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 September, 2012

A traveler’s guide to Cordoba, Spain

View of the famous Mosque and surroundings in Cordoba

WHAT TO EXPECT:

You can get there by train from Madrid in three hours. Astonishing. Cordoba is way different from Madrid: it’s smaller, it’s hotter and it’s filled with Moorish architecture. Don’t expect to see too many Moors these days—the Catholics threw them out in 1492. It’s a great wandering town because it is tiny compared to the other cities mentioned on this site. Head straight for the historical part of town, that’s what you’re really there to see. Get plenty of sleep the night before, take the train down in the morning and take in the whole place in one day. You should be able to make it back to Madrid for dinner. (Remember, dinner in Madrid begins at 10pm. You’ve got plenty of time.)

WHAT YOU SHOULD SEE:

LA MEZQUITA

The arches of La Mesquita in Córdoba

The arches of La Mesquita in Córdoba

The Mosque. The big one. Hell, the only one that really matters in Spain. It’s one of the great wonders of architecture. Red and white striped arches as far as the eye can see. This Muslim center, built on the site of a pagan temple was converted to a church, but the Catholics had the good sense to leave the arches and geometric details were left intact. Three layers of spirituality in one site. A tremendous experience not to be missed.

WHERE YOU SHOULD EAT:

Be our guest… pick anything that looks quaint, pleasant, and local. Though it was very good, we can’t remember the name of the place we ate. It was across the street from the Hotel

Restaurant Patio de la Judería

Lola. Where is the Hotel Lola? Ask a local.

We found one place that served quite well—namely because it was 109 degrees outside and the restaurant was

air-conditioned. Patio de la Judería is the name, and it’s located on the corner of Conde and Luque.

WHAT YOU WANT TO SEE:

The TRAIN STATION in time to get the train back to Madrid. All you’ll see if you miss it are some tourists from Omaha (we warned you). You don’t want to get stuck in Cordoba over night. Nothing bad will happen, but more to the point, nothing will happen. There just isn’t a whole lot to do as a tourist in that city. Of course, you might find something we didn’t. We were shocked to find a jazz festival taking place the same day as our trip.

Cordoba Mezquita

If you do get stuck, there are some ruines of MOORISH PALACES just outside town. We don’t know how to get there but you have to go by taxi anyways and all the taxi drivers know. It’s a very nice place to walk though, but go only if you’ve seen the mosque, had lunch, wandered around town, stopped for coffee, then desert and you’ve still got plenty of time (at least a few hours) before the train is scheduled to leave.

Dome/Ceiling of the Catedral de la Asunción de Nuestra Señora

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

Photo Credits, Flickr Creative Commons, from top:

La Mezquita @ Cordoba
Kevin Poh

Córdoba
Bert Kaufmann

Cordoba Mezquita
Luca Volpi

Andalucía / Andalusië: Córdoba
Bert Kaufmann

Capitalize Off Your Reviews and Testimonials

You asked, and we listened!

At Rentini, we develop and improve our product based on feedback from homeowners and travelers who make up our customer base. One refrain we’ve heard again and again from homeowners new to Rentini has been about how to show their reviews from past guests on their new Rentini powered website or listing. Travelers, they remind us, like to see social proof before proceeding to book a vacation home. Namely, travelers want to see positive reviews highlighting what a good time they had at the vacation home and some of the perks of staying there.

Introducing Testimonials

Our homeowners have a point: studies have shown that properties with reviews are far more likely to generate more bookings. On Rentini guests leave reviews after having paid for a reservation via Rentini. This enables us to verify the review by associating it with a paid reservation. But what about all those reviews from previous guests?

That’s where testimonials come into play. Rentini has developed a feature that lets homeowners invite previous guests and friends to write testimonials [read: personal recommendations, or, reviews of the rental]. Testimonials are a good start to getting some of those glowing reviews and established history from previous guests and friends visible on your listing.

On Your Listings page are features including Request Testimonials. Click on Request Testimonials and in the boxes enter emails of friends and previous guests and click send to invite them to write a testimonial for you and your property.

In the future we will develop something more comprehensive –something that will propagate your reviews automatically from the biggest vacation rental sites where you already have most of your reviews. This, we hope, would be the necessary step to show your property in the best light while maintaining Rentini’s verified review system.

What do you think? Share your thoughts below!

