Today there are so tremendously many web-based applications and online tools. Many which are totally free to use or otherwise,, quite cost effective. But it is a bit of a jungle to find these apps and there are new features and services constantly popping up . Personally, I think Product Hunt tips me well about new apps and features.
Anyways, when about to start up something new online one should be prepared to allocate some time to research what suits one's business best and to get everything set up. Below is some information about some of the services and channels, we chose to work with to build brand for and to market the villas.
Web hosting and domain name
Miss Domain / Miss Hosting – For the website and web address. A relatively new, Swedish company with attractive pricing plans for their products which has received good reviews. Maybe not always the very fastest renderings of servers but a good customer service function and the service has operated smoothly most of the time.
Search Consule (former Google Webmaster Tools) – To ensure that the website keeps with the guidelines that Google's search spiders look for to rank as high as possible in search results.
Trends and Adwords – Keep track which keywords are trending and are popular in its genre and, where appropriate, perhaps use some of these words in the homepage content for it to become more relevant and ultimately end up higher in search results.
GoogleMyBusiness – the buisness' dedicated page on Google and Google Maps. A bit of a base to be present here as so many people are turning to Google when they want answers about a company or product.
The Channel Manager
Beds24. To handle reservations via the website and external reservation channels and the communication with guests. This cloud-based service, came up as a very price friendly pay-as-you-go option, as to get in place a system that could take care of the pricing and bookings from a variety of channels.
Many equivalent services on the market favors to use the same commission-based system as the major booking channels do (which means commissions from 5-15%). When you lose, in fact, some of the points that really drive traffic to their own channels, I think. For a helpful, four houses and five booking channels was the charge for the Beds24 200 / month. Then you could sell as much (or as little as they wanted).
Built-in service is also able to relax in more users, SMS functions, accounting systems and payment solutions. This felt initially that the premium for this small business.
Obs! The first month is free of charge, but expect that it will take some time to get set up and clear all channels, rates and device sets. Support is certainly a good thing but only takes place via e-mail (and they are quick to primarily refer to the written documentation that does not always had time to be updated with the new features added to the service current).
Channel selection was made on the basis that the villas would get as broad visibility as possible.
own website – bookings made here are commission-free (but perhaps not entirely free when the may need to spare a penny for marketing side). Due to the competitive situation in the market and the power that the big booking channels adds on Google etc so you should have realistic view on how much organic traffic you would expect from this channel.
Booking.com – was by far the channel that gave the most traffic but where was offered, for example, not possible for guests to pay in advance by credit card. You pay a % of its revenue in retrospect for bookings coming through this channel.
Agoda – a bit awkward to communicate with but the advantage with them was that they take care of guests' payments, which then also paid to the lessor (minus its commission). No possibility to communicate directly with the guest prior to arrival can cause problems sometimes.
Expedia – the senior player in the pack. Through this collaboration you can reach visibility on sites like hotels.com & trivago.com
AirBnb – the trendy “newcomer” with a lot of potential to drive traffic. Takes care of advance payment from the guests and then pay it out to the lessor (minus commission deductions).
Facebook – a good channel set up drive cost-effective campaigns to reach the right audience and then direct the bookings directly through the reservation button on Facebook (or by a link to your own website). Revenues from these reservations is purely commission freed.
Facebook is also an excellent channel to connect with other local businesses. This is of course beneficial both to keep track of what is happening in area but also to create partnerships and obtain content that might be useful to share with your potential guests.
In addition, we made sure to be present on the local sites to build brand awareness in the local area.
Google Analytics – Webanalysens great player? Free like most of Google's products. A complex and detailed system that sometimes feels a bit for the oversized and difficult for “ordinary users”. This can unfortunately make you distrust or misinterpret the information that is gathered.
VIVA Report – compiles traffic and statistics from the website and social media. Certainly less detailed information than Analytics, but with a user interface that makes it easier to absorb.
Canva – A web-based service that helps you to easily produce graphic material and logos printed materials etc in your company's mannerisms. Mainly geared for web communication, but can also be used for printing materials that do not require higher resolution.
In the free version you can reach many of the features as paid version (that 100 SEK / month) gives you a little more opportunity to, save material, create new variants of existing materials, and storage space. You can try the premium version for free for one month.
Picresize – A free tool to resize images to fit the size requirements of the different channels.