GDPR – Where to start?

What is GDPR?  

GDPR stands for General Data Protection Regulation, it will come into force on the 25th May 2018. The main purpose of this new data protection act (DPA) is to change how businesses and the public-sector use information from their customers, consequently consent and transparency are two huge factors that will change.

Will GDPR affect my business?

Yes, business that are either “controllers” or “processors” will be effected. This is because unlike the DPA, both parties that share information between one another are responsible for personal data. This data may be defined as information relating to an identified data subject, however the regulation within the new GDPR laws does not apply to data that does not relate to a subject or identifiable source. Consequently, old data should not be kept for longer than is necessary, if for any means you wish to keep the data on record you have to justify the reasons behind this as well as ensure the individual with that data is aware that their information is being kept.

Controllers: The controller uses personal data and determines the purposes and means of the processing of personal data.

Processors: The processor is an individual that processes personal data on behalf of the controller and their instructions.

Policies

There are lots of steps you can take to be GDPR compliant, one of many is to create policies. These policies should define how you obtain data, where you store data, what the data is used for and most importantly how it is secure. Do you use encryption? Do you store data in a safe or locked cupboard? Who has access to this?  It is necessary to create this policy, so customers are aware of their personal data and how it is used, as well as how long it may be kept for after they no longer use your services.

Consider why you might need a customer’s telephone, mobile number or email. Is it for customer service or is it for a primary contact regarding a recent subscription, payment etc. Specify your reasons clearly so that it is easy to understand for clients, in return they are aware of what they’re signing up to and what sharing their personal data will mean for the future.

Why a policy?

A policy is a great way to ensure you comply to GDPR laws from making your clients aware of their data and how it is used, as well as setting boundaries between you and what you can do with the information if customers allow you to use their data. In simple terms It’s a safety net for you and your business should under any circumstances a member calls with a desire to remove their personal data - “right to be forgotten” or to complain about how their data is being used.

Straightforwardly create a policy defining the terms for clients and their data should they share their information with you, and ensure you know where this as well so you are able to quickly remove them should they request. This is part of GDPR laws which defines that people should be able to unsubscribe from services as easily as they can sign up to them.

  • Ensure your emails have an unsubscribe option
  • Never prepopulate ticked boxes
  • Clarify information so that nothing is misleading
  • Policy for data – if you desire you can create varied policies for bookings and cancellations etc.

 

It is clearly stated in new GDPR laws that there must be a privacy policy defining the use of people’s data, other policies are optional to you, but this is a MUST.

If you are having difficulty conforming a policy look at the ICO website or use templates from online to support you in the process.

ICO Website: https://ico.org.uk/for-organisations/resources-and-support/getting-ready-for-the-gdpr-resources/

I hope this helps,

Millie

How a Social Media Audit Can Keep You on Track

What is a social media audit?

A social media audit is a great way to improve a social media platforms performance, by analysing and optimising a business's social media strategy. One strategy might be to connect with influencers and increase brand awareness, another may be to increase sales and hence promote offers/discounts more actively. The main objective is to achieve short or long-term goals relevant to the businesses current aims, and ironically one way to achieve this is from creating an audit. This way you’ll be able to see if your strategy is working, needs improvement or a new direction.

Explore scheduling and reporting tools 

Downloading metrics from social media platforms can be a huge headache, you’ll have to access different platforms and then manually put together findings to evaluate your next steps.

Tools such as “Agorapulse” save a heap of time, making the process a lot simpler and accurate, it is not susceptible to human error and allows users to create, schedule, queue and directly publish content across multiple platforms including Instagram. They even send emails informing users of the best time to post and what type of content is likely to perform best. Despite Instagram having its own analytics, this tool allows you to manage and review metrics on multiple channels making life easier when comparing and evaluating the next steps needed to improve on all platforms.

