The second post in the “Nostalgic”-series is here. This time I am presenting you an article I published on the Barefoot Blog on April 23, 2010. This entry is called 33 Websites and How You Can Use Them If You Are A Vacation Rental Agency. The reason as to why I decided to focus on how you can use the website if you are a vacation rental agency is because Barefoot Technologies is a software company providing software to the vacation rental industry. These sites can, of course, be used by any other business as well, you just have to figure out exactly how. Also, individuals like you and me can probably use most of these sites for personal enjoyment too.
I would also like to add that this article was written 8 months ago, which is similar to 147 regular years in the Internet world. Therefore, I want you to be aware that some of these sites may not exist anymore, or their functionality has significantly changed etc.
First you will find a description of what the site is and then in the second paragraph you can find my recommendation as to how you can use the site for your vacation rental business.
1. Reddit: Upload stories and articles on reddit to drive traffic to your site or blog. Submit items often so that you’ll gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site.
A bookmarking site where you link stories from either your own website or blog, or someone else’s site. You can submit an article about something that you think is interesting, but it doesn’t have to come from your site. Submit stuff often to gain a more loyal following and increase your presence on the site. There are a lot of people submitting things to Reddit so it can be hard to get noticed. However, with a little bit of luck and if you put in an effort you can drive more traffic to your website or blog. If you run a business in the vacation rental industry you can use Reddit by link news from your website and by doing that drive more traffic to your website. You can also upload testimonials and write ups about your properties, with pictures included.
2. Digg: Digg has a huge following online because of its optimum usability. Visitors can submit and browse articles in categories like technology, business, entertainment, sports and more.
Digg is also a bookmarking site, like Reddit. Both Reddit and Digg are considered to be the “big ones” when it comes to bookmarking sites. Digg has, just like Reddit, a lot of people posting stuff, but it could be worth a try to start getting in to this. If you put in the effort and have a little bit of luck you will see a huge increase in traffic to your website. Use Digg as you use Reddit, post news from your website and testimonials. You could also link a write up about your properties, with pictures included, on Digg.
3. Del.icio.us: Social bookmark your way to better business with sites like del.icio.us, which invite users to organize and publicize interesting items through tagging and networking.
Along the lines of the previous two. You link something you found interesting to delicious. Not as many people use Delicious as Digg and Reddit, but it is still a fair amount of people. While Digg and Reddit focus on just sharing links with others, delicious focuses more on organizing bookmarks for yourself and then you can share these with others. Even though Delicious is more for organizing your bookmarks you can still use it in the same manner as you would use Reddit and Digg.
4. StumbleUpon: You’ll open your online presence up to a whole new audience just by adding the StumbleUpon toolbar to your browser and “channel surf[ing] the Web. You’ll “connect with friends and share your discoveries,” as well as “meet people that have similar interests.”
StumbleUpon is like a search engine, but instead of typing what you are looking for you fill out your interests. Once you have done that you are good to start stumbling. StumbleUpon will take you to websites that are along the lines of what you filled out for your interests. The one way I think this can be used by vacation rentals is if they put a StumbleUpon badge on their website, and by doing that allowing stumblers to find their site. In other words, use StumbleUpon as a tool to drive traffic to your website.
5. Technorati: If you want to increase your blog’s readership, consider registering it with Technorati, a network of blogs and writers that lists top stories in categories like Business, Entertainment and Technology.
Increase your blog’s readership by signing up for Technorati. It is a network of blogs and writers that list top stories in different categories. It is free and as soon as you post something on your blog it will appear on the Technorati site. Use this if you have a blog and want to put it in more places and by doing that increasing the chances of your blog being discovered.
6. Ning: After hanging around the same social networks for a while, you may feel inspired to create your own, where you can bring together clients, vendors, customers and co-workers in a confidential, secure corner of the Web. Ning lets users design free social networks that they can share with anyone.
