Rentini provides useful and exciting travel insights. From adventures to marketing tips for vacation rental owners, we want to help you travel as it's meant to be – easy, refreshing, & fun!

Archive for November, 2011

Ch-ch-ch-Changes

People tend to notice how a face matures over time, and it’s no different with a website.  Our homepage is our face; the cover to our book.  That being said, you may have noticed a couple of changes recently. Yes, once again we have changed our logo, albeit very slightly.  The logo change is so minor that we challenge you to identify the difference.  Of course, for us this change is an improvement.  We wouldn’t have done it otherwise.  

Our homepage carousel has also been replaced.  Out with the sliding, rotating carousel.  In with individual photos replacing one another, one by one. They’re revealed in a manner reminiscent of opening blinds across a window.  Now it is less intrusive, and easier for the mind to digest.  

Another neat feature I can share with you is the ability for an owner to create a reservation on behalf of a user.  Homeowners can create a reservation for a guest, and the guest can then follow the link in their email to book and confirm their getaway.  
What’s also cool is that our developers have added to the homeowners calendar.  Now, homeowners can manipulate their calendar in a dynamic way.  For example, if you select dates within the Update Calendar section, memos will appear notifying you of any existing reservations or days you’ve set as unavailable that conflict with the dates you have selected.

You also might have noticed we updated our links throughout the website to make it crystal clear you are indeed hovering over a link.  

Countless changes have been made, and countless more are underway.  It is exciting to bear witness to the earliest stages of a new life.  And ask any mother and father, there is nothing quite like being in the room when a child is born.

There are two basic types of changes you’ll see on the site–front end and back end.  The front end is the user-interface, or what you see and interact with, the stylings and text work guides you through our website.  The back end is the information processing center.  This is where the code and architecture of the site are engineered and constructed.  

We invite you to tell us what you think of our efforts and offer any feedback you have for us as we move forward.

Happy thanksgiving!

ancapronThe release of the turkeys!
martha_chapa95Thanksgiving is a popular holiday, even trolls celebrate with a feast.
antonellomusinaThis is a traditional turkey dinner with yams and cranberry to boot!
Dave & Margie Hill / Kleerup
A thanksgiving meal is never the same without stuffing and pumpkin pie! 
ancapronThis chicken is feeling a little left out.

South of the Border

©Rentini
“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, 
deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” –Mirium Beard

A New Week, a New Set of Features!

You know you’re doing something right when you fall asleep like a baby and bounce out of bed like a kid on Christmas morning (or the first day of Hanukkah).  Indeed, day-in/day-out, at Rentini we look forward to developing fresh new ideas, creating solutions, and making a difference.  The energy we get from building up our website feeds off our interactions here at the office.  Everyday, things happen. And every week, more gets done.  


Last week, we touched on new features found in the dashboard.  So what’s up this week? We’re staying true to ourselves, that’s what.  Even before Rentini, LLC, was a business plan in portable document format, a great deal of thought went into our–at that time remote–“review system”.


As you probably know, customer reviews are in the news these days.  Phony reviewers have been taking advantage of review systems to author negative reviews against their competition and/or favorable reviews for themselves.  Travelers and guests, on the other hand, are often disgruntled when they realize they’ve been duped by inaccurate reviews.  Making allegations that the reviews that had led them to book a particular accommodation were faked frequently lead nowhere.  The guests then become exacerbated by what they see as the unresponsiveness and bureaucracy of big-business.  Representing the “wild west” of user-generated content, reviews on the sites in question can be written by anybody regardless of whether or not they’ve actually experienced the accommodation.  Of course, writing a review of a product or service without actually having experienced it is a criminal offense.  Yet the openness and anonymity of sites like these have provided fertile grounds for this activity.  People violate the law of “falsely representing themselves as a consumer” as often as they violate laws around cross-walks.  And these platforms are often unable to verify the veracity of a review.


In the office, we just discussed an article by travel industry expert, Robert K Cole, about what he terms “Fake Review Optimization,” or the manipulation of review ratings and review fraud.  Like Mr. Cole, we’ve been mulling over this problem for a very long time as we stay informed of the latest black-hat tricks.


We hope that by only having transaction-based reviews–reviews written by individuals who have used our service to pay and book their rental–we hope that by doing this we can prevent this crime wave from tainting our reviews and affecting our community.  We’re in the process of adding other–algorithmic–measures that will alert us of suspicious and fraudulent activity.  While no online review system is 100% full-proof, we aim to make it as difficult as possible to cheat the system.  Your protection as a consumer is our priority; preventing abuse–our mission.


