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Vacation Rental Availability Should I Use a Calendar

February 08, 2009 | | Comments 0
Availability Calendars

Availability Calendars

So okay you own a vacation property, a nice little villa in Spain with a swimming pool. You also have a custom built rental website advertising your villa and now your thinking to yourself  “shall I make it touch more professional and purchase one of those availability calendar”? Well as a holiday rental owner, I also pondered this question myself.  There are free ones available but we all know free also means a catch right? and usually that catch is your visitors will have to leave your site to go to the one which hosts the availability calendar and before you know it Jim Bob drops his can of beer on the keyboard accidentally closes a browser window, gets lost en-route and you could end up losing a booking.
If they do make it without spilling a drop your prospective holiday tenant will discover they will have to join that site, hand over a load of personal details, and then that company will end up acting as a middleman and suddenly you lose your independence. But hey not to worry you lost that when you had to sign up with that company in the first place to get your availability calendar.


Then we have the availability calendars you rent annually which you can embed into your web site. They sound really good too. Lets take holidayavailabilitycalendar.com as an example.
First catch is it’s a free trial of one month but you still have to sign up to get the calendar. Sign up is on a non-secure page. So okay there are no financial details being processed but they are asking for your home address and other personal details, and I can’t see any indication of how payments will be processed.

So anyway you sign up and give the calendar a trial and after 30 days they send you a reminder you need to cough up £40 a year. Undecided you check the website out and read the testimonials which I have put through the truth o’ converter.

“Just a quick note to tell you this availability calendar has made no difference to my bookings” BB (1999)

“I have tried several other availability calendars and have finally decided they are a complete waste of time and money” PP (2006)

This is what I’m getting at. Availability calendars require two things. First they need to be updated every time any vacancies arise or any days which become unavailable.
Secondly they require the person who is booking to have complete trust in you as a webmaster and that you do keep the calendar updated.
My experience, in all the time I had one (I made my own) it was a complete waste of time and effort because any person who is interested will always contact you and ask if such and such a week is available.

So the bottom line is if you want the availability calendar because it will make your web site look pretty then get one. If you think it will increase your bookings then honestly forget it don’t believe the hype that will never happen.

All you need do is make your contact details obvious, put them on every page even, you can list your phone numbers whatever but I always found all my initial inquiries came via email, usually it starts with a “can you tell me if the week in July is available and what is your best price”.
That’s another thing but I won’t start ranting about listing your prices :)


Good Luck
Alan

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