Trying to book a holiday rental online, not a good experience.

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13 Aug 2009 00:00 by ttarrab Star rating. 11 posts Send private message

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Hi,

First a little background, for the last 6/7 years we have spent a very pleasant 2 weeks every September staying at my friends apartment in Nueva Andalucía, I found out 2 weeks ago that I would have to change my plans as the property is subsiding and will need major structural work, this luckily is covered by the apartments insurance.

So I have the flights booked to Malaga but I have nowhere to stay, SWMBO puts me in charge of getting an apartment, simples I think, there are loads of websites dedicated to advertising holiday rentals, I am a computer programmer, so i know my way around the internet.

I have a some preferences that i wont/cant change, No car hire, walking distance to the coast and a maximum budget of £600, so what are my choices, the train covers the area from Malaga to Fuengirola, catch the bus to Marbella (as we normally do) this then covers the area with a taxi ride west from Marbella as far as Estepona at a pinch but realistically San Pedro and East towards Torre Ladrones, not really bothered where we stay as it would be nice to explore any new areas we had not been to.I start searching using the normal Holiday rentals websites, I won’t mention any names as they are the usual ones easily found by a quick search, I find 10 apartments that seem suitable and showing availability for the two weeks I require, sent off the enquiry forms asked for confirmation of price and availability, after 3 days I have had 4 replies all stating that the dates I requested are not available, so back to the websites for these and they still show availability! I hear nothing from the other 6, so I find another 10 and after 3 days a similar thing happens, except this time I get 3 replies stating no availability despite being shown as available, I also get one reply from a lady stating that she no longer owns the apartment!! I have one last try contact only 6 this time, I had 2 no availability emails, nothing from the others. Over a week and no closer to getting an apartment.

 

So I decide to investigate aparthotels, within 5 minutes I had booked a very nice studio near to Torremuelle railway station that has excellent reviews and was £140 under budget.

So in conclusion nearly 70% of owners (including a couple from EOS) couldn’t be bothered to reply to emails, ALL the ones that did had no availability, despite showing on the websites that they had.

I won't be repeating this experience as it's not worth the time and effort.

What was as I doing anything wrong - Not enough budget? Looking in the wrong areas? Owners cant be bothered? Unlucky? Or is this just how it works.

I would have though updating website details and a brief reply (even an automated one) would not be too much to ask.

Cheers.

Frank.





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13 Aug 2009 15:29 by surina Star rating in Barking, Essex. 23 posts Send private message

Hi Frank

 

This does make me cross.  We have always answered every e-mail this year, kept our calendar up to date and despite viewing e-mails every day most of our enquiries have come to nothing.

 

You seem to have been looking i the wrong area/  Try our apartment at Casares, Holidaylettings 5480 and you will get a quick, courteous response together wih an up to date calendar.  Maybe it is that most people are looking for such a cheap deal that us owners are not able to open our properties as we will be losing so much.

 

But I suppose in today's market the customer must always be right.

 

Regards

 

Surina



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We have owned our apartment since 2004. www.edencasares.co.uk



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13 Aug 2009 15:30 by surina Star rating in Barking, Essex. 23 posts Send private message

Hi Frank

 

This does make me cross.  We have always answered every e-mail this year, kept our calendar up to date and despite viewing e-mails every day most of our enquiries have come to nothing.

 

You seem to have been looking i the wrong area/  Try our apartment at Casares, Holidaylettings 5480 and you will get a quick, courteous response together wih an up to date calendar.  Maybe it is that most people are looking for such a cheap deal that us owners are not able to open our properties as we will be losing so much.

 

But I suppose in today's market the customer must always be right.

 

Regards

 

Surina



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We have owned our apartment since 2004. www.edencasares.co.uk



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13 Aug 2009 16:13 by kev2006n Star rating in Sussex and Playa Fla.... 343 posts Send private message

 I put a lot of effort into answering e mails that enquire about our Villa. Answer any questions fully, supply additional photos and ensure the replies are sent promptly. Most people can't even be bothered to acknowledge that you have sent them a reply or let you know they don't want the property. Am I asking big money ... no I'm not. Just wish I could come across some decent potential customers!





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13 Aug 2009 19:51 by Marksfish Star rating in Sandy, Bedfordshire/.... 2413 posts Send private message

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Hi Frank

Unfortunately owners like the ones you mention give us all a bad name. I update my calendars on a weekly basis when I have no enquiries and daily when when the need arises due to bookings and I have 15 to do at a time!

Some rental owners just can't be bothered with the ard work involved in pressing a button to block out dates and many just ignore emails when they are booked rather than taking the time to reply and offer alternatives.

I'm glad you found somewhere, but it shouldn't be as difficult as your experience.

