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Jomres Syndication Network - new feature discussion

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7 months 1 week ago - 7 months 1 week ago #47618 by Vince Wooll
Jomres 9.19.0 has been released and it contains the basics of the new Jomres Syndication Network functionality.

I've created this thread to encourage discussion on the subject. I'm working on a news release and manual page that will describe what's being done in more detail. I'll update this post with links once those are done.

Meanwhile, feel free to pipe up here if you have any questions.

[Edit] As promised, here are the news and manual page links

www.jomres.net/blog/104-introducing-the-...-syndication-network
www.jomres.net/manual/developers-guide-2...-syndication-network

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Last edit: 7 months 1 week ago by Vince Wooll.

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7 months 1 day ago #47623 by Vince Wooll
9.19.2 is being release which includes code optimisations for the new syndicate functionality, among other things.

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7 months 1 day ago #47624 by donnacha
While this is early days, syndication is clearly the most important Jomres functionality to emerge in years.

Jomres has always been about maximizing your control over your business, but we have all had to accept the reality that, in order for a booking business to be viable, we must think beyond our own individual sites, especially as major sites such as Airbnb and Booking.com increase their dominance.

Unfortunately, most of the available paths - such as channel management - are expensive and give away control to corporations who are clearly determined to squeeze site owners for all the money they can get.

As I understand it, the JSN (Jomres Syndication Network) is an optional way for Jomres site owners to publish their properties not only to their own site but, also, to the sites of other Jomres site owners. There is no cost and, if a visitor to that other site decides to book your property, they are brought to your site.

In return, those Jomres site owners can publish their sites to your Jomres site. Their property listings will always appear after your site's own properties. This is a straightforward reciprocal exchange, swapping placements and increasing the exposure of all Jomres properties.

Another very real possibility is that some sites will emerge that list your properties without any requirement for you to list properties from them. For example, a Russian or Chinese designer could create a site in his own language, and containing content to cater to his own countrymen. He could pull in your property listings purely as additional useful content and, again, any of his visitors who want to book would be directed to your site for that.

Another example could be a designer creating a directory site that lists all wheelchair accessible properties, or all properties with their own swimming pool, or pet-friendly properties worldwide. The JSN could allow such a designer to become aware of any properties on your Jomres sites that have the feature in question, and he could then use the API to publish your relevant property listings on his site. For him, it is helpful content for his users. For you, it is free, zero-effort exposure with no reciprocal requirement.

All of this is possible because of the Jomres REST API. Among many other possibilities, the API unleashes the potential for your site to be, essentially, its own channel manager, and that could that many different forms, both technically and financially.

That is why the discussion that Vince is initiating here is so important. This is your opportunity to let him know what directions you would like him to take this in.

For example, at the moment, for simplicity, the JSN is being designed as a purely reciprocal arrangement, but that is not set in stone. You could theoretically have a situation in which individual Jomres owners decide to cooperate on the basis of a set fee in return for referring a booking - that would address the problem that some owners generate more exposure than others. It might also be the case that providing some sort of reward will encourage more designers to create sites that market your properties to different niches that you would never have the time or energy to address yourself.

In our David vs Goliath situation, we independent business owners must be as forward-thinking and innovative as possible if we want to have any counterbalance against the power of the multi-billion dollar corporate giants. The Jomres Syndication Network is just one of the first examples of what Jomres REST API is capable of. Vince has been working hard on ensuring that it the API is as solid a foundation as possible. Now we all need to chime in and help him to build upon it the tools that your business needs to thrive over the next decade.

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7 months 1 day ago #47625 by Vince Wooll
Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Donnacha. Lots of great ideas that should be considered.

Your last paragraph chimes most strongly with me, however. You're right that it's the little guys who are constantly being manipulated by the big boys, squeezed for every last drop of blood.

It's my goal to offer this feature as freely as possible so that we, collectively, can construct ways that we can push back against the Goliaths in the industry. There's room for everybody in a trade with, literally, billions of customers and I aim to make the JSN an integral, FREE part of making a difference.

So, does anybody else have any thoughts that they'd like to share?

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7 months 1 day ago - 7 months 1 day ago #47626 by Vince Wooll
One subject that I feel needs to be discussed is that feeling that individual site owners will have regarding the possibility of advertising competitor sites on their own installation(s). Their instinctive reaction is to immediately ask me how to disable showing these other sites but I think that that's a short-sighted view.

Let me explain what I mean.

The reason why the big boys are able to squeeze the little guys so hard is due to their sheer size. They have thousands of properties on their listings and advertise heavily on the net and via other media.

