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Five Random Vacation Rental Tips

February 26th, 2007

1) Vacation home listings can be found in magazines, newspapers, online and through rental agencies and Realtors.
2) One of the best ways to find a vacation rental is to ask friends and neighbors. A recommendation from someone who has stayed in a particular home or used a particular rental agency or Realtor can offer great insight.
3) Official area convention and visitor bureau Web sites can be another source of rental listings.
4) Know who you’re dealing with. Some individual rental owners advertise on rental directory sites, so you will deal directly with the unit’s owner. Other rental owners hire a management company to handle rentals and maintenance.
Get the rental agreement in writing. Make sure it specifies dates, check-in and check-out times, specific deposit and payment requirements and clearly spells out your responsibilities.
5) Ask lots of questions.

Working Christmas Morning?!

December 13th, 2006

Bosses don’t get much of a break during the holiday season — half of Canadian executives and 76 per cent of their counterparts in the United States feel compelled to check in with the office at least a few times a week during their vacations, according to a new poll.

The Globe and Mail is reporting this awful news. Checking in with work on Christmas?! I don’t think so. Christmas should be a day for family darn it!

Cool Vacation Rental Site

December 5th, 2006

In terms of clean, easy to use sites, I think that I found one everyone can agree on Vast.com has a pretty decent vacation rental section, and really some really detail searching features. Check it out.

You Vacation Rental

December 1st, 2006

I found a good quote while reading other Vacation Rental Blogs.

Photos are the window to your property and are usually the deciding factor in a vacationer choosing to rent your home…Are they blurry? Do they reflect the updates that you have made to the property? Is there good lighting? Be sure to include a photo of the view, living room, kitchen, master bath, master bedroom, pool, and exterior.

This is a good point if you are taking pictures of your vacation rental property don’t just quickly take a few shots, take the time to make the pictures of crisp and clear as possible. Try decorating your rooms a little more, have fun with lighting, make your vacation rental look like a dream come true, don’t just settle for second best.

And clean up a little huh? Do we really need to see your mess?

Movie location vacations can be the best

November 30th, 2006

Bill Spencer / WXYZ Channel 7 Action News

Have you ever watched a fantastic movie and said to yourself, “I’ve just got to go there”? For me, the movie was “Summer of ‘42″ and the place was Mendocino, Calif. I was so caught up by the romance in that film and the hauntingly beautiful scenes shot along the rugged California coastline that at 15 years old, I vowed to myself that I would one day visit Mendocino.

It took me 20 years to realize that dream, but when I finally made it, it was 200 times more beautiful than anything I remembered from the movie. Now, I go back every year.

A new poll by movie ticketing service, Fandango, confirms I’m not alone — 4 out of 5 moviegoers say they would like to visit a movie location while they travel. And that is spawning a whole new trend called Vacations on Location.

In fact, there are organized movie location tours available at many international travel destinations and dozens around the United States.

If you’ve always wanted to visit Austria, and you are a huge Rodgers and Hammerstein fan, why not take the “Sound of Music” tour where the hills are alive with the sound of music?

Is New York more your style? Then check out one of several tour companies that will gladly take you to the restaurant where Meg Ryan demonstrated what good actors women can be for Billy Crystal in “When Harry Met Sally,” where Will Smith first put a whoopin’ on that giant bug in “Men in Black” and where Tobey Maguire scrambled up the side of a building in “Spider-Man.”

If you’re one of those people who likes to plan ahead, rent your favorite movie on DVD before booking your trip. Some DVDs have actual location tour information on the DVD in the extra features section.

Would you believe it? This year, 20,000 tourists have come to little Preston, Idaho, population 4,035, just to walk the streets where “Napoleon Dynamite” was shot. And travel to New Zealand has skyrocketed every since a hobbit named “Mr. Frodo” made his home there.

David Fishman, who owns Cadillac Travel in Southfield, says “The DaVinci Code” has given birth to several tours aimed at art lovers. He also says it’s easy to find a tour within your particular budget.

“You can go the range on any of these tours. Really, it just depends on your comfort zone, the level of hotels you are willing to stay at, the restaurants you are willing to eat at.”

One of the tour sites you might check out online is: seeingstars. com. Movielocations.com is another, but there are many, many others. Just Google the words “movie location.”

Remember, you can pay to take a guided tour, or simply do what I did. My wife Veronica and I showed up in Mendocino without so much as a hotel reservation, and we had one of the best vacations ever.

Did you say Mancations?

November 29th, 2006

Mancations is yet another fancy marketing catch phrase being thrown around by big hotels looking for all your money. Hotels like the Regent South Beach are offering everything from poker parties to hand-rolled cigars, buckets of beer to sports tickets, all in hopes of tapping a growing market.

Sure that sounds amazing right? Sounds like you’ll have the best time of your life? You and your buddies hanging out in the overpriced penthouse suite spending buckets of money for buckets of beer… beer you can get for less by just going to the beer store with a cooler!

Although we admit that the idea of a Mancation sounds cool, it just isn’t as cool as going out with your buddies, renting a cabin, and bringing your own beer.

Roadside America

November 28th, 2006

Some of my favorite memories are of the road trips I’ve taken. I think everyone needs to take at least five road trips in their lifetime. I bet you were expecting me to say one right? Well one road trip is never enough. See, if it is everyone’s first road trip it will be a lot of fun, but the more road trips you take, the better they are. Maybe the first time you’ll forget to stop at every new city sign to take a picture. Maybe you won’t take any pictures - and that is just silly!

