My following tips could save you money if you follow a set of simple tips
I touched upon the subject of 'Ways to find affordable Villas to rent in Skopelos' in my previous post.
This article concentrates on the most important ways to lower your costs of holiday rentals.
My quest to help you save money for your holiday in Skopelos was mapped out over the last decade. While I concentrate on how you can find quality affordable villas in Skopelos, you can of course apply these tips to different types of accommodation as well.
I want you to forget everything you thought you knew, (well almost everything), about searching for Skopelos Villas this summer. It’s almost a prerequisite before you go on reading this post.
Guiding you smoothly through the 'Search Game'
1. The Process of searching for Villas in Skopelos
If I'm reading your mind correctly when you search for Skopelos Villas, here is the process you follow ->
You decided to spend your holidays in Skopelos - great - I'm already feeling hopeful that we will somehow meet!
You make yourself a cup of coffee,
Put your favourite radio station on,
You grab your laptop/tablet/mobile and try to relax and focus your mind
You open up a tab for Google, let's see, what do you type?
'luxury villas in Skopelos'?
Hmmm, let's not get carried away from the beginning - you might miss a bargain of some sort with this one.
'Skopelos holiday rentals'?
Well, you're getting somewhere with this one, although you will get thousands of links with all sorts of accommodation. Apartments to rent, rooms to rent, tents to rent..you name it. How about getting a little more specific, shall we?
This one you're thinking, should cut out all the unnecessary bits and get you right to the point.
You're right! It will save you many hours of skipping through websites, ads, etc.
2. The usual results of your Web Search for Skopelos Villas
Let's take a closer look at your laptop, shall we? What is the 1st result we see?
The Thinking Traveller emerged in Skopelos the last 5-6 years. They're an exclusive Villa Tour Operator, with a large, very high-end villa portfolio. As with every Tour Operator, they also use these properties exclusively for their guests while killing every owner-guest relationship.
They have local agents ready to cater to every whim of their guests, (these people have paid large sums of money to be there). I happen to know first-hand of their exclusivity and claims to fame. They pay Google large sums of money on Advertisement to get top results. If you notice, there is an 'Ad' square box on the left of their link. This means the particular listing is a 'sponsored' placement. Most companies that have such top results, they mostly have large advertisement budgets.
Did you also know that by clicking on this link you charge the Ad owner a predefined amount of money set by Google? That's one of the many ways Google makes its money by the way
This 'vrbo' company is actually part of 'Homeaway', and similar to such OBE's, (Online Booking Engines). This one is also an Ad. Their huge ad budgets get them top results too. They use the same marketing tactics to get you to book through them.
Hmmm, the wonderful Home Away from Home. In fact, this is another Ad. You already see the pattern, don't you? HomeAway is already claiming listings no. 2 & 3 in Google's 1st page results.
Do you know get this sense of Monopoly I'm trying to convey here? They have used a company they bought over and claimed no.2 spot with Google ads, and budgeted for spot no. 3 for themselves!
Airbnb comes next. Another company that started humbly and transformed into a dominant-hungry beast. Skopelos Country Villas is actually part of them too.
Next comes Booking.Com. Who doesn't know them? Skopelos Country Villas was even part of them for a while! You know how the saying goes...
You meet someone either for a Reason, a Season or a lifetime’…!
I read it once in a wonderful book! I love that quote and has been my life's motto ever since!
Can you guess where my relationship with them fitted? It was definitely for a SEASON and the REASON was they made me realise how WRONGLY this company handles small businesses. But, we won't go into the details here.
As you can see, most of Google's 1st results page is dominated by such companies and ads.
Have you already made that click to one of them? I'm sure you have!
3. What happens after you see Google's search results?
What follows next, is a typical holiday seeker's journey
I've seen it happen so many times over the years!
How could I know, you ask yourselves?
How could I know how you, or everyone thinks when searching for Villas in Skopelos?
How could I guess the 'moulded' journey most of us use when trying to book ourselves a holiday break?
Well, I'll prove it to you in the following paragraphs:
Don't feel guilty. We've all clicked on them at one time or another. After all, they're international and have a massive database of hotels, houses, villas, apartments, etc. all over the world. If you were paying close attention to Results picture in the laptop above, you'd notice that...
...there are 114, 000 results for our search term, 'Skopelos Villas to Rent'
This is a staggering amount of results for a Greek island that is not one of the biggest. You simply don't have the time, (you'd probably need a couple of months), to look through them all and find properties owned by individual owners.
So what do you, as a busy individual? You would naturally click one of these guys and just go with the flow!!
This 1st page will do just fine! They're simple to use, convenient and offer you tons of SECURITY!
In fact, so much so, that if you dare (!), to book outside their so secure, heavenly eco-system, your whole world is going to end!
The sort of Online Travel Hubs that if you decide to use them once and create a free account, will bombard you with a ton of emails. They craft each email carefully and with perfect timing. They boss you daily to
'Decide Now before the world ends!'
