Why Join with Us?
UnitedVacation.Rentals – The Greatest Vacation Rental Listing Site on Planet Earth!
The ‘greatest’ listing site on Planet Earth? That’s a pretty bold claim isn’t it?
Absolutely it is. But it is pretty important to start out anything with a clear picture of what the end result is going to be. And when we sat down to create this website, we had some pretty clear cut goals in mind for it, and for the most part we have already reached them.
You see, being great isn’t about size. To us it is about character. It is about intent. It is about actions. It is about what you are. We may not be biggest (yet) but that doesn’t matter, because our goal isn’t to be the biggest – it is to be the best vacation rental listing site that we can be – right now. And we believe that if we do that, and we stick to those principles, that the rest will simply take care of itself over time.
So what does being the greatest mean specifically?
Run by owners for owners. This site, unlike just about every other vacation rental listing site you will find on the internet, was started by owners because they need to be able to present their property in an online marketplace that treats both themselves as owners, and their guests, with respect. The purpose of this site, is to meet the needs of vacation rental property owners, and that means presenting and promoting their properties in a fair and balanced manner – that encourages the bringing together of owners and guests. It is about building relationships between the guests and their hosts. It is about succeeding through helping vacation rental owners to succeed, not by trying to make a fast buck by sticking our thumbs into everyone’s pockets at every opportunity. How many online listing sites are run by people who actually own and manage vacation rentals? Practically none. They don’t understand what makes this business tick, or why owners get into it in the first place. Why this makes us great: A listing site run by owners will be designed to serve owner’s needs first.
No guest fees. Like all of us, guests have an amount they are willing to spend for whatever they buy. If a site charges Guest Fees, those fees just become less money available to go in the owner’s pocket. Many guests simply don’t like or want to pay Guest Fees. Most guests would prefer, given the option, to either not pay Guest Fees, or have that money go to the owner who is providing the accommodation they are enjoying. Why this makes us great: No Guest Fees gives the site a competitive advantage over sites which do charge them.
No limitations on photos or descriptions. Have something you want to tell your guests? Need a bit more space or photos to do it? Welcome aboard! If you have a story to tell about your property, this is the place to do it. Why this makes us great: No limitations means you get to tell your story, not conform to what everyone else does.
Your contact info – front and center. Take a look at some listings on this site. You’ll notice at the top of many of them two big, bold, beautiful clickable buttons. One leads to the property owner’s own property website, the other connects you to the owner’s email inbox. Why are they at the top? If a guest looks at your listing, and clicks on either of those buttons, our job is done. We presented your property online, someone liked what they saw, and they contacted you. Shouldn’t that be what a listing site is all about? Why this makes us great: Bringing guests and owners together is what we’re all about. One of the best ways to accomplish that, is to make it easy for it to happen.
We charge a fee for subscription listings. As an owner, you pay money to appear on this site. We have no other source of revenue. Some may ask why it is a great thing that we charge them money! Wouldn’t it be better if the site were free? Absolutely not! If we didn’t charge a fee, we would have to pay the bills some other way, and that would mean advertising, or sponsorship, or stockholders, or goodness knows what. But it doesn’t really matter. You see, it is a fundamental economic truth that he who pays the bills gets to call the shots. Do you really think that a site dependent upon advertisers can operate with your (the owner’s) best interests at heart? Perhaps for a little while. But sooner or later, someone will come along with an idea, a product, a whatever… that is more in their interests than the owners. And guess what? Because they’re the ones paying the bill, they’ll get what they want, and by default the owner’s interests must come second. Why this makes us great: Owners are paying the bills so they get to call the shots. Owner’s needs are the priority – not something to be paid lip service to.
No outside advertising. You pay good money for an advertising space when you list your site online. Why should you then have to compete in that same space with outside advertising? Worse, what happens when that advertising is for something that competes with your business? Like hotels, or large property management companies with properties available to compete with yours? What sense can that possibly make? Why this makes us great: Competitive advertising can’t help but lower your results – we will never allow it.