One of my favorite parts of the road trip is stopping at random diners for dinner. They are always a little greasier, a little cheaper, and a lot tastier than eating at Burger King or McDonalds. That is why when I came across DinerCity.com I jumped for joy. This website is completely devoted to roadside diner reviews! It has hundreds of them mapped out all over the United States. The website isn’t the prettiest but it has some of the best information you can get.

So everyone go check out DinerCity.com.

If you are into cool roadside attractions you might also want to click over to RoadsideAmerica.com.

Your vacation rental - How to be successful - Part IV

November 27th, 2006

Tricks of the trade

Today will be a brief but important lesson. We will go over a few important parts of a website that a lot of people who are building private vacation rental property websites overlook.

First and probably most important is your page title. A website without a page title is like a book without a cover. If you see two books on a shelf which are you most likely to pick up? The one that has the title on the spine and you know has what you want inside, or the blank book that might have what you want inside but could be a complete waste of time.

example:
<title>Untitled Document</title>

Not sure where to change your page title? It is pretty simple actually. Open up your website code in your html or text editor. Near the top of the page you will find something similar to the following:

Simply replace untitled document with the title you want. Preferably something very descriptive that will tell the view where they are and where you are located.

example:
<title>Beautiful Banff Vacation, Banff Alberta Canada - MyWebsiteUrl.com - Home Page</title>

Now the guest knows your rental is in Banff, what your website address is, and which page on your website they are view, whether it is the ‘Home Page’ or the ‘Contact Information’ page.

While having your page title right is important it can also help to make a list of similar keywords on your page. Keep in mind not to go overboard. DO NOT add hundreds of different variations and keywords to your website. This is a popular trend with a lot of shady spam websites out there right now, and it will not reflect well on your site. Some search engines may go as far as completely blacklisting your website. Try a maximum of 10 different keywords that describe your website.

example:
Banff Alberta Vacation Rental, banff national park, banff accommodation, banff springs, ski banff, banff lake louise, banff hot springs, banff lodging

By adding keywords like these to the bottom of your page you may get more visitors who are searching for these terms.

Finally try setting up a related links page or a resource. Find as many reliable links that relate to Banff as you can and post them on your website. I say reliable because you want to link to websites that are official and have reliable information on them. This will make your website seem more reliable and there is a chance your website will be found faster.

Your vacation rental - How to be successful - Part III

November 23rd, 2006

The Do’s and Don’ts of websites

You’ve got your content, you know exactly how you want it laid out and maybe you even know what crazy pattern you want the background to be. In fact, you may even know exactly how you want everything to look.
STOP RIGHT NOW.

Before you go any further let’s take a step back and think for a moment. We know content is key to a good website, but that is not the only element you need. The best way for beginners to learn is through visual aids, so today I’m going to show you an example of a good existing Vacation Rental website and break it down into two parts:

- What has been done well?

- What needs some work?

The website will be this Elegant Retreat in Calgary (http://calgaryvacationrental.homestead.com/)

http://calgaryvacationrental.homestead.com/Index.html

What has been done well

I will start by pointing out what this website has done well and why that is important to a successful vacation rental website.

First, right off the hop you can see that all the important information is right in your face. The small introductory paragraph gives you a sense what you can expect, what sort of neighborhood the house is located in and what makes this rental property special. Next we jump right into a very nicely detailed description of all the rooms in the house. They even go as far as listing the backyard, something I have overlooked in the past. The prices are listed right on the main page underneath a very nice photo of the house.

http://calgaryvacationrental.homestead.com/Index.html

There is also a nice photo gallery that displays some great pictures of the inside of the house. The photos also load quickly, which is very good. There is even a great section completely devoted to directions to the house as well as several different maps and the local weather.

What needs some work

Although this website is fairly in-depth and can answer most of the questions that a person has when you are renting a vacation rental, it could use a few improvements.

First, let’s take a look out the general layout. I think this is what most website new-comers have the most trouble with. The biggest problem here is that the text is overlapping the picture of the house, making it hard to read. If text is hard to read you can bet at least half the people who find this website will hit the back button within 30 seconds. The same thing goes for the navigation bar. It looks like it was placed there by accident.

http://calgaryvacationrental.homestead.com/Index.html

Another thing I noticed about the navigation was that it did not appear on the Contact Page, or the Photo Album page. You will want to have the navigation run on every page. This makes getting around your much easier.

Finally - and this one is a personal preference - I think the colors of this website are a little harsh on the eyes. The blue background might seem like a good idea, but it is so bright that it takes away from the quality information on the site. I would prefer a more tame background, and content that doesn’t overlap.

Our next lesson will be an important one. There are a few tricks of the trade you can use to help your website appear higher up on the search page when people are looking for a vacation rental.

Your vacation rental - How to be successful - Part II

November 21st, 2006

If you have done some research into making your own vacation rental website then you will a notice a few things that all good owner-run vacation rentals use to entice guests into booking their property. Can you guess? There are really two answers that go hand in hand – pictures and words. The more detailed you can be without getting too long winded the better.

In this lesson we will look at the most important part of any website - CONTENT!
- Using words to paint a picture.

- Using pictures to paint…a picture.

- Organizing your content to paint a clear picture.

If you have a website full of pictures and a phone number you might get a few phone calls, but more often then not you will be left high and dry. At the same time if you vacation rental website that is all words and has no photos potential guests will have no reference point to what your cabin looks like, and if you are even describing what you have accurately. If you have a jumble of hard to read words and giant pictures that take up more than the whole screen, it could be displeasing to a person’s time - and internet connection - that they will hit the back button faster than you can say Vacations Rule! A good combination of these elements are essential in making your vacation rental website successful.

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