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FlipKey News

Since we started, FlipKey has received over 2 million reservation requests for vacation rental properties around the world. When I looked at that number, I started wondering where everyone is going, so I put together this look at the top vacation destinations based on the total number of traveler inquiries (click to enlarge):

Where Are You Going?

It has been a particularly sunny week here, so I started wondering if the weather influences vacation choices. I added in the average annual temperature in each destination to look at travelers’ climatic preference. I was surprised to discover that the most sought-after destinations are not the warmest. In fact, 3 of the top 5 vacation spots have average annual highs below 70°F.

What do these numbers mean for your next vacation? Basically, that there are great travel spots around the world. Spring break is just around the corner… where do you want to go?

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Traveler Reviews on FlipKey

I decided to take a look at ALL the guest reviews in our database yesterday to find out what travelers have to say about FlipKey vacation rentals. Not surprisingly, the reviews are overwhelmingly positive. I couldn’t help but start close to home with reviews of properties in Boston, where highlights include “great apartment,” “everything,” “comfortable,” and “neighborhood” (also “turtle,” which I’m still curious about).

I went on to look at the UK (displayed as the UK), Paris (the FlipKey Key-House), and Mexico (a speech bubble). For those readers who are unfamiliar with tag clouds, the larger a word appears, the more frequently it shows up; in Paris, “apartment” is the most common word used in reviews, whereas in Mexico, it appears to be “beach.”

You can create your own tag clouds by clicking here. All you have to do is enter the URL of your listing page, your twitter ID, or any text you want to turn into a nifty image!

FlipKey introduces special offersHappy New Year! Here at FlipKey we’re gearing up for a big year in 2011. Get ready for lots of great improvements that will make renting a vacation home easier and more convenient than ever. If you’ve already started searching for your next vacation destination, then you may have noticed a new product feature that debuted recently: special offers. Vacation rental owners and managers can now easily promote limited-time deals and offers right on their property listings.

What’s a special offer?

A special offer is any limited-time promotion including discounts and special rates, freebies and giveaways, and limited time incentives. We’ve already seen a full range of offers from free nights to free Flip cameras.

How do special offers work?

Owners and managers can easily set up specials directly in their account dashboard – it’s free! While specials don’t influence a property’s place in the rankings, they do help listings stand out. Travelers who are interested in a special should remember to mention the offer when inquiring about a property.

… so what are some great offers?

New offers appear all the time, so it’s impossible to generate a list of all the great specials on FlipKey. Here are a few deals that stood out this week:

In 2011 FlipKey aims to deliver the best and easiest vacation rental search experience available anywhere. Your dream vacation home is out there, and we’re doing everything we can to help you find it.

From: Susan Lusk

To: FlipKey

Subject: Success!

I want to tell you how very pleased I’ve been with almost everything about Flipkey. The success rate of bookings to inquiries has far exceeded my expectations and my experiences with all other vacation rental sites. I am very impressed with Flipkey’s ease of use both for the vacation seeker and the property owner. For the shopper, all the info about a property is clearly shown and organized, each page is attractive and uncluttered, easy to navigate to whatever the client needs to make a decision.

For me, the owner, entering info was less painful than most other sites– very straightforward, well thought out, no glitches in uploading pics or other frustrating bugs. It’s been a pleasure to be subscribed to Flipkey– I’m SOLD! And I have been strenuously recommending your site to other homeowner friends looking for better success with their rentals.

I’ve had some trouble accessing my site recently while traveling and have to say customer service has been terrifically responsive in trying to help. In the end I think it was issues with the computer I was using, but I commend your customer service. Congratulations on getting it right, Flipkey!

Kind regards,
Susan Lusk

Here at FlipKey, we spend a lot of time thinking up ways to help vacation home owners and property managers get the most from their properties. Helping to keep every property listed on FlipKey and TripAdvisor booked solid keeps us up at night. The good news is that all the sleepless nights are clearly worth it, as the average listing on TripAdvisor and FlipKey is currently receiving more than 75 inquiries annually.  We know that vacation rentals are the best accommodation option for many trips, and we won’t rest until we spread that message to the world’s travelers.