Naturally smaller businesses can't begin to compete with that kind of investment, investment that is _designed_ to strangle small businesses and force them to join their networks (for a cost, of course) to keep them competitive. The businesses already on their sites are there because they realised that they would struggle to compete with the likes of booking.com and AirBNB's monopoly positions and realised that "if you can't beat them, let's join them". So, instead of being a medium sized fish in a small pond, they opted to become a tiny fish in a huge pond instead.

For individual site owners, by listing "competitor" properties that are physically close to site owner's own properties, that's actually a good thing, because Google likes that. Geographically similar installations are, in fact, clubbing together to increase their shared footprint for the search engines. By containing content that is relevant, they are increasing their own site's value in the eyes of Google so, at one fell swoop, without needing to do any extra work by being part of this network they've already improved their site's own value considerably. After all, isn't that what properties on the big boy's sites are doing? Allowing themselves to be listed alongside their next door neighbour's holiday homes?

All we're doing here is removing the middle-man from the equation. That's why, in the latest iteration of Jomres (9.19.2) I added the ability for the system to analyse the geographic location of the individual properties that are imported. Properties that are within 1-20km of the currently viewed property are prioritised to be shown first, ensuring that the displaying Jomres site produces quality, relevant content for their owners. Sure, it'll take time for more Jomres installations to appear and be local enough for this to start to have an effect, but it will happen.

[Edit] I've just checked stats for some of the early adopters of this feature. Whenever a property is shown on another Jomres installation, that action is recorded on the app server. In a little over a week Jomres properties have been displayed on sister sites 215,000 times. That's 215,000 more opportunities to market your properties, and all for free.

[Edit 2] 7 hours after my last post, and after implementing a cleanup cron job to remove test/dev servers from the app server's central list of sites, the numbers are still rising. At the time of writing there have been 227,000 property views. that's another 12,000 property views in just 7 hours, which is a phenominal number and way more than I expected. I anticipate this number to rise as more people update their Jomres sites over the next few months.

app.jomres.net/jomres/api/get_sites/page_view_counts

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Last edit: 7 months 1 day ago by Vince Wooll.
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7 months 1 day ago #47627 by Rodrigo Rocco
This is fantastic, what a great feature!!!
For all the little business wanting to grow this is a great opportunity.
And for the techy users, have a look into the API documentation, it is so well done api.jomres.net/?version=latest

Congratulations Jomres for keep evolving!

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7 months 1 day ago #47629 by Iain Laverock
I thought that I would chip into this discussion. First of all, congratulations to Vince and the team for developing this feature. I think it is long overdue. There are a couple of ways that I think that this will benefit the smaller sites. Firstly, there is the potential for driving traffic from larger websites to smaller sites, which is a good thing. Secondly, if you are building up your portfolio on your website, it certainly does no harm to be able to present an extensive portfolio of properties straight out of the box. Thirdly, (and I hope I am correct in thinking this) it will also pass backlinks among the different Jomres sites. When I look at websites in direct competition to our own (from an SEO perspective), I see a number of sites with a poor menu structure, slow performance, very little rich content, etc; and yet they outperform our own sites (in Alexa ranking, etc). The differentiating factor seems to me to be the number of site backlinks that these poor 'seo' sites have, as well as their use of structured data on their pages and google ad spend. So any advantage we can lever by connecting the Jomres community has to be beneficial.

I think my only concern would be on the geographical content. So for instance, both our sites are focused purely on South France. If we starting showing syndicated content from Bali or Mexico, does that signal some confusion to Google on the local geographic content of the website and, perhaps more importantly, does it confuse the actual customer visiting the site. I have no issues supporting this development as I can only see positives but I wonder if having a localized filter as Vince suggested, could be a way forward. So you can filter properties to appear from a certain region or possibly a certain type of property (boats or vacation rentals or long term rentals, B&Bs, etc - although this would need some global standard property types).

The other thought that came to my mind was that I remember a few years back there was talk of setting up a dedicated Jomres platform, where we could all post our rental properties, tour services, etc. Maybe this is the reverse engineered version of that global platform, but I also think that a platform supported by the Jomres community could be a counter-balance to the big OTAs. Perhaps the running costs could be supported through affiliate advertising and maybe we could benefit from some economies of scale (so could we negotiate a lower commission from the online payment merchants). I would also be strongly in favour of some revenue from the site supporting Vince and Aladar in their ongoing developments of Jomres. But perhaps that is a different discussion.

Anyway, I definitely support this and I hope to see this grow to the benefit of all our sites.
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7 months 1 day ago #47630 by Vince Wooll

Thirdly, (and I hope I am correct in thinking this) it will also pass backlinks among the different Jomres sites. When I look at websites in direct competition to our own (from an SEO perspective), I see a number of sites with a poor menu structure, slow performance, very little rich content, etc; and yet they outperform our own sites (in Alexa ranking, etc). The differentiating factor seems to me to be the number of site backlinks that these poor 'seo' sites have, as well as their use of structured data on their pages and google ad spend.


