Archive for March, 2009

Join the Largest Social Network Site for Property Owners and Travelers

Tuesday, March 24th, 2009

There are many different kinds of associations out there for vacation rental owners. They usually organize meetings, events, conferences and trade shows for the vacation rental industry as well as promote tourism in their particular location. Not many associations, however, have been able to create an easy accessible community for property owners, an online place where home owners could share ideas and experiences.

That’s why I find Vacation Rentals Community so unique. This social network site targets not only property owners, but also travelers and business managers, in other words everybody who is interested in vacation rentals. All members can interact between each other using forums, blogs, wikis and more. And most importantly – it’s all free.

When I first joined this friendly community I was warmly greeted by its founder John, who guided me through the site explaining all the tools and functions. He also answered my every question about the site’s functionality I had while setting up my profile, excellent assistance indeed.

There are numerous frequent visitors who contribute to discussions and update their blogs quite often. Those are usually successful property owners or managers who have their personal websites and like to share their experience with others. But the community also welcomes new vacation home owners who are just entering the market and are looking for tips and advice. On the discussion forums they can find answers to every question they post, from what kind of linens to use in their vacation rental to quick ways to boost bookings for their rental. On the other hand, travelers can search for vacation homes and find information about destinations they wish to visit.

Besides useful forums categorized by subjects and audiences, the community also offers blogs. Every member can create his own blog which is pretty simple to customize and manage.  Community blogs include insightful posts for both travelers and property owners with destination guides and trends in travel industry. Every time a member publishes a blog posts, it appears on the community blog page giving an author the homepage exposure.

Members of the community can also post and share videos, pictures or files through advanced media galleries. This way vacation home owners can showcase their properties to potential renters and travelers can share experience from their recent vacation.

Every community member has his avatar with a picture and signature which can include a link to his personal website. Just like on other social network sites, you can send friend invitations, instant messages and see your friends’ activity displayed on the “mini feed” in your profile.

The community not only creates a free channel for property owners to interact and exchange ideas, but also educates travelers and potential renters about benefits of staying at a vacation rental, which can create a positive impact on the whole industry.

Feel free to visit our community profile and post comments

Vacation Rentals Forums and Blogs.

Marta

Building your Brand – Facebook and Vacation Rentals

Monday, March 9th, 2009

With all the social networking sites emerging, you most likely heard of Facebook. If you are already subscribed and have your network of “friends”, I’m sure you are getting tons of emails daily from SpeedDate, Likeness and other applications you might have installed… Annoying? Yes. Engaging? Also.

I’ve heard that a lot of young people have Facebook applications in their BlackBerries to receive notifications in the real time. They are the first to know who broke up with whom, whose photos have been tagged or what the latest status of somebody they like is. So, what do YOU do on Facebook? Catching up with old friends, sharing your photos with the world or gossiping just for the sake of it? Although we might question Facebook’s usefulness at times, we still check it out and log in occasionally to see “what’s new out there”.

Now, let’s look at Facebook from the other perspective, as marketers. Imagine 175 million online users and more than 8 billion minutes spent on Facebook each day worldwide and you will realize what kind of audience you are dealing with. It’s not only about numbers though. On Facebook we can not only target a specific kind of user by knowing his profile, network behavior and demographic info but we can also interact with him on many levels boosting our brand recognition.

How does that apply to vacation rental business? Facebook claims the majority of its users are people of 25 years old or older and I can bet that a very high percent of $175 million is interested in travel. What matters more than a product or service we offer is our out-of-the-box approach and smart ways to interact with our potential clients. How can you start up? Here are a couple of ideas:

1.    Introduce yourself

-    Create your own profile with pictures – let people see who is the owner of this gorgeous vacation house.

-    Write a note about your vacation property and your offer.

-    Add and share albums with photos of your vacation property where others can post comments.

2.    Create your own community

-    Invite your family and friends. They will share their opinions about your place and recommend you to others within their network. Once word of mouth spreads, friends of your friends will begin to add you and you can add them as well.

3.    Interact with others

-    Create discussion boards or post questions about travel that you think will encourage debates and interactions.

-    Add pages promoting your destination with links to articles you wrote about your beautiful location on your website or blog. People will be able to “join” your page by becoming its “fans”. Once you have some fans, they can post comments and interact between each other.

-    Come up with special offers/promotions/discounts and post them on your profile and pages you created to attract more friends, fans and potential clients.

-    Join groups related to travel and your destinations and contribute to them by posting comments and asking questions. Once people see you brought in some value, they might want to add you as a friend.

When creating your profile, inviting friends and joining new groups as a business person, remember that people are in Facebook for fun and they don’t want to be bombarded by advertisers trying to sell them their product. Just try to create trust and represent value to new people you meet and if they like you, they might become your customer in the future.

See you on Facebook!

Marta