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 June, 2012

Friends With Benefits: Rentini Wants To “Like” Your Vacation Rental

Rentini helps you promote your vacation rental

Plus one, Likes, Follows, Pins, Tweets, and Check-Ins

Add your vacation rental to the web of social media

As a fresh, young company, we at Rentini.com understand the importance of being a source of support for homeowners renting out their accommodations and travelers searching for a rental that’s right for them.

In an industry as fragmented and noisy as that of vacation rentals, the market demands a more streamlined approach that simplifies life for homeowners and travelers alike. That’s why Rentini goes the extra mile for vacation rental owners that list their properties on our network, enabling them to connect directly to potential guests.

Rentini will help you promote your vacation rental social profile in a variety of ways

Rentini will help you promote your vacation rental social profile in a variety of ways

In the spirit of boosting business for vacation rental owners, if a homeowner lists with Rentini we will “Like” their Facebook page and “follow” their page on Twitter. If we haven’t done so already just provide us with the link to your pages and we’ll like them for you. We may also include your listing on our Featured Properties page.

We want to boost business for vacation rental owners and that means giving quality back to owners and travelers alike.

Should homeowners want us to we can follow them on newer platforms such as Google+ or Pinterest. Just ask.

Connect with us on any of our social media pages and we’ll do the same for you!

Rentini on Facebook
Rentini on Twitter
Rentini on Pinterest
Rentini on Google+
Rentini Blog

Announcing a social media marketing blog series and Pinterest contest to boost marketing for your property!

Homeowners listed on Rentini receive features to improve the marketing of their rental business. But that’s not all, we are starting a blog series focused on helping homeowners easily market their properties to travelers on major social networks, and we’re kicking it off with a contest! Stay tuned and join our fun & easy Pinterest campaign that we’ve made in an effort to get your vacation homes more exposure on major social sites like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Prizes include a luxury spa treatment and a number of free professional photography sessions for vacation homes.

Photo Credit to Flickr Creative Commons, from Top:

108 High Resolution Dark Denim Social Media Icons by webtreats

Facebook Like Button by FindYourSearch

A travelers guide to Florence

Florence is a city full of charm and culture

Florence, Italy, is home to Michelangelo’s David

WHAT TO EXPECT:

It’s almost as crowded as Venice. But it’s bigger, and it’s PACKED with art. Everywhere you walk, practically, there’s a masterpiece glaring down at you—it’s a great place to feel intimidated, especially if you don’t know much about art history. (We suggest a little preparation in this department might help). You also need to escape from the general chaos of touristland. Head to “the other side of the river” from the Duomo, the “Pallazo Pitti” side and look for Piazza Santo Spiritu: one of many quiet, local square filled with little cafes. In the summer a stage offers local dance groups and music—at night the atmosphere is definitely what you expect of a real square and a real Italian city.

Florence is like a picture book Italy. From our loggia of our rental on the Piazza D’Espagna the view really did look straight out of a fairy tale: lush green mountains ornamented with stone castles and towers. [Sigh] The city itself may not be the party animal that Rome is, but you eat so well. Like the cafe’s in Paris, sitting at a restaurant in Florence with a warm wind blowing the night air is so mind numbingly amazing.
Stella

WHERE YOU SHOULD GO:

Consult any guidebook:

Il Duomo—all the beautiful marble, not to mention Brunelleschi’s spectacular dome.
The Baptistry—with it’s Ghilberti doors (We have near perfect copies on the front of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, but there’s nothing like the real thing.)
City Hall
Il Ponte Vecchio—waterfront property indeed.
Palazzo Pitti—the art collection is shruggable in comparison to elsewhere, but the gardens are… extensive.
Santa Maria Novella—Paolo Uccello’s masterpieces.
The Medici Chapel—do you know who the Medici were? You should be the time you leave Florence.
Michelangelo’s Library—well, Michelangelo’s staircase to the Laurentian Library anyway…
There is so much to see in Florence that you can easily be overwhelmed. Don’t push yourself too much. Give yourself plenty of time. It’s all good for a couple of days of perpetual tuorist rubbernecking.

THE UFFIZI

Giorgio Vasari's Uffizi museum

The Uffizi is an art gallery in Florence built by Giorgio Vasari

A must see. No, seriously. To do it right, line up an hour and a half before it opens—if you show up after they open, you’ll spend that much time in line anyway, and this way you’ll get a head start on the crowds. This is considered one of the greatest of museums in the world and for good reason. It’s THE Renaissance museum—you see more stunning first rate painting than almost anywhere, but do gear up for an awfully lot of Madonna and Childs. Notice how really different they are.

