Friday, November 20, 2009

New Calendar Lets You Publish Peak Rates!!

We just launched a new calendar that lets you publish peak rates right along side your availability calendar. Over the last couple months renters have expressed frustration over the fact that there was no way to tell whether or not a certain weekend was considered peak or standard without contacting the owners. We have solved this problem and in the process made several other improvements to the calendar that make it much more user friendly for our property owners. Login to your account today and check it out! Please offer any feedback you have about the calendar right here on our blog.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Using Keywords to Drive More Inquiries

A lot of us are missing out on a very effective and simple way to generate more inquiries for our properties. Search engines love user generated content, and since you the property owner are a user on our site you are in a great position to effectively use keywords so that your property will show up in Google search results.

Let me give you an example. When you are entering a title for your property don't just plug in your address or the name of your property. If I am a potential renter, and I am trying to find a place to stay for graduation weekend or the next big football game chances are I am not going to search for "Three Rivers Cottage" , "Condo near Main St", or "Town Home in Cherry Hills". If you use keywords like graduation, football, team mascots, university names, weddings, vineyards, etc ...... then you greatly increase the chances that somebody out there is going to find your property when searching on Google. Below are two examples in our Charlottesville market where property owners have included relevant keywords in their title and in their short description and it has landed them 1st page results on Google.

In this first example the property owner included the keyword phrase "Graduation Weekend" and as you can see they are the third URL in the list when someone searches for "places to stay uva graduation 2010". Click the following link to see this vacation rental.

An even better example is this property that shows up #1! for the search "uva football house rental" because she put UVA football in her title. Click the following link to see this game day rental

You will notice that these people still used a traditional title but just took advantage of the extra space by entering relevant keywords. You can also do this in your short and long descriptions as well as in the user profile that we blogged about last week.

If you have any questions about this or want some help from us for some good keyword suggestions in your market please comment on this blog post.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Property Owner Profiles Drive More Bookings

We are pleased to announce that we have added an exciting new feature to the website. Now property owners have the ability to load a picture of themselves and tell potential owners a little bit about themselves. Here is an example

This is a great opportunity for our vacation rental owners to make potential renters feel welcome and share their knowledge of the town. We are planning on beefing this feature up in the near future but in the meantime feel free to tell potential guests about your favorite restaurants and hang outs in your town.

Don't miss out on this great opportunity to drive more bookings! All you have to do is login to your account and click on the user profile link on the left.

Please be sure to let us know what you think right here on the blog by leaving comments.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Updating Your Availability Calendar

Imagine you are looking for a place to stay and you find this great website ( :) . You are looking for a place to stay for graduation weekend and you see this great feature that lets you search by availability. So you plug in the dates for graduation weekend and the site shows you that there are 15 beautiful vacation rentals available that weekend. So you do some more sorting and you pick out 5 that are big enough for your group and in your price range. Then you spend the next 15 minutes e-mailing and or calling these 5 properties only to find out that they are all already booked.

Can you imagine how FRUSTRATING that would be? I mean what a huge pump fake and waste of time!!

In an effort to make sure that this does not happen to renters on we are displaying properties on our site so that the rentals with the most recently updated calendar are displayed at the top of every list. This provides our owners with a strong incentive to keep calendars updated.We hope that this reorganization of our vacation rental properties together with frequent reminders from us via newsletters etc... will keep all of the renters that we work so hard to get to the site happy.

We would love to hear from you guys so please leave a comment below

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

SEC Road Trip

All I can say is WOW!! People in the SEC really do love their football and everything that it entails. I started my trip off in Athens where we hosted a tailgate for the USC (gamecocks) game. We got there at 11 for a 7'oclock game which I must admit I thought was excessively early but I was in the company of two diehard gamecock fans and a Georgia fan that insisted it was absolutely necessary. Turns out they were right and despite the fact that we were arrived 8 hours before game time there were plenty of people who were already set up. We put out a big spread of grub and refreshments that I regret not getting a picture of before it got decimated. Here are some pictures from the game and of our banner which we were fortunate enough to set up on the dog walk.

