Latest news from the holiday rentals and holiday lettings industry

OwnerHolidays listing website for holiday rentals

OwnerHolidays: welcome to the listing site revolution

OwnerHolidays listing website for holiday rentals

The ever-changing landscape of holiday rental listings sites is a very real and present issue for many holiday rental owners and managers. Continually changing payment structures and the suppression of booking and client data has left many frustrated and with the feeling we have little or no control over our holiday rental businesses.

One group of owners decided enough was enough. They would no longer be reliant on the fat cat listings sites, instead launching an independent listing site that supported both owners and guests.

Welcome to OwnerHolidays: the listings site with a difference. 

I spoke to founding member Nigel Goodwin from Self Catering Accommodation Newquay about the idea behind OwnerHolidays and their plans for the future.

What is the idea behind OwnerHolidays?

Fundamentally it’s a holiday rental listing model that will bring guests and owners back together again. But perhaps it’s easier to say what it’s not!

It is not a booking system, but can interface to booking systems. It is not an agency, but can interface to agencies. It is not an owner website toolkit, although it can interface to owner websites. It is not a review system, although it may eventually have a simple review system and links to TripAdvisor, or similar review systems. It does not manage availability, although it can extract availability from other systems via the iCal interface.

What we have created is an advertising listing website with excellent links to all the tools that create a total holiday management solution. It is open and will interface with a multitude of systems.

The model is purely subscription based. As soon as you move towards a commission structure you have to find ways to stop guests making direct bookings with the owner. The owner loses control of their business and the guest feels the loss of human contact and authenticity.

Fundamentally it’s a holiday rental listing model that will bring guests and owners back together again.

How is OwnerHolidays funded?

To date we have managed to self-fund the project 100%. However, it’s likely that in 2017, in addition to revenue coming from listing subscriptions, we will be looking for external funding. We are looking at the possibility of a Crowdfunding campaign as our objective is to create a platform that is funded and run by owners and develops organically.

It’s called the ‘long tail’ business model. It takes time to grow, but eventually becomes a giant and avoids the problem of repaying loans or dealing with impatient investors.

Allied to this is the importance of owner involvement throughout the process. We do not see owners as pure revenue generators, our values are directly aligned to their needs.

The OwnerHolidays model will offer significant shareholdings (at least 50% over time) to owners. I hope this will provide the incentive for owners to collectively promote the site and make it work. It’s also protection against the danger of the company selling out to the global OTAs.

We will be working with legal experts to draw up a charter and shareholder agreement which will preserve the cooperative nature of the business.

It’s important to make clear that although owners will be at the heart of our business, there will certainly be a structure in place that will allow the management team to focus on the development and make unrestricted business decisions. It will not be a democracy, but it should be a win-win situation for all involved!

We do not see owners as pure revenue generators, they are at the very heart of this company.

What are your next steps?

We launched the venture in August 2016, and rolled out the OwnerHolidays website in September. We initially presented the model to a small focus group of owners, many of whom are members of the forum LayMyHat. Bouncing ideas off the group and ways to improve on the launch model. In fact we have matured a lot in only a few months, moving towards the way we envisage the site for the future.

Our current focus is on marketing and advertising for the website, growing our presence in the sector and increasing the number of properties listed. We understand that we now need to develop our presence through digital marketing and we are relying on the collective help of owners to kindle our viral growth.

Our goal is to have 10,000 properties listed by the end of Quarter One 2017, and we’d love to have 100,000 by the end 2017. We’re asking all owners to come and join the revolution!

We are relying on the collective help of owners to kindle our viral growth.

As owners we understand that OTAs have the distinct advantage of massive marketing budgets. We are certainly under no illusion that this will be an easy ride, but we have a marketing strategy in place for 2017 with a heavy focus on promotion to potential guests. With this in place we are confident that by the end of the year our owner supporters can expect to enjoy enquiries and bookings from their advertising on OwnerHolidays.

