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7 posts from March 2009

March 28, 2009

What makes a winner? 21 traits of successful people.

I've been to a number of events over the past couple of weeks, and had the privilege of meeting many inspiring people. That has got me pondering the attributes of successful and entreprenueurial people.

Many people believe that it is entrepreneurs who will help Britian out of this economic downturn. There is massive opportunity for those people who see a niche in the market and fill it.

The definition of entreprenuer is someone who controls the business and bears the risk of profit and loss.

So what makes a winner?

I've put together a recipe of successful behaviour traits that I see in the most successful people:

1. They create a market storm which encourages people to talk about them in many different networks. (Your "network value" is how much people talk about you when you are absent).

2. They think differently and make things happen.

3. They are great connectors of people and have many-to-many connections that embrace random-ness.

4. They act with imperfect information. In "Secrets of the Millionaire Mind", T. Harv Eker described the normal mentality of people being: "Ready, Aim, Fire". However, as the lights will never all be on green, this inhibits taking any action. However, entrenpreneurs adopt: "Ready, Fire, Aim". In other words, they get going with something and then constantly fine-tune it to hit their target. They learn in the process of doing.

5. They never give up.

6. They determine their unfair advantage, and do more of that.

7. They have an "abundance" mentality.

8. They don't treat losers like losers, and they invest in the success of others.

9. They are not competitive. They find their own space in the market place and stand for values that they believe in.

10. They understand that trust makes things happen.

11. They are not limited by geography.

12. They focus on their unique contribution, and understand the importance of being a net contributor.

13. They recognise that everything starts with a conversation.

14. They inspire others by being inspired themselves. 

15. They recognise that life begins at the end of your comfort zone! In other words, they challenge themselves on a daily basis.

16. They build long term relationships.

17. They are generous with sharing their knowledge with others. They believe in giving value at every interaction.

18. They are early adopters of new technologies and ways of communicating.

19. They recognise that people have a choice and that transparency allows people to choose them.

20. They understand that taking the low road might be a quick fix but is not sustainable, and that taking the high road is the true road to long term business success

21. They understand that the new rules of the business game are just in the process of being drawn up. They're on the pitch, limbering up, waiting for the ball.

The quote below is probably one of the most inspirational with regards to this subject:

"It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt "Citizenship in a Republic," Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

What other traits do you see in successful people? How can you apply the above to your property business?

March 25, 2009

25 ways to having a better day

At 4wallandaceiling.com, we’ve made our name being a reliable and trust-worthy source of property information. However, as you may have also noticed, we do take a more holistic approach to business, and endeavour to introduce you to other concepts that we believe will make a difference to your life in general.

We spend a great deal of time on the internet learning new ideas, and we also attend many varied events in person. Vanessa recently attended the “Women Unlimited” event in London and she came away feeling very inspired and having met some truly amazing women who are making a huge difference in the world. We try and distil everything we learn down into some content to earn your continued attention.

We hope you find today’s blog valuable from both a business and personal point of view.

open arms

Why not add your own comments at the end?

When you wake up in the morning, do you hope for a “good day”? A day full of joy, happiness, laughter, positivity .... Some people get those sort of days, and others don’t. Have you ever wondered why?!

A great deal depends on one's circumstances, environment and efforts. A lot also depends on your attitude, and the energy you put out – whether that is positive or negative. The quality of your thinking determines the quality of your life.

Few "good days" occur by happenstance. Life is a series of "choices." We believe for the most part that it is within your power to have a “good day” every day.


Here are 25 suggestions that could help you make your own "good day:"

  1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. It is the ultimate anti-depressant. Over-working is a major block to success, so don’t feel bad about stepping out of the office and feeling the sun on your face.
  2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day. Mediation helps still your mind and allows creativity to flow.
  3. Play more games and read more books.
  4. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6. Appreciate their genuine nature, strength and innocence - - for real.
  5. Dream more while you are AWAKE.
  6. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants, and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.
  7. Drink plenty of water. Your body is 70% water and needs to be hydrated constantly to function at its optimum level. There is even water in your brain and spinal fluid so do not under-estimate the importance of drinking plenty of water!
  8. Try to make at least three people smile each day.
  9. “Your environment has to be an incubator for the human spirit” ~ Anita Roddick. Clear clutter from your desk, your office, your house and your car.
  10. Realize that life is a school, and that you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away (like any class), but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.
  11. Remember that life begins at the end of your comfort zone. Do something to challenge yourself every day!
  12. Smile and laugh more.
  13. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone or anything and holding grudges. If you have an outstanding issue with someone, endeavour to resolve it amicably.
  14. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.
  15. Don't compare your life with others. You have no idea what their journey is all about.
  16. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.
  17. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: "In five years, will this really matter?"
  18. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.
  19. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends and family will. Stay in touch.
  20. Remember that people may forget what you said, forget what you did, but will never forget the way you made them feel!
  21. Call (or email) your family often.
  22. Life isn't always fair, but it's still good.
  23. Believe that the best is yet to come.
  24. Don't take yourself too seriously.
  25. Remember that life isn’t about weathering the storm. It’s about learning to dance in the rain.