Mark



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14 Aug 2009 12:48 by cazzy Star rating in Inland Andalucia. 185 posts Send private message

I agree with kev2006n Although we don't rent out a villa. with our BandB people don't reply to say they have recieved information we have sent. In two instances people have just turned up assuming as I have said we have a vacancy, they are booked in. It can be very awkward if you arn't expecting anyone and they just turn up!!!





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14 Aug 2009 14:41 by la-calma Star rating in Wiltshire, Playa Fl.... 13 posts Send private message

Maybe the people who don't update the web site calendars are trying to fool the tax man.  If they show a year with full availability then they don't owe any tax on rental income. 

 





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14 Aug 2009 14:46 by Marksfish Star rating in Sandy, Bedfordshire/.... 2413 posts Send private message

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Depends how big your family is and how many family members visit during the year .

Mark



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14 Aug 2009 14:51 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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 I agree with Marksfish that owners who do not reply get everyone a bad name.  I look after enquiries for several friends as well as doing my own. Not only are my calendars always up to date but I always reply before the end of the day.  The only time my calendars show available when they are not is in the case of two very similar apartments in the same block where I can offer the other one if need be.  

However, I can see why owners get fed up,  and especially when they are fully booked may just let it go, whereas they could at the very least refer people to a suitable agency if they can't help them the customer themselves.  I have answered in excess of 1000 enquiries in the last 6 months, 99.9% of which never even bothered to come back and say thank you despite having  spent time on specific questions and referred them elsewhere if I can't help for one reason.  All that for just a handful of bookings.  

Frank:  if I were you I would contact all the rental sites involved and name the specific properties who did not bother to respond or who do not have their calendars up to date.  Only with pressure from the listing sites will some owners clean up their act and stop bringing the whole private rental business into disrepute.  That would be a big help to diligent owners.



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14 Aug 2009 16:39 by fultond Star rating in Haywards Heath & Tor.... 242 posts Send private message

Unfortunately Frank, the web site for both rental and sales is sadly lacking in functionality. Although the latest version is better than earlier releases, I think most people seriously selling/renting are using different web sites, which have much more functionality and coverage. I apologise for offending those that do rigorously respond to enquiries, but I have had exactly the same experience as you on the sales page. Many of them are still advertised, but they do not reflect current market prices, and don't respond to questions. Maybe people are trying to get lucky!

I use a few rental sites regularly, and the information and responses are always really good. Try these:

http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/costa-del-sol-malaga/

http://www.ownersdirect.co.uk/Spain-Costa-Del-Sol.htm

http://www.holiday-rentals.co.uk/search/keywords:benalmadena

By the way, if you want somewhere with good beaches, restaurants, marina, etc. then I would recommend the Benalmadena/Torrequebrada area. You are not far away in Torremuelle, so enjoy the area. Worth a trip along the road however.

Regards

Dave



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14 Aug 2009 16:45 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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 Fultond said.

Unfortunately Frank, the web site for both rental and sales is sadly lacking in functionality. Although the latest version is better than earlier releases, I think most people seriously selling/renting are using different web sites, which have much more functionality and coverage

 

I am a bit confused Fultond: which website are you talking about?

 

 



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14 Aug 2009 16:47 by fultond Star rating in Haywards Heath & Tor.... 242 posts Send private message

I am assuming the original enqury was about the EOS web site. If not once again I apologise.



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14 Aug 2009 17:00 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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 What Frank said was:

.I start searching using the normal Holiday rentals websites, I won’t mention any names as they are the usual ones easily found by a quick search, 

To me that reads very much like holidayrentals, owners direct et al!!

My recommendation would be to try the smaller niche sites.  In Spain niumba.com and rentalia.com.  There is also a small (but growing) site called yourholidaymatters where owners have to sign up to a guest charter which guarantees the way the customer is treated: starting with a prompt and accurate response.



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14 Aug 2009 17:10 by fultond Star rating in Haywards Heath & Tor.... 242 posts Send private message

Jane, thanks for the clarification, and I apologise unreservedly.

I found with Owners Direct I did not always get a response to all my enquiries, but the others were pretty reliable. I will also look at some of the smaller ones you mention, as long as they have a fairly wide selection in the areas I like.

Thanks, Dave



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14 Aug 2009 17:51 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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The problem with the Owners Direct enquiries may have been that at one time (and perhaps even today) they used to just send out all the enquiries at one time, once a day, and owners were finding that the customer had already booked elsewhere.  We no longer list with them because there customer base (in terms of travellers) is just UK -focussed and with the state of the pound that is no good at all to us.  This year we had hardly any enquiries and only one booking (at a knock-down price).

