Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Tripping to Sanibel: Some "Insider" Tips On the Most Visited Advisor

Like many vacation rental owners on Sanibel Island (and world wide), we market our properties on our own. We are professionally managed which certainly helps the long distance oversight, but we do put in a lot of effort to bring visibility to both our condo and house on the Island.

We do this in part because we know we will invest more time marketing per property than any agency can possibly do, and we do it in part because we like to. We like keeping some level of communication open with rental guests, feeling that it gives the guest as well as ourselves a greater level of confidence.

We use traditional vacation rental portals to market our places as well as social media. We like to think of the difference as the short tail versus the long tail of an internet search. Yes, we do get many bookings from people who find us on large (and small) vacation rental websites. But we also get good conversation going with people who bump into us on various social media. We don't care which direction an inquiry comes from. All are welcome.

A recent boost in inquiries has been through FlipKey/TripAdvisor. And I just wanted to point out some things a rental guest might want to keep in mind when searching these venues, though most inquiries come from TripAdvisor rather than the newer lesser known affiliate Flipkey.

TripAdvisor, which has featured both our properties in mass emails recently, offers a feature that I think may be a bit obscure but certainly important to rental guests. Not only can you search TA by number of rooms, availability and price, but you can drill down even further. Options to search by number of reviews and ratings by travelers are also available.

Of course it is self serving (we have 24 reviews for our condo and 15 for our house) to suggest that this function be utilized.

But let's face it. Once you know what condo or house is available for your dates, don't you want to know how many people have given your choice a good rating?

I know that information would be important to me!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Noah's Ark and Sanibel a Likely Pair!

As I keep saying, though we have been coming to Sanibel Island for over a dozen years, we have barely skimmed the surface. While there, our vacation rental properties take up most of our time, and the exploring "normal" people do is often out of reach.

So it was no surprise to me when having dinner with friends last night, I learned that there exists a really wonderful place to bargain and treasure hunt that I was not aware of.

Noah's Ark,
owned and operated by Saint Michael and All Angels Episcopal Church, offers residents and visitors a wide array of reasonably priced, gently used and sometimes brand new, clothes and furnishings.

Proceeds from the shop support a wide variety of ministries of the church and several ministries for women and children. Grants are administered by the board and membership of the Episcopal Churchwomen (ECW).

So purchasing at the shop not only provides an opportunity to buy some great things at a great price, it also provides a benefit to those in need of assistance.

And like the animals aboard the true Noah's Ark, the pairing of Sanibel and such a good place is just about perfect!