Villa Hunters is an idea that has been kicking around my head since sometime in 2008 and it’s that project we all have at some point but never get round to doing anything with.
Well, it’s 2014 and progress has been well and truly made, the first stage of my master plan for world domination is pretty much complete and it’s time to kick into the next gear.
The original idea for Villa Hunters was to create a new website which overseas home owners could use to advertise their properties for short term holiday rentals.
I guess my first introduction to this market was through my parents, they own a property in Spain which they let out a few weeks each year to help cover the maintenance costs. Looking for a way to attract potential renters they asked me, being the family ‘computer whiz’, to help find somewhere to advertise it.
We eventually settled on Holiday Rentals who were at the time the market leaders in this space (note, Holiday Rentals is now Home Away but more about them another day), however my research turned up lots of competitors, many offering poor website experiences, that all seemed to be doing pretty well.
I’ve always fancied myself as a business owner, maybe it’s my entrepreneurial spirit or perhaps my dislike of being told what to do, but for whatever the reason I often like to look at new business opportunities and see if it would be something that interested me.
One of the key factors when deciding whether a business is viable is assessing the competition, lots of competitors usually indicates that the market has potential. Next up is how good of a job does the competition do? Well, from research into my parents advertising opportunities I thought that the vast majority of website experiences were poor.
It was probably at this stage when I first thought to myself that this seemed like a good idea for a business, if I could create a really nice website with great design and usability, and combine it with a lot of targeted visitors then there could be something there.
A Brief Timeline of Progress
At the time of the original idea I was in full time employment and was already working on another project in my spare time so Villa Hunters got filed in the back of my mind.
At some point early 2010 I picked up the idea again and built the technical guts of a website which could display properties and filter them based on user requirements, a great first start.
It then got shelved again until late 2010 / early 2011 at which time I got my designer to create the first version of the site, whilst I felt I did a good job of getting this chunk of work complete I got side tracked by other projects again.
Fast forward to early 2012 and everything finally aligned to allow me the time and resources to push forward with the project. Until (of course) I landed some other work which I just couldn’t turn down.
Part of me wishes I had cracked on with the concept far sooner than now however there is little I can do about that now so there’s no point in worrying about it.
In some ways I feel that because I’ve been thinking about this project on and off for such a long time that my ideas have had time to form and develop clearly in my mind. This might just me subconsciously trying to excuse the lack of movement on the project though…
The holiday rental advertising market has changed in many ways in the past 4 – 6 years, as has the online marketing industry, in some ways for the better, in other ways for the worse.
There has been some consolidation by the bigger players at the top end, there also still seems to be a lot of operators still offering poor website experiences carrying smaller levels of inventory at the bottom end as well.
The market is enormous and I truly believe it is not being served very well in some areas, because of these factors I still feel that there is plenty of space in this sector for a new player.
The competition does not scare me, I see them more as a guide on what not to do most of the time!
So, that’s an overview of the Villa Hunters project. I will try and document my experiences here, both historically and moving forward.
That’s my intention anyway, let’s see how I get on!