Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Cities Reference discounts EXPOSED!

There's been a lot of asking both on the part of apartments' owners and travelers dealing with our vacation rental websites on how exactly discounts work and how to be eligible.

First of all Discounts should not be confused with Promotions which are activated by the owners when setting up their apartment listings' prices, ie last minute, long stay, etc and they cumulate on top of it. Discounts though, will not cumulate on top of one another and the highest one you can get is equivalent to 10% off.

Here follow a step by step road map to get you the best discount


'Like' Cities Reference Facebook page. There is no point filling in the discount coupon code if you're not a Cities Reference 'fan' because you're not going to get any discount without it.


Have a notion of what the discounts are and beware that

  • you are not able to cumulate discounts on top of one another
  • discounts are valid on all apartments besides those showing listing codes that start with letters instead of numbers (ie: AA, RU, BL, etc)

Try2: this is a 10 euro flat discount if you tried booking a On Request apartment that declined your booking request
Repeat client: it's a 5% discount to all repeat clients, just input you previous booking code to qualify.
Owners' discount: it's a 5% discount to all apartment owners listing their apartment with us. Just input your apartment's listing number when booking.
FB5%: this is a 5% discount on the total posted, all you have to do is be a Cities Reference fan on our Facebook page and stay put to qualify. For those of you who appreciate clarity, if you go on just the time of the booking and off when the booking is over you won't qualify for the discount.)
PO10%: this is a 10% discount and to qualify, on top of the above, you need to find an available Priority Owner's apartment. To see if an apartment is of a Priority Owner go to the apartment listing, click on 'Description', top left, beside 'Apartment' and Verified™ you will see it marked as 'Priority Owner'.


If you qualify to all the above all you have to do is input the appropriate code where it says 'Coupon Code' on step2 (final) of the booking process.

Please Read: discounts do not apply on flat listing fee apartments and on third party apartments. Recognizing both is easy since their listing number starts in both cases with a letter rather than with a number.
Important: The discount code must be inserted during the booking process and must be correct both in it's spelling and in its content. So, if you're using a previous booking ID please ensure it's the correct one as well as you have to ensure that the spelling is correct. If you're using a Facebook discount, please do make sure to have 'Liked' Cities Reference's Facebook page before you book. These mistakes may invalidate the discount so please do ensure to pay attention to it.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Verified™ Apartment and Priority Owners

If we were to single out the two most important Trust factors an apartment listing can weigh in after travelers' reviews, they are certainly the Verified™ tag and the Priority Owner status.

How do you get them turned on for your own listing?


Assumed that all apartments go through a verification process to be live on Cities Reference which encompasses among other measures cross checks on the web, valid and tested phone number and identity, etc. An apartment owner can further get the Verified™ tag on his apartment description by either

  • meeting one of our representatives and show the apartment's paperwork;
  • at least 3 completed and successfull rental bookings and/or receive at least one verified traveler's review (we will contact the travelers directly for further confirmation).
What you get in return is that your apartment's listing will be marked as Verified™.

Priority Owner
Getting the Priority Owner status is more challenging, but reaps great benefits at the same time.
To qualify as Priority Owner you have to:
  • Grant a 5% discount on the grand total to qualified and repeat customer travelers. Qualified travelers hold a personal coupon that is assigned to them only if their identity has been verified and/or they have already rented successfully through us in the past. They represent roughly 30% of our customers' base. Unqualified travelers' bookings will not get any discount from you.
  • Qualify. Only optimized apartment listings will qualify to join the Priority Owner program. You can set up an appointment with our Optimizers' Team here.

On the other hand you will get:
  • Exposure on the homepage with dynamic rotation depending on the availability of your calendar and the general ranking.
  • Verified customers, who will be incentived by the discount will prefer your apartment to the one that is not Priority giving you a edge and a more trustworthy clientele.
  • 10% worth of Ranking. Becoming Priority will give your listing a boost to your apartment's ranking.
Interested in turning on any of the above? Contact us and we'll set up an appointment!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Instant Bookings Advance Notice

Good news for Instant Booker owners: the much touted and long awaited advance notice is now available in your back end!
In other words you can put a gap between the booking and the check in that goes from none to 7 days, if you want to avoid last minute bookings that get you unprepared for check in.

