These blogs are written by third party guest authors to help provide additional insight and perspective.
As part of our holiday let mortgage blog series, we’re delighted to share this post with you from Abi Charter, Marketing Manager at Best of Suffolk.
Running a holiday let can be a profitable way to generate income, as well as being rewarding to see happy guests enjoying your property. Having been in operation since 2006, Best of Suffolk is a truly local holiday let agency specialising in luxury holiday homes in Suffolk. Abi Charter, their Marketing Manager, has shared some of their biggest tips on how to boost your holiday let bookings.
The Four Ps
First of all, let’s start with the basics. The very cornerstone of marketing – ‘The Four P’s – Product, Price, Place and Promotion.’ Taking a close look at these four will help guide you to ensure your holiday let is on point.
Your holiday let is your product. Is it as appealing as it can be? What more can it offer to tempt potential holiday makers? A snazzy coffee machine perhaps? A hot tub? A wood burner? Think about the amenities you are happy to provide. Don’t forget, when guests are looking for a holiday, they often have a ‘tick list’ of essentials such as a washing machine for families or enclosed gardens for those with dogs. The more you offer, the more people you will appeal to, the more bookings you will get.
This tactic also applies when considering arrival days, length of stay and check out/check in times. The more flexibility you offer, the greater the audience size you will appeal to. Don’t forget the dog! Many guests will want to bring their four-legged friend with them on holiday so make yourself pet friendly if you can. You can always ask for a bigger deposit to cover any additional cleaning or breakages that might occur.
Are you competitively priced for the quality of offering, location, facilities and number of bedrooms in your local area? Hit the internet with some search criteria and see what is nearby and a similar product. Obviously, you will have your own running costs to consider, but getting the price band for your property correct will ensure bookings are maximised at a competitive price that generates you a solid income without weeks going empty. Bear in mind prices fluctuate, as does demand, so it’s best to review your prices regularly to boost your bookings.
Is the location of your holiday let popular with visitors? What is it known for? Who promotes it to visitors? Is there a DMO (Destination Management Organisation) such as Visit Suffolk or The Suffolk Coast who will help to draw in visitors? Are there any special events that make the area more popular at certain times of the year such as a carnival or festival? Do your research into the area and consider joining your local DMO.
Once you have the above in hand, now is the time to promote your property. Whichever method you chose, whether it’s to let through an expert local agent, to manage bookings yourself through your own website or perhaps an OTA (online travel agent) such as Airbnb or Booking.com the key is to pick the right channel for your audience. If you have a holiday let mortgage on your property you should also make sure your chosen letting method is permitted within your mortgage T&Cs.
Take some time to think about your property description. Is it written in a clear, concise style? Are all the unique selling points (USPs) of the holiday home listed? If it’s not detailed, many guests will assume it’s not provided, so really take some time to ensure everything is presented well.
Photography is absolutely key! Many smartphones are able to provide high-res images of your holiday let. Be sure to take photos of every room including the garden. Lighten images and crop so that they look engaging from the moment they are seen. Dress your property with flowers, lay the dining table, light the fire and stage each room as if it were about to be enjoyed for a holiday. This helps the guest picture what a stay with you would be like.
Don’t forget, social media can raise awareness of your holiday home and put it in front of potential guests who like what you have to offer. Regular, topical, interesting content that offers an insight into the daily goings on at the holiday let are often well received and generate bookings. Even better if you have a four-legged friend to pose!
Try to keep your posts seasonal. Pictures of daffodils in spring, or Christmas markets in December will really help your guests to picture what a holiday with you would be like at different times of the year. Reducing seasonality is key to maximising your bookings.
You can also use your social accounts to share special offers. Perhaps a discount for the ‘first to book in May’ or ‘complimentary Easter eggs for anyone that books to stay over Easter’. Is there a local business you can work with on shared posts? Their audience could well become your audience!
Social advertising can also prove fruitful. Take a look at your current guests in terms of their location and demographic. It’s easy to set audience profiles in social media marketing to ensure your advert gets in front of a similar audience. A lot of holiday let owners use their phone to create simple adverts that work well, with no specialist expertise or equipment needed.
Try Before You Buy
Ask a friend to give you an honest review of your property. Better yet, ask them to stay in it! There are little intricacies which will only be discovered after a night or two staying in your holiday home. Simple things like plugs being near mirrors, suitable blinds for an easterly-facing window to ensure a good night’s sleep and easy to understand instructions for heating/hot water can be put to the test before your paying guests highlight any niggles and ask for compensation. What’s more, your happy guests are likely to book again if they’ve had a wonderful stay.
Always ask for feedback from your guests. Ask for the good, the bad and the ugly! You cannot put right what you do not know is wrong, therefore have two guest books in your property. One for positive feedback which, if permission is granted, can be used in your marketing. Have another on hand for ‘suggestions for improvements’. This is where you can find out what your guests are looking for and ensure it is provided ahead of their next stay.
Look After Your Repeat Guests
Once you have received your guests’ feedback, why not offer them an incentive to re-book? A saving off their next stay perhaps? This way the booking can come to you direct, without having to pay any advertising or promotional costs and will often more than cover the discount you’ve offered.
Business To Business
Don’t forget your local independent businesses can be your asset! So why not introduce yourself to your local pub, the nearby café or village art gallery and ask if they would like their details included in a folder of local information within your holiday let? Some may offer your guests a discount, which may in turn encourage a return visit for having such an offer in place. These little added touches can all add up to enhance the guest experience.
Best of Suffolk is your truly local, holiday cottage lettings experts, operating at the top of the market for four and five star properties. They provide expert advice, no hidden charges and a team committed to getting you a return on your investment.
Guest post supplied by Best of Suffolk. By publishing and hosting information from guest authors on the Suffolk Building Society website this does not constitute an affiliation with, nor a recommendation of, any third-party organisation. We recommend that if the content of this article applies to you, or if you require further information on the particular topic it raises, that you seek specialist advice.