Hurry, while this super offer lasts! If you don't, really bad things will happen to you and your family! You shall be hunted to extinction and be doomed forever, (ok, got a little carried away here)!
The truth is, I'm not completely against them! Don't get me wrong! They spend tons of money on advertising and clever marketing tactics. They employ hundreds, sometimes thousands of people across the globe. They know their game and are highly skilled and effective at their job. They need to survive and they will do that extremely well.
I have used them myself a number of times too. It was mostly in the past, however, and before I became the owner of Villas in Skopelos myself.
4. The consequences of choosing the 'Big Players'
This is when I realised the following:
These companies will use aggressive marketing tactics, all in the name of your 'Security'. They don't want you contacting the owners directly because they will lose out on their booking fees and commissions.
I remember having follow-up emails months later, (having returned from my trip). Their emails were urging me to still take advantage of that 'irresistible' offer and book that room! Sometimes, these emails continued bombarding my inbox for years too. You have to realise that this is all in the name of 'booking commissions and administrative / booking fees
The 'Secure booking environment' messages they pass through are highly effective. So effective in fact, that sometimes people will prefer to pay a lot more on a single booking, rather than book directly with an owner. They make us look like crooks searching for that gullible traveller, YOU. We wait for your payment so we can disappear in our tropical paradises and leave you stranded in the desert of Skopelos.
Most of the big players of the Online Booking platforms have extended their scare tactics beyond the customer who's about to book.
They 'attack' the owners of Skopelos Villas too!
Their Search algorithm has evolved so much that even Orson Wells would be proud of them. It can discover any traces of contact info exchanged between customer and owner.
It has become so intimidating that I have had instances where I lost potential bookings due to this 'censorship' scanning they use. I had every single message bounce back to me on the pretext of having exchanged contact details when that was clearly not the case. What was utterly infuriating was that they also 'punished' my listings and pushed them lower down the 'ranking ladder'. All because I failed to reply in a 'timely manner'!
They're simply killing small businesses. Forcing them to abide by their inflexible rules and exist only through them. Most importantly, a lot of O.B.E's, (Online Booking Engines), will strangle the cash flow of small business owners as well.
How can they manage that?
They keep urging you to 'Take Action' and pay right away so you don't lose that villa rental in Skopelos.
Their carefully crafted psychological plan has already penetrated your subconscious. So what do you do? Log into your account with them and pay that deposit or the whole amount.
At this point, you think, ‘great..I’ve secured this booking with the owner – I can now tick that box’.
At our end we receive a confirmation email: 'Congratulations, Mr & Mrs Smith have booked Skopelos Country Villa Delfi'. Further down the page, it analyses the costs, (wow, this person has paid about € 280 more than my actual price).
Mr Smith paid the deposit: the date you can withdraw these funds: at least 48 hours after check-in.
But wait, this is November. Mr. Smith's check-in date is 16th of August I hear me say! This is a long stretch of time. Your cash is earning them huge interests but don't you worry about that,
'..it's only secure to book through them'.
So, here comes the interesting question which I'm sure has been buzzing inside your head while reading this.
Why do almost all owners of Skopelos Villas advertise through these Online Booking Engines?
Because of the sheer amount of exposure and advertising an owner can get through an OBE. There is no way an individual business can compete with the advertising budgets of these International conglomerates. Almost every page of a Google search page relating to any search term such as:
will be dominated by Ads and Sponsored Content from these companies. Google adores them for the thousands of euros they spend on getting page 1 results. You may see 1 or 2 such Ads by smaller companies or even individuals, but not for too long.
The Age of
innocence clever bait tactics
Their list of 'click baits' as they're sometimes referred to is quite endless. A few very well-known companies, (Airbnb for example), use the 'Refer a Friend' bait. So if you simply refer a friend to their site and they end up booking, guess what?
You get € 50 off your next booking!
What you don't actually realise though is that you have paid a lot more in fees to make that next booking.
5. The Tour Operator Game
What about those Tour Operators and the 'exclusive' villa rental companies?
That's another category of its own. Huge companies that I'm sure some of you may have used in the past. You book through them because they have a huge portfolio of Villas in Skopelos or elsewhere.
The big difference with them is that they use these villas 'exclusively' and only for people that book through their company
They too have a huge impact on the 'guest - owner' relationship. These companies simply wipe out any existing relationship between you and the owner. They try their best not to allow any contact whatsoever between guest and owner. They're very successful in this tactic.
They have their own local agents that 'handle' all the requests/questions you may have. They will meet you upon your arrival in Skopelos, give you directions to reach your villa, and from then on it's between you and them!
I personally find this type of business conduct very impersonal. I know many villa rentals here in Skopelos that operate like this for years. After all, it is a thriving business model, (though mostly one-sided when it comes to profits and return on investment ).
In most cases 8 out of 10 such owners have opted for this type of business because they cannot manage it themselves. Either because they don't speak the language, they don't have the skills of this trade or are too busy running other businesses at the same time.
6. Wrapping up this Search Journey
So what are you to do next time you're looking for villas to rent in Skopelos?