Believe it or not, we’re not the only ones obsessed with helping others succeed at renting their homes, which is why we asked Alfred and Emily Glossbrenner, of FullyBookedRentals, to write a comprehensive guide to vacation rental marketing. The Glossbrenners put their years of experience down on paper and came up with Vacation Rental Marketing Made Easy. We are proud to offer you their insight as a free guide to converting page views to inquiries, and finally to bookings. The marketing guide features tips on all the important aspects of a successful vacation rental marketing program, including:

  • Creating and fine-tuning your advertising program
  • What to look for in advertising websites
  • Creating your own website
  • Making your listings stand out from the crowd and
  • Creative ways to boost your bookings
  • And (much) more

You can always access the marketing guide through the link in the upper right-hand corner of this blog. Also, feel free to tell your friends about the guide. Good marketing techniques are not industry secrets – they’re great ideas that can work for everyone. Put the wisdom of other vacation rental owners to work, share your home with new guests, and keep your past guests coming back again and again.

Finally, remember to check in regularly with the FlipKey blog to learn the latest news, tips, and tidbits (or better yet, sign up for our RSS feed). And don’t hesitate to throw your two-cents into the comments. After all, no one knows more about vacation rentals than the owners and managers who rent them and the travelers who stay in them.

For the second year in a row FlipKey has been recognized as a leading force in the vacation rental website arena. In 2008 we were recognized as the Best Vacation Rental Website by Travel + Leisure magazine, a major milestone in our first year.
This year we were honored with the title of ‘Best Website to Get the Skinny on a Vacation Rental’ in Travel + Leisure’s annual ranking of Top Travel Websites. This title can be attributed to lots of hard work from our team at FlipKey as well as our ever growing database of over 100,000 verified guest reviews by the people who have ‘been there, done that.’ Our collection of traveler testaments are indeed proving to be an incredibly valuable and essential tool for other travelers as they plan their future trips both near and far.

The FlipKey Blog often features stories and testimonials from local experts or recent guests who are familiar with one of our many popular vacation rental destinations. We caught up with Katherine S. a physical therapist and Portland, OR local who recently visited Sunriver, OR with her family and loyal K-9 companion. Katherine had great things to say about her first experience as a vacation home renter. 
sunriver
Area: Vacation Rentals in Sunriver, OR

Guest: Katherine S

Katherine, how many times have you visited Sunriver?

Once, this was my first time.

What size group were you traveling with?

7 plus one dog

Why did you choose to travel to Sunriver, OR?

Close proximity to Portland and we were hoping for snow so we could ski and snowshoe.

Why did you choose to stay in a vacation rental instead of a hotel or resort?

There was a group of us, and after researching different locations a vacation rental was the best deal and it came with a hot tub, games, and a full kitchen!

What activities, attractions, and events would you recommend to other visitors of Sunriver, OR?

Winter time: anything snow related.  Ski or snowboard at Mt. Bachelor, go tubing at Mt. Bachelor, snowshoe, cross-country ski or rent a snow mobile.  And or course…relax, your on vacation!

What was the best part of the vacation home you stayed in?

Ping-pong table and the hot tub

Where is the next trip going to be?  Are you going to look for a vacation home again?

Next trip is Cancun…need to get some sort of warm weather. 

For going back to Sunriver, next year!   As a group we decided to make this trip annually.  We all had a great time and it was very affordable.  We would definitely use a vacation home again

Area:  Vacation Rentals in Sunriver, Oregon

Expert: Robert W. Bennington

Years living in Sunriver: 10

Company:  Bennington Properties, LLC.

Robert, what makes Sunriver a great destination to visit and rent a vacation rental?

Central Oregon as a whole is considered one of the top Outdoor Meccas of the world and Sunriver sits right in the middle of it all.  Surrounded by 1.6 million acres of National Forest you would be hard pressed to find a resort with more places to “get away from it all” than Sunriver.  The Deschutes River runs right through Sunriver sporting world famous trout fishing and white water rafting.  A 20-minute drive takes you to the top of Mt Bachelor Ski Resort where, depending on the season, you can choose to downhill ski, cross country ski, mountain bike, or enjoy world class dining and sight seeing.  Want to enjoy a night on the town? Visit our little city in the woods (Bend, Oregon) just 18 miles away that plays host to a plethora of restaurants and activities to fill your evenings with.

