Monday, 29 November 2010

5 Tips for Finding Destination Information

If you’re looking to get the best out of your holiday, then its always a good idea to search out some information on your chosen destination before hand. Be it coming up with ideas for things to do, finding out what the best restaurants are, or how busy the beaches get. These 5 handy tips will help you find out all you need to know about your holiday resort before you can clear check-in.

Get Online

One of the quickest and easiest ways to find out more about your holiday destination is to get online. There are countless travel directories listing all sorts of information, whilst a quick Google search of your resort will return hundreds on interesting facts. TripAdvisor.com is a well know review site updated and maintained by the general public and will provide some very honest if not critical reviews of hotels, restaurants, bars and local activities. Whilst wiki’s such as those by travellerspoint will provide you with informative guides on your destinations.

Guide Books Lend a Hand

Speaking of guides, the good old fashioned guidebooks are still going strong. Crammed full of things to do and places to see, most come with handy maps that will help you find your way around whilst there. Pick them up in your local bookstore, on Amazon.com or WHSmiths.

Ask the Locals

Even before you land you can get acquainted with the locals on forums and expat sites. Post a thread asking what they recommend you see or do. You will be surprised with some of the suggestions that you won’t find in the guidebooks. Likewise they will give you an honest and brunt opinion as to whether some of the more costly attractions are really worth your money or time.

Travel Apps

With the invention of smart phones, comes a number of application designed to help you whilst you’re on the go. From Google Maps to handy travel guides travel apps will help you track down the best restaurant in town and even call them to make a reservation.

TV and Papers

With travel shows will placed within our viewing schedule, check out shows that feature your destination. See first hand the area and the things on offer whilst a presenter takes you through their stay. Another option is to read the weekend supplements in the national papers. Most have a travel section in their daily print, however the supplements tend to go into more detail and offer feature articles focused on individual locations including how to get there, where to stay and what to do, see or eat.

Saturday, 27 November 2010

How to Get the Most from Your Holiday Property.

Many of you already pay a fee with one or more of the large advertising portals that are out there on the internet.



Although costly, especially if you list you property on several of them, they are still a good investment, as many of these control the search engines first 1 or 2 pages, and are likely to employ someone full time to carry out their SEO (search engine optimisation).



However in recent times even these sites are struggling to attract the number of enquiries many owners rely on in order to generate enough revenue to maintain the running costs of the property.



So how can you make sure you get the most from your holiday property?

Communication is key. If you do get enquires from these sites it pays to be first to respond as you are probably one of many the enquirer has contacted. Most enquiries come via email so make sure you have access to the email account you use for your advert at all times. If it’s a Hotmail account and your employers block access to Hotmail, chances are you’ll miss out on turning enquires into bookings.

Answering quickly is not the only thing to consider here, the content of your response and the manner you use when addressing the enquirer will also play a big part in whether that person chooses to make a booking with you. On most occasions the enquirer will have one or more questions they want answering. Make sure you give them as much information as possible, make a point of offering more information then required and visualise yourself as them. What would be the next question you would have following the answer you give?

Unfortunately converting 100% of enquiries into bookings are not always possible, and in some circumstances you may not be able to offer the enquirer everything they want. It could be a heated pool for instance. This is where networking comes in.

Building a network with other property owners in and around the area your property is situated can be a key tool for helping you generate additional bookings as well as repeat business. When you find you’re unable to help an enquirer, pass them on to someone in your network. You’ll find that the favour will be returned on a number of occasions and that the enquirer may actually come back and book with you the next time round.

Availability is another point to remember. Listing your property on the advertising sites is great, however if you forget to update your calendar, two things can happen. Firstly you will continually get enquires that you’ll have to turn down due to existing bookings. Secondly it can be seen as a negative if you have no bookings, enquirers will assume there is a reason people don’t want to stay at your property.


If you are currently advertising on sites, make sure you are showcasing you property in the best possible light.

There are two key things to consider here; photographs and USP’s (unique selling points)


What is it that makes your property fantastic? What separates it from others in the local area?

Take the time to consider, why it was you bought that property in the first place. What sold it to you? Then think about what it is most enquirers are looking for. Draw up a list of the top 10 selling points about the property and make sure you include these with your advertisement.


If you think your property has selling points don’t assume others will be able to see them. Don’t be afraid to boast about them, or repeat yourself in several different areas of the advert.

Not everyone will read your whole advert from top to bottom. Many will pick out the part most relevant to them, be it the outdoor facilities or perhaps the local area.


Photographs are also a key part to helping the enquirers visualise themselves in your property. Personally I would recommend hiring a professional photographer. Although an expense you will find it will pay off in the long term.


However if your on a budget, most standard digital cameras offer a good quality picture resolution, making taking photographs yourself a good option and there are still a few things you can do to enhance them.

