Category Archives: Nethy Bridge

March is a big month

March is nearly here and there are a couple of major events.

Freyja is 14 on the 4th March which is a landmark birthday and the planning has begun. Issue is the only thing on the birthday list is a dog which is not on my birthday list!

I thought – futile as it is to give some of the reasons for not wanting to extend the furry family:

1. Time

We are all quite busy with travel, school and other projects which means we could have a dog but this is going to impact on some of the general things we take for granted. The commitment isn’t a short one, I joke with advisors that “an investor is for life not just Christmas” and this sentiment follows onto dogs (actually stolen from that key punch line – a dog is for life not just for christmas) but anyway it is probably 10 years plus lifespan unless I can persuade Freyja we should buy a terminally ill dog (think this is unlikely).

2. Social

No it isn’t because dogs don’t use Facebook yet (actually if you viewed my timeline you would realise that a number of my friends are dogs (yes, sad owners that have created profiles – you know who you are!!) breaching all conditions of the Facebook policies and probably increasing the number of users on Facebook by about 1 billion (remember the valuation is based on the number of active users). The only person winning out of this is Mr Zuckerburg and his team of dogs (conspiracy theorists might note that over 20% of Facebook revenue comes from Zynga named after Mark Pincus dog).

3. Because I might like it

My worse fear is that I might like a pet dog, opening the door to more pets (parrots, chickens, ducks and quails have all been mentioned)

So I have laid my case out, I am sure there will be a vigorous defence mounted by the dog lovers of the household!

2nd homes aren’t all they are cracked up to be

I have had a slightly stressful week regarding our holiday home in Nethybridge (www.nethyb.com).

My father in law Frank, who used to own the property (before we rebuilt it) always complained about the hassles of a second home, especially in the highlands where you experience very cold winters. We used to put anti freeze down the toilet before we left it unattended through experience of frozen pipes, toilets, showers etc.

So when we installed a Hotspring hot tub in the euphoria of building the house, we didn’t realise just how much hassle it could be.

I think if we lived there full time it wouldn’t be such an issue, but trying to remotely diagnose issues 250 miles away is pretty tricky.

But the long and short of it is a failure of the main jet pump, 6 days after the end of the 5 year warranty (our Hotspring retailer went bust in the property collapse about 12 months after we bought the thing)

Anyway no local engineer. £250 call out and a £400 part has left me less impressed by Hotspring (www.hotspring.com) and reconsidering recommending these guys.

To be fair we have had 5 years of good service but things start to go wrong and in an expensive way suggests that we may need to move this gadget elsewhere!

The world’s most expensive Scarecrow

We have a problem in the country! Our holiday home in the lovely area of Nethybridge has become a paradise for local wildlife. Our neighbours have some lovely little silkie chickens that the kids decided to feed and we now have 10 every day tapping on the window expecting fed!

Our biggest problem to date is selective feeding of birds and squirrels. The area is renowned for it’s red squirrel population so we have invested in a little squirrel feeder. So the birds haven’t been left out we bough a nice little bird feeder and a very large (in fact huge) 20kg bag of peanuts.

But there is a problem. Any time we fill up the bird feeder we have the local flock of crows eating them in about 15 minutes. Having spent our hard earned cash on the worlds most expensive nuts I have to say I got more than a little annoyed.
Opening the door and clapping my hands every 20 minutes has also worn thin – so it had to be technology to the answer (of course).

Luckily the bird feeder is close to the decked area of the house – and since there is a set of Bose environmental speaker located on the deck linked to the Sonos system it didn’t take a rocket scientist to work out there was a better solution.

Firstly off to the RSPB website to find out if the Carrion Crow had any mortal enemies – I thought owl’s or other birds of prey maybe an option (osprey live close by) But having spent an hour downloading MP3 files nothing moved these little blighters.

But finally on a forum for pest control, one post alerted me to the Goshawk which seems to make killing crows one of their main hobbies.

So downloading this simple MP3 – uploading and reindexing the sonos system and creating a “Kill the crow” playlist it was time to try it out.

I plan to get a little Youtube video this week – but confirmation is it works – approx £2,500 of scarecrow – but lets see if they get used to it!

SEO for tourism

Following on from yesterday’s post about Google Adwords, I thought it was worth looking at SEO techniques which I have found useful in generating more natural search traffic. The first thing to state is that working on a reasonably uncluttered and simple SEO target like “Nethybridge”, “Nethy bridge” and “Aviemore Cottage” was pretty easy as they are not competitive terms.

If focused on my header tags at first with Goal one to make sure i was picked up by Google. I added a sitemap to the site and also made sure that it was clear to Google that the main subject of the site was Nethybridge using the header:

Saddleback Cottage, Nethybridge near Aviemore

The Aviemore was actually added later. The slight issue is that Nethybridge could also be searched for as “Nethy bridge” with a space so I needed to target both. The competition on page 1 was fairly weak and I would never get ahead of the www.nethybridge.com website itself.