We are also building an interface to agencies so their multiple properties can be listed. We are in discussion with five agencies and working on the interface for those initial partnerships.

How can owners advertise on OwnerHolidays?

If you sign up before the 16th January 2017 it will be free to advertise for the first year! Just head to the sign up link on the OwnerHolidays website to add your property. The offer is also open to agencies with whom we can build an agreement within the forthcoming agency model.

From then onwards it will cost just £50 per annum, per property, with small discounts for agents advertising multiple properties. We want to avoid the dangers of having one or two large agencies dominating the website, so a level playing field will be designed into the pricing structure.

At Rental Tonic we wholly support this admirable project and sincerely hope that the team achieve their goals for 2017 and beyond. We’ll keep you posted on their progress, but recommend you head over to claim your free year’s subscription before the 16th January 2017.

How to Make a Lucrative and Legal Income From Your Spanish Villa

So you own a Spanish villa that spends a large part of its life sitting empty? I’m sure you don’t need us to tell you how lucrative it could be for you to rent it to holiday makers while you are not using it, or even while you wait for a suitable buyer.

We’ve seen some amazing good news stories from owners who have turned around their fortunes by embracing holiday rentals as a source of income. For example, one of our owners was on the verge of losing his townhouse to the bank, but with a clever niche-marketing strategy he now consistently gets 30+ bookings each year, bringing in an important income of £25,000 to £30,000 every season. Not only did he save his house from being repossessed, he also paid off his debts, and is now looking for another rental property to buy.

Another of our clients who owns a luxury villa in Spain was struggling to find a buyer when the market crashed, but rather than reducing the sales price and selling for less than it cost him to build the villa, he instead decided to rent it out. He managed to achieve £140,000 worth of bookings after commission in his first year which has seriously helped towards his initial building costs and tax bills. That’s not a figure to be sniffed at!

Obviously any income you make from your holiday rental is taxable, just as your earnings from employment would be. And since 2013 the 17 autonomous regions of Spain have been introducing a licence procedure for holiday rentals, which works to ensure the industry is well-run, professional, and offers quality accommodation for tourists, which can only be a good thing!

Registering your holiday rental in AndalucíaAndalucia is the latest region to approve a very simple and free registration system, so that you can get your all-important licence number, which will allow you to use all of the online marketing channels available to you.

The law was approved on 2nd February and the law will come into effect on 12th May 2016, giving owners time to register.

Registering your Spanish villa for holiday rentals is a no-brainer, especially if you advertise your villa online to attract bookings (who doesn’t?). Many owners are too busy to set up and manage their own website and marketing strategies, so just like our clients we mentioned before they work predominantly with specialist rental agencies and listing sites to bring in bookings. But increasingly, these listing sites will only be able to advertise properties that hold a licence number, as we have seen with Airbnb and HomeAway in Catalonia, who faced big fines themselves from the Spanish authorities for continuing to advertise holiday rentals that were not registered.

If you own a holiday rental in another region of Spain, we recommend you read our article, which gives a quick run through of the latest requirements for registering a holiday rental in each region, so you can be sure that you are doing things the right way.

As sure as Benjamin Franklin was about the certainty of death and taxes, we are even more certain that villas with a licence number are going to have a massively out-perform those properties that are unregistered.

Think about it, you will have a massive advantage over clandestine rentals in terms of customer confidence, quality and legality, so you can easily take a lion’s share of the market from guests who will book your place over the unregulated villa next door – he may be trying to avoid the taxman, but that’s a false economy if he doesn’t have any income anyway!

As we mentioned before, there is no need to panic at all about the new Andalusian decree, unlike some tabloid reports it’s there to protect owners and guests alike and it’s free and simple to register.

We are going to be helping a couple of our villa owners through the paperwork as soon as the register opens to see how it all works, then we will report back with as much help and advice as we can offer to smooth the process for you.

Read our complete guide to registering your holiday rental in Andalucía.

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