Art changed very little in subject matter during the early Renaissance, and most paintings were commissioned by the church, or patrons who wanted to appear pious (while they were plotting, killing and poisoning their enemies). You will probably get your Christ fix for the next few years. But you’ll be happy in a room filled with Botticellis, and some great battle scenes by Ucello and the like. And enjoy the Madonnas which are absolutely weird, suggestive and downright lewd. (Isn’t that right, Laurel?)

I promise I will never again say that all paintings of the Madonna and Child look the same… honest.
Laurel has a notebook full of Madonna and Child notes.
The Uffizi has an intriguing collection. I spent over forty five minutes in the first room alone. It is to Renaissance art what the D’Orsay is to impressionist. Forget the Louvre—it is so much easier to spend a day in the Uffizi.
Stella. Louvre? What Louvre?

WHERE YOU CAN EAT:

Il Santo Bevitore
Via Santo Spirito 64/66
Have the soup. Any of them. They had us in tears. Best to go early. The fill up—fast. Very reasonably priced for what you’re getting.

Boccanegra
Via Ghibellina 124/R
ph: 055 200 10 98
Another knockout. Not great for a group, but for two to four people, it’s excellent. A little more expensive.

Gelato:
By Piazza Santo Spiritu, facing the church, on the right hand side of the square is a terrific little cafe lined with painting in the shape of the church. You can get excellent quality gelato all over Florence, but this is the place we always go. The gelato might not be any better than anywhere else, but the staff are much cuter.

WHERE YOU WANT TO GO:

Piazza del Campo, Siena

SIENNA
Florence counts as being part of Tuscany, but if you want a better idea of the rolling hills and towns frozen in time like the ones talked about in “Under the Tuscan Sun” and such like, you’ll want to take a train out to Sienna and maybe a bus trip to one of the outlying villages from there. Visit the (other) Duomo, the town square, the tower in City Hall… have lunch in the square. Wander. You can’t go wrong and you’ll love it all. Eat any place that looks reasonably local.

Most of the main attractions are held in the main square. There I climbed 89 meters of twirling cavernous stairs straight up in to the heavens. Up top, the wind blew just enough to relive me of the oppressive heat down below and I found myself surrounded by Italy as far as I could see.
Stella has calves of steel.

WHERE YOU WANT TO STAY:

Located in a lovely area close to Piazzale Michelangelo and san Niccolò, in a quiet area walking distance from the most important cultural sites in Florence, Bastioni apartment comfortably accommodates six people.

Bastioni apartment in Florence Italy

Photo credits, Creative Commons:

Uffizi by eblaser

Piazza del Campo, Siena by PhillipC

This story was brought up to us by the San Francisco Art and Film for teenagers

Why They Keep Finding New Awards To Give The Hudson Valley

We’re on a roll ’round this river: the awards keep on comin’

The Kelder's Farm Gnome overlooked by the Shawangunk Mountains

The Kelder’s Farm Gnome was named the Worlds Largest Garden Gnome in the Guinness Book of World Records 2009

Winning raves is nothing new around here. Hardly a year goes by without some form of attention being paid, whether it’s our state university branch getting notorious in High Times as a top ten countercultural college or ranking on the U.S. News and World Report’s 2012 America’s Best Colleges guide as a great regional university, some hip travel publication waxing ecstatic about the delights of Phoenicia, or the young mayor of New Paltz being proclaimed one of the sexiest men alive in the wake of his 2004 arrest. We’re forever being rediscovered: Woodstock as the un-Hamptons! Rosendale as the New Brooklyn!

Stay by the waterfall in the Catskills

Beautiful Two-bedroom, two-bath “Waterfall” house in Palenville, N.Y., in Greene County, near Woodstock

But lately it’s gotten almost embarrassing. In rapid succession, we’ve been “discovered” by the AARP as a “great quirky place to retire,” lauded by Lonely Planet, and had one of our highways singled out by Jesse McKinley of the New York Times as “beautiful and powerful, an open secret known to locals and those willing to take the long way around.”

There are more, but you get the idea. My home town- Ulster County, the Hudson River Valley and Catskill Mountains of New York- is one fantastic place to visit and/or live. Well, a lot of us knew that. It’s nice to hear, though, and the citizenry have responded by continuing to up the ante. Just last week, 2,569 of my neighbors got together and broke the world record for the world’s largest line dance.

