I have had a lot of enquiries recently from distressed owners of Scottish Borders holiday cottages that have had very few bookings. It is a really frustrating time for owners keen to see a return on their hard work when they are likely to have spent a huge amount of time and money getting their holiday cottage ready to let out. Unfortunately many people think that all they have to do is post it on a web site and the bookings will come rolling in. Sadly this is not the case and the hard work that was put in getting the holiday cottage ready initially has to continue with the constant promotion of your property.
If you look at the Scottish Borders alone there are hundreds and hundreds of holiday cottages available to let. What you have to do is get your property noticed amongst all the others and continue to get it noticed as there will be an abundance of new holiday cottages coming on to the market all the time. I have seen a huge rise in the amount of holiday cottages available to let recently and I think this is mainly due to the state of the housing market in general. As people are finding it difficult if not impossible to sell their properties they are turning to different methods in order to make some money or basically just cover the mortgage. I think a lot of owners feel that a holiday let is an easier option to a long term let where there can be many pitfalls. I have to say that from experience I can only describe a holiday let as different to a long term let as the amount of work needed to succeed is basically the same. With a long term let you are constantly concerned with whether the tenants are paying the rent and if they are looking after the property. With a holiday let these issues are pretty much irradicated however the work needed to run a holiday let is probably greater.
When someone contacts me for advice as to why they have had little or no bookings the first thing I do is ask them what work they have put in to achieve bookings. Invariably the answer is ‘well it’s on x website or with x agent and that’s it.
The second thing I do is I look at the x website or the x agent to see what the owner is
getting for their money. Invariably the answer is not very much! I recently looked at a cottage in a prime site right next to one of the four 12th Century Borders Abbey’s which has had three bookings!! When I looked at the website that they had been paying quite a considerable amount to advertise on I could instantly see why they had had so few bookings. Appalling photos, poor descriptive text and no mention of cost to name but a few problems.
Thirdly I ask the owner what continuing development plans they have to advertise their holiday cottage, you can guess the answer. What you need to remember is that posting your property onto the internet is like leaving a post it note on a tree in a vast forest. Yes eventually someone might find it but why not make it easier for them by leaving some signposts along the way?
Top 5 tips to ensure your holiday cottage gets noticed.
- Photo’s – a picture speaks a thousand words – good quality photos illustrating why someone should book are vital.
- You don’t need to write a thousand words - people don’t read much of what is written on websites, they just want to know the basics. Make sure you get the positive points about your cottage across and quickly! Where, What and how much is a basic rule of thumb.
- Make it easy for people book, many holiday cottage guests like to speak to a friendly person and ask questions about the property so make sure it is easy for people to contact you and it is vital that you contact them back as a matter of urgency. From experience I have found that guests just want to get the property booked and they will quickly move on to another property if you do not return their calls/emails.
- Get an online presence – sign up for Twitter, get your business listed on Google Places, write content for your website if you have one, join forums and start your own blog – these are all simple things you can do to help get your property noticed. It all takes time though so you need to be disciplined and allocate a certain amount of time each day to these tasks.
- PATIENCE – this is something that doesn’t come easy to me either but things will not happen straight away (although some will be lucky and get good bookings immediately, it all depends on the property).
When the bookings do come in and if you follow these basic steps they should, then you will be rewarded for all you hard work by meeting some of the most amazing people and providing them with a holiday they will never forget and they will come back again and again and again! Happy letting!
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