Look at your current Metrics

Looking at your metrics will be the first step towards a social media audit, often you’ll access your followers, following, engagements such as likes and mentions etc. However, with Agorapulse it will cultivate all metrics with the platforms you desire so you can see how many followers you have on each platform, how much they increase or decrease, and much more than the usual analytics will provide. In simple terms It makes one job achievable without compromising on information.

Alternative Options 

Other options for a social media audits do include evaluating a social media platform, predominately one you use more often, one you have the most engagements or followers with. From accessing your strategy on one platform only, it will help you follow a direction for the remaining platforms you use as well as distinguish where your main audiences are online. The fault in this method is there is room for human error, however there are alternative options to help analyse weather changes made from the social media audit have positively impacted platforms. For instance, using Google Analytics can help check what platforms are sending you the most organic and paid traffic, comparing posts with the most interactions on each platform etc.

To conclude, both methods are effective yet if you want to free more time your best option is to use a tool that can do most of the hard work for you.

Hope this helps :)

All the best,

Millie

Happy Customer :)

Valerie Woods has been a member of Prop Sync since the 13th of April 2017, she uses her account to synchronise her 2 calendars between 3 different online travel agencies and for a little cost of £24 her calendars are automatically updated, saving Valerie a heap of time!

Since her subscription, Valerie has had 39780 transactions that have estimated a total number of hours saved at 276 hours and 15 minutes. This number continues to grow and Valerie even mentions that before using Prop Sync, she found that updating her calendars took a lot of time. Sometimes she wouldn’t even update a booking because she simply had no time to spare, leaving these dates venerable for 3 or more days at a time. However since using Prop Sync she is a lot more confident with customers, and she doesn’t need to take as much time out of her day or week to update bookings.

We asked Valerie a number of questions regarding her experience with Prop Sync, her response was fantastic and very rewarding to hear…

How would you recommend Prop Sync to a friend?

"I would highlight their customer service, there is always someone to talk to and they’re very easy to contact. They make the process more understandable and dealt with my concerns professionally, and even if they couldn’t respond immediately, they would always keep me updated and I knew what was going on. I really liked that because I was more at ease and when using something new, its always a daunting time but they really made me feel confident."

What do you love about Prop Sync and why?

"Their prices are very reasonable and they never go up, they stick to their word."

Do you have any suggestions on how Prop Sync could improve?

"I’m not sure, I personally think they are doing a fabulous job as they are inclined to work with more people."

What three words would you use to describe Prop Sync?

"Efficient and friendly, they get the job done and make my life easier."

Do you find that the payment methods are flexible for your needs?

"For mine, yes."

Is the administration panel easy to use and what features do you like the most?            

"Yes, the admin panel is easy to use but I don’t tend to use it much, I like to look at the analytics from time to time and see the number of hours I have saved, I suppose even though I feel I have because I’m not updating my bookings as often as I did. It's nice to see it in black and white."

Do you feel the 3-month free trial gave you a good indication as to whether Prop Sync was working for you? 

"Yes definitely, I didn’t have to worry my head about double bookings. I run a small business and a double booking is the stuff of nightmares, so it was nice not to have that fear and relax more knowing everything was taken care of."

Is the dashboard in the Prop Sync admin panel beneficial in analysing your transactions and bookings or do you feel there are improvements to be made?

"I don’t really use the admin panel, but I have used it before and I know it is very clear and if I had more time I would sit down and play with it more but from what I’ve seen, it is a lot clearer than some admin panels I have used."

When everything was explained to you, how did you feel?

"I felt nervous because I didn’t know how I was going to cope but I will always be nervous about something new and whether it is going to work, but I am now more than happy to show someone how the setup of different platforms work. I can understand why people are apprehensive to get in touch and try something new because I was the same, but we can learn off one another and the support is great."

Once using Prop Sync did you find everything easy to understand in terms of one way and two-way connections and knowing what connections you’re synced with applied for each?

"Yeah this was easy to understand, I had no difficulty with this."

Are you satisfied with Prop Syncs service, is there anything that’s really impressed you or you feel needs improvement?

