Category Archives: For Managers

Virtual Reservation Desk? Yes, We Can

For Rent Costa Rica users may be unaware that our reservation desk is a great option for busy owners who do not wish to incur the expense of a dedicated reservation specialist.

Did you know that answering an initial inquiry within 3 hours boosts your chances of booking the rental significantly?

booking_agentsFor many rental property owner and managers, there is not enough time in the day. Using FRCR’s reservation desk means that inquiries are responded to fast and 7 days a week, so revenues increase.

You no longer have to worry about answering new vacation inquiries while you are on vacation yourself.

Your property value goes up with a strong rent roll.

You no longer have to respond in languages you don’t speak.  Our team responds in Spanish, English, Dutch and German!

Is it cost effective? Absolutely.

Pay only 10% per reservation booked with no monthly or annual fee.  There is absolutely no risk.

The requirements are simple:

  1. A public calendar must be displayed for our agents’s use.
  2. Rates must be set through December 2016.
  3. Property must be able to accept payments through Paypal.*

NOW is the time to fill your vacant weeks. Our agents are standing by.

Sign Up Now: Tenants Are Ready to Book Your Property

For multi-unit managers, our reservation desk now manages other platforms including AirBnB, VRBO and Flipkey. If you are in need of a more robust solution, please contact us for more information.

*Banco Nacional now integrates with Paypal.

Costa Rica Solo Travel Advice with Videos from Lizi on Location

liziThis week we are happy to host guest blogger, Lizi on Location.  Find her at LiziOnLocation.com

Lizi is available for custom videos of properties for rent!

Travel Costa Rica by Yourself without a Group

Have you ever taken a vacation alone? I mean travel by yourself to a foreign country where you don’t speak the language? I hadn’t either until I took my first solo vacation a few years ago and I haven’t looked back. If this interests you, but you are still a little nervous, Costa Rica is the destination for you!

If you haven’t been there before, chances are a family or friend has. It’s a great place for your first international trip.  If you live in the United States like I do, it’s close, fairly inexpensive, and easy to get around.  Plus the locals generally like and want tourists because they bring money into the local economy. This means they will put up with your broken Spanish and offer directions if you get lost. So where do you go? What do you do? How do you plan it?

I was asking myself these same questions a few weeks ago while I was planning my trip.  Most of my friends have gone with a tour group, but that seemed unnecessarily expensive. Plus I didn’t want to be stuck with one group the entire time on a stiff schedule. I wanted a little more flexibility. I planned my first stop and then winged the rest.

First keep in mind when you book because their seasons may be opposite of yours.  Summer in the U.S. is June-September, but that’s their rainy season. It’s not very cold, but very wet.  The good news is sometimes fewer people venture there and the colors are outstanding; the bad news is that depending where you are, it may rain literally every day. I would suggest buying a poncho at the drug store for $2. I know so many people who spent $100 on a new weatherproof jacket, but I’m telling you, the cheap plastic was better!

Next: how are you going to get around? Budget travelers rejoice—their bus system is easy and cheap.   You can also look at their shared shuttles for anywhere between $25-50. I rode Interbus, but there’s also the Gray Line.  They even have some routes that pick you up straight from the airport. Plus it’s a great place to meet people.

You can always rent a car. It wasn’t in my budget, but I hitchhiked with a fellow traveler for a few stops. Keep in mind some of the roads are unpaved, bumpy, and slow, but you can make unplanned stops. WARNING: it may be unsafe, but I had a good experience and now have a new friend from it!

So how are you going to pay for everything? I did use the ATM to exchange money for the Costa Rican Colon, but honesty, almost everywhere I went accepted the US Dollar.  It’s not a bad idea to have a little of their money, especially for the more rural/less touristy places, but you should be find if you don’t. Gone are the days when Costa Rica was “cheap.” You are not going to travel, eat, and stay for $20 a day, unless you work at it.  I wouldn’t call it expensive, but if you eat out, chances are your meals will be more than $10 each, especially if you are in a touristy place.