 



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15 Aug 2009 09:11 by kev2006n Star rating in Sussex and Playa Fla.... 343 posts Send private message

 I've only recently acquired a property in Spain. Then it took ages for the building work and improvements to be carried so I only started advertising seriously end of June. I've had a few enquries. Around 50 from 3 different sites. So far, I have not been able to convert a single enquiry into a booking. Price wise it is cheaper than similar properties. Is this typical or is it I started too late this year. Luckily we don't need to rent. If this is typical I feel sorry for those that have stretched themselves and need the rental income. I feel the amount of effort put into answering the questions far outweighs the results I've achieved! 





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15 Aug 2009 09:22 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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Hi Kevin

Starting to advertise in June you have almost certainly missed the UK customers, except those who are last minute bargain hunters and for these the price has to be very keen as the market is saturated.  Because of having to book flights most UK customers have to book early, especially if they are tied to school holidays.

My experience after several years is that the Spanish customers, who obviously do not have flights to contend with, do not even start to look seriously until June:  all the hundreds of Spanish enquiries that I fielded between February and June yielded nothing, but come the beginning of June it got very serious and we filled three apartments and a small house in the space of about 6 weeks, and they are still calling for something 'tomorrow'!!! .  I obviously don't know what your property is but the drawback with the Spanish customers is that they either want to be VERY close to the beach: within 500 metres, if it is an apartment, or in a country villa with a pool.  A location in a resort where they have to take the car to get to the beach does not tick many boxes for them and they will tend to book only if they have exhasted all the other possibilities.

Having said which, we on the whole prefer to have Spanish customers.  If you work the percentages, you get far fewer who leave the place in a mess than with the English, I am ashamed to say, and they are always very appreciative of well-equipped properties because it has not always been the case that rentals in Spain are well-equipped. You can even persuade them to bring their own sheets and towels with a small reduction which means yo do not have to pay for laundry if you are not on site.

The drawback is that of course in order to reach them you need to advertise on the sites where they are looking and to be able to communicate with them: so if you don't speak enough Spanish already, find a mate who does and advertise on niumba.com!  If you do advertise on Niumba, make sure you put Spanish as the language spoken:  we experimented with putting English and found it reduced the number of enquiries very considerably.

 


 



This message was last edited by jane b on 15/08/2009.

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15 Aug 2009 10:16 by kev2006n Star rating in Sussex and Playa Fla.... 343 posts Send private message

 Thanks Jane, Very useful information. Our property is a quad type villa located a 17 minute walk from the beach. I can understand the English market booking early, we always did when the kids were young. In the heat we are probably just that shade too far from the beach. I have the property on Niumba and have got very close to having the property booked 3 times. However, I've just not been able to secure the booking. Maybe the prospective client was looking at other properties at the same time and they managed to secure a better deal. Didn't realise the Spanish would be prepared to bring their own bedding and towels? How much do you reduce charges by? Do you ask for a security deposit? I just wonder if that would put people off. However, our keyholder would have refunded the money after a quick look and we have told prospective clients the money would be returned on the last day.

We are going for the best part of 4 weeks in September to enjoy our newly refurbished house. I'll have to rethink the way we go about things for next year. Thank you once again for the advice. Kevin 





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15 Aug 2009 10:27 by jane b Star rating in Bedar, Almeria. 216 posts Send private message

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Hi Kevin

DEFINITELY a security deposit:  we take €200 for 2 bedroom apartments and €500 for our large 4 bedroom villa.  It concentrates the mind somewhat and I would NEVER let without one. It is returned on the final day on inspection: obviously we do not worry about the odd broken glass but it protects from major damage and as the contract says 'we will make a deduction from the deposit if an excessive amount of cleaning is required' it helps with the state it is left in as well.

Sheets and towels: depends what you are being charged for laundry!  We usually say €10 per room per week less if they bring their own.  We don't do it for our house except if we are doing a very special offer because I do my own laundry and I like to see all the beds made up as it is quite an expensive property.  You can also go the other way for bookings of more than one week and say that one set is included, which they can wash themselves, or they can pay a supplement for a second set.



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15 Aug 2009 11:00 by kev2006n Star rating in Sussex and Playa Fla.... 343 posts Send private message

 Hi Jane, We have asked for a 200 Euro security deposit, so hopefully that hasn't put people off. We were asking 45 Euros for the final clean and laundry of sheets and towels, which is the amount we pay our keyholders. So hopefully that hasn't put them off. We have been asking 50 Euros a night for August which to me seems very reasonable? I've put a link to some of the photos and would appreciate your opinon if you think we are asking too much. Thanks Kevin www.photobox.co.uk/my/album?album_id=147089155





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