Archive for the ‘Advice & Tips’ Category

How to Use Rentalo’s New Multilingual Messaging Platform to Negotiating with Travelers

Wednesday, December 21st, 2011




 Below are some tips and recommendations when using Rentalo's new messaging platform for negotiating with travelers:

Sending Offers - Please make sure that the 'Offer Price' is for the entire stay requested by the traveler.  We often see owners submitting nightly rates, instead of a quote for the requested dates.
Sending Messages - Travelers expect offers from property managers, therefore, please try sending them offers as soon as possible.  If your property if booked, and you receive an inquiry alert for your property listing, then it is okay to reply with a 'sorry, we are booked' message.  However, if you receive an inquiry alert for the location of your property, then please do not reply with the 'sorry, we are booked' message.  Travelers sending destination-based inquiries are only interested in offers. 
Negotiating with Travelers - Our messaging platform is a great tool for negotiating with travelers.  You can send unlimited messages back and forth until you both agree to the terms. You can also take advantage of our multilingual feature to communicate with potential guests in other languages.

How to handle booking requests -  Travelers can also send 'booking requests' when they are ready to book a listing.  Owners should try to contact these travelers as soon as possible to secure the bookings.  Optionally, you may turn Rentalo's EzBookMe feature to let Rentalo collect the booking fees from the travelers.  To learn more about this feature, please click the 'EzBOokMe' tab when signed in to your account.

Free listings (or expired listings) – If you have a free listing with us, you can still send offers and messages to  travelers via Rentalo’s messaging platform, however, it’s very important to follow our ‘no direct contact’ rules when sending messages and offers to travelers.  Using  Rentalo’s messaging platform you will be able to receive booking requests from travelers, prior to choosing a paid subscription or renewing your listing.  There is no need for you to communicate outside of Rentalo to secure your first booking.  During your ‘free’ listing period, please focus on sending offers to travelers and familiarize yourself with Rentalo’s service.  We are confident that you will soon get a booking request and upgrade your listing to a paid listing subscription to enjoy the following key benefits:

  • - Unlimited private and destination lead alerts
  • - Unlimited bookings
  • - Unrestricted communications with potential guests
  • - Full web page ad with unlimited photos, video, map, and much more!
  • For additional information and FAQs on our Messaging platform, please read FAQs

    Taking Advantage of Rentalo’s Mobile Apps

    Tuesday, October 4th, 2011
    Sales of smartphones and tablets are on the rise, as reported by International Data Corporation (IDC) in 2009-10, more smartphones and tablets were sold than desktop computers. In September 28, 2011, Rentalo finished its initial  implementation of its mobile apps, now available in the top 3 online market places for smartphones; Apple’s iTunes, Google’s Android Market, and Blackberry App World.  With the increasing tendency of consumers going mobile, property owners have a unique opportunity to capitalize on this trend.  Below are some useful tips on how RENTalo can help owners  take advantage of this new consumer trend, and convert mobile hits into bookings.
    
    
    
    Tip 1.  First of all, you need to become familiar with how your listing is viewed by mobile users.  Using Rentalo's mobile site or app, search for your listing from a smartphone or table device.   The best way to learn how our app work is by downloading it unto your own portable device.  If you do not own a smartphone or tablet, you can use your own PC's internet browser to become familiar with m.rentalo.com.  Even though m.rentalo.com was designed for mobile browsers, simply by using the "Search" feature to find your listing's destination will give you a pretty good idea of how your listing is viewed by mobile users.  Please note that the listing ordering in m.rentalo.com is different than on the main site at this time. 
    
    

    Tip 2.  Once you are familiar with how mobile users find your listing, and understand how your listing information is viewed from these devices, you may want to update your listing at RENTalo to take full advantage of the apps.  Adding more pictures and features to your listing in Rentalo can increase the number of  inquiries you receive from mobile users.   Below is a list of the data fields that are available to mobile users:

    
    
    • - Your listing's photos (tip: review your listing pictures and update them regularly)
    • - List of amenities (tip: edit your listing's amenities checkboxes and select as many as applicable)
    • - List of activities (tip: edit your listing and check as many activities as are available in your area)
    • - Map (tip: Make sure your map is working properly in your listing.
    • - Inquire - Mobile users can send inquiries directly from their phones, so, please make sure you maintain your availability calendar up-to-date to avoid getting inquiries on dates that are booked.  Also, update your rates to make it easier for travelers to choose your property.
    