property tribes

March 23, 2009

Why Advertising Is Failing On The Internet

I found this on "TechCruch" the other day and thought I would share it with you ....



by Eric Clemons on March 22, 2009

Editor’s note: The following is a guest post by Eric Clemons, Professor of Operations and Information Management at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. In it, he argues that the Internet shatters all forms of advertising.  “The problem is not the medium, the problem is the message, and the fact that it is not trusted, not wanted, and not needed,” he writes. The views he expresses are his own, and we present them here to foster debate.  (Obviously, we hope there is a place for advertising on the Internet since it pays our bills).

      1. There Must Be Something Other Than Advertising:

The expected drop in internet advertising revenues this year was neither unpredictable nor unpredicted, nor was it caused solely by the general recession and the decline in retail sales.  Internet advertising will rapidly lose its value and its impact, for reasons that can easily be understood.  Traditional advertising simply cannot be carried over to the internet, replacing full-page ads on the back of The New York Times or 30-second spots on the Super Bowl broadcast with pop-ups, banners, click-throughs on side bars.  This might be a subject where considerable disagreement is possible, if indeed, pushed ads were still working in traditional media. Mostly they have failed. One newspaper after another is going out of business across the United States, and the ad revenues of traditional print media, even of highly respected magazines, is declining. The ultimate failure of broadcast media advertising is likewise becoming clear.

Pushing a message at a potential customer when it has not been requested and when the consumer is in the midst of something else on the net, will fail as a major revenue source for most internet sites.  This is particularly true when the consumer knows that the sponsor of the ad has paid to have this information, which was verified by no one, thrust at him.  The net will find monetization models and these will be different from the advertising models used by mass media, just as the models used by mass media were different from the monetization models of theater and sporting events before them.  Indeed, there has to be some way to create websites that do other than provide free access to content, some of it proprietary, some of it licensed, and some of it stolen, and funded by advertising.

The idea that content has a price and net applications should find ways to earn a profit without providing free access to other people’s content gets explosive reactions; when virtual reality pioneer and tech guru Jaron Lanier suggested in a New York Times Op Ed that authors deserved to be paid for their content he actually received death threats.  But other models are possible and several suggestions for alternative forms of monetization are offered below.

      2. Advertising will fail:

The internet is the most liberating of all mass media developed to date.  It is participatory, like swapping stories around a campfire or attending a renaissance fair.  It is not meant solely to push content, in one direction, to a captive audience, the way movies or traditional network television did.  It provides the greatest array of entertainment and information, on any subject, with any degree of formality, on demand.  And it is the best and the most trusted source of commercial product information on cost, selection, availability, and suitability, using community content, professional reviews and peer reviews.

My basic premise is that the internet is not replacing advertising but shattering it, and all the king’s horses, all the king’s men, and all the creative talent of Madison Avenue cannot put it together again. To analyze this statement we need a working definition of advertising, and I proposed the following, which is as general as I could make it:

    Advertising is using sponsored commercial messages to build a brand and paying to locate these messages where they will be observed by potential customers performing other activities; these messages describe a product or service, its price or fundamental attributes, where it can be found, its explicit advantages, or the implicit benefits from its use.

It is frequently argued that the advertising industry will provide sufficient innovation to replace the loss of traditional ads on traditional mass media.  Again, my basic premise rejects this, suggesting that simple commercial messages, pushed through whatever medium, in order to reach a potential customer who is in the middle of doing something else, will fail.  It’s not that we no longer need information to initiate or to complete a transaction; rather, we will no longer need advertising to obtain that information.  We will see the information we want, when we want it, from sources that we trust more than paid advertising.  We will find out what we need to know, when we want to make a commercial transaction of any kind.  The conventional wisdom is that this is exactly what paid search helps us to do, but all too often they are nothing more than a form of misdirection, as I explain further below.  Instead, we will use information that we trust, obtained at the time that we want to see it.