So where should you go? Like I said I planned my first stop by booking transportation, a hostel, and a few adventure tours until I got the lay of the land.  When you don’t know where you are going next, asking a fellow traveler about their experience gets the conversation rolling. Most likely the traveler just went some place cool and is dying to share his/her experience. This gives you someone to talk to and some ideas of where to go next.

I found the tours/excursions were between $30-45 US dollars.  You can book through a concierge service like Anywhere Costa Rica or directly from the tour company and ask them to waive the service fee.  I hiked the base of the Arenal Volcano, relaxed in the Baldi hot Springs, and rappelled down waterfalls.  You can see all of this in my video below. I loved it all, but if you only have the chance to do one, rappel! The first step is scary, but once you are over the edge, you can control your speed, and swing down. It is such a rush and great for all ages. There were kids in front of me and a woman in her 60s behind me.

I escaped the sticky humidity and headed to Monteverde next (see video below). It was much cooler in the mountains.  The town is charming.  The main drag of Santa Elena is a triangle that takes eight minutes max to walk where there are plenty of eateries and places to stay. I wandered around and found the Ecological Sanctuary. It cost about $12 to enter. I enjoyed the beautiful green plants, breathtaking overlooks, and even saw some unusual animals.  If you want a guided tour of nature, ask at your hotel/hostel about local night walks.

The next day I ziplined with Adventura. The company boasts having the longest zipline in Latin America and it was high! I also did their Tarzan Swing which is a freefall.  I wore my GoPro and still get butterflies in my stomach when I watch the video. I can’t believe I did it, don’t know if I will ever do it again, but loved it!

Next I headed to Manuel Antonio, stopping at Playa Hermosa to wiggle my toes in the black sand from the lava deposits and eat fresh coconuts off the trees. The sunset in Manuel Antonio was indescribable. At one point there was pink and blue, at another point the sky was yellow and orange. There are plenty of restaurants/bars overlooking the ocean to enjoy it over a cocktail. I chose to visit the market across from the public beach and enjoy it at sea level.

The allure of Manuel Antonio is inside gates of the National Park.  All the guidebooks said admission was $10, but they apparently raised it to $16 the day before we arrived.  There are plenty of certified guides you can hire with great cameras outside the park. We ended up guiding ourselves and still saw some really neat creatures. There was a sloth hanging above the tourists, close enough to capture with a zoom lens.  Deeper in the park on one of the trails I saw a monkey! I had been waiting all trip to find one and I finally did. It was just as cute as you imagine, but I hear they can be tricky and steal your food from you as well.  The swimming cover inside the park was packed with people, but beautiful. It is surrounded by hiking trails with breathtaking overlooks.  The trails aren’t difficult, but there are a handful of hills.

After about a week in Costa Rica I felt comfortable to get out of the tourist loop. A local has suggested heading south about an hour (maybe a little less) to Dominical, another awesome beach.  It is a surfer’s paradise.

The next day I looked at the map and saw a big green space a little north of the Pacific and discovered the Chirripo National Park. After further research I found it takes two to three days to hike, but there is a point where you can see both the Pacific and Caribbean. I didn’t have that time, but enjoyed a day hike nearby in the Cloudbridge. Check out the video I shot from our hike.

When we arrived Dr. John Himes, manager of the Cloudbridge Nature Reserve, explained that the 700 acres are mostly reforested.  Much of the land had been used for livestock, but is now going back to its natural state.  Early in the trail you will find flowers, a meditation garden, and access to the waterfalls.  This isn’t a “walk in the park,” it is a hike up a mountain. No need for special shoes or gear, but it is steep and rains often, which makes the path slick.

I LOVED my trip to Costa Rica and know you will too.  Don’t miss out on what could be a great life experience just because you can’t find a travel companion.  Try it out yourself! Costa Ricans have a saying that means “Pure Life” so I’ll leave you with that. Enjoy your trip and “Pura Vida!”

For more of my travel writing visit: www.LiziOnLocationcom and you can find me on twitter/facebook/Instagram/youtube: Lizi On Location.

