Running a French Holiday Gite in Rural Brittany

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Panda Power brings a touch of French language

Task Panda's - local help for tasks you would like help with
For 8 years now we've been renting out our holiday Gite to anyone that would like a tranquil holiday in our lovely little corner of Brittany. In that time we've had the majority of our guests from the UK, a smaller number from Ireland, and a few from America, Canada, Holland, Sweden and even Australia!

But the one country we've never had any guests from is perhaps the most obvious, i.e. France itself.

Obviously never having had any guests from France I'm not sure of the precise reasons for this, but one thing I have considered in the past that may put potential French guests off is that our holiday rental website is written entirely in English.

So hence on my "wouldn't it be a good idea to do" list for some time is the idea of having a small sub-set of our Gite website pages written in French in order to make the property more accessible to French speakers and residents of France itself.

Unfortunately like many of my well meaning ideas the French site has just never got done. Although I can "get by" in conversational French I don't think the quality of my written French is good enough, and similarly using an automated service like google translate comes up with a passable conversion, but again I don't think it would look professional enough to put on my website.

So the only remaining option is to find someone who can speak good French and good English and ask them to do the translation.

There are plenty of professional companies that will translate anything you like - for a fee - but its the size of the fee that has put me off. Fees vary quite a lot but are typically around the 10 to 15 pence per word mark, so even translating a core subset of our website (which has 20 plus pages) would be a few thousand words to translate ... and a price to match.

And so there the task has sat.

Until last week when I read an article on about taskpandas, a new way to make money from doing odd jobs. The idea of is brilliantly simple, it acts as a marketplace to match people who have a bit of free time and skills that others might want, with people that need tasks doing. So if you need someone to assemble some furniture, to do some dog sitting, to deliver leaflets, to paint a shed, or simply give you a hand with something around the home, then taskpandas can help.

Since you generally need most of the requesters and taskpandas (those that offer their services) to be local to each other the service launch has started off in major UK cities (London, Birmingham, Bristol, Leeds, Manchester, Sheffield, Edinburgh & Glasgow), although is spreading quickly.

Simply post what you want done, when you want it done by, how much you are prepared to pay, and then wait for panda's to offer (bid) their services to you. You can review prior feedback star ratings and comments (ebay style) from the pandas that bid for your task, and then accept and pay for whoever you like. Payment is taken by paypal and once completed the panda is paid into their paypal account (minus a 15% commission that the website takes for acting as intermediary). According to there are 1,500 registered users and some £50,000 of work has been offered since the site was launched earlier this year, so its growing quickly.

So I thought I would give it a go. Taskpandas offers CRB checks for their more active pandas as a measure of trust, but for what I needed help with this wasn't a deciding factor.

On Monday evening last week I posted my task on taskpandas, asking for a virtual task (i.e. didn't need someone local), with a 'due by' date of mid January as I'm in no immediate hurry:

Translate some web pages from English to French
I would like a fluent French speaker/writer to translate a small number (circa 6) pages from a website from English to French

Tuesday afternoon I received my first bid, the second came in on Wednesday afternoon, and then on Thursday morning I assigned the task to one of my two bidding pandas.

My winning panda has taught French for over 25 years and is a senior A level examiner for two examination boards so I am very very happy with finding the kind of skilled person that I don't think I could have found easily otherwise - and in less than 60 hours from raising the task to agreeing who to do it.

I'll let you know how I get on with the actual translation.

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