Better targeting of ads using individual interests and individual behaviors will ensure that we do not bore or annoy as many people with each ad, but cannot address the trust issue. As for paid search, it is closer to other mechanisms that allow a website to sell access to potential customers. It works effectively as a revenue source for Google, of course. But it surely is not replicable for the average content website.

      3. Advertising will fail for three reasons:

There are three problems with advertising in any form, whether broadcast or online:

    * Consumers do not trust advertising. Dan Ariely has demonstrated that messages attributed to a commercial source have much lower credibility and much lower impact on the perception of product quality than the same message attributed to a rating service. Forrester Research has completed studies that show that advertising and company sponsored blogs are the least-trusted source of information on products and services, while recommendations from friends and online reviews from customers are the highest.
    * Consumers do not want to view advertising. Think of watching network TV news and remember that the commercials on all the major networks are as closely synchronized as possible.  Why?  If network executives believed we all wanted to see the ads they would be staggered, so that users could channel surf to view the ads; ads are synchronized so that users cannot channel surf to avoid the ads.
    * And mostly consumers do not need advertising. My own research suggests that consumers behave as if they get much of their information about product offerings from the internet, through independent professional rating sites like dpreview.com or community content rating services like Ratebeer.com or TripAdvisor

Yes, both network executives and their ad agencies have noted that we are not watching traditional ads, and they attribute this to the fact that we have moved beyond newspapers, televised network news, and broadcast movies, to video games, iPods, and the internet.  Porting ads to a new medium will not solve the three problems noted above.  The problem is not the medium, the problem is the message, and the fact that it is not trusted, not wanted, and not needed.

      4. Alternative models for monetization are available:

Again, my research suggests that there are three general categories for creating value that can be monetized, including selling real things, selling virtual things, and selling access. Some websites exist solely to sell real things.  Many of the best-known perform aggregation of demand, so that there will be enough customers to justify stocking and selling items for which there is only limited demand.  Amazon is merely the best-known example.  Sites like Amazon and Zappos are especially good for long tail items … where else do you go for a copy of the Green Sea of Heaven, Elizabeth T. Gray’s magnificent translation of the Ghazals of Hafiz, or for a pair of size 20 basketball shoes?  Selling real things online has been studied since the advent of interest in eCommerce and will not be discussed further here. Other websites sell virtual things.  These activities fall into three categories:

    * Selling content and information, from digital music to news and information.  Some of these sites are funded by subscriptions, like Gartner Research; some are by direct micropayments for purchases, like iTunes; and some currently attempt to fund themselves through advertising, like Business Week or The New York Times, while still searching for a more effective business model.
    * Selling experience and participation in a virtual community, including Second Life and World of Warcraft, Facebook and MySpace, Flickr and YouTube, or LinkedIn.  Not all of these have found a way to charge for participation.
    * Selling accessories for virtual communities, like completed homes and stores, furnishings, clothing, and pets in Second Life or characters and accessories that would be difficult to earn in World of Warcraft, although this behavior is generally despised by serious World of Warcraft players.

Finally, some websites create and sell access to customers.  Again, this can be divided into multiple categories.