A social networking site where you can create your own network, focusing on any niche you want, instead of joining one existing huge network. You can create a network specific for your rental agency and bring together customers, co-workers and other staff, all under the same network that you created, and use it as either an in-house-network or a private network where you can inform existing customers on what is going on and you can also offer these loyal customers special deals that no one else will see or know about.
7. Squidoo: According to Squidoo, “everyone’s an expert on something. Share your knowledge!” Share your industry’s secrets by answering questions and designing a profile page to help other members.
Squidoo is a site where you write about whatever you want, kind of like a blog. It is a community and you can post things that you find interesting and then others can comment on what you have written, you can also ask questions instead of writing about something. Could be used by the vacation rental industry. If you are an agency in Myrtle Beach you could post something on Squidoo about what to do in Myrtle Beach, or what to think about when renting a home etc.
8. Furl: Make Furl “your personal Web file” by bookmarking great sites and sharing them with other users by recommending links, commenting on articles and utilizing other fantastic features.
Furl is actually called Diigo now. You can post and share links with others on Diigo. It is like Digg and Reddit, but the main difference is that you have to download the Diigo toolbar, Diigolet, in order to be able to post. Could be used the same way as the other bookmarking sites by the vacation rental industry.
9. WikiHow: Create a how-to guide or tutorial on wikiHow to share your company’s services with the public for free.
WikiHow is like Wikipedia, but instead of being like a dictionary or information database this is a how-to-database where anyone can contribute. Vacation rental agencies could create a how-to-guide about how to rent a home. Barefoot does not have WikiHow.
10. YouTube: From the fashion industry to Capitol Hill, everyone has a video floating around on YouTube. Shoot a behind-the-scenes video from your company’s latest commercial or event to give customers and clients an idea of what you do each day.
YouTube is the second most used search engine in the world right now. What is special about YouTube is that it is only videos on the site. A vacation rental agency could create a video of its properties and post it on YouTube. See it as a free form of TV advertising. If you search for “vacation rental” on YouTube you will get 9,000+ hits. If you are interested in YouTube and what you can do with it, look at our blog post about YouTube.
11. Ma.gnolia: Share your favorite sites with friends, colleagues and clients by organizing your bookmarks with Ma.gnolia. Clients will appreciate both your Internet-savviness and your ability to stay current and organized.
Magnolia is a bookmarking site where you can share your favorite links. It can be used in the same way as Reddit, Digg, and the other bookmarking sites mentioned earlier. However, Magnolia is currently by invitation only so it could be hard to get on the site.
12. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a popular networking site where alumni, business associates, recent graduates and other professionals connect online.
LinkedIn is a Facebook type site where you can connect with other people. The difference is that LinkedIn is aimed towards businesses. It is a forum where business people can connect and build relationships. People can also try to build relationships that can be helpful in the job-hunting process. Unless you are interested in connecting with other owners of rental agencies and such LinkedIn does not offer much. You may also be able to find someone that is looking for a job if you are hiring.
13. Ecademy: Ecademy prides itself on “connecting business people” through its online network, blog and message-board chats, as well as its premier BlackStar membership program, which awards exclusive benefits.
Ecademy is a business social networking site where business people can connect. It offers blogs, message board and discussion forums. You are also able to set up 1-on-1 meetings on Ecademy. Could be used in the same way as LinkedIn in the sense that it can be a useful site for relationship building, as well as connecting with other agencies or finding people looking for jobs.
14. Focus: Focus is a business destination where business professionals can help each other with their purchase and other business decisions by accessing research and peer expertise. Most importantly, Focus provides open, quality information for all businesses that is freely available, easily accessible, and community powered.
Focus is a business site where business people can help each other. You can ask questions and get them answered or just answer someone else’s questions. It could be helpful for vacation rentals if someone needs a question answered. They offer several different categories, such as marketing and small businesses. Barefoot is on Focus.