So now, if you complete a rental transaction via our website, you will be able to write a review.  We’ll add a stamp of approval indicating your review has been verified.  

What else is new?  Our developers have successfully set-up our internal messaging system!  This may not seem like a big deal, but it is.  In other words, a messaging system has been enabled for guests to send inquiries to homeowners, for owners and managers to communicate with one another within the platform, etc.  You might ask, Hmm…is it like Hotmail?  No–not quite.  Rentini is not an email provider. The feature I am talking about basically enables customers to make inquiries to homeowners about booking their rentals.  It includes the options for sharing contact information–email and phone number. We recognize how important it is for guests to be confident about their choice of accommodation, and for owners to be reassured by a responsible renter.  By the time a booking is imminent or confirmed, this info will be on hand for both parties to communicate freely and finalize a deal. The message system will also include details provided by the person making the inquiry, such as who is going and their prospective check-in/check-out dates.  Each time you receive a “new message” on Rentini you will be sent an email notification.  We call all this our “Conversation” feature.
 



Sometimes when completing forms such as profiles or property descriptions it is useful to have a prompt or explanation.  At Rentini, we’ve added “hints” to help with tasks such as Listing Your Property and creating your Profile.  These hints clarify what a given call to action is as you fill out necessary info on interactive pages.  You will find these hints throughout the site in the form of a semi-transparent question-mark icon.  By scrolling over the icon, the hint will appear.

    The Developed Nation with Little Vacation


    It’s no surprise that New York City is home to the United Nations. Many people believe, and we at Rentini are among them, that this city is the cultural capital of the globe. Blessed are we to have the diversity of peoples and places that bring us some of the best cuisine the world has ever created. We have the art, fashion, music, education, movements and trends befitting of a city as inclusive as this one. Indeed, we Americans are fortunate to have this diversity found not just in this city, but throughout our nation, from sea to shining sea.  

    Yet, if you venture into Las Vegas, Nevada, you might come across some who’ll say there’s no need to visit the actual Paris, when we have a replica. Go to Disneyworld in Orlando, Florida, and you might come across similar sentiment from those touring the exhibits of other foreign lands. You may have come across others in NYC who seem to have neither the time nor the inclination to get to know the beauty that surrounds them in this land of ours. They’re busy with their careers. Strange, you think.


    What is it about Americans anyway?  They seem to live to work instead of work to live, goes the saying.
    And there is much to support this sentiment.  According to a recent report by the U.S. Office of Travel and Tourism Industries, approximately 30% of Americans hold Passports.  Of course, this number varies depending on the population and geographic area, but compared to other developed nations, 30% isn’t a lot.
     

    Lack of time off from work is one of the reasons Americans cross international borders so infrequently.  The typical American worker has an average of two to three weeks vacation time, and sometimes they’re forced to split these into week-long trips, which in turn limits their travel distance.  The geographic isolation of the states–being bordered by Canada to the north and Mexico to the south–makes the two neighboring countries the most obvious countries to visit for the American traveler.  

    Believe it or not, the U.S. has a rich culture and history of it’s own.  A common belief among Americans is that what we can get after an hours-long flight to a destination in another nation, we can get the same somewhere closer within our own country.  So why go so far?  It’s closer, cheaper, and more familiar nearby–and we can forgo the whole passport hassle!  

    It goes without saying that this line of thinking is flawed.  The idea that there’s no reason to go abroad to get what we already have here overlooks the nuance, diversity and beauty of global cultures. It assumes–wrongly–that Americans already have all the world’s wonders.  Without dismissing the many things we do have in the USA, it is also true that the world as a whole is an intrinsically rich and beautiful place, with various respective histories and cultures.  There is more to see than a lifetime allows.

    All this reveals yet another reason the US has relatively low numbers of passport holders:  skepticism and ignorance of other lands and peoples.  Tied into this is the fear that they don’t like us.  

    Perhaps the most difficult thing to challenge here is the work culture that drastically limits the amount of vacation time for the typical American.  The affordability of going across oceans as opposed to driving somewhere else is also a tricky issue.

    Yet, as the world continues to globalize, we at Rentini see many opportunities arising, and signs of hope ahead.  The facility of travel is increasing, becoming ever more sophisticated.  We’re now more exposed to far-flung regions.  The immediacy of information from all corners of the globe is growing as satellite, Internet, and phone access climbs. Entrepreneurs are acting on opportunities to add to our travel infrastructure.  Job creation surrounding the tourism sector is providing livelihoods for people in rural and remote areas, helping to alleviate economic hardship.