    * Misdirection, or sending customers to web locations other than the ones for which they are searching.  This is Google’s business model. Monetization of misdirection frequently takes the form of charging companies for keywords and threatening to divert their customers to a competitor if they fail to pay adequately for keywords that the customer is likely to use in searches for the companies’ products; that is, misdirection works best when it is threatened rather than actually imposed, and when companies actually do pay the fees demanded for their keywords.  Misdirection most frequently takes the form of diverting customers to companies that they do not wish to find, simply because the customer’s preferred company underbid.  Misdirection also includes misinformation, such as telling a customer that a hotel is sold out when, indeed it is still available, if the hotel has chosen not to pay a promotional fee, and then allowing the guest to choose an alternative property.  Misdirection is, regrettably, still a popular business model on the net, although for reasons I explored in an earlier TechCrunch post on Google it seems ultimately to be unsustainable. More significantly from the perspective of this post, it is not scalable; it is not possible for every website to earn its revenue from sponsored search and ultimately at least some of them will need to find an alternative revenue model.
    * Evaluation, assessment, and validation. The opposite of sending a customer someplace other than where he wants is providing the customer enough information for him to make an informed choice on his own. Recommendations on TripAdvisor.com allow potential guests to evaluate and validate recommendations provided by Hotels.com; not surprisingly, Hotels.com originally owned TripAdvisor, and benefited greatly from it.  Since Hotels.com did not attempt to influence or censor TripAdvisor content the website was (and is) trusted and helped put recommendations from Hotels.com at a level of trust comparable to those from an experienced travel agent.  There are at present only a few other examples of website symbiosis like this, where community content on one site adds considerable value for another; consider also the relationship between the Beeryard’s list of new beers and Ratebeer.com, where clicking on the name of a newly arrived beer at the Beeryard will allow you to examine reviews on Ratebeer.com.
    * Social search. Social search is a way of tailoring search based on the user’s network of friends.  Rather than searching for any hotel in Chicago, or for any hotel that paid for the keywords “hotel” and “Chicago” I would like to be able to ask for the hotel where my friends stay when they are in Chicago.  This invades no one’s privacy, avoids the annoyance of pushing ads at me when I am not searching for something to buy, and provides more relevant results than paid search usually can deliver. There are many problems with this, including the fact that my friends may not be on Facebook or other networks yet and those that are may not post their hotel or automobile or restaurant preferences. Most seriously, while it is clear how Microsoft might benefit from this, using its Facebook connection to undercut Google sponsored search, it is not clear how Microsoft or any other firm could monetize this directly.
    * Contextual mobile ads.  At present contextual mobile ads delivered by SMS appear to offer much promise.  Imagine a hypothetical all-knowing information-based firm that (i) knows your location because you have registered to have the information from your in-phone GPS shared with your friends and (ii) knows that you like Thai restaurants because it monitors the content of your email and your online restaurant searches and (iii) knows that you are hungry because you just said so in a text message or Twitter post you sent from your phone.  What a great time for them to text you an advertisement for a nearby Thai restaurant, sent directly to your phone.  But why would you trust this?  I remember when Hotels.com used to refer me to the same hotel, albeit at different prices, when I asked for a two-star or three-star hotel close to my office; I was never sure which was more amusing, the 80% price increase for the same hotel when I was willing to splurge on a three-star for my visitor, or the fact that there were comparable hotels 20 blocks closer to my office.  I suspect that my hypothetical all-knowing firm will similarly be providing sponsored content; perhaps I will take a couple of additional seconds in order to find the restaurant I really want. This probably does not work as a form of advertising.

Of course no one knows yet, but if I had to guess, based on my meatspace experience, I would offer the following guesses for successfully monetizing the net in the future:

    * Selling Virtual Things: People will pay for superior, timely, original content and for superior online experiences.  Presently I willingly pay for the Financial Times, The Economist, and Foreign Affairs, I value the content, and, indeed, I feel I need it; I will continue to pay for them online.  Perhaps I would not be willing to pay for archive material, which I expect that I would be able to find elsewhere, but I will cheerfully pay for the newest content online.  Similarly, I willingly pay the cover change for my favorite jazz clubs in New York, and expect that I would cheerfully pay to participate in Second Life or World of Warcraft if, indeed, I had any interest in those virtual experiences.  I guess, ultimately, if we compete for status through our purchases of accessories, clothes and homes in meatspace we will probably continue to purchase virtual accessories in Second Life, though I can’t say I fully understand this yet.
    * Selling Access. Misdirection will fail totally and completely.  I use a Mac, but I have abandoned Safari for Firefox.  I have an iPhone and an iPod but I have never used the little white earbuds, preferring instead to purchase a pair of Shure E500 phones that I think sound vastly superior. Similarly, I would be equally happy to purchase a search service that worked for me, rather than accept a free one that works both against me and against the firms I patronize.  In contrast, while people will continue to value community content and social search, these will be difficult to monetize.  Finally, contextual mobile ads will, likewise be difficult to monetize.  With information easily available, I will make my own restaurant choices, irrespective of those pushed at me via SMS, especially when I know that those pushed at me have been pushed for a fee, rather than based on an impartial assessment of my preferences.  Yes, I can imagine SMS ads initially succeeding if they provide discounts, but ultimately this leads to little more than a bidding war for traffic and benefits no one other than the firm that provides the text messaging services.  I can think of a few commercial SMS services that will benefit everyone, such as letting the most loyal guests of a restaurant know when it is still possible to get a reservation if they act immediately, eliminating the inefficiency of empty tables, but the restaurant will do this itself, using its email or cell phone contact lists.  I don’t see this as advertising, or as being monetized by any intermediary. Of course, in an age before texting and email restaurants would have welcomed the all-knowing intermediary as the only mechanism available for communicating quickly with its most loyal customers. Now, restaurants have lists of their most loyal customers and can send out real time messages of interest. If the Blue Note were to text me on some night that I am in New York that it is still possible to get a table for two for Clark Terry, or Tria were to text me on a day when I was in Philadelphia that, surprisingly, there was no wait for an outdoor table right now, I’m sure I would respond to both. Of course there is no intermediary for this interaction, and this is more like direct communication than paid advertising.