I spent the first part of the week in Athens and met with a lot of really great people and got to eat a lot of really fantastic food. I almost overdosed on sweet tea because you can't find it out in Colorado except for in a McDonalds and they should be ashamed of themselves for calling that artificially sweetened crap sweet tea. Here are some cool Athens land marks from downtown and the campus.

The Arches

Statue of "UGA"

Next I hopped in my black PT Cruiser (a.k.a. heinous death trap) and made the journey to Oxford, MS. Unfortunately it rained almost the whole time I was there but it did not seem to dampen the spirits of the Ole Miss faithful. I spent Thursday and Friday meeting with clients and checking out some our rental properties down there, which are truly spectacular by the way. Here is one example. The owner, Mollisia Swaney, has taken great care in furnishing the property and makes sure that everything down to the last detail is taken care of. Click the image below for more information.

On Saturday I headed to the grove to participate in what I had been warned is the most impressive tailgating scene in the SEC. I am certainly no expert, but I was totally blown away. Again it was a night game and people line up at "The Grove"(it is a big park in the middle of campus) the night before and at 7:00 pm security lets all the tailgaters storm the grove and set up their tents for the next day. Apparently space along the "Walk of Champions" which is a brick walk way that all the players walk down on their way to the game, is the most coveted. I showed up around noon on game day to find "The Grove" absolutely covered with tents and people. I was not only shocked by the number of people that showed up in the rain and mud for an out of conference game but also by the fact that several tailgates had satellites, multiple flat screen TV's, carpet, chandeliers, and huge tables covered in food. It was so crowded it was hard to get good pictures but here are a couple.

I met a lot of incredibly friendly and gracious people, who define southern hospitality, that welcomed me to their tailgates and insisted I needed to come back for the Bama game because apparently what I was witnessing was JV compared to the crowd that would show up for an in conference game on a nice day. Honestly though I am not sure how you could have crammed one more person in there.

All in all it was a great trip and I am looking forward to getting the chance to visit some of the other conferences that we are serving as we continue to grow.

Thursday, August 27, 2009

The Cavalier Daily Writes about Collegeweekends

A home away from home
University alumnus launches temporary lodging Web site that offers alternatives to Charlottesville hotels

In our first student newspaper! The best recommendation we can get is directly from a university. Does your school want to be next??

Friday, August 21, 2009

Look Out Athens! Condo available in the heart of UGA campus

Collegeweekends would like to welcome Condo Near Downtown/UGA Stadium to the family. Located in the middle of the UGA campus, this beautiful property is available for all remaining Bulldogs games this season, so don't wait to book your weekend today! More information available at

Thursday, August 13, 2009 In The Press

It has been a great week for media coverage and as a result getting new listings and booking them up fast. We now have 19 listings in Oxford and they get booked for all the home SEC games as fast as we put them up on this site. We got some great coverage in Boulder which has resulted in 7 spectacular listing and a huge boost in traffic. Here are the 3 new articles that came out this week.
COVER- Survival of the fittest: Adapting, evolving, thriving in a rough housing market
The Hook, Charlottesville, VA

At home on the road
The Examiner, Denver, Co

Web site lets owners turn homes into hotels
The Daily Camera, Boulder, CO

Friday, August 7, 2009

Dave Dugdale of Rentvine

Last week I had the pleasure of eating lunch with an SEO jedi by the name of Dave Dugdale. Dave is the founder of a company called rentVine that is a platform for advertising and finding rental properties all over the country. I discovered Dave's blog while doing some research on online rental marketing a couple of years ago and have been following his every move ever since. He is truely a wealth of information with regards to search engine optimization. The team is excited about implementing some new strategies we learned about from Dave and watching our rankings climb.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Good Pictures Equal More Bookings

Posting good pictures of your property on is the single most important thing you can do to ensure you are maximizing your bookings. Which property would you book? The one on the top or the one on the bottom?

I think the answer is clear. They are both pictures of very nice modern kitchens but the picture on the top is so poorly lit that it is impossible to tell that it has spectacular cabinets and brand new stainless steel appliances. So it should come as no surprise to the property owner on top that the property below gets close to four times as much traffic and 5 times the bookings.

