4 key questions to help you get more bookings for your holiday rental
Holiday lettings are a popular business opportunity and your property is the key asset that can make you money. But how can you attract more visitors to your country cottage or city pad so that you get maximum returns on your investment?
First of all, the income you get from letting out the property to holiday makers has to cover all basic costs such as mortgage payments, property maintenance and regular upkeep. Also bear in mind that valuable tax benefits for furnished holiday lettings are only available if you let the property for a minimum of 105 days per year. Here’s a useful tax overview to help you understand how it works.
Once the basics are covered, every additional booking should be pure profit. But what if your cottage doesn’t convert? As many landlords have found out, this is where the real work starts. When bookings are down, you need to investigate why and take immediate remedial action.
We’ve highlighted 4 important questions you should ask to help you increase occupancy rates and turn around your holiday business.
1. Does your holiday cottage look inviting?
First impressions count hugely, especially when it comes to choosing holiday accommodation. Your potential guests will be looking for much more than basic facilities – chances are they would prefer something more upscale. Make sure the property is in immaculate decorative order throughout, perhaps with some stylish touches here and there. Presentation is everything.
If you don’t have an eye for interior design or you find it hard to assess your holiday let objectively, ask for advice. Whether you get a trusted friend to give honest feedback, or ask a professional design consultant for tips on how to style your holiday home, the important thing is that you end up with an attractive looking property that your visitors will love.
Choose comfortable furniture and cosy furnishings just as you would expect to find in a good quality hotel. Second hand items should be fine if they’re clean and serviceable – but beware the junk shop look that no-one likes! Sometimes, a fresh coat of paint or a garden tidy up is all that’s needed.
2. Do you have stunning photographs to sell the dream?
But bluntly, there’s no point having a beautifully presented holiday cottage if the pictures don’t tell the story. Potential visitors may well decide to book elsewhere, based purely on evocative images they fall in love with.
Take a long, hard look at your current photos and ask yourself whether they do the property justice. Are your images up to date? Of professional quality? Do they off all you have to offer to its best advantage? Are they selling the sizzle?
Professional photography is one area of marketing you should never skimp on. Whether you find a local pro or skill up yourself, the important things is to know all the tricks of the trade to produce fantastic looking images to use on your website, Facebook page, Instagram account, and printed brochures. It’s the clever use of lighting, the best camera angles and a keen understanding of picture composition that makes all the difference between amateur pics and truly professional results.
Make sure you show a visual glimpse of every room, as well as plenty of lifestyle shots that set the scene for a dream holiday at your cottage.
3. Does your holiday let stand out from the competition?
How much attention do you pay to your local competition? Regardless of where your holiday let is located, there are bound to be other properties with offerings similar to yours. Does yours compare favourably on all fronts? In order to attract more guests, you should make every effort to stand out from the crowd.
A bit of online competitor research can go a long way to open your eyes to the commercial realities out there. Take a look at other listings, their facilities and amenities, their overall presentation and, of course, their pricing. How booked up are they? How favourable are their online reviews?
There are valuable lessons to be learnt that you can implement in an effort to improve your own proposition. It starts with an attractive listing and seductive photos, providing a wealth of useful information about the property and its unique features, highlighting local landmarks and tourist spots, and recommending things to do in the local area.
Last but by no means least, make sure that your price is positioned perfectly. You don’t want to put guests off by being too expensive, but if the price is too low it might leave people wondering if there’s anything wrong with the accommodation.
4. Are you communicating effectively with your target market?
You may think the key to your holiday business success lies in the property, but it’s not all about the product, it’s about people. Hone your communication skills in terms of dealing with enquiries, securing the booking and managing the entire customer experience all the way to obtaining a glowing review post stay.
It can’t be stressed highly enough that all enquiries should be responded to promptly, efficiently and definitely on the same day. Chances are that potential visitors will be casting the net wide and may well book with another property where the reply was swifter and the whole experience effortless.
Make a special point of reviewing your online bookings process to see whether you can improve conversions at this crucial point. Complicated systems and multistep processing of bookings and payments can put customers off, leading to abandoned transactions and loss of business.
Finally, make sure you’re available to answer questions and provide information throughout your guests’ stay, so that your customers feel supported and truly cared for. A great review and future return visit may well be your additional reward.