  • Just log into your account
  • go to your apartment, 
  • Details
  • Top right where it says 'Allow last minute bookings?' use the scroll down and pick the minimum advance notice you require
Not clear enough? Just contact us.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Travelers' reviews

Ever since Tripadvisor.com came out with the unbiased user generated content at the beginning of the last decade our internet life has changed... for the better.
At first we didn't quite think so. It was 2001 and a client fishing for a refund wrote harshly about us. We dind't know a thing about Tripadvisor or even the concept of user generated content. We found it shocking! We thought she wasn't in good faith and, thankfully, Tripadvisor pretty quickly agreed with us and took her comment offline. Fair enough ;)
Within a year we had adopted user generated content in our website and the whole philosophy of unbiased reviews.
A lot has changed since and there is a lot more automated checks and balances in place nowadays when publishing a traveler's review.

We ensure the following
  1. The traveler posting the review has to be 'real', we'll cross check the email address and dates provided to verify he actually stayed at the apartment she is reviewing.
  2.  To ensure it's unbiased we don't allow either Cities Reference and/or rental apartment owners to 
  • edit reviews. Rental owners can add a separate response that is displayed in addition to the original review.
  • delete reviews. However rental owners can protest a review.
To leave your traveler's review
  1. either access the property listing using the direct link you find on your booking correspondence with us or go to CitiesReference.com and use the listing number or the address in the quick search.
  2. On the listing page for your apartment rental, click ‘Been here? Write a Review.’ Top right hand, just below the apartment's address.
  3. Describe your experience. Tell everyone about your stay and the apartment.

You will find your review
  1. On the homepage, where they are listed as they come, in chronological order to improve the immediateness and transparence of the travelers experience on our website.
  2. On the apartment listing's webpage, as a useful, if not just essential tool for the traveler's informed decision on booking.
Happy rentals everyone!

    Saturday, June 2, 2012

    6 months on, the numbers

    Last march we ended an Era and now we want to take a good look at what has changed exactly when looking at the numbers.

    First off Cities Reference has finally and definitely passed Roman Reference for good. We're looking at over 75% more traffic and growing (alexa has it at 61,000 against 110,000 - this is ~ 15% growth year on year for CR, traffic to vacation rental websites in may is seasonally low, just a month ago CitiesReference reached its peak ever of 55,000 alexa).

    Facebook page of Cities Reference has 5,860 fans against the 521 fans of Roman Reference's fanpage. RomanReference's FB page has grown 25% in 6 months which is reasonable, the real noteworthy change is Cities Reference, which, thankfully has taken full parent site status at this point and it's faring at full steam.

    Cities destinations covered are now 45 with a 36% growth in 6 month.
    Apartment rentals on offer are now 4,421 with a 21% growth in 6 month and a 350% growth year on year.
    Instant apartment rentals are now 893 with a 10% growth in 6 months and 260% growth year on year. It's 20% of total against the 23% of all the apartments in inventory of January 2012. So this particular ratio is going the opposite direction than our wishes. Probably due to the fact that we've become tougher with apartment owners listing as Instant, but unable to be precise when updating their calendars.

    Rome apartments are 953 with a year on year growth of 63% (this looks like a very good measure, especially the fact that we are keeping the 60% growth speed since quite a while yet).
    Instant apartment Vs On Request apartments ratio is stable at 39% (improved a year on and double the average of all sites).
    Conversion ratio booking requests Vs Confirmed bookings is 81.5%, stable a year on.
    Resident apartments (ie apartments that use us as primary contact) are 95%
    Bookings are 1,425/month so up 18% year on year.
    Unique visitors are stable year on year for Rome. Duration, bounce and new visits are all improving ca 5% year on year.
    Conversion rate has become really hard to track now, because many visitors decide on Roman Reference and book on Cities Reference. Cross guessing though and doing some counting to double check I'd estimate growth in conversion rate at ~20%. This is a welcome piece of news, May last year the new website started to stabilize and we're finally looking at the conversion growth brought over by hundreds of thousand of euro and most importantly thousands of hours of cumulated work to raise this measure that, be it the deepening of the crisis or the growing competition, has become really hard to deal with. Cities Reference is not done at all as for what regards efforts to make it more conversion friendly. After all we just belatedly added a press dedicate page and made customer reviews visible on the homepage and other chosen general content pages across the website, just to mention a couple of examples. We wish to see this measure keeps growing ;)
    Weight of adwords doubled year on year to 31% in traffic and 35% in transactions, it is now the biggest source of revenue and the second source of traffic. While organic traffic went down almost 15% to 35% of total traffic and 30% of total revenue, direct traffic went down18% to 20% of total traffic and 21.5% of total revenue. There are explanations to this. A lot of traffic is now stirred to Cities Reference and also SEO efforts are all concentrated on CitiesReference right now, while ad-words is still dealt with at a local level that the closest it lands to the target the better it performs. Facebook, although still tiny as a general impact (~2% of traffic and 1.5% of total revenue), went up 46% year on year. Bing and Yahoo are also growing 100% each, but they remain irrelevant ~1% each. Worth noticing that while CitiesReference last year was contributing almost 5% of traffic this measure went down half percentage point this year giving the measure of which direction is the traffic now going, if you look at it the other way round you see ~30% of CR traffic coming from RomanReference.