"Yes, I am satisfied with the customer service, they have always been able to help with issues I've had. At the beginning I had some hiccups, but they were easily resolved."

On a scale of 1-10 how would you rate your experience with Prop Sync? 1 being bad and 10 being good.

"I’ll give you a 10!"

Prop Sync are so pleased that Valerie is having a pleasant experience and that we can make her life easier! :)

All the best,

Millie

How to market your property?

The world of online marketing can be scary but it’s not impossible, taking certain steps can help you accomplish your achievements and long-term goals; you may be familiar with social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These are three commonly used platforms for businesses, if you are promoting on any of these you’re off to a good start! However, you need to ensure you are regularly posting and keeping content exciting. Why? Google is the most popular search engine used worldwide and if you can rank highly in their search engine optimisation (SEO), then more people are going to view your property before competitors.


Conveyed above are a list of techniques that can be used to improve how highly you rank in Google's SEO. However, one can negatively impact your ranking, is it A) Organic Searches, B) Anchor Links or C) Duplicated Content.

The answer is duplicated content, Google ranks SEO based on algorithms that websites must abide to have a higher ranking when people search for their products, services or accommodation etc. Duplicating content can direct users to poor quality content and Google will disapprove, consequently your website will be found lower on search results.

How do you cater for algorithms? This is a question unknown to many independent business owners, updating regularly is a start but the content within these posts is what really counts. Moreover, having a brief knowledge on Googles algorithms and knowing when they change, can assist your approach to new content for your website, mobile app or ad promotions

https://searchengineland.com/library/google/google-algorithm-updates - This link covers necessities on googles algorithms, you must understand these before you can implement minor adjustments within content to make a difference. If you have applied these practises but cannot see drastic changes then use an external tool such as Google Analytics, this will help indicate where you need to improve.

Overall, Algorithms are what Google control, they determine whether you sit higher or lower, yet you can help control this by using SEO to appeal to their “DO’s and DON’TS”. For instance, Panda focuses on filtering poor quality content from working its way into Google's top search results, factors within a website that can rank lower include: duplicated data, overuse of keywords (repetitiveness) or linking too much to other sites. To avoid these, you can research before constructing an informative blog, therefore the words will be your own or you can use synonyms to ensure search engines can still identify the topic of your content, avoiding too much use of the same keyword etc. Ensure you keep your bounce rate down, captivating people to stay on your site is huge because the higher bounce rate your site has the lower you will be ranked, In this case anchor links would help rectify a low bounce rate.

Anchor Links are when you link a word or sentence so when you want to find out more information users are directed (traffic) to different pages conveying appropriate information so they don’t then bounce off your website, keeping your bounce rate low and ranking high.

How to get noticed:

Promote your property on various types of social media, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are very commonly used platforms and all I highly recommend. However, if you’re managing the platforms yourself, keeping up to date, relevant and new content can be hard to manage. I would advise you to look at guest’s details, find where they actively use social media or simply use one that you find easier to manage. Personally, I love using Instagram, you can have unlimited text space, can edit your images in the same programme, tag users, add locations and connect to other social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Using hashtags can increase your engagements too, reaching a wider audience searching for specific keywords.

There are free apps you can download which let you know who’s recently followed you, deleted you, as well as some general statistical information such as your most liked post, new followers as well as accounts that don’t follow you back. Knowing this type of information can help you control the content you share with a higher chance of engagement, for instance if most of the people you follow don’t follow you back there is a likelihood you need to alter your strategy. This could involve posting more, reaching new audiences or creating new content that is different to what you are used to, so get started and check out the link below to find out 5 of the best free apps.

https://www.socialmediatoday.com/social-networks/peteschauer/2015-07-11/5-best-free-instagram-analytics-tools

Not sure what to post?

After a while posting the same content can become boring and a tedious task to carry out, look at some of my suggestions to help you take a step in the right direction.