    
    Tip 3. Send us your feedback.  At RENTalo, we acknowledge the valuable feedback of our clients.  We look  forward to receiving your comments about our apps, and will use it to prioritize future enhancements on our upcoming development efforts.
    
    
    
    Related reading:  Article:  How to Ask Expert Advice on Where to Stay
    
    

    Introducing EZ BookMe to Owners

    Thursday, September 1st, 2011
    
    
    EZ BookMe is an intuitive, multi-lingual, message-based online booking facility for travelers and property owners.  EZ BookMe streamlines the booking process via an intuitive and friendly messaging service that allows travelers and owners to easily communicate back and forth prior to booking.  Owners can post unlimited number of offers or quotes during negotiations with potential guests via RENTalo. When ready, travelers can book online securely and receive the value-added of a $5,000 anti-fraud lodging protection; a guarantee designed to protect travelers booking a property via RENTalo from possible scams or frauds.  Owners receive full rental booking payments within 3 business days from traveler’s arrival dates, saving 100% of credit cards and merchant fees.
    
    
    “Our mission for the past 12 years serving the travel lodging  industry has been to facilitate transactions between travelers and  property owners.  EZ BookMe is a powerful and easy to use booking  platform designed to help property owners and travelers to do business  online” says Alfredo Purrinos, former NASA engineer and CEO/founder of RENTalo.com.
    
    
    
    
    By activating EZ BookMe, property owners benefit from more online bookings by allowing travelers to book online, while retaining the “final say” for confirming reservations and/or doing pre-screening on their potential guests prior to accepting reservations.  Property owners can also save on per-booking credit card fees and monthly merchant service fees.  There are no setup fees and no transaction fees for owners, and only a 10% service fee charged to travelers who also receive $5,000 anti-fraud lodging protection guarantee.
    
    
    
    
    - To learn more about EZ BookMe, please see EZ BookME faqs 
    
    
    
    
    - Read article: Introducing EZ BookME to Travelers
    
    
    
    
    - Read press release & watch intro video

    Prevent Vacation Rental Scams

    Wednesday, August 10th, 2011
    
    
    It is not a secret that 99.99% vacation rental owners and managers are some of the  most honest and friendly people you will ever do business with.  That said, as  in any industry, you will find that 0.01% of unethical people (i.e. scam artists) affect everyone's reputation.  In 2010, the Federal Trade Commission reported 18,836 fraud incidents  involving travel, vacations, and timeshares.  It's  also known that the actual number of fraud incidents could be 99% higher than those reported.
    
    
    
    
    The first step in fighting scams is learning what it is and how they work.  Below we attempt to answer these basic questions in order to better equip vacation rental  property owners to fight this disease that it is affecting us all.
    
    
    
    
    How scams occur?
    
    
    
    
    Some scams occur when travelers are asked to send money upfront to illegitimate owners.  Money means any form of cash such as wire transfers, checks, money grams, etc. Upfront means before arriving at the property. In the vacation rental industry, many owners require travelers to pay a security deposit or partial rental payment at the time of the reservation and/or before arrival, in order to secure the place. This particular feature is the main reason scam artists are attracted to this industry since they know that travelers are expected to pay some money prior to arriving.
    
    
    
    
    Other scams occur via cashier checks sent by illegitimate "travelers" who send over payments.  These scam artists take advantage of the delays required by banks to steal from owners by asking them to wire the difference back (e.g. Opss! I made a mistake and sent you more money, please wire the difference back).  Then, by the time the owners get notified by their banks that the checks are  no good, it's usually too late to stop the wire transfers.
    
    
    
    
    What can owners do to prevent scams? 
    
