The Scottish Borders Guide To Getting Started with Your Holiday Let – Part 4

Posted by Linda Maclaughlan on 25 April 2018

The essentials of holiday lets – it’s your responsibility!

Guest safety should be of paramount importance to you as a holiday let provider and there are certain rules you must adhere to: Here are some of the main ones –

  1. If you have gas appliances or gas central heating legally you must have an annual gas safety check carried out by a Gas safe registered gas engineer. I would also recommend taking out a maintenance contract as this will ensure that if the boiler breaks down someone will be on hand to fix it. Most contracts have a 24-hour call-out and some include the safety check in the cost. Guests don’t want to be without heat and hot water for any length of time. Bearing in mind they will probably only be staying from 3 to 7 nights.
  2. Electrical safety check – all electrical items should be safety checked annually (PAT Test). A qualified electrician should check the electrical system in the property (EICR) at least every 3 years. It is the owner’s responsibility to carry out visual inspections to the electrical system and electrical items.
  3. Furnishings must comply with current fire safety regulations. Under The Furniture And Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 all furniture meeting the requirements of the regulations should have a permanent label attached – the label will normally be found under the seat cushion, or attached to the base of the furniture. 
  4. The Regulatory Reform (Fire Safety) Order states that all accommodation providers must take responsibility for fire safety and each property must have a fire safety risk assessment carried out. You can do this yourself by visiting the Safer Scotland website and downloading the free guides.
  5. Provision of a carbon monoxide alarm is essential if you have any appliance that burns fossil fuels (oil, gas, coal, logs). A carbon monoxide alarm with tamper proof batteries must be fitted correctly at each fossil fuel burning appliance including open fires and log burners. These should be weekly and should form part of your changeover routine.
  6. The benchmarks for smoke alarms are as follows: a smoke alarm(s) should be installed in the hall, or for a two-storey property to both ground floor hall and first floor landing, so that there is a smoke alarm within 3m maximum of each bedroom door and no part of a hall or corridor is further than 7.5 metres from an alarm. A smoke alarm should also be installed in each living room and separate dining room and a heat alarm should be installed in the kitchen. Where a property has more than three bedrooms, smoke alarms should also be installed in each bedroom. (In such case, the smoke alarm(s) required to be installed in the hall or corridor need not meet the 3m requirements.) Again these should be tested weekly (TIP: ask your cleaner to do this whilst they are there on the weekly changeover)
  7. You must carry out a Legionnaires Risk Assessment and regularly review this. Shower heads and shower taps should be descaled and disinfected every 3 months. You can get all the info you need from our blog on the subject and a handy check sheet too! 
  8. Consider all aspects of safety at your property especially if you accept children as guests. Think about child safety stair gates if your property has stairs and the safe storage of any chemicals you may have at the property like cleaning materials etc. All fires must have a fireguard. Special care must be taken if you have a swimming pool, hot tub or even a stream at the bottom of your garden.
  9. If windowsills are below 1 metre in height, windows must have restrictors fitted.

  10. The property should have adequate buildings and contents holiday let insurance, which should include public liability.

  11. The property should be regularly inspected for any potential hazards and ongoing maintenance should be carried out

Please remember as the owner, the responsibility for the safety of your guests lies ultimately with you – no one else.

For more information on getting your property ready, read my blog: ‘How to Equip Your Holiday Let for Its First Guests’.

How to stand out from the property crowd

The potential benefits of the personal touch cannot be overstated, whether it is a hand written personal welcome letter, a handpicked bunch of flowers or fruit/veg from the garden or perhaps a welcome basket of local goodies.

This is something guests will appreciate and, more importantly, remember. This in turn will hopefully lead to either them returning or recommending your property to their friends and family. Leave a guestbook and be sure to act on any comments that guests leave.

You can also leave a reply in the comments book so that future guests know that you have taken action. It is vital that you make guests feel that their holiday is as important to you as it is to them and putting in that extra special effort doing what no one else is doing, will get you noticed.

How to nurture your existing clients

Interaction with existing clients is vital. Please don’t forget about your guests once they leave the property – it is far easier to market to someone who has already used, and is happy with, your property than to someone new. So remember to nurture these invaluable contacts.

Having regular guests to the property can have a huge impact on profitability – why not offer a returning visitor discount? And make sure you ask for a review!

Research shows lead nurturing campaigns are effective at increasing bookings. Unfortunately, too few businesses run a campaign or even market to existing clients.

By engaging with potential customers and communicating with them effectively, you will ensure they do become repeat customers and help drive profits for your business. Adopting a lead nurturing campaign will also lead to the introduction of new leads through client recommendations and help keep your holiday let in the minds of potential customers. Nurturing is relatively simple to organise and when automated, becomes an effective business tool.

With little on-going maintenance, you can have a tool at your disposal that will be invaluable in driving qualified customers to your cottage door.

Conclusion

A holiday let could embark you on a highly rewarding profitable career providing guests with a holiday they won’t forget, and leave them itching to return! The fundamentals are the same as for any business: Research, Plan, Implement and Review – but being in the business of providing memories? What could be better than that?

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