  • Are there any available rooms within the next 2-3 weeks, if so promote them or discounts that are available?
  • Are there any events/ activities in your area that you can advertise to your guests? Try and negotiate with your local services and see if referrals can have a % off payments.
  • Promote customers feedback both good and bad, if you can openly admit mistakes you've made and convey how you've dealt with their concerns. It shows you really have your guests interest at heart.
  • Current issues within the industry, write a blog or your opinion on agendas that concern you or your business. Talking with local competition isn't necessarily a bad thing, you may be able to help each other out?
  • Photos – VITAL, ensure images are a high quality and have some form of descriptive language. Make them varied and interesting.
  • Videos – VITAL, ensure videos are a high quality and that they capture positive experiences or settings.
  • Self-Catering property? Consider posting information on local food shops.
  • B&B? Consider posting your breakfast menu/ food
  • Camping? Consider advise on where to purchase essentials such as tents etc. IF you can, again try and negotiate with local businesses so you can promote an offer if customers use you as a referral.
  • Anything else that you offer, or think is of value for guests.

Remember that following competitors is not a bad thing, keeping up to date with what they’re doing and even where they get most of their engagements from can help you form a strategy that works best for you and your business.

I hope this has helped you understand search engine optimisation and how to apply this within your business as well as give you ideas moving forward with your social media.

All the best,

Millie

Exhibition Overview – 2017

The Association of Scottish Self Caterers - Scotland, Perth. 

On the first day Nick and Millie travelled up to visit Rosanne Mackay, the Scottish director of Farm Stay. Here, they met other Farmstay members to present and provide walk through tutorials on how to use the Farm Stay System, as well as how Prop Sync may be of interest.

The day was hugely successful, and we answered some burning questions, we even made changes for some of the members whilst we were there, so they could see us physically correcting mistakes and making desired adjustments. The feedback was overwhelming, and it was very rewarding knowing that they had all learnt something from our session, we were even able to increase Prop Syncs brand awareness and since then we have been in touch with some of the members regarding our services.

On the second day it was a bright and early start, setting up in Perth's Concern Hall to exhibit Prop Sync! The day was a success and we managed to network with a range of delegates and businesses, clarifying our connections and benefits members can receive free of charge.

The Farm Business Innovation Show - Birmingham, NEC.  

The show was holding its fifth year at Birmingham's NEC on the 8th and 9th of November, Nick and Millie travelled back down from Scotland in a 6-hour journey to attend the event and were elated to find that the two days were hugely successful. The event boasted 500 suppliers and 200 speakers, as a result the first day attracted a huge 6,000 delegates and mainly enticed farmers and people eager in moving forward within the farming industry.
The two days we spent in Birmingham were very encouraging, we spoke to a lot of people who were keen to know our involvement within the industry and how we help property owners. Nick and myself handed out a lot of our marketing collateral, to the point that people were visiting our stand because they had seen our brand numerous times and were intrigued to know more. This gave us confidence that our new investments early in the year for booklets, postcards, notepads and pens were increasing our brand awareness.

Farm Stay AGM - Harrogate

On the first day there was a conference which informed members on new and potential changes happening in Farm Stay, the day then concluded with a formal dinner where everyone got to relax and chatted with other members and exhibitors. There was even a show from two ladies showcasing their cooking products, demonstrating these in a comedic sketch.

The second day included a session with Kay Bariball, Farm Stays regional director for Devon. Here, Prop Sync were able to introduce solutions and assist in presenting efficient ways for members moving forward. Myself and Nick attended this session to grasp different training methods and how we can improve our approach in future. The rest of the day involved attending similar sessions that were to benefit members, increasing our general knowledge.

On the last day Prop Sync exhibited and presented at the Pavilion in Harrogate to over 60 Farm Stay Members for the final part of the Farm Stay AGM.

All the best,

Millie

Farm Stay’s AGM

Farm Stays AGM

Prop Sync have just returned from Farm Stays AGM, the three-day event included a conference, range of entertainment and training sessions, as well as an exhibition held at the pavilions in Harrogate.