    Paris Apartments are 347 now, growing 117% year on year. It's our third destination (after Rome and Budapest) in terms of rental apartment numbers, but by far our second in terms of bookings.
    Instant apartment Vs On Request apartments ratio is stable at 12% (slightly down from 13% last year).
    Conversion ratio booking requests Vs Confirmed bookings has been booming to 60.2% compared to a meagre 36% last year, which is a great sign of maturity for this destination.
    Resident apartments are 55%.
    Bookings are 115/month so stable with last year.

    London Apartments are 258 now, up 790% compared to last year this time. It's our fourth destination in terms of rental apartment numbers and our 4th in terms of bookings (after Rome, Paris and New York).
    Instant apartment Vs On Request apartments ratio is almost 45% which is great.
    Conversion ratio is 30%, up one third compared to last year.
    Resident apartments are just 15% though.

    New York Apartments are 192 it grew 335% year on year. It's our seventh destination in terms of apartments (the 4 above + Amsterdam and Istanbul) and third in terms of bookings.
    Instant apartment Vs On Request apartments ratio is just 10% (still a 300% growth compared to last year).
    Conversion ratio  is 50% which is a fantastic improvement compared to last year.
    Resident apartments are 36.5%.

    These are our main destinations at the moment (yeah, not the most surprising really) worth a mention are
    -apartments numbers in Budapest, Amsterdam and Istanbul (respectively 2nd, 5th and 6th destinations for that measure).
    -conversion rate at 100% in VenicePrague, Florence, Madrid, Lisbon and San Francisco.
    -number of bookings and traffic in Berlin, Barcelona and Bruxelles.

    Tuesday, April 24, 2012

    Kinko Tochi or when the future of cities almost happened - Re-visiting Vacation Rental's concepts

    image credit Frieze. 

    Reading Amelia Groom's essay (Frieze march issue) on the Japanese manifesto 'Metabolism 1960' the other day sparked a little debate here on whatever happened to the future of cities and where do we stand now, focusing on vacation rentals, are we swimming against or flowing within that vision?
    The vision, in Amelia's words, is a promise of

    " design spaces for living bodies that would be more in line with the metabolic processes of those bodies, they conceived of cities as living, moving and evolving creatures. Buildings would be adaptable organisms perpetually rejuvenating themselves; the metropolis would be a verb rather than a noun."

    nagakin capsule tower. im. credit stephendavidsmith.net

    Cities as verbs. Super-organisms evolving and changing. Living as a pret-a-porter, a snack. Humans flowing through cities as blood through cells. Travel as compulsion rather than occasion, closing that circle that started as nomadism and to nomadism gets in this fin-de-siècle (siècle meant as civilization) we're living in.
    kenji-ekuan-dwelling-city-1963.jpg. Credit relationalthought.com

    Where do we stand? Looking from inside out it all seems to boil down to the dichotomy of Hotels Vs Vacation Rentals, a trivial commercial war underscoring fundamentally different interpretations of the future. Assuming Metabolism is happening and the state-of-traveling ever more is going to be a state-of-being, can living be just a snack that can be cleaned up and served or should it rather be somewhat unpredictable, open, in one word, personal?
    'My house is your house'... up to a degree, for a given timeframe and for a fee, rest assured. Yet if you spend most of your life out of your own capsule, you may as well borrow a piece of my own life rather than eat and digest yet one more snack.
    Where are we heading? To a post-human that will accept alienation as a state-of-being or rather to a 'What's Mine is Yours - The Rise of Collaborative Consumption' kind of future.
    We're betting on the latter...