15. Xing: An account with networking site Xing can “open doors to thousands of companies.” Use the professional contact manager to organize your new friends and colleagues, and take advantage of the Business Accelerator application to “find experts at the click of a button, market yourself in a professional context [and] open up new sales channels.”
A business social media site where your profile acts like your business card. You can customize your “home page” with different features. Have our address book on Xing, it updates automatically when one of your contacts change their info. Could be used by Barefoot and our clients. Create a profile and let people know who you are and what you do, interact with others in the same field.
Facebook is a social networking site with millions of users. It is no longer a site for just college kids, businesses are also present on Facebook. Facebook could be used as a marketing tool for vacation rental companies. You can advertise your inventory and you can connect with your clients. The possibilities are endless. Facebook are also about to launch something they call “community pages”. Community pages are kind of like the business pages you can create now, but they are meant for more unofficial things. Here is a short article describing community pages.
17. Care2: Care2 isn’t just a networking community for professionals: It’s touted as “the global network for organizations and people who Care2 make a difference.” If your business is making efforts to go green, let others know by becoming a presence on this site.
A business social media site for companies that want to “make a difference”. If you are doing something good and you want people to know about it this is the forum. The site involves topics such as the environment and childhood obesity. Could be used by clients that pride themselves on being “green” and want to focus on that niche or if you have some other unique niche that you think would fit on a website like this one.
18. Gather: This networking community is made up of members who think. Browse categories concerning books, health, money, news and more to ignite discussions on politics, business and entertainment. This will help your company tap into its target audience and find out what they want.
A networking site where you discuss topics that you are interested in, such as politics or sports. There is a travel category as well on Gather. A vacation rental company could start a thread, or join in on an existing one, about vacation rentals and by doing this find out what customers and others want and expect from their vacation rental home.
19. MEETin.org: Once you’ve acquired a group of contacts in your city by networking on MEETin.org, organize an event so that you can meet face-to-face.
MEETin is a social networking site where you aquire contacts and then set up an event to meet in real life. Clients can use this to set up events for their customers when they are in their area and announce the events on MEETin.
20. Tribe: Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco, New York and Chicago have unique online communities on tribe. Users can search for favorite restaurants, events, clubs and more.
Tribe is a site that hosts many unique communities. Cities like Philadelphia, Boston, San Francisco and many more have communities on here. Other things like Burning Man has a community here, as well as a community for MAC OS X can be found here. A vacation rental agency could use this community if they are located in or near one of the areas that have a community on Tribe and market their business.
21. Ziggs: Ziggs is “organizing and connecting people in a professional way.” Join groups and make contacts through your Ziggs account to increase your company’s presence online and further your own personal career.
Ziggs is a business social networking site where you can find contacts and increase your online presence. You can join groups and make new relationships with people on Ziggs, as well as hunt for a job. Could be used in the same manner as LinkedIn or other business social networking sites.
22. Plaxo: Join Plaxo to organize your contacts and stay updated with feeds from Digg, Amazon.com, del.icio.us and more.
Plaxo is an online address book where you can sync contacts from outlook etc. Plaxo can be used from anywhere as long as you have an Internet connection. By using Plaxo you will always have all your contacts with you. You can also stay updated with feeds from sites like Digg and Delicious.
23. NetParty: If you want to attract young professionals in cities like Boston, Dallas, Phoenix, Las Vegas and Orlando Fla., create an account with the networking site NetParty. You’ll be able to connect with qualified, up-and-coming professionals online, then meet them at a real-life happy-hour event where you can pass out business cards, pitch new job openings and more.
NetParty is site that organizes parties in bars and clubs after work where businesses can connect with young professionals and hand out business card etc. Could be used by anyone who operates in an area where NetParty operates, if you are interested in finding new employees.
24. Networking For Professionals: Networking For Professionals is another online community that combines the Internet with special events in the real world. Post photos, videos, résumés and clips on your online profile while you meet new business contacts.