The internet is about freedom, and I suspect that a truly free population will not be held captive and forced to watch ads.  We always knew that freedom comes at a price; perhaps the price of internet freedom and the failure of ads will be paying a fair price for the content and the experience and the recommendations that we value.

March 20, 2009

Ten reasons why any investor worth their salt will invest in a U.K. coastal holiday let in 2009 ...

Seaside 600 pix

On a beautiful sunny Spring morning, it's the perfect time to start thinking of Summer holidays!

What comes to mind when you think of the British seaside? Candy floss, crazy golf and ballroom dancing? Cream teas, milkshakes, and fish and chips? Sandcastles, buckets and spades, and paddling? Not to mention the miles of beautiful and unspoiled coast of this island nation - from sweeping sandy beaches to craggy cliffs. Wherever you are in England, you are never more than 73 miles from the sea! It's ingrained in our genetic make-up and culture!

The British seaside is a fairly recent invention. The classic chalet-and-pier towns grew up during the 19th century, when it finally occurred to someone that it might be nice to let workers in industrial towns go on holiday. Their late flowering was in the 1950s and 60s, before the advent of cheap travel abroad. In recent times, it's true to say that some of their grandeur has faded. But it could be that the current economic down-turn is just what is needed to breathe new life back into our coastal resorts.

In December 2007, we saw what was happening in the property market and wider economic climate, and we decided to diversify our portfolio to hedge and spread risk. We started researching a U.K. holiday let that had the potential to achieve year round occupancy. After much due diligence, and a weekend stay in the area, we purchased our first holiday let property "SeaBreeze" at Camber Sands, East Sussex in April 2008. With a buy-to-let property you have pure investment potential. However, imagine having the added benefits thrown into the equation of being able to buy your retirement home now, at today's prices, and have it funded by someone else as well as having your own holiday home at a very low personal cost and with generous tax advantages too (if your property is furnished). A high occupancy holiday let also produces significant net cash flow, makes perfect sense in the current economic climate, and enjoys many financial and other benefits that traditional buy-to-lets don't.

Here are our Top Ten reasons to invest in holiday lets this year:

1. Renaissance in the great British seaside holiday, led by magazines like "Coast" and TV programmes like "A Place By The Sea" and BBC's "Coast". There is a significant regeneration of traditional seaside towns going on around the U.K. The seaside resort of Blackpool is set to undergo a £220m transformation with new hotels, shops and restaurants planned. Meanwhile the "Sea Change" government-backed initiative led by CABE (the Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment) aims to regenerate seafront resorts across the country through a range of cultural, heritage and public space projects, with the aim of boosting local tourism and contributing to wider economic development. Dover and Torbay are two of the towns set to receive £4m grants. The fire-ravaged Grand Pier pavilion in Weston-super-Mare is set to be replaced with a futuristic £30 million development that will open in Summer 2010.

2. The credit crunch is forcing families to holiday at home. Research from the Confederation of Passenger Transport (CPT) has revealed that twice as many Britons are planning to spend their holidays in the UK this year compared with last as a result of the economic downturn. The price-comparison website, travelsupermarket.com, also reports a 50 per cent increase in inquiries about UK self-catering holidays, and the property-finding agency, County Homesearch says that rentals for holiday cottages have jumped by 30 per cent this January, compared with 12 months ago.

3. The strength of the Euro and U.S. dollar, plus increased costs of flights and airport taxes, makes a holiday abroad approx. significantly more expensive. By the same token, it also makes a holiday in the U.K. a very attractive proposition for tourists!

4. A new report by Halifax has revealed that Coastal areas are proving to be the most popular destinations for internal migration across England and Wales. According to the Bank, the attraction of living by the sea is proven by the fact that of the 20 local authorities (LAs) seeing the biggest increases in net internal migration between 1997 and 2007, 80 per cent are coastal areas. This suggests that whilst city living still proves popular, many only stay for a limited number of years. Birmingham recorded both the highest internal inflow (315,600) of people and the highest outflow of people (403,600) between 1997 and 2007. The rise in people who are office nomads, self-employed, free-lancers, consultants, web workers, just knowledge workers in general, has led to changes in the ways people work. The nature of their work means they can work from wherever they want and coastal living has many lifestyle benefits. (N.B. We believe that properties that offer space are going to be a big commodity in the future, as many people will be working from home and will want a home office. This again is why houses are always preferable to flats).

