SBI! Reviews: Rental Agency
Update #6

by Fiona McCardle and Jim Andrew

It's that time of year again, the point where I jot down a few lines about what's new and exciting at Rent a Villa in Tuscany and our life here in Tuscany. Round about now, I'm usually swinging about at the top of an olive tree, frantically trying to get my olive harvest done before the winter snow sets in. This year is no exception, except the big chill that has turned normally sunny Tuscany into a suburb of Siberia has already started.

And as the mercury plummets down the thermometer at roughly the same speed as I plummet out of a tree, what do I see as I look back over my shoulder at past 12 months?

Well, it struck me that up until only a few years ago the fact that I was harvesting olives in Tuscany would have meant that I was a peasant farmer or a smallholder or a crofter selling Tuscan olive oil to Tuscans. These days I could be selling anything - from roses to kittens, bright copper kettles, or even warm woollen mittens - and not just to Tuscans. With the internet, the whole world suddenly becomes your market. I still find that reality mind boggling.

And if there is a crisis in one country or continent, SBI! allows you to set out your "virtual market stall" in another.

That's exactly what happened to us. There was a crisis, so we moved our business.

Bricks vs. BRICs

"The future is in "BRICs," they said. "Fine," I replied as I got busy mixing the right ratio for bricks (two of sand and one of cement). "Hang on," they said, "the BRICs we mean are the countries whose economies are growing - Brazil, Russia, India, China." Oh well, I'm sure the shed at the bottom of the garden will come in handy anyway!

The upshot of all this is that Svetlana in Moscow has found us a Russian partner to market our Luxury Villas to Moscovites at upscale prices.

None of this has happened overnight, it's taken almost a year of tortoise-paced hard work. Finding the right partner, translating "Rent a Luxury Villa in Tuscany Russian Agent Area", finding the right villas in the right areas, etc. but by plodding along we are beginning to see the results. It's already looking like it could be our most successful year ever coming up.

Other News, Past and Future

We've also given our Rent a Villa in Tuscany site a low-key makeover. After 8 years it was getting a bit long in the tooth It's still pretty simple though, we prefer it that way. The changes were quick and easy to do, but enough to bring the look up to date. SBI just keeps getting better (at no extra charge).

What else? Although some of you may not have heard, we are big in Latvia and this summer we were interviewed by journalists from a number of top Latvian newspapers and magazines. I can't actually read Latvian myself but we are expecting a major influx of Latvian holidaymakers in Tuscany next summer.

What does the new year hold?

  • More collaborations to fill gaps we can't cover ourselves
  • Continue our gradual move upmarket into the Luxury Villa rental market
  • Possibly participating at a Luxury Travel Trade Fair or two
  • Maybe a trip to Moscow.
  • Oh and play more!

Inspiration For Moving Forward is Everywhere

Tortoises - they are everywhere. There's the SBI! mascot, Shelly, and even my favourite one-man movie studio owner, Robert Rodriguez, made a film about one. As Robert says... "Stop aspiring. Start doing!"

SBI! has given us the tools. It's up to us to make it happen.

Thanks SBI!.

Fiona McCardle and Jim Andrew