    
    
    
    As a reputable vacation rental or hospitality business, it is your responsibility to understand how these scam artists operate so you can help fight against these practices.  Below are some tips to help fight scams:
    
    
    
    
  • - Report possible scams.  Keep in mind that the same people who are posting fake properties are also doing check scams.  As a property owner, you will get inquiries from scam artists trying to to send you counterfeit checks.   Please forward to abuse@rentalo.com any suspicious inquiry so our team and look further into it.
  • - When possible, suggest your first time clients to register their booking in Rentalo in order to receive a $5,000 anti-scam protection.  This program is absolutely free for travelers and sponsored by Rentalo to help owners overcome fearful travelers.
  • - If possible, comply with the reservations and cancellation policies used by most hotels.  Most hotels require a credit card authorization at the time of the reservation, and have a 1-day cancellation policy.
  • - If you require some form of upfront payment, comply with the anti-scam recommendations by not accepting wire transfers from travelers, specially if they are first time clients. Instead, accept credit cards, PayPal, or any other secure payment method that protect both your clients and you.
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    Also check these scam related videos:
    
    
    
  • - Top 10 online scams - Anatomy of a scam
  • - Watch a craigslist rental scam
  • - Rental Scams On the Rise - Check scam warning video
  • Are you Covered?

    Thursday, June 30th, 2011
    
    
    Below you find some frequently asked questions and answers when purchasing Accidental Rental Damage Insurance (ARDI).
    
    
    
    
    What is the Accidental Rental Damage Insurance Plan (ARDI)?
  • ARDI is an insurance plan that provides coverage for accidental damages to your vacation rental property during a stay as a replacement for a security deposit.
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    Why should vacation property owners purchase ARDI?
  • - With ARDI, owners no longer have to worry about collecting security deposits from guests.
  • - With ARDI, guests do not have to lower their credit card spending balances with a hefty security deposit amount  while they are on vacation.
  • - When claims occur, the payments for repairs of the covered accidental damage will be handled directly between the rental property owner and the insurance company.
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    What is covered by the ARDI plan?
  • - ARDI covers unintentional damage to your vacation rental property during your stay, up to $3,000. Owners commonly use ARDI to cover things like carpet spills, furniture tears, broken lamps, and other damages.
  • - When staying in a pet-friendly vacation home, ARDI can provide coverage for damages caused by pets!
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    What is not covered by the ARDI  plan?
    
  • - Any intentional property damage.
  • - Any pet damage in a non-pet friendly vacation property.
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    How do I include the ARDI plan?
  • Simply purchase ARDI for $45 to cover up to $1,500 in damages or $69 to cover up to $3,000.  You can purchase it online at the time the reservation is made up until 24-hours prior to check-in.
  • Please see the Description of ARDI's Coverage for full terms and conditions.
    
    
    To learn more about Accidental Rental Damage Insurance Plan, click here.
    

    Vacation Rentals That Feel Like Luxury Boutique Hotels

    Thursday, March 10th, 2011
    
    
    
    
    First, lets start with some interesting industry facts and predictions:
    
    
    
    Arthur Frommer's #1 travel prediction for 2011 was that "A Greatly Increased Use of Apartments and Vacation Homes in Place of Standard Hotels". (ref. Arthur Frommer's Blog, Dec 2010)
    
    
    
    
    New York Times foresees vacation rentals piling up on luxuries and advertising as "hotels" (ref. New York Times - Travel, Dec 2010).
    
    
    
    
    So, how can vacation rental businesses take advantage of this magnificent moment in the history of vacation rentals and convert their business into luxury boutique hotels?  Please read below to find some tips and recommendations from Rentalo.com; the leading site for travelers to find short term accommodations. Ideally, the goal of every vacation rental business owner who wants to have their rental booked 52 weeks is to make their guests feel like they are staying in a luxurious hotel rather than a rental place where they have to bring their own pillows and toothbrushes.
    
    
    
    "Going beyond the ordinary and paying attention to the small details is what makes the difference"says Natalia Richards, co-owner of Casa Castellana, a luxurious bed and breakfast in San Juan, Puerto Rico. "Travelers like to be pampered, and feel like they are totally taken care of".
    
    In practical terms, here are some affordable tips and ideas to help you go the extra mile and make your guests feel special:
    
    
    
    #1 - Make yourself available to your guests 24x7.  From the time they pay the deposit, throughout their  stay, and until their departure, be available.  You may not be able to afford paying your staff to provide 24x7 concierge services to your guests, but consider this as a "cost of being in the hospitality business".
    
