World Healthcare Rankings: A Guide For Prospective Expatriates

If you’re considering the big move to another country for work or retirement, there’s an awful lot to think about before you pack up your gear and fly off into the sunset. There’s bound to be a broad range of questions you will be asking yourself before you seriously consider a move to a foreign country:

How does the salary compare to home?

What are the levels of different types of crime where I’m going?

What is the education system like?

How much will accommodation cost?

Will there be language or cultural challenges that I need to consider?

And, of course, what is the healthcare system like in terms of its quality of provision and its cost?

This last question is especially important – because in order to have peace of mind we all need to feel secure in knowing that should the need arise, we’ll have access to a standard of treatment that we’re comfortable with.

The way healthcare systems are rated is based on the healthcare system as a whole, though, so it’s worth bearing this in mind when looking at places that may not make the top of any world healthcare lists. For instance, in some cases it can be that the bigger cities have good hospitals while rural areas are less well equipped. It pays to research the individual country in terms of healthcare provision to see what the pros and cons of the place may be.

So, which countries have the best healthcare systems? The World Health Organization (WHO) published an extensive rankings list in 2000 (France came top) but since then it hasn’t published rankings. A decade later, in 2010, The Commonwealth Fund undertook a study into seven countries, showing the Netherlands at the top, with the UK in second place. The study was based on a number of factors including quality and efficiency.

If you’re looking for more in depth guides to individual countries, there are two or three places to look online. A number of newspapers have an expatriate section with news, wellbeing and life experience stories from people who’ve taken the step of moving abroad. Some of these also provide individual country guides. Insurance companies also publish guides to various countries giving a general overview of healthcare systems. There are also a handful of very good websites that are entirely dedicated to expatriates, and on these you will find a mix of factual information and first-hand experience of life in overseas countries. The great thing here is that if you’re a prospective resident of any particular city or country, you can jump right in and start interacting with those in the know straight away.

Individual country guides will also give an idea of what to expect in each country. To take random example, Argentina came 74th on the WHO list of 2000, but its healthcare is seen as generally good, and in some places very good – although as with many places around the world, you’re strongly advised to take out the relevant comprehensive insurance prior to travelling.

When living abroad – even if it’s only for a few months – it’s important to have made arrangements so that you’ll be covered for the cost. That way you can have peace of mind and concentrate on the important task of getting on with the excitement and challenges of your new surroundings.

Things left behind in holiday homes

Flip Flops in the fridge, an entire room filled with pink balloons and and a twenty four inch machete are just a few of the belongings left in holiday home rental properties by punters guests according to a survey amongst Holidaylettings.co.uk members.

Holiday Home Owners and agents : I’m interested to know – What’s the strangest, best, or most annoying items that have been left in your property by your guests?. Please leave a comment.

Here’s a list of  the most weird and wonderful items left behind in holiday letting villas and apartments :

  • Two foot long machete
  • Hormone replacement instruction leaflet
  • An expensive camera
  • Dead snake
  • A “She-Wee”
  • A fridge full of food
  • A bible in the bedside table and religious leaflets stuffed in all the books and furniture
  • A book left by an American guest titled ‘Weird England’
  • A crucifix
  • Mountain bike
  • Flip flops in the fridge
  • A room filled with pink balloons
  • 50 euro tip
  • The bride’s wedding dress!
  • A leather thong
  • An air-conditioning unit
  • A set of rubber ducks
  • Box of chocolates
  • False teeth
  • A diamond
  • Cash
  • Four pairs of curtains
  • 3 bottles of Champagne
  • A pair of wet swimming trucks with sand found under the pillow they were sleeping on
  • A real live tortoise (he now lives on the roof)
  • Fluffy handcuffs
  • An Internet router
  • Talking gingerbread man
  • A message and a tip in a bottle
  • Painted stones

Spare a thought for the hoteliers too – budget hotel chain Travelodge reckons to find around 80 artificial limbs a year in it’s hotels and other items reportedly left behind in hotels have included a six foot stuffed crocodile, an inflatable sheep and how about this for guest from hell ? One hotel has reported that a guest left behind a wok. Doesn’t sound too bad until you hear that the wok was moulded to the toilet and the toilet was filled with charcoal!

Essential Items For Your Holiday Home Rental

Essential Items for a holiday home property

Here’s a list of items that most holiday letting properties should be stocked up with if you are going to have happy renters which of course can only help in terms of those important word of mouth referrals and indeed repeat guests.

Some of the items will depend on how accessible your property is to shops and how far your guests may have travelled to get to your holiday home or apartment. First impressions count for a lot and having the essentials in place or going that little bit extra can make a big difference following a long / tiring journey.