    We at Rentini support cultural exploration, support the idea that we’re interdependent.  For any nation, we encourage people to recognize opportunities, to make the most of their time, and to reach for their dreams.  Travel and discover; live and learn.

    Vacation Rentals vs Hotels 5:0

                          

    The benefits of Vacation Rentals are quickly converting those who in the past would have resorted to a hotel room for their accommodation.  With good reason.  Vacation Rentals offer enormous value to the dollar.  Homes provide more space and privacy—a hotel of the same size is often pricier with fewer attractions.  In a home, for example, you can prepare a meal using a full kitchen and grill. You may opt to eat in the dining room or step outside and enjoy your meal in the fresh air.  Instead of the dormitory style accommodations found in many hotels, Vacation Rentals give you a familial communal area, more bathrooms, laundry rooms, and countless amenities such as your own patio, pool, fireplace and yard. Vacation Rentals can be conveniently found in travel destinations, resort towns, and cultural centers across the world.

    Here are five reasons to book a vacation rental on your next trip:

    1)  Personal space and privacy
    Even the smallest Vacation Homes are often much larger than your average hotel room.  It is the perfect choice for families, groups of friends, or a romantic getaway for two.  

    2)  Vacation homes offer a cornucopia of benefits.
    Think flexible check-in/check-out times, personal amenities such as swimming pools, yards, patios, bicycles for cruising around town, boats and fishing gear, full-kitchens, dining rooms, bathrooms, laundry-rooms, living rooms, and state-of-the art entertainment systems.  Sometimes a vacation rental includes country-club access.  You’ll be surprised by all the luxurious amenities included.  

    3)  Ambiance
    Hotels are often bemoaned as compartmentalized, corporate owned units in sterile environments. Disgruntled guests come away feeling that they’ve only paid for the convenience of having four walls, a bed, and a bathroom.  Vacation Rentals, on the other hand, often provide family owned accommodations that make you feel right at home.  You’ll be doing business with an individual who likely knows the area well, and staying in their home will give you some local flavor.  Most homeowners are very friendly and welcoming.  They want you to have a successful trip, and will likely go out of their way to make your stay smooth and enjoyable.

    4)  Pet friendly properties.  
    You can find dog and cat friendly accommodations which permit your four-legged companions to join you for a true family vacation.  You can choose from great activities for dogs–such as hiking, biking (your dogs can run along), sledding, and cross-country skiing.   

    5) Vacation destination!
    Vacation Rentals can be found in virtually all tourist destinations, as well as special locales off the beaten path, whether they be ski resorts, beach houses, mountain cabins, lake front cottages, resort condominiums, or luxury villas.  

    Even more new features!

    Can you believe it? Things just keep getting better here at Rentini. Our developers are working hard to bring you a seamless, simple, and easy way to travel and/or rent your property.

    So wh
    at’s new? I tell you — all the changes are hard to keep up with. Everyday things are evolving — and improving. Components are built up from scratch, while others are fine-tuned. New ideas are hatched, while others are rethought. Given that the wheels are in motion, I will give you a little taste of what is new, focusing on a few of the latest and greatest features. 
    Major focuses now are the management tools homeowners need for their rental business. One focal point I can tell you about is the edit functions for the “My Listings” feature. 

    My Listings are the properties you list on Rentini.
    The section gives you many options to control the properties — to view, edit, and add photos to your listings. It also gives you the option to view your property calendar.


    Behind the scenes, we’ve started a new step in our drive towards internationalization. We’ve begun translating our third language with Russian. While we’ve been adding Spanish little by little for testing purposes, we’re working on correcting the grammar, beautifying the wording, translating more, stylizing and modifying the spacing to accommodate differences in translation. We’re doing this so that native Spanish speakers won’t yell in exasperation, “Speak Spanish, Rentini!” As we work on these languages, we hone our process, using the language translation website MyGengo as our language depository. Soon, to be sure, we’ll have to nail these languages down — and add others. So now you know the first three languages of Rentini. Our efforts to internationalize will soon come to a language near you.

    Also, you might have noticed that the homepage has undergone some changes. The most prominent change being the way in which the photos are shown. Where as before we had four static photos advertising different travel destinations, we now have several more, which circulate
    from right to left. We call it our “carousel.”

    Look to the little house icon — that house icon links to our homepage.  Click this or the logo to return to beta.rentini.com.  But, don’t expect our site to look the same for long. It only gets better with time.

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