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.