Lay My Hat
The newsletter for rental home owners, BY rental home owners
Wherever I lay my hat, that's my home Issue number 9
  Appeal to families  |  Your keywords  |  Owners' secrets  |  Subscribe to Newsletter  |  Past issues  |  Forum

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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: how to make your property 'family-friendly' - lighten the load for parents and they are likelier to book. And keywords - what are they and how do you find yours?

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,

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?

Make your rental property family-friendly

By making your property 'family-friendly', you'll reach a big and eager audience. And remember, children under 5 aren't restricted to school holidays but can travel year-round - their parents will be keen to book outside of school holidays too.

Here is a check-list of items that a family with one or more toddlers would be delighted not to have to bring with them. Travelling with toddlers is quite an operation - the more of these you can offer, the likelier you are to appeal to a young family.

Must-haves for a toddler-friendly home:

  • High chair(s)
  • Stair gates (at top and bottom)
  • Cot(s) - can be folding travel cots
  • Microwave

Good to have:

  • Electric bottle steriliser
  • Bottle warmer
  • Plastic beakers, plates and spoons
  • Baby monitor (a one-way radio from their bedroom)
  • Bouncy chair
  • Potty
  • Changing Table
  • Toilet trainer seat and step (to reach sink)
  • A big plastic box full of toys: lego, matchbox cars, plastic animals, railway track, dolls, books. These don't need to be new, or complete, or even in working order. Children are more excited by these than their own toys at home.

Every day families are discarding baby and toddler equipment as their children outgrow them, so it's easy to get hold of second-hand equipment at very good prices. Try car boot sales, jumble sales, garage sales, classified ads, ebay, etc.

What do you do to appeal to families? Join the discussion here on the Lay My Hat forum now:

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What's hot at the Lay My Hat forum this month...

Owner's secrets

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

Sometimes it takes a bit of lateral thinking to promote what you already have, you must put yourself into the mindset of your visitor.

Reading the comments on the Lay My Hat forum has made me realize for example, that I can offer a great free round-the-city tour by simply leaving a couple of tickets for the antique tram that stops outside the door of the building - guests gets a great introduction to many of the top tourist sites and it costs me less than 3 euros a couple!

I am now looking at our parish with different eyes. Male visitors can have a hand-made tailored shirt for 100 euros in about 3 days from a shop two blocks away.

Trawling for ideas this morning I came across a new gourmet food shop that had a speciality wine section with an explanation of the typical bouquet notes to look for in Portuguese wines, something I did not know but do now! This will be included on my new web page.

The shop also does occasional tasting of new wines that they are going to stock, all for free and great fun. The shop will give me a couple of weeks notice and I can let my guests know in advance plus write a little report on my site.

Look at your rental in site-specific terms and I am sure you will come up with many great ideas.

Thanks to Mary Goudie for her tips. See Mary's Lisbon apartments here:

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.

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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:

What are my 'keywords'?

Back to basics on keywords - what are they, and how do you find the best ones for your site.

Your site's keywords are those words which are most likely to be typed into a search engine by someone looking for a property like yours. For example: 'torrevieja holiday rental', 'orlando vacation villas', 'normandy beach rental' would be keywords for certain properties.

Sprinkle these keywords around your site's pages and the search engines will pick up on them. When someone types a phrase that is prominently and repeatedly used on one of your pages, that page has a better chance of being seen.

You can research your keywords by using some free online tools:

1. Wordtracker. Use the one-day free trial to find out what phrases people are typing into search engines.

2. Overture. Gives you a popularity count for related search terms. Try Overture UK for UK searches.

3. Google keyword suggestion tool. To suggest keywords you may not have thought of - useful as a guide. There is a UK version for search terms used in the UK

4. espotting keyword generator is only for UK searches made in the last month and can give you an idea of the relative popularity of keywords.

With these tools you can build up your list of potential keywords.

Another way to add to this list is to visit sites of competitors who are doing OK on search engine rankings. Go to their homepage and look at the their html code by clicking on View > Source at the top of your browser window.

This presents the code behind the webpage. It may look like gibberish but a few lines from the top of the page you will see a line that looks like this:

meta NAME="keywords" CONTENT="abc, def, xyz, etc."

All the words listed here are that site's keywords, as entered by the site's owner. There may be phrases here you have not thought of for your site.

What you actually do with your keywords will be covered in the next Lay My Hat newsletter. If you want to look into it now, I've collected some useful articles and guides on this page at the Lay My Hat forum

If you have any questions or opinions on this subject, post them at the Lay My Hat forum for rental owners

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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 2003-2005 Paolo De Paolis. All rights reserved in all media.