Monday, July 03, 2006

COHR Vacation Rental Site Listings

When I began Compare Owner Holiday Rentals (COHR) , my primary objective was to create one place where vacation rental home owners could go to select the best Vacation Rentals by Owner sites on which to advertise their vacation rentals.

I also wanted to generate at least a small amount of income to make running COHR worthwhile.

I had a number of different ideas, including offering "bundles" of listings on several vacaton rentals sites together : my thinking was that I could "purchase" these from the various vacation rentals by owners sites at a discount and then "resell"them to vacation rental home owners. (Research that I had done indicated that most vacation rental home owners need to list on at least 3 paid sites in order to optimize bookings : see my article On How Many Vacation Rentals Sites ? )

However, as it turns out, there was not much interest among the vacation rentals by owner sites in participating, so that never came to much. (Interestingly, though, WVR has subsequently taken this "bundling" approach with it $299 offer for combined listings on Cyberrentals, A1Vacattions, Greatrentals and HomeAway. )

I also pursued direct advertising and affiliates as a source of income. My advertising with Adbrite has actually been quite successful, with a 75% renewal rate among advertisers on the COHR site. However, the amount of income this brings is very small, barely covering hosting fees.

After some thought and a great deal of deliberation, I decided that I would convert the basic listings on COHR from free to paid. I had some concerns, because I don't want to be seen to promote specific vacation rentals sites. Hence, I only accept payment for the basic listings in our comparison tables. These tables contain only facts about each Vacation Rentals by Owner site, together with a link to the vacation rentals by owner site. I do not accept any payment for Reviews of vacation rentals sites, in order that these be completely impartial and independent of the vacation rental site owner. ( Actually, my Vacation Rentals by Owner Site Reviews focus primarily on highlighting facts and features of each vacation rental site, rather than subjective comments on how good or bad a particular site is : I rely on the owner comments to provide such subjective feedback.)

Over the last couple of months, I have gradually been shifting to this paid listings basis. At this point, all new listings are accepted only upon payment. During July, I will move to only paid listings on the COHR home page, and will slowly migrate the other pages after that.

I do have some concerns about moving in this direction : I really want to make sure that vacation rental home owners who visit my site feel they are getting good and impartial information. Also, even when all listings are converted, COHR is not going to make me rich. However, I think this is a win-win-win situation : vacation rental site owners benefit from the opportunity to reach a targeted audience of vacation rentals home owners ; vacation rental home owners benefit from having one place where they can review a large number of vacation rentals by owner sites and I recieve some compensation for the work involved in putting it all together !

As always, I would welcome comments.

Regards,

Kevin

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