Make use of natural light. Open all the shutters and curtains and take photographs at a time of day when the room gets the most natural light.



Dress the room, if you’re taking photographs of the dining room or balcony then lay the table, or place a decorative fruit bowl or flower vase in the centre. Even an unopened bottle of wine and a few glasses will help the enquirer to visualise they are sat there enjoying a relaxing drink.

Once your taken your photographs, it’s worth using a desktop photo editor (you can download several for free from the internet) Easy to use, they will help you make the best of your photographs and can auto adjust brightness and colour with the click of a button.


Once you’ve bought your property, investment shouldn’t end there. With so many new developments still springing up your property can become old news very quickly. A continual stream of rentals will take its toll on your property and its content. Invest once a year on a full deep level clean. Stream clean soft furnishings, curtains and blinds. Replace chipped or broken crockery and cooking utensils. This will help keep your property in the best condition attracting return business.


Lastly, take a look at alternative methods of marketing your property. Have business cards made that you can hand out to people, or leave on counters in local shops and bars. Place a poster in your place of work or the local supermarket.


Investigate some of the smaller cheaper marketing sites; there are some out there that do not charge you up front and only ask for a fee if they have successfully helped you sell your availability. This is a great solution when you have odd weeks or cancellations that you would like to sell. Make sure you cash in on every opportunity. If you can’t sell a certain week or month then consider special offers or auctioning that time period.


It might sell for less than advertised, but better to make some money than no money at all?


Chances are you still have to pay management costs and utilities over that period, so even if the rental price only covers these, its still better than having to take it out your own pocket.

Thursday, 25 November 2010

Forget a hotel holiday - 5 benefits of booking a holiday rental instead of a hotel

Most people think of booking a holiday as a pre packaged affair, where flights, transfers and hotel are all included. However with a growing market of privately owned holiday properties becoming available worldwide, here are just 5 of the benefits to be had in booking a holiday rental when planning your next tirp.



1. Home from home


Hotels can sometime impose a stuffy atmosphere with staff fussing over you and the family crammed into one room. Kick back and relax in total privacy, with the freedom and space to spread out, whether it might be making tea and toast in the morning or enjoying the late evening ambience without waking the kids with a holiday rental you can feel right at home.


2. Breathing space


Tripping over one another and shuffling suitcases around the room will not help you relax on your holiday. Whether it’s just the family or a group of friends celebrating together a holiday rental will offer the space giving everyone their own privacy. Holiday rentals are priced per property not per person, which means that the larger the group the better the value on the per person cost.

3. Have what you want


Hotels offer lots of facilitates, some at an additional cost, others with advanced bookings. With a holiday rental you can have what you want and when you want, from a private pool for the kids to play in, or the chance to dine alfresco with dad on the BBQ. There is a choice of properties offering every day comforts like Satellite TV or Internet to Luxurious extras such as a hot tub or games room, Go ahead take you pick.


4. Ditch the Itinerary

Booking a holiday rental gives you the personal space to enjoy your holiday. With the freedom to choose what you do any when, from where to eat or what to see. You no longer need to be restricted by the itineraries imposed on a ‘package holiday’ you can make your own!

5. More for your money

When compared to the average family hotel stay a holiday rental can offer a substantially saving of up to 50%. Offering extraordinary value for money, excellent accommodation, and additional freedom and space . Making luxury more affordable and leaving you fee to spend your well saved pennies on yourself!

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Travel Carry-On Restrictions – Packing Correctly

With the ever increasing security surrounding air travel both in the UK and overseas, packing hand luggage correctly to avoid unnecessary delays at airport security can cause travellers no end of confusion, as to the can and can not's of what you are allow to carry-on.

Since the department of transport lifted the maximum size restrictions for hand luggage in April 2009, some airlines have relaxed their rules on the number of bags permitted as carry-on, whilst others; namely the low cost airlines continue to abide by the one item per person rule, inclusive of handbags and laptop cases.

Therefore to avoid extra baggage charges and the embarrassment of having to repack at check-in, it is always advisable to check with your airline regarding size, weight and number of bags permitted prior to arriving at the airport.

Under no circumstances are sharp objects permitted to be carried on within your hand luggage, everyday items such as razors, tweezers, mail scissors or clippers will be confiscated at screening and should be packed within your hold luggage should you require them on your trip.

Whilst electrical items such as hairdryers and laptops are permitted by airport security, it is a requirement that these items are scanned separately to your carry-on case, so make sure to pack these items with easy access in mind.

Additionally liquid items remain restricted and the security regulations state that all items that fall under this category must also be presented separately to your hand luggage within a clear plastic re-sealable bag measuring approximately 20cm x 20cm and holding no more than 1 litre in volume.

Liquid items include but are not limited to creams, lotions, oils, sprays, gels, pastes, solutions or items of a similar consistency. Be careful to check out the full list as items such as mascara, lipsticks, shaving foams and drinks are also included.