    Friday, April 20, 2012

    Cities Reference to include mountains, countryside and seashores into the inventory or the concept of Outer Area.

    "There is more to a city than bricks and mortar"
    Bisonblight blogging on skyscrapercity.com - Image credit  shunvision

    That's what we were thinking when we finally decided to include 'Outer areas' into our listings a fortnight ago.
    Back in '97, if your apartment was a inch away from Campo de' Fiori you wouldn't get admitted. What the hell was that? Snobbery? That's as anti-our-own-mission as it gets.
    Over the years the radium got expanded, started including suburbs and then new cities and their suburbs. Know what? Travelers loved to be enabled to choose, as long as it was well marked in the description. To hell with the historical center, many must have thought, you get more space for less money at the cost of some extra time on the metro, big deal? Depends...

    And now the 'Outer areas', my friends, just get ready to see prices drop at the cost of a simple change of perspective. The real 'City break' we may say. You spend the week swimming and skiing only to go into town for the week end, only that's all part of your holiday, and cities look much more relaxed when their business self is reversed. Do that out of seasons and prices can be 1/10th than those in the historical center in some cities.

    How do you do it? Just pick 'Outer area' when booking your 'city break'.
    Where is the catch? If you actually wanted to be smack downtown you better give that extra look at the map and the area from now on, if it's marked 'Outer area' you may end up sharing your next Bright lights Big City experience with a bunch of cows.

    ...Go ahead and flood us with comments (swear words not admitted ;)

    Tuesday, March 6, 2012

    End of an Era - Survival of the fittest

    “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” (Charles Darwin)

    We just thought maybe Charles got it wrong for once... and guess what, we blew it. In a period of grand consolidation we went like:

    'Hey, why don't we spread out our site and make it many? Exploding into thousands of city-sites that will feel like local. Glocal! Was it us that invented the word? Cool'.

    Yeah sure, shame it didn't work though, had we listened to Charles in the first place we would have spared some nice time and money. It's been fun ultimately, so we're fine, aren't we?
     Ok here is the announcement followers and fans: starting tomorrow, if it's not tomorrow it's going to be monday, either way it's happening soon before you know it unless you follow us on Facebook, all our city-sites will disappear and merge into Cities Reference, with one and only city-site survivor, of course, Roman Reference.

    I said it.

    Too much hassle running behind tens of websites, we couldn't handle it. Also, more fundamentally, this division into indipendent city-sites ultimately felt like a cheat to the people we care the most: You.

    If You go to a city-website you want its heart and soul to reside there, its staff, its office, and You're right. You didn't say, but we listened harder. Our heart and soul reside in the website and our office and staff resides in Rome. Space/time in our modern age has comfortably collapsed enough to let us be global from just... here. The launch will follow (in a Facebook near you ;).

    Tuesday, February 28, 2012

    Long story short: the Press and us since 1996

    Since 1996 we've kept Roman Reference's main office in the same garage. While that and the team have stayed pretty stable (see picture) everything else has changed. Changes have washed away a lot of records and press realeases have gone lost with a lot of memory of time past. This post is our best shot at getting it together. On the other hand let's face it, we do not measure time regularly, like clocks do, but with many different rates of speed. In the complexity of today's experience, it often seems as if events far apart in time were  simultaneous. However...

    It was long gone 1996 when we first got noticed by the press, ouch, it feels like yesterday! Local city news magazine 'Roma c'è' (just disappeared from news stands here in Rome, but it's been making everyday's life easyer to surf for Romans for almost two decades) listed us under Tourist Information. Indeed when we got started we meant to be an averall city reference and the definition still sounds right for times to come, ironical how the vacation rental got mentioned last:
    'Multi-service association for tourists. Services include transportation, interpreters, translators, personal health trainers, tours, long and short-term accommodations and more'
    From local to national press in 2003 Dove magazine interviewed us, I remember what seemed like an hour on the phone, and they got it all wrong... They pictured us as a local agency as opposed to websites aiming to be virtually global, which is what we were trying to do... actually

    But thankfully 2003 was also the year where international press finally took note of us. Condé Nast USA Gourmet Magazine (the magazine of good living), listed us under the '100+ great things about Rome'.  That was nice ;)

    Same year, fashion magazine Sirene from Denmark listed us best accommodation alternative to hotels.