If you really want to make sure the job is done right we recommend hiring a professional, and we are happy to help you find just the right one. If this is something you are interested in please comment on this blog post and we will be sure to contact you right away. If you want to do it yourself we have provided some tips here to help you be successful.

  1. Lighting. Choose well-lit, clear photographs taken on a sunny day. Early mornings before sunrise and late afternoons tend to be the best for taking photographs. The best rule of thumb to follow is to have the sun behind you at all times. If your home or the room you are photographing faces West, the sun will be at your back in the mornings. If it faces East, the sun will be at your back in the evenings. Avoid photos with too much light or too little light, which is also a common mistake.
  2. Recency. Photos should not be more than two or three years old. Avoid uploading photos that show a date stamp. When you select your photos, you don't want to have to continually update those pictures because your date stamp is giving away the age of the photo.
  3. Variety. Include both exterior and interior shots of your property. Travelers want to get a sense of the size and style of your home. Include the main living room, kitchen, and all bedrooms. That's right - if you have a 5 bedroom home, 5 of your photos should be of the bedrooms. Site visitors want to see accurate representations of your property. That being said, it's probably not necessary to include a photograph of your bathroom unless it is spectacular. A toilet is pretty much a toilet everywhere. Along those lines, avoid filling space with generic nature photos. Try to feature some aspect of your actual home in each photo.
  4. Staging. Help the travelers imagine what it will feel like to stay in your home. Instead of showing a bare table and chairs, add a bowl of fruit or a vase of flowers. You might even set the table with place settings and wine. Sofas and other seating areas can be spruced up with throw pillows and blankets. Lamps tend to photograph better when they are turned on. However, always be sure to turn televisions off.
  5. Framing. Consider what is in the frame of your shot. When choosing exterior photos, stay away from the ones that have cars in the frame as they can distract from the actual home. When selecting your bedroom shots, try to select photos that show the entire bed.
  6. Format. A standard landscape/horizontal format fits best.
  7. Pixels. Upload 640 pixel x 480 pixel digital originals for best results. 400 pixel x 300 pixel photos are minimum requirements.
  8. Digital Images. Use JPEG digital image format ONLY. If you don't have a digital camera, borrow one from a friend or hire a professional photographer. You don't want to use low-resolution or scanned photos that don't do your home justice.
  9. Camera Settings. Use medium to high quality settings on your digital camera. Don't over-compress your photos.
  10. Eliminate Clutter. Don't you dare take pictures with dirty dishes on the counter or your tennis racket laid out on the dinner table. Be sure to take an extra 15 minutes to tidy up and make sure you eliminate clutter.

I promise you if you follow these guidelines you will see your booking increase dramatically. If you have any other tricks or suggestions please share them with us by commenting on this blog.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009 Text Message Inquiries*

Away from home but want to keep up with inquiries about your property? Sign up for The Text Service and never be left in the dark!

Enter your mobile phone number and carrier for each of your properties at the dashboard page, and you can get instantaneous updates when someone inquires about your property (see picture below)!

One of the most important things you can do as a property owner to increase your bookings is to respond promptly to inquiries. People are busier and busier these days and they want results fast. Be the first to respond and greatly increase your chances of earning their business.

Be sure to leave comments on the blog to let us know what you think about this new feature and if there are anyways we can improve our service.


*Standard Rates Apply

Saturday, June 27, 2009 In The Press

We got some coverage in The Daily Progress today. Click on the snapshot below to check out the article.

Friday, June 26, 2009

New Calendar Widget

We just launched a new calendar widget that can be seen on all our browse listings pages and an upcoming events page which you can click on from the home page in the bottom left corner. Here is a snapshot of the upcoming events page for Charlottesville.

So if you are ever looking for a good excuse to visit your college town please be sure to check out our site. Also please let us know if there is an event that you think we should have posted on your schools calendar. As of right now we have all the home football games and a handful of big concerts and festivals.

Please leave comments on this blog to let us know what you think of this feature or if there is anything about it you would like us to change. We really appreciate your feedback.

Friday, June 12, 2009 In The News

Here is an oldie but goody from the c'ville weekly and here is our newest release tell all your friends in the media.

University of Virginia Rental Market First to Capitalize on College Weekend Phenomenon

Saturday, June 6, 2009

The New!!