Lighters are also considered liquid and passengers are restricted to one per person, which must be kept on on them at all times apart from when screening, when it must be placed within the clear plastic bag.

For those travelling with young children the restrictions have been relaxed slightly to all you to carry baby food, baby milk and sterilised water in your hand luggage and dependent upon your journey these may be over 100ml, however you will be asked to verify these by tasting them when going through security.

Those of you who have a medical condition that requires you to carry essential medication, dietary food items or inhalers with you, will also be permitted to carry over the 100ml allowance, however you must first obtain prior approval for all items from both your airline and your departure airport and are required to supply a doctors letter, prescription or documentation from a qualified medical professional to support your need to carry such items.

For speedy and quick airport security when flying, it is always recommend that you only take what you need for the journey and that any non essential items are packed within your hold baggage or left behind.

However once through the airport security, you are free to purchase additional items, including liquids, such as spirits, perfumes or cosmetics of any size as these will be exempt from the restrictions.

For a full list of what you can and can’t carry within your hand luggage, travellers should consult their airlines websites, or if travelling from the UK visit this  direct.gov.uk  page. If travelling from the USA this TSA.gov page also provided information.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Property Owner = Tour Guide

As a property owner you have two jobs. Firstly you must generate interest in your rental property and secondly, you must generate interest in the area where your property is located. May of you, however, seem to fail to accomplish the second step and therefore, have a difficult time finding clients.  

If you are one of these owners and are having a difficult time finding clients, then it is time to transform your listing.

Here are a few simple tips that can help you get people excited about your property and its location:
  1. In your listing you can include your favorite attractions in the area. Bear in mind, however, that not everyone will share your interests. It would be a good idea to use the internet to learn more about different attractions available in your area.  Sites like Trip Advisor will help you find different attractions to put with your listing. 
  2. You should also include the different restaurants in the area. Part of the fun of traveling is eating great food.  You can list fine dining establishments, as well as casual, but make sure to include different cuisines and what type of food they can expect when they visit your rental. Don’t forget to include family friendly options as well.
  3. Finally make sure to include lots of pictures in your listing. Don’t just tell people what your area has to offer, show them. People are visual, and using pictures generates emotions. You want your potential clients to see the pictures and imagine themselves there.  To do this, you can snap your own pictures of area hotspots or use public domain images from the internet.
Following these ideas and coming up with your own will help you grab the interest of potential clients as they often want complete vacations. By providing them with the details of the area, you will give them exactly what they are looking for.  Thus, take your time to research the area, and then provide them with everything they need to make an informed decision about their accommodations.

Monday, 15 November 2010

5 Amenities Your Guests Will Love


Travelers searching for a vacation home to rent are often overwhelmed by large numbers of properties offering the same facilities and amenities. They have difficulty distinguishing one beachfront condo or ski lodge from the next. Why not make your property stand out by providing travelers with fun and unique amenities?

You might want to consider the following:


  • Hot tub: Although this is not the cheapest of amenities it can turn out to be a great investment as who doesn’t love a relaxing dip in the hot tub.
     
     

     
     
      
    • Ping-Pong table: These are relatively inexpensive to their pool-table counter parts and are great for basements, screened-in porches and garage.
     
     
      
     
    • Espresso machine: Guests will love being able to enjoy a lovely cup of coffee in the morning or after a meal without having to leave the house.
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
     
    • Games cupboard: This can include anything from jigsaw puzzles and board games to Playstations or poker sets, and can provide great entertainment for a night in.
     
     
     
     
     
    • Karaoke machine: Everyone enjoys pretending they’re the next X-Factor.!








    This is, of course by no means a set list and you can add amenities to your properties to make it even more memorable. Think about your vacations and the amenities you would like to have at your disposal.

    Saturday, 13 November 2010

    Top 3 European Cities for Holiday Rentals


    When booking a holiday, one of the main questions that may need to be addressed is where to stay?  You can choose for a hotel room in which you are in a small room with one bathroom, no kitchen and maybe noisy people in the next room. Or, for frequently the same price, you can stay in one of the owner direct apartment vacation rentals.The following cities are the top 3 European cities which offer this type of accomodation that will allow you to experience the cities at you own leisure:
    • Paris – At any time of the year Paris offers tons of things to do either on a small or long term get away. Different areas of Paris offer different experiences. For example the neighbourhood of St. Germain is a vibrant area with bars and restaurants in abundance and close enough to walk to most of the sights.  Monmartre, on the other hand, is further away but is a funky artsy neighbourhood, with its pedestrian streets and bobo artists! If you a looking for a quieter area then the area near the Eiffel tower would be more appropriate as it is safe and with large avenues and exquisite restaurants.
    • London – The vibrant city of London is well known  for its culture - diverse cuisine, architecture and high-quality entertainment- and is not to be missed. When booking you holiday rentals you may want to include the following areas: the West End of London is world renowned as one of the greatest shopping areas; Central London offers the most visited tourist attractions; and North London offers quaint quiet locations with many nice neighbourhoods for a more relaxed holiday.
    • Lisbon –Lisbon is one of the warmest European capitals, both for weather and for its people.  Being one of the oldest European capitals it also offers an immense amount of history and culture and is beautiful to visit – you will understand why once you arrive. The best holliday rental locations in Lisbon are in areas such as the ‘Baixa’ – the heart of Lisbon and closest to the main attractions and shops. For a bustling night life stay in the ‘Bairro Alto’ as the best frequented bars and nightclubs are located here and is also close to the main attractions. The oldest part of the city known as ‘Alfama’ is definitely a place to learn about different kinds of Portuguese culture such as Fado music, good food and great bars. 
     

