Holiday property rentals boom? I don't believe it.

Holiday property rentals boom in south of France.

That was the tile of an article listed in the Google Alert for Aude France that I received today.  "Really" I thought, "where?".  Because no one that I know who has a gite for rent is enjoying a rental boom.  The article was on a site called Easier Property, part of a group called Easier Media which includes Easier Advertising.  (If I were them I’d make a site called Easier for You to Say – wanna bet my editor doesn’t think that’s funny?)

On the Google Alert the item was identified as a press release.  Interesting because on the site it was presented as an article, no mention that it was a press release.  My guess is that the press release was originally from French Connections.  The ‘article’ quotes one of their managing directors extensively. The Aude is identified as one of the top two departments where people want to rent vacation homes.

"Enquiries received so far this year at frenchconnections.co.uk leading
online French property specialist, show a marked increase over 2007
throughout France. But the greatest leap is in the top five departments."

What’s a marked increase?  What’s a boom?

What constitutes a ‘marked increase’? Could we have a percentage
please?  Something like ‘10% higher than the same period last year’ or
‘a 20% increase in enquiries compared to last year’?  A marked increase
does not make a boom.  If you had 400 enquiries in January and February
last year and had 800 this year it’s definitely a marked increase, it’s
definitely not a boom.  Not all of the enquiries end in a booking.  And
the vacation rental market in the Aude has been abysmal for the past
few years, as anyone with a rental property knows.

Why am I writing about this?

Maybe I’m just in a bad mood, maybe I’m having a bad day.  Maybe I think that the information is less than complete.  Maybe to me it seems less than open and honest.  Maybe it sounds like bulls**t to me. 

What was the point of the press release?  To make people feel pressure so that they’ll book a rental property now?  To make owners feel as if there’s something wrong with their advertising and rush to buy a listing on frenchconnections? 

I’m not the arbiter of web site content but some things get up my nose.  There are so many of us who write our own content, who are honest, it irritates me when I see non-news press releases grabbed and presented as content on what is essentially an advertising site.

It feels bogus.

It would be like me sending out a press release that says enquires from potential property buyers in the Aude were significantly increased in the last part of January and of February, compared to December and the beginning of January and that signaled a boom in the property market.  Enquires were up. It signaled that Christmas and New Year’s were over and people were getting back to real life. It didn’t signify a boom, or even the beginning of a boom. 

And the irony?

French Connection was mentioned twice in the article – www.frenchconnections.co.uk.  Neither mention was linked to the site.  There was no e-mail contact, no phone number.

If you do want to know more about advertising on French Connections you can use the contact form on their site. There is no phone number on their site, if there was I’d give it to you.

I used to advertise my gites on French Connections and did get some bookings from them.  I got most of my booking from my own well-designed, well written, well-optimised website.

It feels better getting that off my chest!

About Sam

Sam started Aude France as a companion site to her real estate site Aude France Property so that she could have a place to write about life in the Aude.

Now that she’s in Canada she writes about things that can affect owners and buyers in the Aude – or anything that strikes her fancy.

On Pinterest you can find her by searching for Sam Mooney or clicking this link

This entry was posted in Owning a house in France, Travel. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to Holiday property rentals boom? I don't believe it.

  1. jim says:

    Always feels good to rant a bit. It's a well written, well optimized, well designed post.

  2. Josh Whiten says:

    Dear Sam,

    I work as part of the French Connections team, managing all their online marketing and PR activities. Having read your blog post I am compelled to reply on behalf of our team.

    I have endeavoured to pick out and respond to what seem to be the most pertinent of the many points raised in your lengthy criticism of French Connections.

    “The article was on a site called Easier Property, part of a group called Easier Media which includes Easier Advertising….. on the site it was presented as an article, no mention that it was a press release.”
    This press release was prepared primarily for the UK offline travel and property press, as part of an ongoing campaign to raise the profile of French Connections amongst this sector of the media. It was issued using a UK newswire service for this sector, which has several thousand media contacts subscribing to it.

    The press release was not written as an online article or presented as such, but because it was given freely as a release recipients are free to interpret and report on it as they see fit or even present it as an article, as seems to be the case with Easier Media.

    “What constitutes a 'marked increase'?”
    Having spent the best part of day analysing reams of website data and statistics in order to reach the conclusions presented in the press release, I’m very pleased to answer this question for you.

    We originally set out to see if there were any areas of France which were experiencing a significant increase in the number of rental enquiries being made in January and February 2008. This period is significant because it is generally the busiest time of year for most French holiday and property businesses. Data from 2008 and 2007 was analysed, with the following three criteria being used to identify any potential regional hotspots:

    1. A higher than average increase in the number of online rental enquiries made at http://www.frenchconnections.co.uk (the average increase from 2007 to 2008 across the whole site is 20.6%. Enquiries made about the Aude in fact increased by 56.8% in the same period, almost three times the site average).

    2. An increase in the share of enquiries made online (amongst all areas of France, the Aude experienced the 2nd largest increase in its share of enquiries).

    3. A placing in the top 30 areas of France for numbers of rental enquiries made in 2008 (the Aude was ranked 2nd in this table, second only to the Dordogne in fact).

    Based on these criteria, the actual ranking of the areas experiencing the greatest growth was as follows:

    1. Var
    2. Aude
    3. Vaucluse
    4. Gard
    5. Herault
    6. Alpes Maritime
    7. Lot et Garonne

    “Not all of the enquiries end in a booking. And the vacation rental market in the Aude has been abysmal for the past few years, as anyone with a rental property knows.”
    Obviously we cannot speak for the conversion rate which other people achieve from their booking enquiries, but feedback from our own advertisers tells us that a healthy proportion of enquiries do in fact result in bookings, which is why enquiry numbers are an important measure of popularity.

    “Maybe to me it seems less than open and honest. Maybe it sounds like bulls**t to me. “
    You may not necessarily agree with the conclusions presented in our press release, but that doesn’t mean that it’s legitimate to accuse us of being less than open and honest. This is a serious accusation. At French Connections we undertake ethical marketing in every aspect of our business. If we didn’t we wouldn’t be one of the longest running French property websites with over 3,000 advertisers.

    “What was the point of the press release? To make people feel pressure so that they'll book a rental property now? To make owners feel as if there's something wrong with their advertising and rush to buy a listing on frenchconnections?”
    As previously explained, the aim of the press release was as part of an ongoing campaign to raise the profile of French Connections amongst the UK travel and property media, often by making available information about topical trends that only we at French Connections can identify.

    In summary, you are obviously entitled to your opinions and a right to free speech, and the Internet is built upon these principles. You must also be interested in our response to your post, otherwise you would not have sent details to us. So in the same spirit of freedom and transparency we’d like to see if you will publish our response in full on your own website?

    Regards

    Josh Whiten

  3. Sam says:

    Hi Josh

    Thanks for taking the time to write such a detailed response.

    If I write about someone I always send them a link to the post. It's only fair.

    And of course I'll leave your comment here.

    Regards,

    Sam

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