    One more scrap of press we managed to find yesterday is Condé Nast USA Traveler magazine 2007

    Which list us under the '50 affordable gems of Europe'. Better still their journalist Lee Aitken came back to Rome and used our services in 2011, see the behind the scene article here, quote 'I would have gone stir-crazy spending ten days in a hotel room'.

    In 2008 Sylvie Wyeth of Travel + Leisure USA meet us for a tour of our best apartments and writes a whole article about the Villa Fortuny apartments we list on Roman Reference.

    In 2009 Frommer's Rome lists us as among the '5 rental companies to consider' and 'the best all-around apartment rental agency in Rome'.
    In 2011 we got listed in Time Out and Ville e Giardini.

    In 2012 we got mentioned on MSN Local Travel:
    In 2013 on La Tercera, leading Chilean Newspaper

    In 2014 on PPan.it our project of launching a vertical section on Villas of Charme is covered

    Sunday, February 26, 2012

    Recently viewed apartments

    A Cities Reference FB fan asked how to keep track of the apartments recently viewed.

    We will soon add a 'Favorite & Compare' option to further simplify this process.

    What we have in place already is the 'Recently viewed apartments' feature which you find bottom right of your screen as per attachment here.

    This feature keeps track of the apartment pages just visited and provides an easy link if you want to go back to it. Same way again if you want to go back and fro to compare amenities and features of each apartment.

    If you don't like performing the back and fro, just open a new tab.

    If you want memory of your apartments search results 'Send' it to yourself on Facebook see picture below, that will provide you with a link you can easily go back and use again whenever you want.
    Got questions? Contact Cities Reference and/or Find the Answers.

    Thursday, February 9, 2012

    Cities Reference's Discounted Commissions - Discount percentage on total and its real weight on our own rental commission

    image credit forexbrokerz.com

      Cities Reference's Discounted Commissions

    This post is addressed to travelers, apartments' owners don't have to worry 'cause nobody is touching their net fee when we apply Cities Reference discount coupons to the bookings unless they signed up to being Priority Owners.

    If you're reading this chances are you are already eligible for a discount on Cities Reference's network as a repeat client, friend or family of a repeat client or Facebook page fan. Therefore you know how easy it is to get our (in)famous 5% to 10% discounts on Cities Reference's apartments and villas.

    The question we'd like to answer today is what does that 5% discount corresponds to when weighted against Cities Reference's official commissions as explained in our previous post. The answer is appalling (for us, mind you, it should sound just fine to your ears).

    Here follow the list of the real % of discount we apply on our own commission when you cash on your CitiesReference discount, starting from our highest possible commission down to the lowest, mind you, we're dividing in discreet amounts although the descent from Max to Lowest happens gradually in inverse proportion to the total rent, you'll have to use your calculator and our previous post to figure what's inbetween the layers below:

    • Discounted Max Commission: you get a 27% discount on our highest commission of 20.5
    • Discounted Average Commission: you get a 34% discount on the medium commission of 16%
    • Discounted Lowest Commission: you get a 66% (!!!) discount on our lowest possible commission of 9%
    Oh boy, wish we'd done the math before we launched this campaign!

    OK, OK, you don't care, you want to know how much you're paying in commissions exactly when you get a discount. Here we go:

    • You're paying 14.9% if you're paying our Discounted Max Commission, which is to say you're renting a relatively cheap On Request apartment for a relatively short period of time.
    • You're paying 10.2% if you're paying our Discounted Average Commission, which is to say you're renting a relatively cheap Instant Booking apartment for a relatively short period of time
    • You're paying 2.7% (!!!) if you're  paying our Discounted Lowest Commission, which is to say you're renting a relatively expensive Instant Booking apartment for a relatively long period of time
     Ok, we hear you, how likely are you to get the nicer looking commissions?