5. Pontins recently announced a £50m regeneration programme for their holiday sites across the U.K. They will also be creating 2000 new jobs. With the credit crunch biting, it's compelling information to know that Pontins believe in investing in U.K. holidays. With investment comes growth, so up-graded Pontins sites will contribute to the local micro economy and bring increased traffic to the area.

6. Coastal properties benefit from "coastal appreciation". According to the Halifax, the average property price in 24 seaside towns was at least 20% higher than the county average last year, and these towns are expected to remain largely unaffected by the credit crunch. The Halifax study also found that over the longer term there were 18 coastal towns that saw increases in price of over 100% between 2002 and 2007. This is because buyers of seaside properties in the UK tend to be older and wealthier than others so do not need to borrow large amounts of money to fund the purchase. The net inward migration and increasing popularity of coastal towns will also support house price stability.

7. There are some attractive tax benefits to owning a U.K. holiday let. With UK holiday lettings, you can realise a tax advantage if you make a loss on your earnings from the property, and when you sell the property:

If you make a loss
Any loss can be offset against your other income, not just the property income, reducing your overall tax bill. Or you can carry the loss forward and offset it against future letting profits.

When you sell the property
You may be able to take advantage of Capital Gains Tax (CGT) reliefs, such as 'business asset roll-over relief'. For example, if you reinvest within three years in another UK holiday letting property or certain other assets costing the same as or more than you got for the property you have sold, you may be able to defer payment of CGT until you dispose of those new assets. You may also pay less CGT when you sell a property you have used for UK holiday letting, compared with other residential let property. This is because a UK holiday letting property is treated as a business asset for the purposes of 'taper relief', so the more favourable rates of 'business-asset taper relief' may apply to any capital gain you make on the sale. The amount by which the gain is reduced by taper relief will depend on how long you have owned the property and how long you have used it for qualifying holiday letting.

To understand the rules fully, and find out about other reliefs you may qualify for, ask your professional adviser or Tax Office about CGT reliefs on the sale of UK holiday lettings property.

8. In a recent survey, 52% of holiday makers said that the number one priority for their choice of holiday was to be close to a beach. If you have a coastal holiday let, close to a beach, you can be assured of well above average occupancy in the coming years*. However, also check for problems of flooding and coastal erosion before purchasing a beach-side property.

9. There are lifestyle benefits to owning a holiday let. These can be considerable, as the feeling of knowing you have a home away from home to visit when you please is a very comforting emotion to have. If you enjoy your home comforts even when on holiday, owning a second home is a very positive lifestyle option and can increase your enjoyment of regular holidays when you take them. You can take a break when you like, and no need to plan! Not only that, but you can open your second home up to family and friends if they need it and for many it becomes a regular occasion to have large social gatherings there. Even having a holiday home as a weekend getaway can be fun as you can switch off completely from your working week and enjoy the relaxation of knowing you're having fun and making some money through rental cash-flow when the property is "working". Many people have cash in the bank that is not earning them any interest. A holiday let property purchase can give them a return on their money, an investment, and add a new dimension to their lifestyle!

10. The advent of social media makes marketing to a global market easier than ever before. We use Twitter, Facebook, ecademy, and related forums to create visibility and awareness of our property in the market place - and it works. High quality holiday lets benefit from repeat business and referrals, so you only need to get a couple of seasons under your belt, and then marketing engine will start to run itself!

  • We are pleased to report that our holiday let, SeaBreeze, is almost fully booked for the month of April which is considered a hard month to fill. We also have 6 weeks booked in the summer already!.

    • Please visit click here for an interesting discussion on holiday lets and how to get the most out of them.
    • Please visit the tax man for the details of the tax benefits of owning a holiday let. click here
    • Please have a look at Nick's video on achieving year round occupancy for holiday lets.

    March 13, 2009

    Video Burst: Record your own video for your web-site and social media platforms.

    Successful implementation of "social media" is the interaction between people on the web using technology as a conduit.

    One of the best tools at your disposal for this is video.

    Video is an extremely powerful marketing tool to spread your message globally. It can be used in many different scenarios to:

    Engage your customers (more than the written word)
    Connect with them at a deeper level
    Create interest in your products and services
    Make you stand out from the crowd
    Gain credibility in your field of expertise
    Personalise and give personality to your marketing messages
    Help build your personal brand on-line.