If you do, make sure you click first on a website that belongs to an individual business. Not that of a monopoly.
Skopelos Country Villas website, for example, can make it to the 1st page sometimes. Other times it slips further down Google's endless tunnels.
It all depends on the search phrase you used and how much competition there is for that phrase. Even if you need to click on one of the monopoly websites, use them for research!
If you like any villas they have listed, copy the name of that Skopelos villa and use google to see if that owner has a website. Contact that owner directly through their website.
There are many ways to check if a business is secure and legitimate.
1st. A first favourable sign to look out for is if they have their own website. If they do that is a great sign you can check off in your 'Security Audit'.
2nd. Another great sign to look out for is whether they have any SOCIAL PROOF. Does their business belong to any of the very well-known networks, (such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest)? Every individual business should belong to all or at least one or two of these networks. Look at their Followers. They should have at least 100 if not more.
3rd. Are there any past guest testimonials anywhere on their websites? Do these testimonials, (or Reviews), make it to the social media accounts?
There are clearly more signs to look for when checking out a Villa Rental in Skopelos.
If you checked all 3 above, however, you should be good to proceed with a booking for your Villas in Skopelos this summer.
Just think that every time you click on that BOOK button of a big International Monopoly, you're killing off a smaller Villa Rental owner. You're handing your money to a power-hungry company who's waiting to make huge amounts of interest from that deposit you made. Many Villa owners I happen to know throughout Greece feel the same about this situation. They feel frustrated how these companies have managed to terrorise most travellers about Security and how it is
...only safe to book through them!
By now you should be more aware of what goes on behind the scenes.
What happens every time you click on the BOOK button of an international Villa Rental company.
You feel more secure and confident to communicate DIRECTLY with a Villa rental owner here in Skopelos.
You are more savvy knowing how to pass your 'Security Audit' checklist with the above 3 tips I gave you.
Are you looking for some more inspiring content?
If you have booked with us directly and read this post, see our epic article about The Perfect 7 Day Itinerary For Skopelos Island
It will save you many hours of researching various sources online just to discover the best things to do and see in Skopelos.
It is geared especially for you, our guests at Skopelos Country Villas and written from the best source you can find.
Having been born and raised here, we know what's best for you to see during your visit.
You can now watch this video and see LIVE what happens during our simple phrase search for 'Skopelos Villas'
Wir haben die Villa Sendoukia bei Andonis gebucht und haben eine traumhaft schöne Woche auf Skopelos verbracht. Die Villa bietet einen atemberaubend schönen Blick auf das Meer und bietet alles, was man für einen entspannten Urlaub benötigt. Aufgrund der ruhigen Lage in den Bergen kann man hier absolut entspannen, einfach mal abschalten und wirklich zur Ruhe kommen. Wir haben unsere Woche in vollen Zügen genoßen und fanden die Villa einfach traumhaft!Sandra
Nochmal ein rießen großes Dankeschön an Andonis, da er uns bei all unseren Fragen in Bezug auf die Anreise nach Skopelos immer super behilflich war!
Andonis is a wonderful host – he made a huge effort to make us feel comfortable & was always happy to spend time giving us guidance on the things we could do on the island. However the villa itself is marvellous so you don’t really need to go anywhere! Rustic and private, with a spectacular view, but convenient for trips to the beaches on the west coast and the bustle of the Port in the east. Hope to come again.Kevin Douglas
So far we stayed there 3 times and would like to go there much more often. What can we say? All the information on the skopeloscountry.com is as promised and often, in our experience, better. The villas are very comfortable and the nature is breathtakingly beautiful. Most important the owner is super nice, totally trustworthy and takes care of lots of things to make sure you have the perfect holiday.Stefan and family
Third time we come to this house and still very charmed. The setting of it is perfect; greenest part of the greenest island. The house has a private”mountain-pass” shaped path and has an OUTSTANDING view on Alonissos. Nice refreshing pool and sun beds for an unforgettable afternoon. The inside of the house is well equipped for the affordable price: beautiful shower, open kitchen, comfy living room with the view, nice place to eat outside and bedrooms for a good sleep. At only 15 minutes by car from Skopelos town, it is easy to go and drink a café frappé or go to a taverna, especially when the trip there is green and peacful. This house is surrounded by a garden inhabited by a hammock. Andonis and his family is adorable; they come and check the house everyday and are very nice and they are free to give you tips to visit the island…… Welcome home!Nans
Lorsque nous sommes allés la 1ère fois dans cette maison, nous sommes tombés sous son charme qui continue toujours trois ans après. Elle surplombe Skopelos, une île magnifique des Sporades, entourée de collines verdoyantes et de fleurs. L’environnement de cette maison avec piscine vous apporte sérénité et calme. Tout se prête au farniente et au bien-être : le confort de la maison, le chant des cigales, les oiseaux et au loin les clochettes des chèvres. Vous êtes reçus avec chaleur et générosité. Un coin de Paradis ! Merci à Adonis et ses parents. Nous adorons.Francoise