The Story so Far – Part 3

Sound Bites From an Industry Crowded With Mediocrity

Let’s start with some quotes that I’ve never forgotten about our industry. They came from the very first public interaction I had about our website, Getaway Earth. All three of the comments I have never forgotten. I may have let them temporarily drift out of my consciousness, but I have never forgotten them!

“It’s getting very crowded out there with new web sites in our area springing up like mushrooms after autumn rain”
Quote from Windy on the Lay My Hat Forum

“Of course, the question should always be: what brings punters to a listing site, not what brings owners”
Quote from Garri on the Lay My Hat Forum

“I always try to respond to every enquiry within 24 hrs and I feel if you could have owners rewarded for doing this with higher ranking, it would reflect well on your site for repeat customers”
Quote from Declan on the Lay My Hat Forum

The Windy comment is one I’ll never forget. It was true in mid 2009, it’s ridiculously true in mid 2011. I know the man behind Windy but I’ve respected his ghostwriter status, needless to say he’s a wise old sage. This industry is quite literally littered with listing sites.

I’ve had this odd online relationship with Garri. He pulls no punches and that’s very often hard to swallow. To a newcomer his comments can appear confrontational. After time I’ve realised they are nothing more than simple fact. But I’m still waiting for his ground breaking new venture…

And finally Declan’s comment – it wasn’t particularly catchy as a sound bite, but is symptomatic of an industry crowded with mediocrity: A lack of customer focus which inevitably leads to poor service delivery.

I’m of course not suggesting for a minute that this is all down to owners not responsing quickly to enquiries. Quite the opposite, it’s a listing site issue. By allowing mediocrity we tolerate it. And when we tolerate it we inevitably let the punter down (and therefore also the owner – this is a chicken and egg industry).

So What Does This All Mean For Getaway Earth?

Quite simply that we’ve finally realised this isn’t an industry that needs another mediocre site, playing a ridiculous game of hunt the owners. Garri was right. Who needs another mass site? Certainly not the punter. They have a field of mushrooms to choose from. And actually the field of mushrooms contains a fair number of bad ones, and a bad mushroom you don’t want.

At the same time we’re being a little tough on ourselves. I wouldn’t describe Getaway Earth as a site that’s typically mass market in feel. We’ve always tried to be creative and test new ideas. The issue is we’ve created something inconsistent – how can we be “holiday rentals with personality” and at the same time allow listings with zero personality? The 1,000 free lifetime listings really didn’t help us in that sense. We truly believed that we could be a personal space but still gun for mass. That’s not possible, and it inevitably leads to a watered down brand.

So What Next For Getaway Earth?

Honestly? We have a few issues to overcome: Design (yes Garri), purity of brand, and consistent execution. None of them are simple to solve. But then the days of simple solutions are long gone. Today’s consumer is unpredictable, expects only the best service, has huge choice, power, and a limited online attention span (I place myself in this category by the way!).

The good news is that we know precisely what needs to be done. We see a huge opportunity in this industry to turn Getaway Earth into a listing site that is all about personal, quality listings, not mass mediocrity. And warning: We’ll expect owners to play their part in this. No longer is it good enough to put some photos and text up, pay your fee, then expect a listing site’s SEO to drive bookings. This is about punters!

We expect the next six months to be about changing the face of our site and, hopefully, inject some genuine freshness into a field of dying mushrooms! Let us know what you think and, better still, tell us whether you can guess what we have in mind…

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One Response to The Story so Far – Part 3

  1. I agree with a lot of your comments. There’s a lot of listing sites out there and the vast majority of them simply don’t deliver.

    I have mixed views on whether a listing should reflect the personality of the owner. Some owners like to be very hands-on, put a photo of themselves on their website, and so and so forth. Others (and it doesn’t necessarily mean they’re not equally diligent) prefer not to. To some punters, a high degree of personality would be more enticing; to others it would be a turn-off.

    Having listings that are regularly updated is of course to be encouraged but I wonder how long owners will continue to do that on sites that don’t deliver bookings. It’s surely that that’s the crux of it all… a site that delivers bookings (which essentially is nothing more than a re-iteration of Garri’s quote). Owners will be more likely to ‘play their part’ on a given listing site if the bookings are flowing nicely.


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