For first time visitors, check out this video:

Visit Lizi’s YouTube Channel:

Arenal:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jv5VMuRC2fY

Cloudbridge:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ICUlr0diEUI&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Manuel Antonio:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YfMHaHOvbxw&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Monteverde:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d6CekOAcrXQ&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

Traveling to Costa Rica:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RKF_jtqjApU&list=UUrCJWK64fBSLj7hSMSsZ8bg

FRCR Powering Costa Rica Happy

C R Happy LOGOHere at For Rent Costa Rica, we are very excited to be powering Costa Rica Happy, a site with tons of resources for transplants to Costa Rica from Niki Meeks and her family, who migrated to Atenas from Texas.

You may also know Costa Rica Happy by its former name, Discovering Atenas. The rebrand is representative of Niki’s expansion of the available resources to cover the whole country.

Costa Rica Happy gives visitors many interesting ideas for areas of the country to visit, healthcare, education, gardening tips, lifestyle tips, Spanish language assistance and more.

A CR LOGONiki and her husband Matt along with their three children are having the time of their lives and also doing some very entrepreneurial endeavors. You may soon find their name synonymous with their latest culinary creation, Carne Rico. Along with their family, the pair brought along their recipe for Texas style beef jerky. Look for Carne Rico in a growing list of locations across Costa Rica.

The Costa Rica News Allies with For Rent Costa Rica

Here at For Rent Costa Rica, we are very excited to announce that we will be powering the rental classified section of The Costa Rica News.

costa-rica-news-3501Visitors to The Costa Rica News will get to browse and send inquiries to all the great rental properties already found at forrentcostarica.com and forrentcostarica.co.cr

For those unfamiliar with the site, the Costa Rica News is a leading English language newspaper with a dedicated expatriate following.

Lindsey Vast and her team do an amazing job of documenting the news along with plenty of anecdotal experience garnered from life in the tropics as an expat.  See 20 Wacky Ways that You Know You’re in Costa Rica for a great example.

The site is also recognized as an official Google news source.


Owners: If your property is already listed on For Rent Costa Rica, it will be visible in The Costa Rica News as well.

Thank You: Southern Zone Realtors

homepage_01We want to say thanks to Southern Zone Realtors, a firm specializing in Golfito area properties for sale.

They do not handle rentals so they recommended For Rent Costa Rica on their rentals page.

Ana, June, and Bob, you guys are the best! Thanks again.

Improved Search

We are really appreciative of feedback from our wonderful users. The quest to make For Rent Costa Rica better never stops.

Improved Location Search

Improved Location Search

One really good comment that we received was that our search was not fast enough when a visitor was looking for properties by location.  If a location was chosen without any properties listed yet, you would simply get a big “O Result” page with no rental properties showing.

To help speed up the process, our Location drop down menu now tells you how many properties are available in each location.

Browse away! We are so lucky to have some of the most beautiful properties on the planet. Costa Rica is a natural paradise but also home to some truly amazing architecture.

 

Check Out Spherical Photos Embedded and Navigable

A couple of weeks ago, For Rent Costa Rica wrote an article called 2014: The Rise of Spherical Photography, wherein we point out that we think potential tenants will love to be able to navigate a spherical photo of a rental property. You can also think of this as 360 photography.

Why do we think 360 photography will be widely adopted? Because you feel like you are really there.

We also think the medium is much more useful than Youtube because you do not have to wait on someone to physically walk around and move the camera.

What Do You Think of Spherical Photography?

Here are some exterior examples of spherical photography:


Las Catalinas, Costa Rica


Tamarindo Rivermouth, Costa Rica


Playa Langosta, Costa Rica

ForRentCostaRica.co.cr Launches

For those of you that follow happenings at For Rent Costa Rica, you’ll be aware that we have a large number of visitors in both English and Spanish.

After a series of revisions, we now have forrentcostarica.co.cr up and running for our visitors who prefer to work in Spanish.