    • Max Commission is paid in 12% of bookings
    • Average Commission is paid in 76% of bookings
    • Lower than Average Commission is paid in 11.5% of cases
    • Lowest Commission is paid in 0.5% of cases

    Yes, you've got to really deserve that lowest commission! ;)

    Important note: discounts do not apply on flat listing fee apartments and on third party apartments. Recognizing both is easy since their listing number starts in both cases with a letter rather than with a number.

    Tuesday, February 7, 2012

    Extreme makeover for the owners' back-end

    Most of you Cities Reference property owners woke up after the week end to a brand new back-end experience on our website. Some of you complained, most did not express awe or emotions. Well actually... besides a few complaints, we didn't hear anything at all from you guys. Therefore we're opening a poll on Cities Reference Facebook page where you can mark the do's and dont's.

    Most changes are actually cosmetic, meaning server and database haven't been affected, but your experience, at least in our intentions, is enhanced, better, revolutionized!

    Let's quickly go through what has changed

    Dashboard: You have alerts now. You'll be reminded

    • if a client will be ringing your apartment's door bell soon. 
    • If you have failed to update your calendar in the past month ;)
    • If you don't have any pictures
    • If you don't have a description or amenities
    Your Listings: It will be prettier to look at your listed apartments, you'll see a picture first off and a wealth of info in a sortable grill (net rate/pending and confirmed bookings/city/address).
    • When you click on your apartment's details you'll enjoy a visually enhanced and simplified calendar page. With simple clicks to block dates and a list of bookings (confirmed and declined) to the side. Just as you had asked us to do (see above)!
    • The pricing tab will still include the test pricing, but more comfortably placed to the right of your screen
    • Last but not least of the changes you can finally reply to the travelers' comments on your apartment on the reviews tab end right of your screen.
    Your reservations: will list all the booking received for your apartments

    Your trips: this section will keep together all the discounted bookings you make on Cities Reference's website when renting our listed apartments worldwide.

    Now enjoy and let us know on facebook what you like and what you don't.

    Monday, January 30, 2012

    Cities Reference's Fees and Commissions

    Cities Reference's Commissions

    Following recent changes and Property Owners requests on Cities Reference Facebook page for ever increased transparency and clarity here follow the details of how our commissions work.

    Most of you seem to know already that our Commissions and Fee can range from 3% to 20.5% and that owners can decrease it by 25% in one go when activating the Instant Booking. But you're unclear on how exactly you can push the rental fee downward, besides the promotions Property Owners can make and the discount coupons travelers can enjoy, that are detailed in our discounts post. Here follows our best attempt at shedding some light on the whole process.

    Commission is composed of a fixed and of a variable factor,  Fee is one and only and it's 3% levied from the traveler on those apartments that are listed at annual flat fee. The fixed part of the Commission depends on the booking system you apply to your listing (Instant or On Request), the variable part on the total rent amount of your booking.  
    The Variable Commission subtracts from the Fixed Commission in inverted proportion to the final rent cost.

    The Fixed Commission

    Instant Booking apartments are charged 16% of the price posted on Cities Reference's websites.
    On Request apartments are charged 20.5%.

    The Variable Commission

    The above commission will decrease by 10% every 50% increase of the rental cost heading down to the set minimum 9%.

    The Fixed Fee

     As of 2013 Property Owners have the option of paying a flat annual listing fee per apartment as opposed to the above commission structure and the fixed fee levied per booking will go down to 3%.

    Please note: When comparing our fees to others please make sure their fee structure is clear, there often is a double charge, some to the owner and some to the renter. We only charge one flat fee.

    Find furter information on Cities Reference help page.

    Tuesday, January 10, 2012

    Test Pricing

    Test Pricing has been moved under the Pricing tab.

    When activating a new fee or discount always remember to test the pricing to avoid unintended results. Just click on 'Test Pricing' and input the dates you want to check and the number of people. You'll see the net you'll receive for your rent itemized by the single fees or discounts you have activated.

    Any doubts? Seek answers in Cities Reference FAQ page or Contact us.

    Saturday, January 7, 2012

    Apartments' ranking algorithm change to be launched tomorrow

    Don't be surprised if your apartment will rank different tomorrow.