On the final day Millie and Nick presented to many Farmstay members, discussing additional benefits and how Prop Syncs service applies to their businesses. During this presentation they shared further information on a training session, briefly outlining the in-depth analysis they could provide for members individual needs and requirements.

Training Session

They went through pricing, benefits from ADVANCED Prop Sync, as well as the level of integration that Booking.com and Farm Stay have.

Overall the three-day event was a great platform for Prop Sync to not just promote but educate members on our service, and how they can optimize their time and money from utilizing free connections through membership with Farm Stay.

All the best,

Millie

The Association of Scottish Self Caterers

The Association of Scottish Self Caterers  

Prop Sync have just returned from The Association of Scottish Self Caterers in the beautiful city of Perth, during our stay we presented to Farm Stay members on how to use the system, as well as how Prop Sync may benefit their personal needs.

During these sessions we gained an insight into what other online travel agencies and property management systems people were using, all this information has helped Prop Sync moving forward as we now have a greater understanding of needs and desires within this ever-changing industry.

On the day we were able to network with new connections and develop strong relationships, we were pleased with the turn out and staff were extremely friendly and on hand to help. Anyone considering attending either as an exhibitor or delegate should 100% come next year! We certainly won't be missing another event with ASSC.

All the best,

Millie

 

Success at The Glamping Show

What Prop Sync thought? 

This year The Glamping Show was hosted at Stoneleigh Park in the NAEC, the fantastic three-day event gave Prop Sync the opportunity to market themselves alongside Farm Stay as their own brand!

The three days were so successful it saw a huge increase since its inception in 2015 and Prop Sync found great benefit from wider audiences of over 100 people, it was clear to see that their new investments in promotional material really had an impact on reception from visitors compared to previous years.

Stand at Stoneleigh Park - 2016

My Personal Experience:

I have never been to an exhibition but I had a clear idea of what to expect and it far exceeded my expectations, I had so much fun and really enjoyed venturing out with Prop Sync to market our product.

One thing you might not know about me is that I am a lover of all dogs, and the kennel club was located right next door to the main halls which meant an influx of waggy tails. If you have ever been to an exhibition you might know it can be quite tiring, and for me this was a nice wakeup call when I am not a coffee lover like Nick (Our Managing Director).

I am very eager to find more events for Prop Sync, since our visit to the Glamping Show we have had such a great response and I am keen to continue this encouraging support from property owners.

Wishing you all the best,

Millie

Welcome Millie!

Some of you have been lucky enough to speak and even meet with Millie, she has recently joined the Prop Sync team and is now heavily involved with our subscribers.

About Millie:

Millie, 18 has joined us at Prop Sync during her A Levels at the Misbourne School, where she studied IT, Travel and Tourism and Photography. Starting in an apprenticeship has allowed Millie to discover new ways to develop her skills such as networking with clients, and it has not taken long to notice her strength in negotiating ;)

Millie enjoys spending quality time with family and is a real thrill seeker, she has already sky dived 13,000 feet and is obviously not scared of any hurdles she faces...Except spiders.

She is keen to learn more and would love to discuss options, she is very open minded and easy to talk to so do not hesitate to get in touch. Her details are linked below, rest assured she will give her honest opinion and keep you updated with the latest :)

Email: millie.sagar@braceit.net
Telephone: 020 7117 6110

 

 

Visit England – Bookability event

Wow this has been very successful with around 120 attendees but more importantly focused time with people.
Meeting property owners that had no idea anyone like us existed; this makes it even more encouraging to get the Prop-Sync message out there.

We met with plenty of property owners telling them what we do and how it all works and why they should keep Prop-Sync in mind when they might not need us just yet.

Also meeting with fellow partners and others showing interest in partnering with us.

The event itself went down very well with panel discussions, seminars and general networking; a brilliant event meeting all kind of people.

Very proud to be part of the Visit England event and definitely on for doing this again and again :)

Well done and thank you to Visit England and Visit Kent for putting this on.

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