Introducing Last Minute Deals on Vacation Rentals by Homeowners

Don’t give up on upcoming vacancies, we’ve got a solution!

It’s never too late to make some memories, or money when it comes to being a vacation rental owner. That’s why we have created a last minute deals program that allows our homeowners to offer travelers last minute discounts on vacancies for their vacation rentals.

Fill vacant dates on your calendar
Each week on Tuesday at noon EST, registration for our last minute deals page will open. There you can let us know your desired last minute dates and rates. We will then publish the new rates for travelers the following day (Wednesday) along with spreading the word about your great deal across as much of the internet as can.

Blog about your last minute deal

If you want to take your deal (and overall listing) one step further, we are accepting blog posts from our homeowners regarding their vacation destinations. Take a look at these posts to get some ideas. Notice how we talk about the culture, activities and overall lifestyle of the destinations. By attracting travelers to the destination itself, your property will be featured as the perfect accommodation for travelers to go and experience everything for themselves. This is done through linking keywords and photos to your listing, as well as simply culminating your post with a “Where to stay” sort of ending.

So feel free to submit your own to blogger@rentini.com and we will review it for publication.

A traveler’s guide to Madrid

WHAT TO EXPECT:

There is a lot to love about Madrid. It is home to two of the greatest art museums in the world—the Prado and the Reina Sophia. It has beautiful sprawling gardens—try the botanical garden and the palace grounds to start. Like Barcelona, more terrific food and clothes for reasonable prices. More inexpensive hotels and pulsing nightlife. It’s cheap and accessible and well worth a stop on your trip.

WHERE YOU SHOULD GO:

Grupo de San Ildefonso carved in white Carrara marble around the year 10 BC. It is located in the Museo del Prado. The work is an outstanding example of neo-Attic eclecticism.

THE PRADO
Now here’s a treat, one of the greatest museums in the world, with rooms that are unforgettable. Don’t miss the Hieronymus Bosch rooms with their freaky animals and demented saints—better than any evening on ecstasy you’ve ever had. And the Velasquez dwarfs. And the whole wing of Goya’s, but do save some time for his last, black paintings: a giant eating a man, and witches preparing for a sabbath, and a dog’s head looking accusingly into spiritual light. You might even want to go back, because three or four hours doesn’t make it.

The Goya room captivated me. Something about it was so modern for his time, The use of abstract forms and simple colors made it the kind of art I want to buy someday, put it up in my house.
~Stella wants to rescue that poor little dog.

Velasquez. Yes. No wonder the Parisians started copying the Spanish style.
~Isaiah

Guernica by Pablo Picasso was painted in 1937 using oil on canvas

THE RIENA SOFIA
This converted hospital is one of the grandest spaces for modern art (note the terrific glass elevators). It also features a great courtyard filled with trees where, on hot days, you can have lemon ice on the patio. You’ll see all sorts of great work that you probably won’t recognize, but something you will is Picasso’s Guernica—one of the most famous paintings of the 20th century—and many other very strong Picassos’ (in contrast to the Picasso museum in Barcelona). There are usually one or two traveling exhibitions as well.

This was by far my favorite city for art. Seeing the Guernica live and in all its glory was chilling. I had always head about the impact of this painting, but never really understood it. Now that I have the image of it burned into my mind, I feel like I understand it even more every day.
~Stella

No wonder it’s so hard to find a good Miró gallery. They’re all at the Reina Sofia.
~Isaiah

THYSSEN BORNEMISZA MUSEUM
Across the street from the Prado, this private collection is one of the jewels in the museum crown, and a mind boggler all its own. Its laid out chronologically, and much more accessible than many museums, and you’ll go from the Middle Ages through the 20th century.

Jardines del Moro, Madrid

THE PALACE GARDENS:
Beautiful sculptures and loads of couples making out—seems to be the place for exhibitionist who don’t have bedrooms of their own.

IF DADDY’S PAYING:
You might want to do a little tour of the PARADORS: state owned hotels, usually in historic buildings, with great accomodations and restaurants. Try the one in TOLEDO—you know, where the bulls run—or any of the towns you plan to visit. They’re too expensive for most students but if Daddy’s paying at least let him do it in style (especially if you’re dragging him along).

WHERE TO EAT:

Madrid has some terrific restaurants and they’re less expensive than anywhere else. Take advantage.