What are the top things to do (attractions, activities, events, etc.) in the area?  Are there any hidden gems that people may not be aware of?

Even with the seemingly infinite number of activities to enjoy here in Sunriver (everything from rock climbing to jet skiing) our restort’s greatest assests are truly the peaceful, family friendly amenities that are available.  With over 30 miles of paved bike trails that wind around the resort, families of all sizes and ages can enjoy an active day out.  Central Oregon boasts over 20 premier golf courses, 4 of which are right here in Sunriver.  We are also home to over 100 trail horses that love to take riders (beginners and experienced) exploring into the mountains.

What are the top 5 ‘must-try’ restaurants in the area?

What is so incredible about Sunriver is we attract every age and class of visitor.  So whether your needs require a romantic evening for two, or a table for 16 (with 6 high chairs) Sunriver has it all.   Our all time favorite restaurant that is both romantic and family friendly is the Trout House.  This beautiful restaurant sits on the Deschutes River, with views of the river from every table.  An incredible collection of culinary genius will greet your palette with every bite.  A focus mostly on local “seafood” (everything from salmon and trout to clams) with a wide selection of entrees for the “land” loving food critics in the family.

We also recommend the following must try restaurants in Sunriver:

2.Café Sintra (for the Portuguese in you)

3. Village Bar and Grill (good ol’ American burger and fries)

4.Blondies Pizza (can’t beat this when you have a inkling for pizza)

5. The Meadows Restaurant (the view is incredible)

What popular entertainment/nightlife options in the area would you recommend?

For night life most of our guests prefer cuddling up to a roaring fireplace in their vacation home of choice, but for those that want an escape from the house, we recommend the “Owls Nest” at the lodge for cocktails.  Or if selection is what you want, a short drive to Bend will open your possibilities to a selection of clubs, restaurants, plays, concerts, or an evening at the movies.

You rent homes to hundreds of guests each year….so you must have a funny story or two about people that visit Sunriver.

We have every kind of story imaginable, but one of the funniest was a family that was staying in one of our non-pet friendly homes.  At about 11:00 am on the day this family was supposed to be checking out, we received a frantic call from the guests saying that they could not find their dog.  “Your dog” we asked, perplexed why this family had brought their dog to a home they knew was not dog friendly.  “Oh don’t worry, said the guest, we never allowed our dog in the home, she always stayed in her kennel in our car.”  Well after several hours of searching Sunriver, the guests were unable to find their dog and had to leave to head back home.  Later that day when our housekeepers arrived at the house they found a cute little fluffy white dog curled up on the king sized master bed.  She must have had enough of sleeping in a kennel and decided to hide in the house until she knew it was safe to come out and enjoy her rightful place on the bed.  I wish I had a picture of that little princess enjoying her well deserved vacation in Sunriver – a perfect image of what it means to be on vacation in Sunriver.

Area: Vacation Rentals in Russian River Valley, CA

Expert: Camille LeGrand

Years living in area:  Full-time 15 years; part-time an additional 6 years

Company:  Russian River Getaways

What makes the Russian River area a great destination to visit and rent a vacation home:
We have it all:  gorgeous scenery, great Mediterranean weather, proximity to many activities.  This area is geared to year-round outdoor activities with redwood forested mountains, a serene summer river, and beautiful creeks, all a short distance to Pacific coast beaches.  Activities include hiking, biking (Lance Armstrong trains here), fishing, swimming, boating, hot air-ballooning, golf, and horseback-riding, in addition to world class wine-tasting at our hundreds of wineries known for some of the best pinot noir, chardonnay, and zinfandel in the world.  We also have great food, emphasizing locally grown ingredients since just about everything grows in the boutique Sonoma County farmland.

What the top things to do in the Russian River area:

Hiking among the ancient redwood trees in Armstrong Wood State Park

Strolling the beach at Goat Rock State Park with its giant rock formations, huge sandy beaches, and harbor seal population

Kayaking the river (try it under a full moon)

Japanese spa treatments at Osmosis in Freestone

Wine tours

Guided tours of the winery and garden at Korbel

Charles M. Schultz museum and ice-skating in Santa Rosa

Mud baths at Calistoga

Day trip to Bodega Bay; day trip to Salt Point

Any hidden gems or events travelers should be aware of?

