integrated into your site. Having your own booking system with availability calendar is invaluable, the benefits are too numerous to mention.

Currently rated 3.5 by 11 people

  • Currently 3.545455/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

Adding extra days on to a booking

Monday, 19 January 2009 19:02 by Ben

I often get feature requests from customers. Just recently I had one such request regarding availability management. The client had an as yet unencountered availability requirement that doesn’t fit into the current system scope.

On the surface it was a standard setup with full week bookings going from Sunday to Sunday. But, they wanted the ability to add on extra nights to the full week booking and not have the extra nights available otherwise. So you can buy extra nights on the condition you have already booked at least one full week. This would have required a custom solution; the integration of an extra step giving the customer the option to add on extra days to the booking. I considered going down this route but decided there was no market for a feature such as this (I’ll explain why later on) so decided against adding it as a product feature. I thought I’d lost a customer until I considered the problem for a little while and realised there is a reasonable solution.

Availability already has an “Active” field (we are delving into the database here). If I expose this not active data in the administration panel but not on the customer facing side then (if I implement one small change) I can use the system as it currently stands. I do this by using the in-built products feature; I add the extra days on as products then block off any extra days as they come through on a booking.

Although this system will work, there are some shortcomings you have to work around. The obvious one is the extra work involved. It removes some of the automation from the booking process. Once a booking is made, you have to login into the administrator panel and block of the extra days manually - they would also have separate booking ID’s and a value of zero (which is not ideal). In addition, you would have to do this reasonably quickly.

Which brings me to my next point, if you don’t block-off the extra availability promptly, you run the risk of someone booking the following week and ending up with a double booking and the extra headache that comes with!

A final drawback is that as you can’t assign products to particular availability slots, only on a site-wide basis, you could not account for seasonal variations in pricing for the extra day. So if two bookings were made on 1st February one for a peak summer week the other for an off-peak February week, in both cases an extra night would cost (say) £100. Again, far from ideal!

I told the client, there wouldn’t be much need for this conditional extra days feature. Not only have i never been asked for this before, I have not heard of any rental properties that operate this way. It is too cumbersome from an administrative standpoint, but it also has some more compelling drawbacks.

That extra day or two added on to the booking eats into your next week meaning – if you are running on a week to week basis – you can’t book out the following week! This makes no business sense at all. If a system is setup this way, you could be losing the income on one full week just for the sake of booking an extra day on the previous week. It could also disrupt your regular changeover days. Are your cleaners and other staff on the ground flexible enough to accommodate?

More often than not, being really flexible on dates and offering many options is not effective from a cost/benefit standpoint. My advice is keep things simple and straightforward unless you have the resources to cope with the extra complexity. Do you have use conditional extra days or think it could be a valuable feature? I would love to hear your opinion.

Currently rated 2.0 by 25 people

  • Currently 1.96/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5

New Hardware Investment for Invosoft

Tuesday, 6 January 2009 19:03 by Ben

Invosoft has continued it's investment in new equipment and technology purchising a new server from Rapidswitch.  We have other servers in the US, with the Planet and also host some services out of our offices here at Lancaster University.  But with the rising cost of the buyig US dollars and the falling cost of bandwidth in the UK, it doesn't make sense to by new equipment in the US.  Plus UK sites supposidly perform better in teh search engines when hosted in the 'UK.  Wether this is true or not, I don't know?

The server from Rapidswitch was outstanding.  The server is lightning fast and was configured and ready to go withn 2 hours of placing the order!  New customers have been amazed at teh speed of the new service. Hosting in the UK will help us improve our service and free us from flutuations in the currency market.

Currently rated 3.4 by 8 people

  • Currently 3.375/5 Stars.
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
Tags:   ,
Categories:   New Features
Actions:   E-mail | Permalink | Comments (0) | Comment RSSRSS comment feed