Alright, so it was a “simple four step variation” on the Hokey Pokey that bested the record from Estonia, not a ballet or even the Electric Slide. You might think, well, that certainly established the quirky part if nothing else. Further investigation, though, reveals that this feat was accomplished atop the world’s longest elevated pedestrian bridge. Oh, and on June 30 they’re having a fine art auction.

Not, mind you, that we locals wander around in a constant state of euphoric self-congratulation. This is New York State, U.S.A., 2012, and we struggle with the socioeconomic and daily life stuff just like anybody anywhere. It’s easy for some travel writer to pop in, catch a hot jam at some music venue, maybe play a round of miniature golf under the gigantic garden gnome (see top photo), eyeball some scenery or a gallery and think they’ve got the picture.

Folks, it ain’t that great.

Rosendale peace sign

It’s better. From the first capitol of New York State, burnt to the ground by the British in the Revolutionary War (General Burgoyne considered it a nest of vipers and scoundrels) and now home to an awesome arts festival full of grass roots health care activism and a thriving social club/business alliance for creative techies, to the mountain dell where tiny, frequently-flooded Phoenicia hosts world-class opera, from our assorted downtowns full of businesses as unique as thumb prints to the apex of the cliff faces National Geographic raves about in naming New Paltz a top adventure town, we got it going on.

This is not to deny that Burgoyne had a point. In the cradle of United States history, corruption and infamy are as practiced as any other art. We have property tax battles, noisy arguments and police blotters full of sadness and silliness like anywhere else.

Drawn not least by the nature, the Woodstock music festival, and the quirky people, waves of counter-cultural youth discover the Hudson Valley each year.

But if I had to reach for one main thing that singles out my little corner of the world, it would be the way we work together. Everybody’s heard of the 1969 Woodstock Festival, which famously did not happen in Woodstock. What did happen in Woodstock was that about eight zillion young longhairs showed up looking for the festival. A lot of places would have dug a moat and manned the barricades, beefed up law enforcement, and squashed that right quick.

But this was the settled arts colony of Woodstock, New York, and the grownups opened their hearts and wallets and in some cases homes, and the impromptu network that resulted has grown into a comprehensive human services organization that offers help with “any problem under the sun” and comes through on it. (Bethel, where the festival actually took place, can have the museum, although I hear it’s very nice.)

I could go on and on about our foodies and farms and wineries, our festivities and cleverness, but I am hoping this gives you a taste. The recipe for award winning takes in all of the above, but the secret ingredient would have to be the spirit of collaboration. For most folks around here, it’s not about “We’ve got a problem; who can we blame?” It’s “We’ve got a problem? What kind of a solution can we create together?”

Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge in New York State

Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park was the scene of the Guinness Book of World Record with 2,500 people dancing the Hokey Pokey in a line for five minutes

This in turn creates an atmosphere in which every species of creative dream, be it a business, an event, a political endeavor, a giant line dance or what have you, can thrive and does. Our hills are as high and our river as deep as your dreams. And if you’re looking for a journey that will stimulate and satisfy, or a home where you can be absolutely whoever you really are, you are hereby invited to venture up the river from Manhattan and see for yourself.

Do you live in a world class place? Tell me about it! I’m bragging, I confess. But in the spirit of my Hudson Valley home, I have been educated to maintain an open mind.

****

For more great information about the Hudson Valley, check out the excellent local publications and websites below:

Chronogram magazine
http://www.chronogram.com
Chronogram’s Community Pages offer town-by-town guides to the region
Ulster Publishing Almanac
http://www.hudsonvalleyalmanacweekly.com
Ulster Publishing’s Almanac, a guide to arts, events and entertainment
Watershed Post
http://www.watershedpost.com
The Watershed Post features news and events from the Catskills
Visit Vortex
http://www.visitvortex.com
“Your guide to the great people and places of the Hudson Valley.” Video tours of area attractions.
Hudson Valley Weddings
http://www.hudsonvalleyweddings.com
All about wedding planning in the HV. Hey, it was good enough for Chelsea Clinton
Historic Hudson Valley
http://www.hudsonvalley.org
Tour our great estates and historic attractions
Ulster County Tourism
http://www.ulstertourism.info
Ulster County’s official tourism website

****

Anne Pyburn Craig has lived all over the area she describes, from the banks of the mighty Hudson to the Catskills High Peaks. She is a writer and mother of three wise children.