Google’s own advise to use clear references and good content paid dividends for me. I spent absolutely ages putting together a What to do list for the area featuring links to other sites but a lot of narrative copy. I updated this virtually daily so Google saw that content was changing regularly.

I was aided by WordPress, which I used as a content management system and its great XML sitemap plug in. I have found that I can publish a post and within 20 minutes it was showing up within the Google index.

We are now on page 1 for Google for Nethybridge, Nethy bridge and Aviemore Cottage.

NB. It did take over 3 months to get there so don’t expect things to happen overnight.

Adwords to drive cottage bookings

I have now spent just over 1 year marketing and taking bookings for our cottage in Nethybridge it has been a very interesting experiment in niche web marketing. We decided that from the outset we would focus our marketing on families who were typically using the North of Scotland as a second holiday destination (they didn’t book this as their only holiday in the year).

As you would expect this did mean that most of our marketing effort was focused at selling the school holiday weeks. Having looked at a range of marketing options from becomin Visitscotland accredited to national newspaper advertising (the Scotsman has a good holiday section but only a circulation of 60,000) we decided to focus on online activity only.

Although a brave move at the time this has paid dividends. We have exceeded out annual expectation of rentals and have nudged the rental rates up a little for 2008.

So what have we learned?

We initially focused on Google adwords and here are the results.

Views annually

We had reasonable traffic from Google adwords but we were focusing on a very small keyword “nethybridge”, “nethy bridge” and “aviemore cottage”. So anyone looking for a very small geographic area was shown an add linking to the site. The great thing is that this destination is really cheap costing less that 12p a click. Here are the clicks we had (only from adwords)

Clicks

This gave us some reasonable volume of traffic and good conversion to enquiries. We have included a online calendar to cut down the number of enquiries that are repeat in late 2007.

The traffic source split was:

Sources

The referring site is the Nethybridge tourist association (www.nethybridge.com) who have an excellent site on Nethybridge but it is quite difficult to find out that you can find holiday homes etc on the site.

My second strand of marketing was on SEO which has really allowed me to cut the budget on adwords significantly without reducing the number of enquiries.

So here is the best bit. We managed to get the cost of booking (excluding time spent on online marketing) down to £3.00 per booking over the last 12 months, which is excellent and I am not sure it can be matched by any of the national campaigns. So for under £100 we generated significant bookings and a good database of family clients.

Remember we only started last year so I am very pleased – we had no goodwill or word of mouth that I am sure will help in 2008.

Skiing in Scotland – wow

skilecht.jpg

Well after a quick dive to Hillend on Thursday we were lucky enough to get a great dump of snow in the Highlands.

So we had a great day at the Lecht on Saturday the snow cover was excellent, well groomed and perfect (apart from the chilly wind – but it is Scotland after all!).

Freyja and DJ really enjoyed their first visit to the Lecht apart from the slight weight issue they had on the Eagle Poma. DJ was so light that he ended up doing a 1.5m twirling flight on a steep section of the Poma.

He tried a few times but it defeated him!

A big thanks to Winter Highland website that gave a great up to date report on the weather

Nethy Bridge near Aviemore

We have been doing well on focusing our SEO work on getting Saddleback Cottage further up the ranks.

We are now on page 1 of google for “nethybridge” and “nethy bridge” but part of my world domination plan is to increase the interest to accommodation searchers looking at the major local accommodation hub in Aviemore.

I have done this by adding “near Aviemore” to the title and adding some specific content relating to Aviemore in the site. Cottage holiday near Aviemore.

The plan is to move up from non existent to somewhere on searches for Aviemore accommodation.

Lets see what happens over the coming months.

The SEO work has been a great success and the booking costs for this year’s holiday makers haven’t been too expensive even though it has been focused on PPC for most of this year.

Holiday ahhh…..

It’s day 1 of our holiday at Nethybridge this year. We are here for 2 weeks and we thought that it was going to be a scorcher this year – not so far!

We have really enjoyed cutting the grass, cleaning the house and generally lazing around. There was a mammoth Monopoly game today which Freyja and Claire won and enjoyed repossesing all out our houses, property and cards. It has been rainy but not too bad.

It’s great to relax a little here and enjoy time not doing much. We have cooked and eaten a huge amount so far so we will have to try the Go Lower diet box when we get back from holiday.

The carbon diet has been suspended while on holiday – although we only drove 250 miles to get here and didn’t get on a plane so i think our carbon footprint won’t show up in comparison with most people that I know that have flown off a couple of hours minimum for some relaxation.