It is official the new splash page is up and the Athens and Oxford sites are live.

Click on your state to see the schools available and then click on your school. Comment on this blog and let us know what you think. Also let us know if you want to see in your college town.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

New Review Request Functionality

We have just made it a lot easier for our clients to request reviews from their renters. Once you log into your account on the left under the Rental Check List link you will see a Request Review link. When you click on this a menu will pop up that will ask for the renters name, e-mail address, and date of stay. Once you click send an automatically generated e-mail will be sent to the renter. Below is a picture of what the e-mail looks like.

This e-mail makes entering a review much simpler by taking the user directly to the review form for your property.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

New Testimonial

Here is another testimonial from a happy customer. Thanks Travis! It is property owners like you that make a success.

Be sure to check out Ridge St Carriage House

Travis Testimonial from on Vimeo.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Athens and Oxford Look Out!!!

We are working frantically to get the new sites for Athens, Ga (University of Georgia) and Oxford, MS(Ole Miss) ready. We still have some kinks to work out and need to get some properties listed but you can check them out at the following URLs

You will also notice that the old url now points too hopefully by the end of the weekend we will have the new splash page up and running so that when you go to you will see

Stay tuned we will post it here when we go live.

Friday, May 15, 2009

NEW Property Owner Account Page

Last night we introduced a new account page for all of our clients. We feel the page is a major improvement and will make managing your property much easier. Aside from the new user friendly design we have introduced some new features which I have listed below.
  • we now furnish a rental agreement and a prepare you home for rental checklist
  • there is a window that shows all of your recent inquiries
  • you can now easily reset your password
  • we also have added some useful statistics for each property you have listed like total # of inquiries, # of reviews, average ranking, and the last time you updated your account
We think it is a major improvement but we want to hear from you too. Please comment on this blog post to let us know what you think or if you have suggestions for things we could do better.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Upcoming Events in C'ville

Graduation Weekend May 15th -17th

8/27 Keith Urban with Sugar Land
10/9 Martha's Market
10/17 Metalica

At the Charlottesville Pavillion
6/10 David Byrne from the Talking Heads
8/02 Neville Bros and Dr. John

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

1% For The Planet is proud to announce that we are official members of 1% For The Planet

Here is a quick blurb from their website on what they are about.

To be perfectly honest, it’s not about us. It’s about businesses recognizing that industry and ecology are inherently connected. It’s about realizing the positive effects of connecting businesses, consumers and nonprofits through philanthropy. And it’s about understanding that the true cost of doing business can be mitigated by a simple pledge to the planet.

Since 2002, 1% For The Planet has inspired members of the business community to contribute 1% of sales to environmental groups around the world. In return, this growing alliance of companies is given the opportunity not only to see their self-worth rise, but their net worth climb as well.

Not long ago I read Yvon Chouinard's(founder of Patagonia) book "Let My People Go Surfing", and that is how I learned about 1% For The Planet. The book had a profound impact on me in that it helped me realize that I really can make a difference, and I strongly recommend the book to anybody in the business world. I think if we all read the book and adopted Chouinard's tenets of envirionmental and social responsibility, the world would be a better place.

Home Owner Testimonial

Home Owner Testimonials from on Vimeo.

This is our new home owner video testimonial. Thanks Steve and Michelle for helping us spread the word!

If you are a potential renter be sure to check out Steve and Michelle's properties. If you are a homeowner that wants help with pictures or the details of managing your rental Steven is helping offer a more complete service by helping our clients manage their properties. If you are interested in this extra level of service please let us know.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009 Launches Beta Version of New Site

After several sleepless nights and almost a years worth of work we have finally launched our new website. It is a beta version and undoubtedly has a few kinks left to work out, but we believe it a major improvement over the old site. I have posted a screen shot tutorial that shows how to search the site to find the perfect vacation rental property for your visit to Charlottesville. Please don't hesitate to comment on this blog or to e-mail us directly if you have any thoughts, problems, or praise for the new site. Also don't hestiate to let us know if you would like to see in your collegetown.

Property Search Tutorial 4/10 from on Vimeo.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Welcome to the new College Weekends!