  • Hygiene products – toilet roll and soap are essential, ensure anything like bleach is well out of harms way. A first aid kit may also be a good idea.
  • Things to clean up with – after all it’s your house so you want to give your guests the tools they need to look after it ! Kitchen roll, Washing up liquid, Dish brushes /sponges, bin bags & dishwasher tablets (if applicable) should all be available as should hardware including a dustpan and brush . You might also like to provide laundry powder,
  • Household items and replacements such as spare light bulbs, a torch, spare batteries for the torch, clothes pegs, additional blankets and pillows. If you want to go five star include a “pillow menu” in the pre arrival options and let your guests choose from a range of pillows ?!
  • For meal times, a major part of most holiday home holidays – you need to provide enough plates, bowls and cutlery for at least your maximum number of occupants. Allow for breakages and extra visitors, many properties have a “rule” that if something more significant than a plate is broken the guests should replace as new or leave some cash. Also have you got enough chairs for at least your maximum number of guests ?
  • For a BBQ, imagine how annoying it would be for your customers to find there is no matches or a  lighter – but ensure they are well out of reach from kids.
  • Some extra touches your guests may appreciate – “wet weather items” – board games, books etc, sunny day in the garden items – tennis racquets, bats and balls, a nice welcome pack – perhaps a cake from the local area, milk, tea, coffee will surely be appreciated. Some holiday home owners prefer to have this as an extra service, others include it for free. If charging don’t give your guests cause to think they have been short changed.

I have read countless reviews of holiday accommodation and one thing I have learned is that little details like a welcome pack so guests can make a cup of tea really stick in people’s mind. What do you think of this list of essential items for holiday rental properties? If you have any suggestions please leave a comment.

PureHolidayHomes.com Owners Offer

PureHolidayHomes.com have offered readers of holiday home rental an exclusive offer for new registrations.

PureHolidayHomes.com is certainly one of the most impressive new entrants to the holiday rental by owner market. They are getting loads of exposure and attention at the moment and have a very nice looking and easy to use website for both holiday makers and holiday home owners. After seeing their owner verification scheme featured on the BBC recently, we decided it was time to take a closer look. The upshot of which was a great new offer for readers of Holiday-Home-Rental.co.uk who register to advertise their properties at PureHolidayHomes.

This is a double deal….. Here’s the two extra benefits you get thanks to this offer.

  • 15 months for the price of 12. Get three months free when you sign up for a year (that’s on top of the 35% saving for a 12 month sign up compared with the 3 month price).
  • You can also enjoy a 3 week free featured listing (this gets you higher up in search results).

The impressive standard features offered to all holiday home owners listing their properties with Pure Holiday Homes are :

  • A full page advert.
  • An availability calendar.
  • Add up to 20 photos of your property.
  • Free access to the owners collection – a marketplace where you can trade weeks with other holiday home owners for your own holidays.
  • A video facility.
  • Add late deal and early booking discounts and get extra awareness.
  • A pdf brochure.

Here’s how to register as a holiday home advertiser at PureHolidayHomes.com and claim your extras -

1) Click Here to sign up online.

2) Email affiliates@pureholidayhomes.com quoting “Holiday-Home-Rental.co.uk” and your extra 3 months and 3 weeks featured listing will be activated.

BBC To Highlight Villa Rental Scams

The One Show – A prime time BBC One magazine style TV programme is hoping to make a 5 minute film to be aired roughly at the end of August about holiday villa scams, similar to the Moraira villa rental scam last summer and the one involving the Martin family who were in the papers today.

If anyone has been a victim of villa scams in any way, and are willing to appear on screen, please get in touch via my contact form and I will pass your details onto The BBC.

Holiday Lettings Money Back Guarantee

HolidayLettings is now offering a Money Back Guarantee for new advertisers to the website. Should your advert attract less than 20 booking enquiries through holidaylettings.co.uk in your first 12 month advertising period, they have promised that they will credit you back the full amount of your first year’s advertising subscription. To qualify you should email them to confirm that you wish to take up the guarantee within 14 days of the start of your advertising contract. There are terms and conditions on this offer and I would strongly advise anyone taking up the offer to read them and be familiar with them.

Have a look at their why choose us page to find out more.

How to get more exposure on HolidayLettings.co.uk

As an optional extra, as an advertiser on Holiday Lettings you can optionally add extra services to get extra attention to your property when you need it the most.

What’s a Late Deal?

We all know that the holiday market is booking later than ever. Late Deals are a highly effective way for homeowners to fill last minute vacancies through our dedicated Late Deals search section, which attracts in excess of 100,000 searches per week in peak periods.

What’s an Early Bargain?

Early Bird Booking Offers – These are a great way for new advertisers to kick-start their first year’s letting income by promoting the offer of a discount to those who book early. My own experience with early birds is lots of enquiries but not so good on the bookings side, every destination will behave differently though.

What’s a Spotlight?

Displayed on rotation, Spotlights are seen over 100,000 times a month on the left hand side of every search results page, providing an extra marketing boost for your property which will heopefully net you more enquiries and more bookings so before you know it you’ll have recouped your subscription fee. You can choose a spotlight for 3, 6 or 12 weeks.

High Profile Holiday Home Rentals ;)

Found a few “interesting” holiday homes available for rental today:

  • A nice looking London town house – Zone 1, great security, excellent for entertaining, this 8 bedroom property has space for very large families or groups of friends. http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/122593 for more info and photos.
  • For anyone looking to really get away from it all, there is a very interesting property known as home tree, well located in the jungles of Pandora. This holiday letting would be perfect for anyone that wants to escape the modern world, perhaps learn a new language. Long lets recommended. More info at http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/122729
  • Fans of the big apple may be interested in renting this tastefully decorated Manhattan apartment with walk in wardrobe. This looks like a great holiday rental for a girls shopping trip to NYC. More at http://www.holidaylettings.co.uk/121892

Holiday Rental Websites – Reviews Sections – Are You Scared ?