A travelers guide to London

London underground with birds

English call it “Tube” but for the birds and the rest of the world it’s still an underground

This is not the cozy, ivy-ladened cottage land of your English literature course. London is where everyone is “with it” and trying to figure out what the next “it” is on top of that. Think Manhattan on speed. Color, lights, lots of cultural pyrotechnics, a hodgepodge battle of the traditional with every freaky thing you can imagine, and you need to be prepared to jump in and let your senses be boggled. It’s heavy on culture—the museums are free and the theater is dirt cheap, SO TAKE ADVANTAGE!

Oh! And if you’re going to get anywhere in London, you’re going to take the tube (the subway) so get a map as soon as you arrive and get to know it.

Staying in London is like living a warped bohemian dream.

House in London

Some historic neighborhoods look very chic and pretty

Something about it make you feel so incredibly hip. The only real problem with it is that the streets make no sense. One night we walked around in circles for a good hour. Even when we asked for directions, the locals seemed to have no idea what they were talking about. I must say though, Londoners are quite polite, especially if you happen to be an attractive teenage girl. The boys there pounce on the chance to take a girl out and show them around.

Bring an umbrella. When it says a cloudy day, it’s going to rain. When they say it’s a sunny day, it’s going to sprinkle.
Stella on her first day in London

Soho! Was I dreaming last night? Lights, lights, all lights! Tall buildings with pink windows, purple cars, restaurants with multicolored velvet seats, slanted mirrors, porn houses with flaming red signs down small, crooked roads! It went on and on. My head whirls— color, lights, people— and yet it’s only Thursday (our first night!) What would Saturday be like?
Florica on her first night in London

WHERE YOU SHOULD GO:

THE NATIONAL GALLERY
For a couple of centuries England was top dog on the International scene (the “colonies,” the “empire,” and the sun which “never” set on it) and so it was able to steal a ton of art from around the world to bring home. Much of it is at your disposal at this magnificent and eclectic museum. Plan to spend a few hours just wandering.

THE TATE MODERN
England’s answer to the Museum of Modern Art… and what an answer it was. Just the sight of this impressive building has made the people at MOMA run out and buy themselves a new one. Not to mention the collection. All your favorite modern artists and a good deal of those of whom you’ve never even heard. Take time to see their Duchamps collection; they’ve got several great pieces, and beware Rebecca Horn’s falling piano.

The Tate was really, really big, and that was nice because it gave you and opportunity to truly see everything… even if just walking from one exhibit to another tires you out.
Isaiah while still recovering from jet lag

I think that tired a lot of the students out, because by the time we got through the Morandi show everyone had just about passed out, and I was the only one who made it to the Arte Povera exhibition.
Tyson who clearly drank his coffee that morning

THE BRITISH MUSEUM
Another bonanza of the spoils of the British Empire. How much loot can one empire grab? Greek sculptures? Take a left as you enter. Egyptian mummies? Right upstairs. You name it, they took it and put it on display for you. But don’t be too hard on them. If they had not preserved any of this stuff, it might not exist at all. Incidentally, just seeing the building itself is worth the visit. It was recently renovated and the results are astounding. Just ask our students:

The greatest part is the architecture— the new part they added on is this huge beautiful glass dome—the way they put it together… it’s really impressive!
Tyson likes domes

WHERE TO EAT:

WAGAMAMA (several locations in and around London)
Udon (Japanese noodles in broth) and lots of it. It’s served cafeteria style, and there is always a line which is how you know it’s good. The line moves fairly quickly though, and it’s not too expensive so give it a try.

THE RESTARAUNT @ THE BRITISH MUSEUM (atop the library)
Very good food, but even better atmosphere. You’re up near the top of the new glass dome which all our students loved so much. Not very cheap, but not very expensive. Splurge a little.

ANY INDIAN RESTARAUNT
They’re all good. (Well, probably not, but we didn’t try enough of them to tell you which are the best. But seriously, it’s hard to go wrong.) Are you near Kensington?—try MEMORIES OF INDIA.

And do lunch in NEALS YARD
Look around. It shouldn’t be hard to find a place.

WHERE YOU WANT TO GO:

One of the centers of real London is off Neal Street in COVENT GARDEN…. all the pubs spill out into the streets at 5pm and you’ll see an obelisk… that’s the real hub… all the hip joints are around, wander and choose one that is full of happy folks.

THE NATIONAL THEATER
Where it’s all happening. Hang out next door at the National Film Theater’s outdoor cafe, and get student seats at the last minute to any of the National’s fare. It’s usually terrific, especially the small theater.

THE OLD GLOBE
Yes, you stand. Two hours standing in the pit really isn’t as bad as it sounds, especially if the play is good (which it often is). Besides, it costs next to nothing and you can smirk at all the tourists who paid extra to sit in the benches. You can look around for celebrities if that’s your thing. We saw two in one evening. (“Yes, Isaiah, that is Helen Mirren. No I don’t think she’s making eyes at you.”)

