[This is a series of year end posts about our year in review]
It's been a big year for growth. And I am proud of how we have done and how far we've come. Learning lots of things.
I am working on making us independent of VRBO/AirBnB/OTAs (online travel agents).
What the heck does that mean, you say?
The big boys are a monopoly. We can't get access to the first page of google as they have bought up all the online keywords. Despite diligent SEO optimization of the website and content creation, cross links and advertising, we will never show first page. When was the last time you searched for something past the first page on Google? They have locked down the market and brainwashed the public into thinking that single owner sites are scams and that they only safe place to book is through them. Their million dollar guarantees are junk. Not worth the digital screen they are promoted on. As professional middlemen lining their pockets, they are looking out for themselves and no one else. Not the traveler, nor the host. They want heads in beds and don't care what happens after they have collected their renewal fees from hosts and booking fees from the guests.
Well, I care. And so should you.
So to stay competitive, besides offering a sparkling clean home, great location and local insider information to make your vacation even sweeter, I need to make people aware that we are even here.
Learn new SEO tactics in the ever changing world of the web. Learning new booking software. Creating content, writing blogs and emails. Updating Google. Revamping website. Adding our new House Book. Planning the next set of changes. Creating direct emails to prior guests. Keeping up on Google Business, posting to social media. Creating social media calendars, managing multiple booking calendars. Looking after the master calendar to make sure you don't cause a booking error.
Last year, I allowed a family to book from wednesday to tuesday. I lost two weeks of income because no one wanted to stay only a few days midweek in the height of the summer. Dumb mistake.
So what's 2 weeks of income? A big deal when 2 weeks breaks the bank. We aren't some big hotel chain. People book us months in advance and when they have last minute changes, it leaves us holding the bag. We use any money left over after paying the mortgage, electric bill, water bill, insurance, tv, internet, phone bills to make improvements on the home. Like the new linens. New towels. New anything.
If we book out the season with no storms, no cancellations, no issues, we can almost cover the expenses of the home. If any one thing causes non-payment, then it comes up short.
Guest run the AC on full blast at 60 with all the doors open? You are hit with a $750 electric bill. Guest decides to clean their car with your white towels? You need to replace them. Guest breaks the heater? You have a $8,000 repair bill to pay. There is no one to back you up. There isn't some magical bag with endless money to cover if needed.
It's all on you.
One bad ant at the picnic and your reputation is shot.
It has made me realize I need to be even more conscious when I am away from home, how I treat others, or places I stay. Even a hotel room. I don't ever leave the room a mess, I always make the bed before leaving. I hang up the towel and don't request new towels. It's wasteful. I keep all my things to one small area to make it easier to clean around. It's just being aware.
We are in the mountains, not city central. It's just one person that comes and cleans the home from top to bottom. Be aware that it may take them the full 8 hours to clean the house and the earliest you can get in is 4 pm. This way the house is ready as it should be. In a world that is in a big hurry somethings can't be rushed and take time. Not everything can be done with a click of a mouse. I love my cleaner. He tells me when something is wrong. He is my boots on the ground and first line of defense to make sure the house is ready to greet you in it's best fashion. Without a real human being this couldn't be possible. But you need to realize that this is a human endeavor. We are all human and we want what's best for all. Let us know if you don't find something right and give us a chance to make it the way you want it.
This is someone's home and it's our home. Treat it as you would want someone to treat your home.
And please don't let your kids make bright pink slime in bed, just cause you are on vacation.
It's been a year of growth and trials.
We hope to welcome friends new and old to our favorite place on earth. Thanks for a great 2018 and looking forward to an even better 2019. Happy New Year!
This is a series of year end posts about our year in review. Missed the first parts? Click to read the whole story.