‘Google+ Break Up’ Causes Controversy in Vacation Rental Community
Users of social media, including some in the independent vacation rental market, are getting aerated by claims of a Google+ break up
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The news, reported on 2 March, is that Google+ is being ‘broken up’ and that Google+ ‘Breaks Out Photos and Streams’. Controversy around the Google+ break up was further escalated when industry blogger Matt Landau spoke out in a provocative post headed: ‘Alert. This is precisely why I never trusted Google+’.
Google+ debuted in June 2011 as the Google competitor to Facebook. Advertised as a social network built from scratch with privacy in mind, it allowed people to share items with specified ‘circles’ of friends, family, co-workers and other chosen groups.
Boom in social networking
As part of the boom in social networking it was picked up and used by some vacation rental owners as a useful shop window with a good photo facility. But it could never match Facebook in scale. Facebook has 1.35 billion users – the same number as the number of people living in the world’s most populated country, China!
After announcing that Google would be ‘all but officially shutting down its highly touted Google+’, Landau rails against the Google+ break up for pulling the rug from under vacation rentals.
He writes: ‘Anyone who has been spending honest hours building their vacation rental’s Google+ reputation may be having the rug pulled right out from under them, overnight…with absolutely nothing to show for it.’
Google+ break up ‘pulled the rug’
Matt’s advice to vacation rental owners is not to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to social media.
Controversially, he also accuses the major listings sites of having done the same thing as the Google+ break up – ‘pulling the rug right out from under’ with regard to increased fees and by taking control of their rental owner’s guest communications.
We agree with Landau that independent vacation rental owners should not focus all their marketing activity through one channel. But we do not believe that they have to give over control of their property and communications with guests to the big listings sites in the way Matt is suggesting.
The trick is not to make any one your primary channel – apart from your own website. All the rest, be they social networking sites or listings sites, are mere tools. If for instance, one of the big listings sites were to suddenly disappear, would you be floored?
You might be if it was the only one you’d signed up to and if you had decided to go with them, leaving everything to them and foregoing your own website.
Your own website – for free
The answer is to have your own website with links to your social media and listings sites. Setting that up can be a daunting prospect if you’re not technically minded. And how do you choose between the competing and expensive claims of the many companies and individuals offering to set up your (often quite basic) website for a fee that can run into thousands?
The Homes and Rooms service provides you with your own property website for free. It’s for independent vacation rental owners who want to have the reservations clout of the big listings sites without being controlled by them.
It works like this. As a Homes and Rooms subscriber, you get a free website, a professionally designed ‘shop window’ in itself which can be customized and personalized to reflect your own vacation rental look and feel. With its inbuilt integration with our online owner service you can have full automation of personalized guest inquiries, quotes, payments and communications – or you can choose to handle each individually.
While there are tight restrictions on the number of images allowed by many listings sites, we put virtually no limit on how many pictures of your property you wish to show. Plus you can be much more expansive about your property’s attractions than is possible with just a limited listing.
With the Homes and Rooms online service taking care of business under your guiding hand, listings sites and social media can be seen as the marketing tools or shop windows that you choose to use to bring visitors and inquiries to your website.
Your Homes and Rooms website is set up to be integrated with most major listings sites and allows you to market your property via social media. If one channel closes or falls off, such as with the Google+ break up, sign up with a replacement that is succeeding!
What will happen to Google+?
If you are a regular user, you will want to keep tabs on the unfolding Google+ break up. There seems to be widespread confusion about the impact of the changes at Google+. What we do know is that the two sides of Google+, Photos and Streams, are to be separated under the control of Google executive Bradley Horowitz.
As a result of the Google+ break up, Photos will be stripped out to create its own service as it is one of the most popular ways to use Google+. The social Stream will continue to exist but separately. Horowitz is quoted as saying: ‘It’s important to me that these changes are properly understood to be positive improvements to both our products and how they reach users.’
Things have not got off to a good start for Google given the confusion this Google+ break up is already causing.