Oh, and take a RAIN COAT if it looks like you might need it. Wait! What are we saying ‘if’?

If you see an evening performance, go first to the PUB down the river for a bite to eat (about two blocks walk toward the National Theater). It’s genuine English food… the kind they warn you about, but really it’s not as deadly as you’ve been told. After the performance wander along the river. It’s—ahem—”smashing”.

Eye of London and Themes ferry

Eye of London wheel near Themes ferry

There’s also a bunch of TOURIST STUFF (but do you REALLY want to?)
Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s, the Tower of London, and you can ride the ferris wheel (the “Eye of London”) if you must, but don’t blame us if the natives scowl at you.

Photo credits, Creative Commons from top:

London by dChris

London Ferris Wheel by JohnGoode

This story was brought up to us by the San Francisco Art and Film for teenagers

A Website Is Essential For Your Vacation Rental Business

In this day in age, it can seem like just about everyone has a website. People are increasingly using a website in place of a resume when applying for jobs, for example. Just as the traditional resume print-out is becoming a thing of the past, so too are self-printed brochures vacation rental owners would mail out through the post being replaced by more digital forms of distribution. The website has emerged, above all, as the virtual address for vacation rentals, and for good reasons.

Mary's Website Powered By Rentini.com

Marilyn’s website was built from a template powered by Rentini.com

Why is a website so important for selling your vacation rental?

There are a multitude of answers to why websites are essential:

Website for El Alto Lucerto vacation rental in MexicoFirst, a website address is easier to remember. You strike a bond with the passenger sitting next to you on the plane. You inform them that you have a vacation home you rent out to guests. The neighbor – who feels like more of a friend after many hours spent being airborne together – is interested in learning more, perhaps even staying there himself. Where could they find out more, they ask you. While you could respond by telling him how to search and find your property on VRBO or give them your HomeAway property ID, making sure he writes the number down correctly, it would be more effective if you could tell him the name of your website – yourwebsite.com. Or, better yet, hand him your business card with the website typed on the card. How easy!

Put short, a website gives you greater control. You choose your website domain. You choose the title that appears on your website. You choose your property description; your about us section. It is in your own voice.

True, you could have original content on your property listing, but you’ll have a long heavy web address that is a subdomain of another website. Many websites will also show your listing among other “similar listings” or “nearby properties”. You certainly don’t want potential guests to be shown other options along with your property. Your property should stand alone, not be part of a crowd. A website gives you that freedom.

A Website Gives You Vacation Rental Independence

Waipouli Condo at Kauai Website powered by Rentini

The “Seagull” template powered by Rentini.com was the vacation rental owners first choice for their website and it shows why.

Having your own website gives you independence in various ways. For example, you could create Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and other social media pages and link them to your website. This will help draw web traffic to your property website, hopefully increasing foot traffic and revenue to your rental business.

Having a website will give you the ability to utilize paid keyword searches – such as Google Adwords – to advertise your property. Your own website will also enable you to run site analytics so you can measure the amount of web traffic coming in to your website and, in turn, how much of this traffic is converting to guest bookings.

Having a website gives you the ability to add a means for guests to contact you directly. Add an email, phone number, or a simple form for guests to fill out or ask a question if you prefer. You can have an email address associated with your website, which will give you greater authenticity with potential guests. The benefits to having your own vacation rental website are many, but all in all they can boost business.

And running your own website doesn’t mean you have to spend a lot of time and money on maintenance. Our company, Rentini.com, provides websites to homeowners for free. We provide beautiful templates to choose from so your website comes pre-built for you. It literally takes a minute to set up your own website.

If you already have purchase a domain name for your vacation rental, linking it with your website at Rentini is a piece of cake. If you don’t have your own domain name, choose a catchy name as a sub-domain under rentini.com, such as hawaii.rentini.com or hampton.rentini.com

Below are some examples of homeowners websites, powered by Rentini:

http://ModernLakeTahoe.rentini.com

http://HamptonProperties.rentini.com

http://ZirahuenElAltoLucero.rentini.com

http://CasaAlessandra.rentini.com

http://kauai.rentini.com

http://MagicRefuge.rentini.com

http://WaipouliCondo.com
http://GoToHeavenly.com
http://ItalyMountainCabin.com

Collage of a few website templates offered for FREE by Rentini

You can’t go wrong with any of these templates: EASY. BEAUTIFUL. FREE!

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