    
    
    #2 - Think about perks you can offer that would be meaningful to your guests.  Sometimes it takes a $5 dollar bottle of wine to create a life-lasting impression on your guests.  Maybe you can afford more elaborate perks such as a red phone line to a concierge service desk.
    
    
    
    
    #3 - Expand on amenities - Some businesses go around and team up with local restaurants and gyms to facilitate discounts and special services to their guests.  Remember, you are not limited to what your specific property has to offer, you can think out-of-the-box.
    
    
    
    
    #4 - Suggest places to visit and eat - Build a list of your favorite things to do in the area where your rental property is located, print a few copies, and leave them in your unit(s).   You may also offer special tips e.g. If you go to x restaurant, ask for "x" dish, it's my favorite!
    
    
    
    
    #5 - Build a list of local businesses & discounts -- For example, in ski destinations, guests need to rent ski equipment, so  why not go around some shops and get some special deals and  discounts for your guests?  You can do the same with local restaurants, museums, parks, etc. .
    
    
    
    
    The key to providing first-class service in the hospitality business lies in applying a very old yet important principle:  to serve your guests as you would like to be served.  Some business owners excel at this and their guests reviews show it.   Others may need to make some changes to take advantage of 2011's predictions and consumer's expectations.  At Rentalo, we hope that our listing owners can apply these helpful tips to their businesses and contribute to this great year for the hospitality business.  As a service provider in this industry, Rentalo is looking forward to see its clients take their business to a higher level of service and make them successful.
    
    

    Make Vacation Dreams Come True … Create Your SPECIAL OFFER Today!

    Monday, December 20th, 2010

    2010 has been a tough year for many people in the US and abroad!   For some who may be dreaming of a family vacation, renting the movie Cast Away may be the closest they “think” they can get this year to spending time in the warm Caribbean sun or a favorite ski resort.  At Rentalo we are working hard to change that and give as many travelers as possible the opportunity to live their vacation dream!

    Rentalo is giving a special incentive to inventory clients for adding SPECIAL OFFERS on their listings.

    SPECIAL OFFERS are a complimentary feature that allow owners to proactively post discounts consisting of 10% or greater.  These SPECIAL OFFERS are automatically posted in several travel sites and travel blogs, and even social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook.

    As a special incentive, for every traveler that registers a booking through a SPECIAL OFFER via Rentalo during the month of January 2011,  Rentalo is giving each owner one (1) free month of advertising added to their subscription.  Also, the top 3 listings that get the most bookings registered will be featured in one of our upcoming Traveler’s Newsletters sent monthly to 1.3 Million opted-in travelers, worldwide.

    Activating a SPECIAL OFFER is free and easy, the only catch is the SPECIAL OFFER must be truly special — which means that you must offer at least 10% off the published rates for those dates.  To learn how to activate your SPECIAL OFFER today, click here to watch a step by step tutorial.

    You must hurry and activate your SPECIAL OFFER today to be ready for our upcoming January 2011 Traveler’s Newsletter publication.  In this publication we will be promoting SPECIAL OFFERS to 1.3 Million opted-in travelers, worldwide.  Also, as soon as a SPECIAL OFFER becomes active, Rentalo will automatically post it in several travel sites and also in Rentalo’s index page for SPECIAL OFFERS at http://rentalo.com/Special-Offers.html, now featuring more than 500 offers.

    So, what are you waiting for?  POST YOUR SPECIAL OFFER today!  > Sign-in

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    Related article:  Traveler’s Blog > Make Your Vacation Dream a Reality with Rentalo’s Special Offers

    Rentalo and WOR Radio Team Up for Offline Radio Promotion

    Thursday, May 21st, 2009

    In our continued effort to provide the best marketing for property owners, Rentalo.com has partenered with WOR News/Talk Radio, to promote the New England, Cape Cod, Hamptons and Martha’s Vineyard (and vicinities) vacation properties on the New York Tri-state Area.