    Some instances where we have used video very successfully ourselves:

    Intro video to our ecademy profile
    Video “postcards” on particular subjects
    Video “breaking news” bursts Embedded into email broadcasts/newletters
    Personal intro message on our website
    Video press release (which can be distributed via various platforms).
    Part of our social media campaigns

    Very often, the same video can be used on a number of different platforms to increase visibility, awareness, and give more personal and engaging content to your marketing efforts, which in turn helps build your personal brand on-line.

    People are choosing how they receive information, and the long sales letter with red writing, capitals, and highlighted text is becoming defunct. What can be more powerful than people actually being able to see you speaking? They connect with you on a much deeper level through observing your appearance, the way you speak, your body language, the value you give through your presentation and the way you present your opportunity. A video with a high production value can give you instant credibility and speaks volumes about you as a professional in your chosen field of expertise. You can share your passion easily and naturally through a video message.

    However, a lot of people shy away from using video because they believe it is expensive, complicated, or they don’t understand how to produce a good quality video.

    Introducing Video Burst: the cost-effective and easy way to create a quality video message for your business.

    Being from a TV background, (Vanessa as a Producer/Director and Nick as a BBC trained cameraman), we recognised the importance of creating a quality video. Posting a “home movie” style video on YouTube simply doesn’t cut it in our book.

    The idea was inspired from when we had the privilege of working with Madonna. A few years ago, Vanessa was asked to produce and direct a “Video Junket” for the launch of Madonna’s new children’s book. This involved Vanessa setting up and directing a camera to record interviews with Madonna by international journalists. Each journalist used the same camera set up and was allocated a half hour slot to interview Madonna. This was an efficient and cost-effective way for everyone to get time with Madonna and it also allowed Madonna’s management to ensure the quality of the pictures and sound that were being recorded. They were in essence managing her “TV brand” and great emphasis was placed on the lighting to ensure that Madonna looked her best.

    This is the same format we will be adopting for our “Video Burst” recordings.

    We invite you to book a slot to record your video message, whatever you choose that to be.

    You will have ten minutes “media coaching” beforehand with Vanessa to help you present your video to the best possible standard. Vanessa was a TV Presenter for eight years on MTV, and also a media coach for such artists as Ricky Martin and Dido, and she will share her tips with you gleaned from that experience to help you present your video to the best of your ability.

    You will then have camera time with Nick to record your video message. This will be filmed in HD and widescreen with professional quality lighting and audio.

    Following the recording of your “Video Burst”, you will be emailed a file of your video and an embed code, to embed it into websites, blogs etc.

    All you need to do is book your “Video Burst”, then your time slot, prepare your message, and then turn up on the day to record it.

    Introductory offer:

    The cost for a 5 minute Video Burst is ONLY £99.00 ex VAT.

    You will end up with a video that is shot in HD widescreen using professional lighting and wireless sound.

    You can book more than one slot if you want to record additional messages. For instance, you could record a series of video blogs to broadcast.

    The benefits of using our “Video Burst” are:

    You use our professional equipment.
    You get to record a broadcast quality video at an inexpensive price.
    You end up with a video that you can use again and again.

    Our next "Video Burst" recording day is Friday 27th March at the Holiday Inn, Guildford, Click here for a MAP

    Book your “Video Burst” now! ONLY £99.00 ex VAT On purchase you will receive an e-book on what to do next, and how to use your video effectively.

    Any questions? Contact Nick on 07918 684602 or e-mail Nick at nicktadd@mac.com Click here to book or read more ...

    March 12, 2009

    What else are you doing this Sunday that could impact positively on your life?

    With the incredible news that 15% of all internet traffic globally is now attributed to social media, we have decided to broaden the scope of our property networking event this Sunday (15th March) to cover this amazing phenomenon that did not even exist three years ago.

    Barack Obama was one of the first high profile people to harness the power of social media, and it helped him into the White House! On that basis, what could it do for you and your (property) business?

    Nick will be giving an informal presentation on why normal methods of marketing are quickly becoming defunct, and why social media is a key strategy in spreading your message. He will be talking about blogging, micro blogging, creating contacts and turning them into a network, farming data, and using web tools to do this. Nick will be explaining in simple terms how you can use social media to create on-line visibility, awareness, and trust and a long "tail" of content that in effect establishes your personal brand on-line. We are now in the age of Google and Google never forgets, so you have an opportunity to start now to harness the power of social media to your benefit.