Don’t be afraid of holiday reviews

An increasing number of holiday rental websites are offering guests the opportunity to review accommodation after their stay.
Many second home owners are nervous of these reviews, fearing that poor feedback could wreck their reputation and future bookings. But there really is much less to fear than you imagine – in fact reviews can seriously boost your rental revenues when handled properly.
We’ve analysed holiday rental review patterns over the last few months and they throw up some results that may surprise you.

1. Mr Angry is in the minority

Conventional wisdom holds that the unhappiest customers are the ones who shout loudest. However in the holiday rentals sector the opposite is true. Over 90% of reviewers give positive ratings and write very constructive comments.
On closer inspection this shouldn’t come as a surprise. Renting a holiday home is a personal business and guests are likely to form a closer relationship with a property owner than a faceless firm. The result is that happy customers can’t wait to show their support (and reminisce on their holiday!) when they get home by writing a review.

2. Five is the golden number

When we analysed enquiry rates for property that had been reviewed, we found a tipping point once a property received five or more guest reviews. Enquiries surged at least 20% (much more for many properties) when visitors saw that the property had been heavily reviewed.
To make the most of this effect, encourage all your guests to write reviews after their stay. Email them after they leave, thank them for their stay and send them a link to your review page.

3. Poor reviews are essential to being believed

Web users aren’t stupid. Google undertook extensive research into shopper behaviour that shows people don’t believe online reviews when they’re all good. It seems that a poor review actually serves to make the good reviews more believable.
Potential customers are also very good at judging reviews by “how” they are written. Bad spelling or grammar is often a sign of an unthinking writer and people subconsciously downgrade the weight of such comments.

4. Complaints are an opportunity

Most holiday home owners will have at least one guest per year who just can’t be pleased. All your efforts will be in vain with this person and you should expect poor comments after their stay.
This can be a chance to really shine. Most review systems allow the owner to reply to guest comments and it is essential to use the opportunity wisely.
Never get into an argument – however tempting! Instead thank the guest for their stay and offer feedback on how you’ve taken their comments on board and have acted on them for the good of future guests. This conveys the message that you listen – something prospective renters value above all else.

Happy renting!
This article was written by Richard Speigal, Editor of España Breaks – a specialist website for villa holidays in Spain. The business has been operating in the rentals market since 2002.

Are hotels better than villa rentals

Hot on the heels of this survey which highlighted ten things people hate about staying in hotels (inspired by a holidaylettings.co.uk survey), Travel Rants gives five reasons not to rent a villa including a highlight of the Morairaway scam. Travel Rants five reasons don’t apply to many holiday home rentals in the same way that the annoying things highlighted about hotels don’t apply to many hotel stays. They are:

  1. No on-site support.
  2. Remote Locations.
  3. Lack of financial protection.
  4. Paying for pool heat.
  5. Damage Deposit.

I’m interested to hear what you, dear reader think about this debate? PR puff or is there a real tit for tat war between villa rental companies and hotels?

Here are a few tips on how to attract more holiday lettings based on marketing your holiday home rental as a competitor to a hotel.

Paypal for villa owners

One of the things that came out of the discussion about the Morairaway rental scam was that holiday home rental customers might be looking to pay by credit card when they book their villa or apartment direct from the owner. It’s for this reason I have had a look into registering as a paypal “merchant” and I have found it was quite easy and staight forward. Now I could accept both credit card and paypal payments from customers. There are no setup or ongoing fees which makes it quite attractive to individual holiday home owners. Don’t use it, don’t pay for it.

Here’s my step by step guide :

1) Click here to go to the paypal sign up page

2) Choose your country and language e.g. UK and Englsish

3) Choose “premier” account since you need to accept payments. If you will have a high turnover or want to add paypal buttons to your website so people can pay you directly then choose a “business account”

4) Fill in your contact details and choose a strong password.

5) Now you get something about making payments – e.g you can choose a  card or bank account that you want to be linked to the account. You can skip this step by clicking “Go to my account”

6) For most holiday home owners payments by Email will be sufficient which means your done ! As soon as you have confirmed your email address by clicking the link in your inbox, you can ask people to pay you by paypal by going to the “request money” tab on your account page. You can choose to send an invoice or a “money request”. For more advanced uses you can add paypal buttons to your website so people can pay you directly from there.

Further Thoughts

  • Have a think about whether you want to pass on some of the fees to your customer. Leading holiday companies, airlines and travel agents do in general charge a credit card fee so don’t be too shy about it.
  • In order to reduce the fees, you may want to try and get just the deposit taken through paypal and arrange for the balance to be paid by bank transfer or in cash later.

Are you taking paypal or any other alternatives? Are your customers asking to be able to pay with credit card / debit card or paypal itself ? If you have any other tips, please leave a comment.