[thelist] Webbased facility rental management system?

Luther, Ron Ron.Luther at hp.com
Fri Jun 6 08:42:39 CDT 2008

Roel Mulder asked:

> A customer has 15 summer houses and asked me to build a web-based
> system to manage and rent them.

Hi Roel,

It's fun to build sites.  And it's even more fun to make money building sites.  ;-)

But in this case, I'm thinking a service might be a better option for this client.  This first one allows renters to view and reserve properties at more than 15 Caribbean islands ... in addition to numerous other locations around the world:

There is also a 'vacation rental by owner' site.  (Kind of a rental version of a FSBO site I guess.)

And more:
(This last one will let you rent exotic cars and yachts as well as mansions!)

There are quite a few of these sites already out there.  Big sites.  Small sites. Regional sites.  Attraction based.  Activity based.  Sometimes you can advertise and allow booking through more than one (if you work through the availability mappings).

I think these may be better options - Not because I don't think you can build a wonderful site! - But because the effort required to market and drive traffic to a single site that only offers 15 rentals seems to me to be pretty daunting task when going up against competitor sites offering hundreds and thousands of properties and possibly having fulltime SEO staff.

I think the client may make more money off their rentals using a service than going their own way.  Perhaps you could manage the 'data maintenance' on the services for the client instead - updating photos and descriptions?  Or through 'consulting'?  Checking out the service fee structures and recommending the best options?  Trying to get them a bulk discount?  Or through managing the details to coordinate availability through multiple services?

I've looked at this semi-seriously from both sides (looking for places to rent and thinking about buying a place and renting it out in this fashion) for myself and I would personally use a service instead of building my own site.

Some of the 'full feature' services in place today also offer a lot more than just an on-line reservation service.  They can handle cleaning, lawn service, maintenance, key transfer, payment, directions, minor emergencies, and pretty much anything else needed.  You can find services  as 'hands off' or 'hands on' as you want.  If your client's holdings are geographically diverse, then those minor 'details' can be a major pain to keep up with.


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