    If you are new to the idea of social media, Nick's talk will make the perfect introduction for you to start thinking how you might utilise it.

    We also have Paul Henley of Acorn Property Surveyors as our special guest to answer any questions you may have about how valuers are valuing property in the current challenging marketing conditions. He will also be giving his views on the future of the U.K. property market.

    Our networking event is very different to most other property networking events. We run it like a "melting pot", with everyone contributing opinions, asking questions, putting up a problem to be solved, or putting forward a discussion topic. Some of the issues we have covered in the past include current financing and mortgage products, trends in the U.K. market, how people are addressing change in their property business, multi-lets, holiday lets, HMO's and much more.

    We have built the reputation of our event on a non-sales agenda and we endeavour to always give real and authentic value to make it worth your while giving up part of your Sunday!

    This is genuine 100% networking and people have time to network properly, as well as contributing to the forum format.

    So you have nothing to lose and quite a bit to gain, especially as it is free to attend.

    Date: Sunday 15th March 2009
    Venue: Holiday Inn, Egerton Road, Guildford
    Time: 10.30 to 14.30. Please arrive any time after 10.00 a.m. for registration and early bird networking.

    Admission: Free
    Parking: Ample and free

    Please email registration@4wallsandaceiling.com to secure your seat for this event or join our on-line community at www.propertytribes.ning.com and register for the event there.

    March 02, 2009

    Google never forgets.

    Google never forgets.

    Hi Nick Tadd here,

    I'm sure you all are aware of the importance of Web 2/3 and social media. However, as much as an understanding is important as the content you supply, branding or the way you are seen or perceived on the web is of equal importance.

    On a regular basis I keep getting asked how I have done "stuff" on the web like video, pictures, favicons, banners, widgets, basic coding etc. All these topics and more are there to enhance what is Web 2.0 and further more Web 3.0.

    Please understand I'm not a web designer I'm a web user, that's why I have created this - click here - a compendium of how to use the web.

    For example:

    All pictures need to be sized (so web browsers can handle them), usually 16x16 pixel if it's a favicon (the little icon you see in your URL bar), 500 pixel if it's a main picture/graphic (average) or 150 pixel if it's in a column. It's how you achieve the sizing and look of the picture that adds value to your brand. There are some very simple ways of achieving this.

    I'll pick on one or two now ...


    I use Flickr for pictures/graphics, bearing in mind the volume of work you will achieve over time you need to manage your Flickr page accordingly. Flickr is (IMHP) the best one out there, you can ...

    Re-Size and do minor editing
    Create Sets and Catagories for ease of finding
    Create Tags that are listed naturally (people will find you via these)
    Add map tags, where the picture was taken (this will again link back to you)
    Plus a whole host of other feature of which the main one is being able to "embed" the URL of the picture in other sites and the efficiency of "cross sourcing" with other social media sites.

    Also how do you create "interesting pictures"? There are some great sites out there where you can add "effects" to picture, one of which is BeFunky (I have used it on my picture on my twitter page)

    On that note how do you create an interesting Twitter page? Again a very simple free site freetwitterdesigner.com

    I've already started a Twitter forum - click here -


    One of the major flaws in video that I have seen is the poor quality of the end product. This can be rectified very simply.

    Digital cameras need light (lots of it) plus good sound. Most cameras have an in built microphone but they're not very effective for the web.

    These issues can be overcome for a very small amount of money and effort. Plus hosting of the video, I know You Tube is out there and it is by far the most universal but did you know that you can create a channel on Blip.tv (it will "fire" your video out to many other sites up-to and including I-Tunes podcasts) as well as You Tube, this way you maximise you web effort again for little of your effort.

    Note: Always "shoot" in widescreen and HD (if you can) remember the future of the web will mean that all of us will have our own TV channel, therefore, using out dated methods are redundant. (Othewise you will have to do it all again).

    Note: How do you create the "bug" in the top corner of your video (like the BBC or Sky)? There are some simple sites that allow you to do this.

    I will be covering video in detail later.

    Clearly there are too many topics to chat about here, however, that is why I created this new site - click here - it's free to use and learn from. The compendium will grow with your in-put as well as mine.

    For an in depth look at what the web will be like and why you need to organize your brand from day one please watch this video by Kevin Kelly. It's not about the web from a "flowery" point of view, moreover, where the web is going and what it's going to be. By understanding this you will understand the importance of why you need to create your "personal" brand in the age of google.

    Please take a look and join in WE NEED TO BE LED BY YOU.

    Google never forgets, so make sure all your web activities keep the brand that you want.