 

There are rare performances held in the amphitheatre in the redwood forest (see http://www.stewardsofthecoastandredwoods.org/) for event schedule; hiking to Bull Frog in the Austin Creek Reserve; our own African safari at Safari West (http://www.safariwest.com/), Cazadero General Store, shopping and brunch in Occidental, the Pink Elephant tavern in Monte Rio, watching  the logging operation at Berry’s Saw Mill, shopping and dining at Duncans Mills (a re-creation of a turn of the century logging town), hanging out at the Blue Heron (especially when they have local live music, always really good, and try the barbecued oysters on the outdoor patio on Sunday afternoon), the World War II Quonset hut movie theater, with period murals, in Monte Rio, Raymond’s Bakery.

Events:  

The rodeo in June, Civil Wars Days re-enactment in July, Women’s Weekends in May and September, Jazz & Blues Festival in September, Winter Wineland in January, Barrel-Tasting Weekends in March.

Recommended Russian River Restaurants and Nightlife?

Top five restaurants:  We are a gourmet mecca with dozens and dozens of fabulous restaurants, so it’s impossible to name all the great restaurants.  Here are a few:

Dinner:

Farmhouse Inn,  Cape Fear,  Applewood,  Zazu, Mosaic,  The Sandpiper,  Underwood Bar and Bistro, John Ash

Lunch:

La Tapatia Tacqueria (the best Mexican food outside Mexico),  Garden Grill (great hamburgers and curly fries),  Willowood Café

Nightlife:

Not a nightlife kind of place.  Neighborhood bars: The Pink Elephant  in Monte Rio, the Blue Heron in Duncans Mills.

Guest Author:Michael McFadden do_good

Company: VacationHomesForCharity.org (powered by TheSociety.com)

Title: Co-Founder and CEO

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is VacationHomesForCharity?

 charityVacationHomesForCharity promotes doing “good” with vacation homes.We have streamlined the process of donating time at a vacation home for fund raising events that benefit charities and non-profit organizations.Now charities and non-profits can easily source vacation homes for their live auctions or raffles.Meanwhile, vacation home owners now have a resource that will manage the logistics of their donations.We do all the work and make sure the donated home and managing company are promoted at the event.We also ensure payment for cleaning.It’s very easy to sign up just go to www.VacationHomesForCharity.org/give

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How many rentals have you procured for charity thus far?Money raised?

We have donated 8 homes to date and have over 40 other events firm on our schedule in 2009.We expect to donate 1000 nights in 2009 to charities and non-profits.We have helped raised over $40,000 to date and target a quarter million dollars in donations for 2009.

What types of homes are being offered?Modest cottages or high-end palaces?

We utilize all shapes and sizes.In general the home donations are between $200/night and $20,000/night and we ask for a minimum 4 night donation.We make sure that the charity and the winning bidder knows exactly what they are winning.We generate all the marketing materials for the charity and their invitees. The goal is to make it so easy all vacation home owners will get involved and give a week.

Is it a stretch to say Vacation Rentals can save the world?

No way. Vacation rentals can save the world!Okay, save the world is a bit of a stretch but it’s not a stretch to say they can make a considerable difference.The reality is there are hundreds of thousands of charities and non-profits that need help raising money.What better way to help than donating a week.Not to mention we make sure the home is promoted at the event and on various websites.It’s a win-win-win situation.

Any interesting stories in getting this concept off the ground?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Every day is amazing.Working the people that dedicate their lives to helping others is awesome.Whether they are fighting for kids, animals, education, disease or the arts these people are changing the world.In November I attended the Tony Hawk Foundation event where Tony Hawk, Sean White and other celebrities hosted a fabulous fund raising event and raised money for public skateboard parks in low-income communities.Our donors at Pullen Realty and Chase International donated a 5 night stay at a wonderful estate in Tahoe.It raised $10,000 for the foundation.

Another story related to matching homes to charities is the donation from Lifestyle Villas in Cabo.They donated a stay in the Blue Sea Compound (an amazing beach villa) to help benefit The Ocean Institute.It was a perfect match and raised $11,000 for the charity.