Property Managers Get Bit By Sneaky Dogs
Travelers are getting smarter and more savvy with technology. With their new found power those sneaky dogs have discovered a way to cut the property manager out of the picture (literally). Vacationers are bypassing property managers and going straight to the owner, trying to sniff out the lowest price.
How are travelers cutting out property managers and travel agents? What would you say if you were guilty of providing your rental customers with direct access to the owners of the rental property? You would probably do something about it, right? Hopefully your answer is yes, if you don’t do something about it, you will continue to lose bookings to your owners. The owners, I’m sure love that you are giving them commission free “lay down” bookings.
It sucks when you work the deal, sell the traveler on why this is the best place to spend their vacation, they become sold on the vacation rental and resort, then they book with someone else. You might of spent hours working with these guests between emails and phone communication, then to lose them.
Do you hear that sound? That’s the sound of your money and your time going down the toilet.
Whenever there is an issue of such effect, I feel obligated to share with you, my readers. Here is how it’s happening. Travelers get the information from you about the property including photographs of the home. Vacationers do their research online and find out more information about the resort and rental property. There is one sneaky move they can do to find information about the rental. But this is the information you don’t want them to know; the owners direct contact. Vacationers searching for the best deal will do this by using your own marketing against you.
Those beautiful images of your vacation rental have finger prints. Vacationers take your images and can easily put them into Google Images. Google Images is a search engine for images. You can drag and drop an image into Google’s search bar as shown below.
Once you’ve dropped the image into Google’s image search engine, Google will scan the image and compare it to other similar images from websites and pages all over the world.
As shown below it’s easy to find an owners online vacation rental websites, advertisements and listings. Are some of these ads by owner? Which ones are from the property manager? Who’s price is going to be lower?
More and more people are becoming familiar with this tool, so don’t wait til you know you’ve lost a deal to do something about.
This is one of the same tools they use in that Movie (now T.V. show) Catfish. The show uses the photo tool to bust people who have stolen someone else’s identity online. The tool is used to search the personal images found on suspicious Facebook and social network s profiles. In the show they almost always track the photographs back to someone else who is totally clueless their images are being used. Its a powerful photo tool that is free to use and easily accessible.
Be aware and be prepared for those sneaky dogs trying to sniff out the owners details. Here are a few steps you can take to reduce the chances of you giving away your vacation rental advertising efforts and profits to someone else.
- Do not give the rental property address before the reservation. Vacationers will often ask for the vacation rentals property address before booking. You should not be providing the property address until you have a bonified booking with a signed agreement. Your cancellation policy will help you reduce the risk of a cancellation should the vacationer eventually reach the owners directly. Admittedly I had this happen to me, I provided the guest with the address and she booked it elsewhere. Dumb mistake I know, don’t make the same mistake I did. Even if the renter is persistent and says they wont book, if they don’t know where they’ll be staying. You can track down the owner of the property with the address, it is public record.
- Do not send the images via email whenever you can prevent it. I know sometimes property agents who don’t use their websites properly send potential customers photos of rental inventory via email. Agents often send the travelers photos of the property they have obtained elsewhere; other than their normal inventory.The problem with doing that is, images are easily downloaded and are able to be searched by dragging the images into a Google image search. Upload your pictures to your website and send the renters links to the property instead.
- Lock your website down. You can lock your website so no one can grab your descriptions and more importantly your images. Our agents are making this change to their website to add that extra level of difficulty. If someone tries to save the image to their computer it will not allow them. This will take care of most travelers from moving forward with an image search. However there are ways around this, if you have the tools and you really want to steal the image you can, the extra measure will deter most.
- Don’t use the same photos your owners use to advertise their vacation homes. Some property managers take photographs of the owner’s vacation home for their rental marketing, then provide the owners with copies of the photographs. Although this is a great service for your owners, you may want to consider the vacation rental marketing issues that could arise. Your property images should be different than the owners, shoot the photographs from different angles and Google will have a harder time matching up the image with the owners images.
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