No inside advertising. When you look at a vacation rental online, and find the perfect space for your holiday, and then send an inquiry to the owner only to be faced with an immediate response that says “Thanks, but to be safe you really should look at these six other properties as well!” what does that do to your confidence? How many properties can you as a guest stay in at one time anyway? Throwing alternatives at guests just encourages frivolous inquiries that waste owner’s time. You want to be contacted by guests who selected your property because they are interested in it. This will improve your booking to inquiry ratio. Why this makes us great: Promoting competitive properties to people attracted to your listing does nothing to serve them, or build their relationship with you. We won’t let it happen.
No listing tiers. All properties are presented for guests to see, based on their search criteria. You can feature your listing to give it an extra boost, but you can’t buy your way to the front of the line. Want to be first in front of the guests? Then get on board early, and stay with us. But also make sure that you work hard to make your listing attractive too. By keeping all owners on an equal footing, the work that the owner does to make their property attractive on the site pays dividends and results. Ultimately guests will choose your property based on how well you present it, which usually means that guests are going to choose the best properties first. The best properties tend to provide the best service and experience from owners who care. Why this makes us great: Top owners will rise to the top automatically, not because someone bought their way ahead of others.
No manipulated sort orders. We won’t be manipulating guest results in order to force owners to conform to a hidden agenda designed to maximize the profit we make off of them. Each owner who subscribes with us is going to get exactly what every other owner who signs on does. A fair shot at a guest on our site, and nothing to interfere once the connection is made. Why this makes us great: Real results will always meet the guest’s needs best. Happy guests will come back again; to your property, and to this site.
Open and honest communication. We will maintain dialogue with our owners openly and honestly, in order to ensure they understand what is happening with the site, and their investment in us. Why this makes us great: Honesty is still the best policy… especially in an internet age where the truth gets ferreted out pretty quickly no matter what anyway.
Simplicity. To list your property on this site, you don’t have to use our booking system. You don’t have to use our payment system. (Actually, we don’t have a payment system at this time!) You don’t have to use our communication system. You don’t have to do anything. Well… almost anything, but more about that later. The point being made here is that this site is about connecting you with guests and getting the heck out of the way. Why should we force you to use another workflow with your guests if you have a perfectly adequate one already? Or perhaps a perfectly inadequate one if you so choose? If you really want to try to take care of guests by snail mail and carrier pigeon in an electronic information age, we would advise against it (and even help you access much better tools if you want them) but only if YOU want them. Why this makes us great: You got into business to run your own business, not to run ours for us for no pay. Plus you don’t have to pay for a system you don’t want.
Booking Calendar Pricing. The Availability Calendar on your listing can show your nightly rate. Not just ‘A’ nightly rate, but THE nightly rate for that particular night. Charge different rates seasonally? No problem, you can show that. Charge differently on weekends? You can show that too. Special Event rates? No problem. Want to enter a different rate for every single night of the year? You can do that! Why this makes us great: Guests can look at a weekend, a week, or a month and see exactly what they should be budgeting for that period.
Automatic Booking Calendar Updates. The last thing owners need is anything that takes up their time. The Availability Calendar on your listing has another great feature. It can pull your bookings from your management system, or another listing site (like HomeAway [ugh!] for example) – basically from any source that can produce an iCal feed, one of the most common internet calendar formats around. Why this makes us great: You don’t need to waste time keeping your calendar up to date on this site. It happens automatically, about every three hours, so if you take a booking and enter it in your calendar elsewhere, it will automatically be showing on your listing here within a short time.
Less listings. Admittedly this is a bit of a double-edged sword. Lots of properties helps attract guests to the site, so your property can be found by them. But once they do arrive, do you want to be one of 50 or 100 for them to consider, or one of thousands in your area? There are a few listing sites that actually deliver much more results for their customers than the majors. One of the reasons for this is simple; less competition on the site. Why this makes us great: You have a better chance of being found and being seen by the guests who are here. (Some day, we may have to take this off the list!)
No Commission-Only Listings. You can’t really serve two masters, especially when their goals are competing and opposite to each other. If you have commission based listings which make you more money on a booking than subscription based listings, but subscription based listings which pay you even when they aren’t getting bookings, which one do you take care of? Who’s properties do you show first? And how do you do that without alienating the others? How do you keep things fair? The answer to all of these questions is simple! You can’t. So we don’t do it. Why this makes us great: There is no reason to promote properties that haven’t invested in the site over properties that have. All listings stay on an even footing.