    Monday, 8 November 2010

    The Best Ski Resorts in Europe


    Choosing the right ski resort for a family skiing holiday can make the world of difference, and if you love to ski than what better place than in Europe. Home to the Alps; stretching from Slovenia across the heart of Europe and ending in France, famed as the birth place of Alpine skiing and the host of the winter Olympics on more than several occasions. 

    With more than just snow on offer, it’s hard to decide upon the style of resort to visit, which spectacular scenic backdrop to choose or which cultural and culinary adventure you wish to experience, not forgetting the opportunity to hobnob with some internationally renowned characters along the way.

    Best Super Resort

    Although not the biggest resort in Europe, the seamless connection of Val d’Isere and Tignes make it hard to find another super resort that is well manicured and offers so much variety.  Although neither resort stands out on its own, the area of Espace Killy in France; named after the champion skier Jean-Claude Killy is famed as a master piece in function and is all about the skiing, making it the crop of Europe’s super resorts. 

    With 186 miles of piste and an integrated network of 90 lifts, what would normally take you a day or more in other resorts can be done in an afternoon. 

    Beginners and Intermediates can choose from huge open bowls, gentle winding trails and altitude “motorways” to cruise, whilst experts have a vast playground littered with steeps, shoots, gullies, cliffs and trees to explore.

    Val D’Isere is the bigger of the two resorts and offers a glossier, richer and more traditional ski destination, however Tignes offers more inexpensive accommodation, has quicker access to the slopes and offers bars and restaurants for the modest budget, making it ideal for families. 

    Best for Powder

    For expert skiers, La Grave, France is the closest thing you will get to heaven, with its combination of ski lift access and unpisted, unpatrolled terrain, there is no other resort in Europe like it.

    Starting from the small unassuming village at the foot of the valley, the single 1970’s styled pods will lift you up to 3,200m with the summit of Dome de la Lauze at 3,550m. Although not all routes are death defying, the conditions in the resort are not suitable for beginners or intermediates and it is recommended that you are accompanied by a professional guide as the typical decent offers spectacular open bowls, small chutes, glacier morains and endless steeps and deeps.

    Those seeking a cruise on a piste should head down the other side of la Meije into the ski area of Les  Deux Alps. 

    The small traditional village resort is basic, and it is all about the skiing here, accommodation is cheap and cheerful and there is no nightlife with the entertainment focused on people discussing their breath-taking descents of the day. 

    Best Off the Beaten Track

    With empty, sheltered north facing slopes that hold powder for days, Galtur, Austria offers skiing of a bygone age. With just 10 lifts this resort is ideal for families and groups of all levels. Whilst larger resorts can be a nightmare, Glatur offers just one compact ski area with one restaurant in the centre, allowing everyone to ski at their own pace and still meet up. 

    The quiet slopes allow for beginners to build their confidence, whilst more experienced skiers can enjoy the laid back vibe and the feeling they are in the mountains, not suburbia.  Whilst the village is traditional and unassuming, if a little on the quiet side, it is great for young families and with a free ski bus linking it to Ischgl you are not to far from the liveliest après-ski action to be found anywhere in the alps.

    Best for Real Skiers

    For a resort that combines great food, service and charm with some of the most extensive and extreme skiing and après-ski drinking St Anton in Austria is a must. 

    With a train that runs right into the centre of the town, this resort is easily reached from airports such as Zurich.  However it has retained much of its character, with skiers still able to ski from village to village stopping in traditional mountain restaurants along the way for food and drink.

    Although challenging for beginners, they will soon find their skis, whilst intermediates and expert skiers will enjoy the altitude, steep shoots, cliffs and bowls. 
       
    With two of the most famous bars in the Alps; The Mooserwirt and The Krazy Kangaroo perched on the piste about 500m above the town the après-ski is just as extreme as the skiing. Filling up by late afternoon skiers will delight in dancing on the tables and downing schnapps as they party the night away.