Networking For Professionals is a site similar to NetParty, but instead of hooking up with prospective employees you are able to meet up with other business people. You sign up and create a profile and then you make friends on the site. Networking For Professionals then arranges “get togethers”, which you can attend. Networking For Professionals operates in areas like New York, Long Island, Phoenix, Scottsdale, Miami, among others. Use this website if you are located in one of the areas that Networking For Professionals and are interested in meeting new people over a lunch or a drink and discuss your business.
25. Mixx: Mixx prides itself on being “your link to the Web content that really matters.” Submit and rate stories, photos and news to drive traffic to your own site. You’ll also meet others with similar interests.
Mixx is a site where you fill out what you are interested in and it will provide you with stories that have been posted by others. You can also post your on stories on MIxx so in a way it is kind of like Digg and Reddit, and can also be used in the same fashion.
26. Small Business Brief: When members post entrepreneur-related articles, a photo and a link to their profile appear, gaining you valuable exposure and legitimacy online.
Small Business Brief is a site where small business news is highlighted. The site is in a blog looking format and it offers news about small business and entrepreneurs. Could be used by a vacation rental agency to get press about an accomplishment, like becoming the biggest travel housing agency in the area beating the big hotel chains.
27. BuzzFlash.net: This one-stop news resource is great for businesses that want to contribute articles on a variety of subjects, from the environment to politics to health.
Upload articles on BuzzFlash to start a discussion on a topic you are interested in. A vacation rental manager can upload articles and stories related to either vacation rentals in general or something specific about their company and by doing that get some free press and publicity.
28. SEO TAGG: Stay on top of news from the Web marketing and SEO (search-engine optimization) industries by becoming an active member of this online community.
News about Internet marketing search-engine optimization (SEO). Useful for anyone who has a website and wants to know more about how to be higher up on Google’s result list, and other search engines’.
29. Wikipedia: Besides creating your own business reference page on Wikipedia, you can connect with other users on Wikipedia’s Community Portal and at the village pump, where you’ll find conscientious professionals enthusiastic about news, business, research and more.
Use Wikipedia as more than a place where you can search for information. Create a page about your own company and let people know you exist. Also, participate in discussions about a topic you are interested in on Wikipedia’s Community Portal.
30. Twitter: Is a social networking and microblogging service that allows you answer the question, “What are you doing?” by sending short text messages 140 characters in length, called “tweets”, to your friends, or “followers.”
Microblogging site with millions of users. Create a profile and start sending out tweets about your company. Twitter is a great tool for marketing if it is used right. For more information about Twitter see our blog where we have posted about Twitter.
Finally I will list a few websites that were not included in the original article that I have come across.
31. Foursquare: Foursquare is based on a geo-location platform and it tracks your whereabouts. You sign up and then you “check-in” when you go places. You can earn points and if you get enough points you become the mayor of a location. A vacation rental company can use foursquare to keep track of staff. You simply make them check-in when they go to one of your properties and then they can leave a comment saying “House XYZ has been cleaned” or you can do some research and find out where people like to go out to eat in your area and set up a partnership with this restaurant and you can offer customers a discount on their meals if they go to that restaurant. You will then get more business because you can offer the discount to their favorite restaurant.
32. Yelp: Yelp is like Yellow Pages, but it is online. People go here to search for a specific business in a specific area. Sign up on Yelp and let people find your vacation rental business. If you do a search for vacation rentals in Myrtle Beach, SC you get 3 hits, and one of them is not even a vacation rental agency. You could be one of the first ones on Yelp and that could really increase your leads. On our blog we also give you tips on how you should set up your page on Yelp.
33. GigPark: GigPark is a social recommendations site where you can ask and give your friends recommendations. If you have a customer that is really pleased with his/her experience with you, then ask them to recommend you on GigPark to their friends.
I hope you enjoyed the two “Nostalgic” posts. I haven’t decided if I will put more of them up or not.