SpaceOut Listing Fees – When, Why and How

August 31st, 2010

From 1 September 2010 we have introduced a fee of $6 per month for Space for Rent listings (although Searches, Membership and Space Wanted listings are all still completely free).

Spaceout has always been outstanding value (we think that it still is),  and  we have always wanted our service to be used by (and useful to) as many people as possible throughout Australia, so introducing a small fee is not a decision we have taken lightly.    But  after much debate and consideration we are confident that introducing a fee is the best way to ensure that SpaceOut and the unique service that we provide, continues to grow and improve in the future.

Why A Listing Fee?

Here are some of the reasons why we have decided to introduce a fee for creating a new Space for Rent listing :

  • Is it Really Free ? this was by far the question that we got asked most often.  People were surprised that we were offering Spaceout as a free service in the first place, and even after we explained that it really was free, many were still suspicious and wondered what the catch was (there wasn’t one!!).  By introducing a fee, we recognise that some people may no longer list with us, but our market research suggest that even as a paid service SpaceOut offers great value (the possibility of earning $200 or more a month, easily outweighs the listing costs), and that in fact, many people are likely to be more comfortable paying a fee.
  • Improving the Listing Standard – we’ve noticed that the listings some members create are very basic – often containing very little (or no) additional information about the space itself. This makes it harder for people to decide whether or not the space may be suit their needs.  Because the listing was free, some members seemed to feel that they shouldn’t bother about putting much effort into their listing (probably not realising that more detailed listings tend to get rented out faster). We believe that the small fee will encourage people to spend a little more time preparing their listings – making them more detailed and informative – which is better for everyone.
  • Keeping it Fresh – Free listings provide no  real incentive for the owner to flag their space as leased once they have rented it out.  Some people members just let their listing expire at the end of three months – even though they have leased out the space.  This meant that they would get extra “contact requests” – which were sometimes ignored, and sometimes when people enquired about a space they were told that it was no longer available.  The monthly subscription provides an incentive for space owners to be a bit more proactive about managing their listing – which leads to a better experience for people looking for space, as they are less likely to find a space which is no longer actually available.
  • Ongoing development – creating and running an online service like SpaceOut is not a cheap exercise.  We get suggestions and requests from members for improvements to the service (thanks very much for those), and have lots of plans or how we can improve and expand the functionality of the site.  Generating some sort of income from the site means that we will have more funds that we can put towards improvements – and will be able to offer additional functionality and features faster (and better) than we would have been able to otherwise.

How is the fee applied?

Once we had agreed that a  fee was necessary, we needed to look at the best way to apply this.  We considered quite a few different approaches, including

  • a one off  fee, to allow listing  until the space had been rented (e.g. $50 for the life of the listing),
  • a commission (a percentage of the space rental rate) once the space had been successfully leased (e.g. 20% of the monthly rental rate),
  • a set price for a set listing period (e.g. $30 for 3 months),
  • a sliding fee based on the advertised monthly space rental,

… but decided that a simple fixed price monthly subscription was the most reasonable and best value approach.

Monthly Subscription via Paypal

A monthly subscription allows us to charge a relatively small fee, and means that owners only need to pay for their listing until they rent out their space – they don’t have to pay for a big chunk of time that they may not even need.

We have decided to use Paypal (probably the world’s most popular payment system),  to manage the subscription process as this allows our members to have complete control of their own subscription and lets them review and update (or cancel) their subscription whenever they wish.  This means that members will need to register with Paypal (if they don’t already have an account), but provides them with greater flexibility in payment methods, and guarantees safe and secure payments.

When a new listing is created, as the final part of the listing process, owners will be directed to Paypal to confirm the subscription.  An initial payment will be made, and the listing will be activated, then, each month (on the anniversary of the original listing start date) another payment will automatically be applied, and the listing will automatically be extended for another month.

The subscription can be cancelled at any time (via the members Paypal account) – for example once the space has been leased out, or if it is decided that the listing is no longer required.  Once a subscription has been cancelled, the listing will remain active until the end of the current month’s listing period ( the status can still be set to Leased or Do Not Display to stop it showing up on SpaceOut).

Members will receive email notification when the subscription (and listing) is created, and monthly notification each time a payment is made.

You can find out more about the current space listing fees, or read more details about how the  payment process works.  We would also love to get your feedback on SpaceOut subscription, so if you’ve got anything you’d like us to know, please feel free to contact us.

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