LA FINCA DE SUSANA (C/Arlabán, 4) is really classy, but also informal and low key. Show up 30 minutes early and you’ll usually always get a table (but expect a line).

MONTANA (C/Lagasca, 5 ) looks fancier, but it’s owned by the same folks. This one is all black and white with fake bookshelves that advertise their fakes. Dress up (black) and fit right into the ambience. (Oh, and the food’s terrific too.)

GIJON (on the Paseo) is one of the oldest cafés around, and if you’re there on a Sunday you’ll have all the local ladies in their finery. You don’t want to miss is their fish soup, it’s some of the best.

Templo de Debod

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

Photo Credits, Flickr Creative Commons, from top:

Fuente de Cibeles
by Jose Luis Cernadas Iglesias

Grupo de San Ildefonso
by Zaqarbal

Guernica
by Pablo Picasso

Cielo de mayo
by Pablo Sanchez

Templo de Debod
by Harshil Shah

Stay in Control with Updated Booking Management

In the travel and hospitality industries, time is sensitive. For vacation rental owners, one of the first questions when joining up with a new service to promote their business is, Does this service enable me to maintain control? At Rentini we wanted to provide assurances for homeowners. We received a stream of feedback from our clients…

Rentini gives you the tools to run your business independently

once they got a reservation they wanted to direct it themselves and be in control before confirmation is granted to a guest. Rentini got the message. In order to prevent the scenario of the dreaded double-booking, we’ve implemented three buttons for homeowners to select from when they receive a booking at Rentini: the Accept button, to approve of a reservation; the Reject button, to disapprove of the reservation; and a Discuss Morebutton if there is more to negotiate or more details need to be shared.

The same controls that appear in your inbox when signed-in to Rentini appear in email form when the reservation is requested by the guest.

In any industry where check-ins and check-outs are critical to a successful business, calendars are a big consideration; this is often framed in the specter of the dreaded “double-booking,” when the same space is reserved by different people for the same time. Double-bookings, as irritating as they can be, do not spell the end. Airlines, for example, regularly overbook their flights (they use their own algorithms to determine the threshold of tickets to be issued). That’s why we often hear offers at the boarding gate for volunteers to take a gift certificate in exchange for giving up their seat and flying another time. Airlines operate by volume and can play with numbers. Similarly, large hotels can switch rooms around and make adjustments. It makes financial sense for airlines and chain hotels and is less hassle than for a vacation rental owner. Homeowners have a single transaction per property at any given time. On the homeowners end a double booking involves canceling a reservation for one party and informing them that the property isn’t actually available when they booked it (apologies are typically required). For the traveler, it involves continuing the often arduous search for the perfect getaway. In this structure, homeowners and property managers retain control of the reservation status – a guest is not charged until the owner/manager confirms their request.

When one is maintaining various calendars on many platforms online, it is a real task to keep calendars in sync. Rentini makes this easier by offering features such as HomeAwayConnect, which integrates updates from a combined calendar of HomeAway listings. But this is not 100% seamless. And though we’ve found demand for instant bookings from homeowners confident they can keep their calendars in sync and updated (with the option to cancel the reservation should something go wrong), we’ve received a fair amount of demand to always be in control. Now, when a guest submits a request to reserve the first week of next month and the homeowners clicks Accept then the reservation is confirmed, the guests payment is processed, the guest receives an email with confirmation about payment and the reservation details. This process, initiated by the traveler, is confirmed by the acceptance of the homeowner. A vacation is borne. As a homeowner, which button do you think you’ll be using more often – Accept, Reject, or Discuss More? Share your answer below.

Customize Your Cancellation Policy

Rentini has implemented the option to create a customized cancellation policy in addition to our template-based options Lenient, Moderate, Strict, and Very Strict.

Now when a homeowner selects Custom a empty box appears where owners can type or paste their own policy.

Homeowner have templates they can choose from or create their own – customized – cancellation policy

Homeowners can select their cancellation policy on step 2 of listing:  https://www.rentini.com/en/owner/properties/new

We are designing another customizable policy where the owner selects time frames for eligibility of a refund, and other necessary fields. Before we release it we want to get your feedback! What do you think is necessary for a cancellation policy? The terms have to be easy to select and essential.

Share your thoughts below.

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