No Discounts for Multiple Listings. A listing is a listing is a listing. If you can buy 10 of them, does that mean you should pay less than someone who buys one? We don’t think so. There are no economies of scale here; you can’t combine shipping, you can’t jamb two listings into the space of one, it isn’t more or less work to have more owners as opposed to less, so why should there be a discount for multiple properties? Why this makes us great: We’re all about promoting the needs of the vacation rental owner. You can’t be true to that by providing discounts which are only of value to property managers.
Attractive Modern Responsive Design. If you look at some listing sites, they’ve obviously been online for a long time, which should be a good thing, but in some cases it isn’t! That’s because some of them are getting pretty long in the tooth, as the saying goes, meaning they simply look just old and out of date. That is not a good way to present yourself, because it reflects badly on you and your property. (Unless you want to look old and out of date! Yeah, that will help with bookings!) Aside from this, design standards have changed and web sites need to be fully responsive. That means they adjust themselves automatically to the size of screen they are being viewed on. (Try it! Make this window really narrow on your screen and watch what happens!) In fact, Google pushes websites down in search results if they aren’t responsive.Why this makes us great: More than half of all internet access is on devices with small screens. Your property needs to look great on a small screen and be presented in a way that functions on a small screen too. Otherwise you’re missing out on half the internet traffic out there!
No Property Manager Listings. We struggled with this one for a long while, and here is what we came up with. We don’t accept multiple listings from Property Managers. Again the focus is on owners and building a relationship between them and the guest. That doesn’t mean that an owner can’t involve their property manager. If an owner wants to list their PM as the contact for their property, no problem. But the listing has to come from the owner, because we want guests to understand they are dealing with owners on this site. This is because dealing with the owner is important to guests, and we want visitors to this site to be confident that each property has an involved, conscientious owner standing behind it. We encourage Property Managers to help their owners get on the site, and will assist them in this effort with custom email introductions to their owners and other support, however there are no special considerations, accommodations, nor discounts for PM’s. Why this makes us great: It provides a competitive edge with guests who want to deal directly with caring owners.
We educate guests – not scare them. We are not out to scare your guests in order to sell them our insurance products and make money at the expense of your relationship with them. If we offer insurance products they will be offered, not promoted, and in a manner which allows you to provide them to a guest if you choose. We won’t lie and tell guests it is one of the great features of the site. The great features of our site are the owners and their properties, and how easy it is to connect with them. Not how easily we can extract money from guest’s wallets. Why this makes us great: Scaring guests to promote insurance sales destroys relationship building between guest and owner, and that’s not what we’re about.
We won’t be spamming your guests. One of the fastest ways to annoy anyone is to email them constantly. This is especially true when the emails don’t have any value, or worse – purport to come from someone other than the sender. This is unfortunately becoming more and more common with major listing sites. We won’t do it. Why this makes us great: Constant emails are annoying. Our goal is to help you please your guests, not annoy them and make it look like you are the reason.
No rooms or ‘shared’ accommodations. Let the other guys promote unlicensed, unregulated and often illegal accommodations in people’s homes. That’s not what we’re about. We are about provided quality vacation rental accommodations, and these are a different thing from what AirBnB provides. Those guys have been so successful that they are actually confusing the market for legitimate vacation rentals. And as some vacation rentals actually appear on that site, it muddies up things further and confuses the issue even more. Confusion doesn’t help build industry and brand identity, and that’s not good for business. Why this makes us great: There is nothing intrinsically wrong with people providing accommodations in their homes, but that is not what a vacation rental is. People need to understand the difference.
It makes a statement. Featuring your property on this site makes a statement about what kind of owner you are and what kind business you run. One that says you care about your guests and your relationship with them. One that says that your guests are more important to you than supporting some huge corporation that they will have to pay money to just to do business with you. Why this makes us great: The Vacation Rental Industry is still so new in many parts of the world that confusion and misunderstanding amongst guests is an important issue. Affiliation with this site helps brand you in a positive way, and the right way.
It’s cheap. Let’s be frank. Putting your property on this site is not going to cost you very much money at all. It’s a night out with friends at a good restaurant. For this, you will have a quality online presence for your property, with a link to your own website. The boost in Search Engine Ranking that will result for your own site is worth the fee of registering alone! So why not do it? Why this makes us great: Money in your pocket is a good thing! (If you disagree, feel free to send us any extra you want to dispose of!)