Where are we and where are we going?
There are now over 200 properties listed on OwnerHolidays, so it is a good time to review where we are and what the future plans might be.
So far, the project has been 100% self-funded, and I, Nigel Goodwin, have been the only full time person involved. There has been much essential feedback from owners.
In a few days time, new listings will be charged £50 per annum.
The website was released to a small group in September 2016, so we have only been going a few months. The activities may be broken down into:
- Business development and digital marketing
- Building number of owner listings
- Building relationships with agencies and third party vendors
- Facebook etc.
- Subscription revenue
- Seed funding
- Crowd funding
- Website improvements
There is a well-known and expected chicken and egg situation. At present, very few potential guests are accessing the website, and very little effort has been spent promoting the website to potential guests. This is unlikely to change in the coming months, until there is a much larger portfolio of properties, and until there has been significant promotion. The promotion depends on internal resources and budgets, and also depends on the active encouragement by owners. Funding needs to be in place to employ specialist digital marketing specialists, and for expenditure on advertisements.
Of course, owners are concerned about the quality of their advertisements, their pricing models, how they can be searched, and a myriad of other concerns, and it is important to continue making improvements in those areas, but it must be seen in the context of the overriding imperative to grow listings and attract potential guests. A perfect website visited by nobody is a failure.
In addition, support is key to build a good reputation.
In the next 12 months, the plans are:
- Grow number of listings to 10,000 by end March 2017 and 100,000 by the end of the year. This would primarily be through relationships with agencies and third party vendors; growth by individual owners is bound to be more gradual, unless groups of owners join forces.
- Recruit digital marketing manager, responsible for promotion to owners and guests through social media and advertisements.
- Generate funding through equity share and subscription revenue, primarily for salaries and advertising budget. A figure of £100,000 in 2017 is the minimum necessary, which could be through seed equity funding, or through 2000 paid listings of £50 each, or a combination of both. The more revenue, the more rapidly the website can be promoted and the sooner guest enquiries will arrive.
- Build interfaces to agencies and third party vendors. This allows multitudes of properties to be advertised on OwnerHolidays. We are presently in discussion with 5 companies, both agencies and vendors, and re actively working on business agreements and interfaces to 3 of these. We can envisage a total of 20 interfaces by the end of the year.
- Improve website. It is unlikely that much new functionality will be added in 2017, but improvements will be made to what is already there. There has already been significant work on website performance, which is a complex subject for a dynamic website. Improvements to searches based on location will continue to be made. Ease of use, for both owners and guests, is always a priority. In addition, as the number of properties increase, changes will need to be made to the website infrastructure and hosting.
- Improve search engine ranking. SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) requires continual efforts for every single new property or owner, as keywords have to be defined for each new entry. At present this is done by hand, and takes up to an hour per property, but more automated ways of doing this will have to be implemented.
- Support. At present there are about 5 support questions every day, and this will grow as the number of owners and guests grow. As guidelines, FAQ’s and articles are written, and remaining glitches in the website are ironed out, this can be kept under some control. Somehow people seem to expect OwnerHolidays to sort out all their IT problems!
I hope this gives an overview of our current situation and plans, and we welcome any feedback or encouragement, in words or deeds!