You will find all the same properties available as well as the ability to share and email interesting properties to friends and family.

What other improvements would you like to see from For Rent Costa Rica?  We are always looking for the best ways to serve our customers!

2014: The Rise of Spherical Photography?

Read Wired magazine or other technology publications and you will see various start-ups offering spherical cameras, many of which look like soccer balls.

Spherical photos are really a series of individual photos stitched together and smoothed. The new cameras are really a series of cameras pointed in different directions that take a synchronized photo in every direction.

Apps that create synchronized photos from a smart device have to be moved around to every angle, which works fine for inanimate objects but not so well with movement.

Wired has a great article here about one competitor who was at the latest Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas: http://www.wired.com/gadgetlab/2014/01/panono-ball/

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Spherical Photo Taken with Nexus 4 at Tamarindo Rivermouth

Here at For Rent Costa Rica, we are already being approached by various people that want to sell us spherical photography as a service: both the actual taking of the photos and the hosting of the photo such that the user will be able to navigate within the listing. Although we do not produce the photos of the listings we offer internally, we think this service would be of great value to our users.

We are totally in favor of offering spherical photography in our listings! We think tenants will love being able to see the property’s highlights from the perspective of standing there and looking around.

What options does an owner have to get spherical photos?

  1. Look to a manager. We think that managers may adopt this technology to get a competitive advantage over others in their area and pony up for a spherical camera themselves.
  2. Find a service such as We Get Around that allows you borrow the equipment to capture the data and then also creates and hosts the embedded viewer to add to the listing.
  3. Do It Yourself – Google’s Nexus 4 and Nexus 5 phones have a built in spherical photo option as part of the phone app. Bubbli is an app you can download if you are an iPhone user.

Check back to the In the News section of For Rent Costa Rica for more on this emerging tool for displaying real estate and improving your rental marketing.

Check out this embedded shot of Ryan Seacrest.

Photo Tips for Rental Marketing

Marketing real estate is a lot like marketing other products. There is a physical object or space to market, but what you are really selling is a feeling.

Professional photographers understand this intrinsically and are great if you can afford them. You will  be able to find them shortly on ForRentCostaRica.com  However, hiring one may not be an option due to time or budget constraints.

In vacation rental marketing, the feeling that someone will have and will share with their friends or family when renting that property is what will cause them to swipe a credit card.

Words are great but photos are so much better at conveying the feel of a place.

Are You Selling the Blues? Why So Much Gray?

Cameras are getting better, for sure, even on smart phones, but we still see many photos on listings that could be so much better with just  a little bit of adjustment to get rid of the gray.

Brightness and Contrast Adjustment: Your Two Best Friends

Before Retouching

Before Retouching

 

This photo is an aerial taken from an airplane on a cloudy day over Playa Langosta with a cheap, point and shoot camera. Note how the tone of the whole photo is very similar (depressing). The buildings are various earth tones and one wild blue looking building, the flora is green, and the sand is tan, but all of the color is washed out.

 

retouched

Contrast and Brightness Adjusted

 

 

This is the exact same photo after some minor adjustments on a free photo editing, cloud based program. Note how the buildings now stand out from the trees better, the whole scene looks much lusher, the photo itself stand outs from this page better, and you FEEL much more interested in visiting.

Which do you prefer?

Inquiry # Correlation? Yes

Listings with better photos are more appealing and generate more tenant interest in the form of inquiries. Trust us.

Free Solution

We totally understand if you do not have time or do not want to pay a photographer. A simple solution is to use a cloud based, free option. For the example above, we used http://pixlr.com/editor/  The interface is very simple.  You browse to the photo on your hard drive, make the changes, and hit save just like you would on an a desktop application.

In this case, the contrast and brightness slider are grouped together under the Adjustment tab. For the example above, we raised the contrast and lowered the brightness just a bit and saved the photo, which is now perfectly suitable for use within For Rent Costa Rica.flxr

Your Thoughts? Do You Have Another Solution?

We will be happy to add it to our resources section.