This is an interesting and invaluable observation, thanks for that Iain, very useful to know.

I think my only concern would be on the geographical content. So for instance, both our sites are focused purely on South France. If we starting showing syndicated content from Bali or Mexico, does that signal some confusion to Google on the local geographic content of the website and, perhaps more importantly, does it confuse the actual customer visiting the site.


That's a good question, right now I'm between a rock and a hard place for this. To get the syndication network off the ground I have to make it so that all site's properties will be displayed but if there are no distinct properties near you on other Jomres based sites you're going to be showing properties from half-way around the world. It's one of the reasons I wanted to make this a free feature, to get buy-in from as many users as possible, as quickly as possible.

The code as of 9.19.2 does indeed try to present local properties first. I suspect that in the near-term, your sites will be advertising each other until more Jomres sites appear with properties in your neck of the woods :D

So you can filter properties to appear from a certain region or possibly a certain type of property (boats or vacation rentals or long term rentals, B&Bs, etc - although this would need some global standard property types).


Yeah, and that's one of the reasons the super server ideas of yesteryear never really took off, the time required to actively maintain the site was astronomical. I've designed this particular process to be as hands-off as possible so that it can more or less run itself. I have spent this evening building some cron functionality to get shot of test/demo installations from the app server's list of sites, but that will be mostly automatic from now on.

I've shied away from having global property types for exactly the reason you've captured, but I suspect that at some point, I'm going to need to do something about it when boats and cars start appearing in syndication lists. One to watch.

In the next few weeks I intend to build and release a plugin that will allow you to actively disable certain sites. The cron jobs on your servers already test remote sites to see if they can be contacted and if not disable them, so it's really just a need to add a UI to manually enable/disable sites.

Anyway, I definitely support this and I hope to see this grow to the benefit of all our sites.


Awesome, it's very important to me that I get buy-in from users like yourself. As one of our biggest site owners (sorry Rene, but Iain outstrips you by far), your opinion holds a lot of value to me while I try to find a way to make this work for all of us.

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7 months 19 hours ago #47631 by Corne
Good day

I wish I had the coding skills of Vince, but I don't, so congratulations. For the smaller sites this function is a must have, but for some sites like ours it will not work, 95% of our clients require to have channel management, so for now I am waiting patiently for the ability to add more channels, I know that Vince has already started with it as he has mentioned in the changelog, Jomres 9.17.1 24/04/2019.

Thank you Vince for all your help, support and coding skills.
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7 months 17 hours ago #47632 by Vince Wooll
In fact, Corne, the syndication network and the channel management stuff are linked. I'm architecting the CM code in such a way that the REST API will be used for the bulk of the work and so that Jomres users will be able to interact with each other more. The goal is then to make it so that, in addition to normal channel managers, Jomres linked sites will be able to use the same functionality. This means less need for actually using channel managers.

I'm trying to approach it holistically, which is why the CM stuff is taking a while, but it is taking shape.

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7 months 3 hours ago #47633 by Iain Laverock
Just to let you know Vince, I just checked my Awstats statistics on my siteground account and I have a whole bunch of new backlinks to both my websites from other Jomres sites. It will be interesting to see if this starts to impact the SEO performance of the sites over time. Backlinks is only one of many SEO factors (and the page rank of the linking site has a massive bearing on how much attention Google pays to this as a ranking factor), but it is certainly something to keep an eye on.
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6 months 4 weeks ago #47634 by Vince Wooll
I look forward to learning what you discover, Iain.

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vince picDeveloped and maintained by Vince Wooll, Jomres was initially conceived in early 2005 as a Mambo based solution to a client’s hotel management needs. While it wasn't originally expected to be an online booking system it quickly morphed into one as users requested more and more features.

As the number of feature requests grew Vince knew that he would need to dedicate more time to the project and in July 2005 Jomres was formally released as a commercial project. Since then, Jomres has become one of Mambo’s, and now Joomla’s, longest running projects. It has survived various versions of Mambo, then Joomla 1.0, 1.5, 1.6, 1.7, 2.5 and 3.

Aladar joined the project in 2010 after using Jomres for his own projects. He was active on the forum, helping other members of the community and eventually Vince invited him to join the team. Between 2010 and 2018 he was an integral part of the project and made many significant contributions.

Whilst not formally part of the Jomres project, Rodrigo Rocco and Vince have become firm friends. Rod is a freelancer who specialises in doing custom work for Jomres users and developing custom plugins for the system that take advantage of it's modular design. He has built many useful extensions including his fabulous Valentina Template Override Package.

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