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Were you able to set it up for yourself??


It won't let me setup mine yet, but I will blog more when I find out more.


There is a fight brewing.


Cities in Colorado and the state of North Carolina are trying to go after VRBOs to get tax revenue.  HomeAway is fighting back to protect its VRBOs from paying fines, back-taxes ... and probably even stay open as a VRBO.  I bet more states and towns will get involved Read On:


Austin-based HomeAway sues North Carolina in dispute over customer data


Vacation rental website claims Colorado towns' tax hunt is illegal


Next will be AirBnB with all of its unauthorized Mom & Pops renting their sofa's and spare rooms.  The big guys of course support this... if you are a hotel or a vacation rental manager paying your taxes and abiding by local and state regulations, why wouldn't you want the small guys to abide by the same rules??


Yesterday, Google released a new tool called Go Mo to see how your website looks in a mobile phone.


If you have been following Google at all, they have been raising a pretty big public squawk about the importance of mobile. 


The Google speaker at VRMA shared this year:



  • 1/2 of Americans will have smartphones by end of year
  • 29.7M mobile travel researches by 2012 in US
  • 74% increase in Mobile bookers from 2010-2012 estimated
  • 19.5% of queries in Google are on a mobile phone in the hotel and accommodations category (BlizzardTracker data shows that at 11%)
    • 377% of year-over-year increase in query volume
    • 844% in year-over-year increase in click volume
    • Vacation Rental specifically had an increase 2X the volume increase for general travel.
  • 9 out of 10 searchers have taken action as a result of a smartphone search


Here are some additional bits:


VRM Data from September shows Mobile is 10% of traffic


Huge Growth in Mobile traffic from 4% to 10% over last 12 months


Keyword Research Tool for Mobile


Mobile click-throughs higher and conversion lower


Mobile Users have a tonite and tomorrow booking window


A whole slew of mobile data for travel and tourism industry


An interesting article at Travolution suggested the travel industry losing 2B  a year in poor site design... wouldn't it be more accurate to see the "loss" as business shifting to a BETTER travel website or moving to the phone instead of an online booking?


I wish I could prove how much business the vacation rental and hotel industry loses due to design and usability issues... Blizzard just completed an A/B test on a quick search widget (top right of homepage vs lower on homepage) and a visitor was 11.4% more likely to search inventory when the quick search was at top.  Hopefully that is 11.4% more customers who don't leak out to a competitor's website!


We used Google Website Optimizer to do the testing which achieved a certaintly level of 99.2% over about 30 days of testing.


The early iterations of Google Plus are interesting to watch, but Google Plus is still only a curiosity from a business standpoint.  Not only is there not a business offering, Google has warned businesses not to setup a Google+ account for your business.

Officially, Blizzard recommends you wait a bit longer on Google+… but read on for more specific instructions.


That said, it is easy to imagine how a business could use the existing functionality to build a business page and create a circle of “friends” and clients to communicate with.  Right off the bat the Hangouts feature is a promising business tool.  Blizzard tested Hangouts this morning with a video conference call and it worked great.  It was an easy tool for a bunch of Blizzard employees and clients to get together at an appointed time and have a discussion.  Hangouts allowed just audio or audio + video.  Additionally, any user can share their screen.  Hangouts is limited to 10 people AND the organizer of the conference can’t control it. In this sense, GoToMeeting is a much better option for a more push-type presentation.  Here is a short video from Google:


We recommend that you:

  1. Get a GooglePlus (or Google+ if you prefer, I use them interchangeably) account for your personal business just to acquaint yourself with how it works.  Read Google + for Newbies if you want some great tips.
  2. Try the “Hangout” feature to see if you like it for business meetings with remote colleagues.
  3. Add the +1 button to your website, parallel to the “LIKE” button so early +1 users can start using it. Click here for directions on adding the +1 button to your website.
  4. Watch for the Google Plus business offering.

Google has released a first-glance at its new Google Plus Business Page with a demo by Ford Motors:

Hopefully, pages like this will be made available to all business soon!  Of course, it will be one more thing your social media and SEO marketing team will have to deal with. Sigh.


The “new” version of Google Analytics has several new reports that are worth studying.   One report I like is the “site speed” report which is newly available in Google Analytics… it simply tells you how fast your website loads on average and also breaks down specific pages for analysis.

In order to make this new feature work you have to add a snippet of code to your tracking scripts: “_gaq.push(['_trackPageLoadTime']);”  You can read all about how site speed works and how to add the tracking script on the Google Analytics Blog.

The other 90 second improvement I made to my Google Analytics reporting was to integrate it with my existing Google Webmaster Tools account.

Both these steps are worth the few seconds required!


Here is a link to 10 links that could help any vacation rental manager.  The will drive qualified traffic and/or help you get better Page Rank in Google (hopefully)


Keyword Research Tools

Posted by trent.blizzard Oct 28, 2011

Lee Odden over at the TopRank Online marketing blog shared 10 tools for alternative keyword research.


These are extra tools to perform keyword research in specific niches:


  • Mobile: Google AdWords Keyword Research Tool offers several filtering options for mobile: All Mobile Devices, Mobile WAP Devices, Mobile Devices with Full Internet Browsers.
  • News: Übersuggest provides a useful service by collecting the auto-suggested search words provided by Google News as you type.
  • Video: YouTube Promoted Video Keyword Research Tool provides insights into what users are searching for on YouTube with options to source your suggestions from keywords, another YouTube video or a diverse array of demographic information.
  • Social Media: socialmention is a general social media search engine that provides a downloadable list of keywords that most often occur in conjunction with whatever it is that you search on.
  • Image: Google Insights for Search using the Images filter, provides  ”top searches” and “rising searches” relevant to your query.


A few great ideas here.


Advanced SEO Video

Posted by trent.blizzard Oct 28, 2011

This is a video recording of an Advanced SEO class taught at the Vacation Rental Manager's Association annual conference in Orlando on October 11th, 2011.


IF you cannot watch it in this post, here is a direct link to the video and Powerpoint slideshow.





Funny Video from Google

Posted by trent.blizzard Oct 28, 2011

This video reminds me of some of the problems of booking a vacation rental (direct link if you cannot watch on this page):