Lay My Hat
The newsletter for rental home owners, BY rental home owners
Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home Issue number 8
  Dealmakers  |  Inbound links  |  Owners' secrets  |  Subscribe to Newsletter  |  Past issues  |  Forum

Paolo pic.

Me and my monkey


In this edition of Lay My Hat, more advice from rental owners on what we all want in life: more bookings!

If you haven't visited the Lay My Hat forum yet, take a look - it's a thriving community of helpful owners discussing everything to do with rentals. You can just read what others think, or you can contribute your views and questions.

In this newsletter I'm giving you my 'dealmakers' - those little extras that may clinch a booking. And there's part two of how to hoist your site higher up in the search engines. You'll find these articles discussed in more detail at the forum.

As always, I would love to hear from you because this newsletter is intended as an exchange of ideas in the community of rental home owners. Email me your views, suggestions and tips, or post them on the forum - you'll notice that contributors get a link to their own site, giving them a nice little boost in the search engine rankings!

All the best for 2005,

Paolo De Paolis signature
Paolo De Paolis
Editor, Lay My Hat

P.S. You can read past editions of Lay My Hat here:
If you have friends who are rental home owners, why not email them this address so they can see what they are missing?

Dealmakers - how to tip the balance in your favour

I think that the key to success in a crowded rentals market is differentiation - offering what the competition doesn't. There are hundreds of ways to stand out, but here are some based on what potential renters ask me most often. I call them dealmakers - not having them won't lose you the deal, but having them may just be what makes the deal.

Hairdryers in the bathrooms. Not the tiny travel ones, but the real thing. The benefit: guests pack less.

Cheap car hire. Research the cheapest reliable car hire from local airports and stations. This would usually be online through a consolidator, but the car would still be from one of the big international companies, only cheaper.

Free phone. Make your phone free for all incoming and local calls, so they can call restaurants and tourist attractions. Even better, make the phone free for all calls. In some countries you can get a monthly rate that gives unlimited long-distance calls. Or you can meter the phone and they can pay when they leave.

Internet access. Some people have to stay in touch with their work so try to make it easy for them by at least having a metered phone line they can plug into, or better yet broadband/ADSL. If you have an old computer lying around, provide it for email and internet - they won't need to bring their laptop.

Baby things. Parents with babies have to pack like Elizabeth Taylor. Make it easier on them by providing bulky items like travel cots, high chairs and bottle sterilizers.

Baby sitting. Can you provide on-site baby-sitting for a token fee? Parents of toddlers would love a night off. They wouldn't be expecting it from a rental property, so it would be a nice surprise option.

Dinner at home. The trouble with self catering is you have to cater for yourself! Sometimes it would be lovely to have dinner cooked for you using local ingredients and featuring regional specialties. This could be cooked on-site or delivered.

English TV. For English-speakers in non-English speaking countries, it's nice to have CNN or BBC for the news. And a multi-zone DVD player so you can bring your own DVDs.

What are your dealmakers? Add your ideas here at the Lay My Hat forum for rental owners:

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What's hot at the forum this month...

Owner's secrets

Owners share their trade secrets - if you find them useful, why not join in? Email to

Owner's secret #1

"I agree that white towels are nicest, but unless you have a good laundry nearby they can begin to look dingy. I colour-coordinate the towels to the bedrooms - coral for the rose bedroom, turquoise for the "ivy" bedroom, etc. Unless there's an en suite bathroom for every bedroom, mixed groups can muddle up their towels in the bathrooms - guests tell us they like this system."

Thanks to Jane -

Owner's secret #2

"For people without their own web site it is easy to make an online guest book (with entries copied from the real book) on the Yahoo Geocities sites. These are free and easy to make. Ours is at: When I reply to enquiries I send the URL. It's not perfect and I'm working on it. The plan is to add guests photos with their comments. We also photograph our guests with their approval and give them a print before they leave."

Thanks to Paul

To pass this newsletter on to other owners, you can just send it on like an ordinary email. Hit your 'Forward' button and put in the address you want to send it to. You can also type a message at the top of the newsletter to explain what you are sending - this newsletter looks like a webpage but it behaves like an email.

If someone forwarded this newsletter to you, you can ensure you receive future editions by clicking here to subscribe.

Remember, the point of Lay My Hat is that it's an exchange of ideas and opinions for holiday rental owners, so please don't be shy in sharing yours. Here's my address:

How to get other sites linking to yours (part 2)

The most important factors in determining your position in the search engine rankings are
a) the content of your site, and
b) the number and quality of inbound links to your site.

You can see part 1 of this article, covering a basic linking strategy, here on the forum.

In part 2 we are looking at how to get links from around the internet.

1. Directories  Submit your site to as many free directories as you can, especially ones that are travel-related, like These may not bring you much human traffic but they will give you a relevant inbound link. For a list of online directories and search engines see the web directories lists at

2. Cheat!  Find your local competitors that are outperforming you in the rankings and check their inbound links by typing into Google:
where [domain] is the address of the site. This will return a list of sites linking to theirs - go through the list and see which sites might also link to yours. Note: this search on Google only reveals some links, if you want to see all links you have to do a search like this:
inserting the address of the site you are interested in.

3. Find link submits  Some sites encourage you to exchange links with them, for instance some rental listing sites. They will usually have a links page with instructions on how to submit your link.

The way to find these instantly is to type into Google a phrase relating to your field, e.g. "holiday rentals" or "vacation rentals", in double quotation marks to signify that exact phrase. And add a phrase that always appears on these links pages: "submit a url", "add a url", or "submit a link".

So your Google search would look like this:
"vacation rental" AND "submit a link"

4. Name drop  Make a point of posting on forums, newsgroups, online guestbooks, chatrooms with your url in your signature, especially if they are related to the business of rentals. Start with the Lay My Hat forum! Some of these links will be picked up by search engines and improve your ranking.

You will find the full-length version of this article with all the good stuff I couldn't fit in, here at the Lay My Hat forum.

If you have any questions or opinions on this subject, post them at the forum - the above link will take you to the right place.

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Tip my hat...

The Lay My Hat newsletter is free (mainly because I didn't realise how much work it would be). However, my wife is not happy. As she puts it: "Why do you spend all your time on that ****** newsletter when you should be earning money to buy me shoes and handbags?" So to appease her, if you find Lay My Hat especially useful, you have the option of making a small donation towards its upkeep. Just click on the button below, no amount is too small. PayPal is free to use and secure. But please don't feel obliged - how many shoes can one person wear anyway?

Copyright 2003-2004 Paolo De Paolis. All rights reserved in all media.