When I started this newsletter in 1998, I called our region of Languedoc “The Real South of France” because it is further South than the French Riviera and Côte d’Azur – with a real French lifestyle and we have more sunshine the longest sandy beaches and thousands of years of culture. We really are The Golden Heart of the Real South of France.
Carole and I were one of the first homes in our area to offer Bed and Breakfast and apartment services to travelers though the Internet and one of the first to build a vacation accommodation website – In fact when I started our rentals sites, we were one of the first large listing websites in the world. At that time only VRBO and A1Vacations were slightly bigger than me.
That is all history now, I stopped most Internet work in 2005 due to poor health and concentrated on our own accommodation in Villa Roquette. The Internet moved on very well without me and those other websites all sold for millions of dollars, but we still have sunshine and sandy beaches, my kids have grown up in a happy village surrounded by vineyards and I am now feeling better than I have for many, many years.
So – back to work on some new Internet projects.
But first a commercial for our home at Villa Roquette – We have some empty spaces this summer and can offer deals – please look at our site and check availability on our online calendar – http://villaroquette.com – you can reserve and book direct. We are also taking bookings for next Autumn and Winter, if you are thinking of coming to stay for a long period – up to six months over the winter, do let us know very soon, we have had a lot of enquiries at the last minute for four or five months bookings in the summer where we could not help – winter bookings will be the same, odd days and weeks get booked so a long continuous booking may be difficult to arrange – so book now (and we will give you a good deal).
OK – no more commercials in this newsletter.
What I am excited about and want to share with you is our new Internet project – I started this in 2007, but could not develop it then. Now it is very important and offers some interesting opportunities.
What private owners of Guest Houses, B&Bs, apartments and villas need is a central resource that provides a service and information about other homes, places and local interest. A sort of social network for travelers, an accommodation Facebook. We created this with our old rental sites focused on France and developed a vibrant community.
But getting thousands of independent B&B owners, villa owners, small hotels and guest houses world-wide to cooperate is difficult, as we are all very busy cleaning pools and fixing all the things around our properties. Apart from our own websites, most of us pay for advertising in other listing sites.
But things have started to get very difficult for many owners. The Internet is becoming mobile and this is changing the way people use the Internet.
When I started, there were a handful of advertising websites – now there are thousands – but many of these are concentrated in a few giant Online Travel Agencies. Advertising is a nightmare for a small owner and as some bigger agencies are charging large commissions and at the same time driving down prices, owners are cutting back on services and getting fewer clients.
So a few of us in many different countries and locations got together to plan and create a new service, owned by us and created by us. Fortunately I had resources, software and experience to share and our new venture is beginning to take shape.
We have made a simple online meeting point at our site at http://wikibnb.org where a growing International group of us are discussing our plans.
This new service is not only for owners, but is for all travelers everywhere, services and real-estate as well – by creating a self-help co-working enterprise we can give better value to guests and help everyone to find the best services at the best value.
This is a wold-wide project and I would love you to be involved, we need a lot of help, not only for technical development for mobile applications and Internet services, but with languages, local services and to build a network of people creating, sharing and owning this together.
OK I know we all have very little time to spare, but just a word of encouragement is valuable for us, so if you can spare a few minutes to help or just say “hi” – join in, and keep in touch. This really is the beginning of something very important and it will be very big.
Even better – come to Villa Roquette for a holiday and work with me on this new project – all the wine and sunshine is free.