    Local radio audiences of summer travelers will be able to use Rentalo in their search for vacation rentals in these prime locations. With the help of offline radio marketing and promotion, we are planning on driving quality traffic for the region during peak season.

    As an incentive for travelers in the region, we are giving away three fantastic vacation rentals this summer in the New England vacation area. Three lucky listeners will be able to spend one week in homes that are nearby all the conveniences of these resort locations.

    Here are samples of the radio promotions being aired for three weeks starting May 18, 2009 by WOR Radio.

    summer-vacation-liner-2

    summer-vacation-liner-1

    For more information on the Summer Giveaway by Rentalo.com in WOR, go to the Summer Giveaway page on WOR

    Rentalo’s marketing team is continuously working on alternative media to drive traffic and business to the vacation rental and lodging professionals who trust us. We will continue embracing all available marketing channels that can buttress our brand image and position as a premiere vacation rental lodging online directory.

    Founded in 1922, WOR News/Talk Radio 710 HD is New York’s oldest, privately-owned and continuously-operated radio station. WOR provides a well-rounded schedule of informational and lifestyle programming, featuring personalities such as John Gambling, Arthur Frommer, Glenn Beck, Joan Hamburg, Dr. Joy Browne, Lou Dobbs, Steve Malzberg and many others. WOR News/Talk Radio 710 HD is a Buckley Broadcasting Corporation radio station, and it is the first AM Radio station in New York to broadcast in the new HD technology. WOR is streaming and podcasting at wor710.com.

    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

    What to Do and What to Avoid – Your Vacation Rental Pictures Guide

    Wednesday, January 7th, 2009

    Although we already had a similar post in the past, the topic of vacation rental pictures is never off the table. I’ve been looking at our Rentalo vacation homes lately wanting to select high quality pictures to show as examples but unfortunately I ran into hundreds of very low quality photos. It only assured me that I should write about this subject again and try to include more tips this time.

    When browsing through our inventory I saw really bad pictures and I’m not only talking about low quality, pixeled and scanned old photographs, but also pictures of a messy kitchen with dirty dishes, pools with towels and guest stuff lying around, dark hallways and many others. Only one question always popped to my mind. How do owners of these properties think they will book their homes?

    I have a suspicion that many owners take things for granted. They think that their properties will rent just because they have great attributes, such as oceanfront or mountain views and because they’ve had many guests over the last few years. Well, the times have slightly changed and facing the economic crisis we all have to try a little harder. The competition is fiercer than ever and we have to fight for customers more than before.

    I would like to encourage you to take a look at your property listings as if you were a traveler looking for a perfect place. Try to get into their shoes and think what you would like to see if you were the one looking for accommodation. I think everyone will agree with me that pictures are one of the most important elements of a good property listing. High quality and attractive photos represent your property and help travelers picture it. Remember that in Rentalo you can upload unlimited amount of photos. You can also describe them so that travelers know what can be seen on a particular picture.

    I also gathered some tips on what to do and what to avoid when taking pictures of your property. It’s never a bad time to change your listing photos. Even though it’s cold and snowy where some of you have their properties, seasonal pictures appeal even better to travelers. You should always try to change your pictures when the season changes and emphasize different property attributes. For example hot tub and fireplace in the winter and pool or a large deck in the summer.

    Here is what you SHOULD do:

    -    Take photographs of all parts of your property, not only bedrooms

    -    Turn on all the lights in your vacation property. It gives your house a special warm atmosphere

    -    Wait for a sunny weather or a nice sunset to take pictures of your property from the outside

    -    Put flowers, candles, nice sheets and fresh fruit in your house. Those look lovely on pictures!

    -    Try to use a tripod to avoid blurry pictures

    Here is what you should NOT do:

    -    Do not use scanned and low resolution (pixeled) photographs

    -    Try not to include people in your pictures

    -    Clean your property before taking pictures not to capture a messy kitchen or swimming pool with guest stuff by it

    -    Do not take pictures of dark rooms against the light

    -    Avoid uploading pictures of hallways, narrow spaces and nothing specific

    -    Try not to include badly cropped or zoomed photographs

    -    Do not place pictures of nearby activities as your main photo. Travelers want to see your property first

    Happy editing,

    Marta