    In our bid to be as transparent as we can here follows the exact break down of ranking factors.

    • 30% will depend on our recommendation
    • 20% on whether you're listed as Instant Booker
    • 30% on bookings, ie how often and for how long for your apartment gets booked. Note that booking logs are erased shortly after check out, so the ranking you earn with bookings is not there forever.
    • 10% on reviews, ie how often and how well your apartment gets reviewed by clients
    • 10% on interaction with Cities Reference, ie how often and how deeply you interact with our website.
    Please note: In August 2012 we added the Priority Owner status as a ranking factor affecting an additional 10% on total.

    Got more questions? Find more answers in Cities Reference help page or through Cities Reference contact page.

    Best tip to gather rankings fast? Get bookings. How do you get bookings even with a low rank? Competitive rent price, many travelers sort by price...

    Image credit: socialmarketing.oneupweb.com

    Monday, January 2, 2012

    Happy New Year!

    Wanted to check back with our followers that dig into our analytics. New year comes with plenty of nice surprises. Let's check it out

    Cities covered are now 33! We're looking at a growth of 267% compared to the same day last year.
    Apartments listed are now 3,651! We're looking at a growth of 346% year on year. Nice!
    Instant apartments are 816, the ratio is 22.4% of total, we'd like to grow this dimension fast.

    Roman Reference kind of stable at 58,000 (growing 11.5% year on year)
    Cities Reference losing some ground at 63,000
    Paris Reference losing ground at 118,000
    the rest are way lower

    Cities Reference Facebook page has 1,331 fans/841 talking about it (more than doubled in the past couple of months!)
    Roman Reference Facebook fan page is at 438 fans and 4 talking about it

    Analytics Rome

    • Rome grew unique traffic by 5% and 
    • number of bookings by 18%, although the 
    • goal value is broadly stable due to the fact that commissions have gone down dramatically under pressure from the competition
    • conversion rate with the new website and lower commissions and apartments inventory up 55% grew a meagre 7% in Rome. It must be the crisis, or maybe it's just me and expecting more than 7% growth on conversion rate is not realistic despite all the investments made to that purpose.
    • Weight of adwords on overall site traffic grew from 13.6% to 18.2 (grew 50% nominally year on year). Adwords weight of revenue and transactions on overall site results in the past year has been 24%, last year was just 14.6%. Nominal growth of adwords generated goals has been 73.5% year on year spreading up nicely when compared to the 50% growth on traffic. Adwords conversion rate grew 18% year on year and has been 32% higher than site average. CTR has improved 47%; CPC is up 26% (to 1.9 from 1.5), Impressions are equal. Adwords investment grew 79% year on year, it's ROI grew 490% (from 115% to 680%) Margin grew 63% (from 53% to 87%). Overall spreads on site average are looking good, year on year improvement on performance of adwords is looking nice pretty much on all dimensions especially considering the deepening of the global crisis and the increased competition.
     Analytics Paris

    • Unique visitors grew 2.5%
    • number of bookings grew 33% though with goal value going down 20% because of lowering commissions
    • conversion rate is up 15.5%
    • Adwords on Paris is a losing game our inventory is not competitive and competition looks too hard. Stable at ca 5% of total traffic. Conversion rate although growing 75% from .49 to .86 is still in negative ROI and below site average (!).

      Rome apartments are 815. Growth year on year is 55%, which is quite remarkable. We launched the new website with improved apartments listing wizard last March, since between 2010 and 2011 the growth had only been 15%, it is fair to assume that the new wizard makes listing a whole lot easier and allows a 5X growth in apartment listing inventory for a mature website.
      Instant Ratio is 42.3%. Growing! We can't wait to hit that benchmark of 50% which we're heading to, certainly before the end of this year we hope.
      Visitors per apartment/month: is 15, lower than usual in low season. It's 35 on Instant Booking apartments.
      Conversion rate is 1.38% on e-commerce and 82.7% on online bookings slightly better than the last update.
      Booking requests went below the psychological benchmark of 600 briefly last month and they're now back up to 645, still worryingly low. Crisis is hitting all of us after all. It must be remarked that spikes in growth of apartments are usually coming together with lows in bookings. This period is no exception.
      Apartment reviews 2,421

      Paris apartments are 347. Growth year on year is 120%