Archive for the ‘Development’ Category

Letting people drop off the listings

One of the things that I’d not really allowed for when I started the listings sites was that people would want to drop their listing.

For a normal site that charges a lot of cash each year you’d expect that people wouldn’t always renew, but when I started the site was completely free so why would anyone drop their listing? Whilst only one has dropped off in the sense of not wanting their listing at all, quite a number have dropped out through having either sold their property or simply stopped offering holiday accommodation.

This year the turnover is so high that I’m finally getting around to implementing a facility for people to suspend their listing themselves and I’ve also started to send out verification e-mails to check that those on the site are still in the business.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Sometimes a small change can make a big difference in a site

One of the things that I’ve been looking at over the last couple of days is how I present the affiliate properties on the holiday listings sites and particularly on the new generation versions of them.

What I’d been doing was listing 5 properties from my own site along with 5 from theirs. That worked out fine in areas where the balance between my properties and theirs was more or less equal. So, for example, if I had three properties in an area and they’d 4 or 5 all the properties ended up on one page.

Where it didn’t work out so well was where they’d a lot more properties than I had. For instance, if I had five and they’d 500 then what happened was that one page was generated with my five plus five of theirs. Well, what I did a week ago was to increase the limit to 100 per page for them which created a whole bunch more pages on the site of course. Although it did appear to increase the site hits considerably (essentially in proportion to the new properties), it meant that the pages themselves took ages to load.

So, over the last few days I’ve made what’s really quite a very minor change so that their properties are divided up amongst as many pages as required to keep to the normal page size but simultaneously listing all of their properties in each of the areas. Net effect is that I’ve several hundred properties listed in some areas where previously I had at best a handful.

These changes generally take about a week for google to pick up so, all being well, early next week I’ll be seeing a bit of a jump in the hits across the board as that change created a few thousand extra pages across the site.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

Selling your property? Why not list it yourself and save on the commission?

If you’re selling your property, chances are that you’ve done what many people do and that’s to approach an estate agent or perhaps even several of them.

Now, whilst that’s a good idea it’s usually pretty expensive. Depending on your local laws you can be looking at paying the estate agent anything from 1% to 10% of the sale price which can amount to some serious cash that would be better in your pocket than that of the estate agent. It’s particularly noticeable these days when you may well have had to cut the list price of your property.

So, why not look at some of the self-listing sites that around these days? The newly launched Great Property Direct even has a free listing option so the only cost to you is maybe 15 minutes entering your details which is nothing compared to the thousands that you could save.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

How much do you trust an accommodation listings site?

Running an accommodation listings site is a peculiar type of business. Whilst in most businesses, you’d have contact with your customers be it in person, by phone or via e-mail in this business the guests of your customers are also your customers, or at least indirectly. It’s very much a business that’s involved in establishing connections between your customers and the guests that they may have.

In the early days, you’ll know the various owners that list with you quite well but as the business grows that connection tends to get lost. Those original owners that listed with you will disappear into the sea of new ones. So, for example, whilst most of my original 20 or so owners are still around (some have sold their places and dropped out, others have simply retired), they’re obviously overwhelmed by the more than 700 that have signed up since those early days.

Now the problem with that is that the whole process obviously becomes much less personal and more automated and one question that springs to mind after a while is: how do you know that these are legit places?

Well, actually, it doesn’t spring to mind with many places which is the problem. The vast majority of listings sites basically accept all entries that are thrown at them and yet one assumes that at least some of them are bogus. Where it’s a greater problem obviously is with those sites that offer either free or extended trial periods yet few of them appear to apply the checks that you’d expect, even to the extent of not bothering to verify that the properties are still in business now and again.

Whilst not wanting to pester the owners all the time, OurInns at least verifies the continued existence of them several times per year and has started on an owner verification programme too.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.

So how DO you know it’s a scam?

One of the hassles of running any kind of holiday accommodation is that after a while you start to get regular scam e-mails.

The problem is that, in most cases, there is no foolproof way of separating them out from real enquiries. For example, some of the ways that people use are:

  1. Bad grammar. Sadly, even the grammar of native English speakers isn’t always the best and that’s particularly the case when they’re sending out a series of enquiry e-mails.
  2. It’s from a hotmail, yahoo or gmail account. Many genuine enquirers use such accounts so this is a particularly bad way of separating them out.
  3. It’s been trapped in your spam filter. A surprisingly high number of normal e-mails are trapped too so this is far from ideal.

In fact the only really sure ways of determining that it is a scam is that it’s from someone who has sent hundreds of similar e-mails or if it’s from Nigeria (nearly all scams originate there). Unfortunately, it’s only your listing service that can tell you that and most don’t bother to highlight the country of origin of enquiries. One notable exception is OurInns which automatically blocks anyone from sending “hundreds” of e-mails and also includes a scam checking facility so that you can tell whether or not the e-mail was sent from Nigeria.

Copyright © 2004-2014 by Foreign Perspectives. All rights reserved.