Given the current uproar over Homeaway/vrbo (now Expedia) many are asking “what can I do and where do I go ?”. Every time I see a post in the forum about these concerns I cringe when I see “listing sites” plugging their service. I have no problem with this ….in fact, if there are regional listing sites in Northern California that can add value to my day - please ping me:) The current approach is analogous to hoping to stop the bleeding on a cut by applying more bandages.
What can I do ?
The single most important thing you can do is.....stop giving away your content and data to companies that do not have your best interest in mind. That will stop the bleeding. It is difficult for these companies to monetize our businesses if they don’t have our data. If you find a company is using your data without permission ...call them on it. Read your contracts carefully, make sure you know who the “affiliates” are….and where they operate. Look for companies that “make sense” for you...they are out there waiting to serve you.
What to look for in a productive site
There are many players out there who are eager for your business. Always look for sites that are targeted to benefit you the most. A simple guest history check on your data will tell you exactly what to look for….Google analytics is also very helpful. If the pitch from any listing site has the word “free” in it, learn from your mistakes and ask better questions. Here is what “Free” gets you in the long run. Here is a simple question to ask: “You are offering me something for “Free”, I love it ! Tell me, how do you make money ? “ ….from that answer, you will hopefully ask more questions, sign up or politely move on.
Seek out advice from your community
If you haven’t learned this already ….your competition is not down the street. Your local peers down the street are the best source for what is attracting visitors to your area. Remember, your community is local, regional and global - communicate with them. By not communicating openly you give the real competition an opening to exploit you. I have been fortunate in participating in these communities at every level. In fact, our local community is participating with our counterparts from another state at their regional meeting. We see these types of communities thriving as many owner/managers see the light at the end of tunnel ….and it’s a train that should be avoided.
Regional Listing Sites : What are you thinking ?
Stop selling me “free”.... stop hiding data from us ….stop telling us how you are protecting us from ourselves. Above all, stop telling us this is what the traveler wants...they have been telling us for years.
Start showing me that you understand the current marketplace and the need for alternatives. These alternatives should always remember who the customer is …..and never forget. You have a great opportunity ahead of you …..be different.
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