If owning your holiday home is based on achieving a rental income it’s important you get the promotion of it right. Not only will the right marketing fill your property with happy guests but it could also be more lucrative in the long run.
There are two key decisions to consider: how to showcase your property at its best, and where to advertise your property?
Words and pictures
Before you publish details of your holiday let or undertake any advertising, you need to decide how best to present your property.
1. Make sure your description covers the facts and also sets the mood. As well as giving a clear description of the property and the surrounding area, set the mood by including descriptions of all the wonderful things you have done in the holiday home.
2. Pay attention to the headline. Many people scan adverts and websites so your headline and feature photograph are really important. Tell it like it is, for example “Large converted Cornwall farmhouse, 5 minutes from the beach” is to the point and really grabs your attention.
3. Include testimonials from past customers. Make the effort to set up a TripAdvisor profile for your property. This is a good source of reviews from past guests and adds credibility to all the wonderful things you’re saying about the property.
4. Always tell the truth. TripAdvisor and other review sites can be a double edged sword. Any deficiencies in your property description will soon be found out and commented upon online - you have been warned!
5. Ask someone to proof read your advertising. Think carefully about the kind of people you are targeting and what they will be looking for in a holiday. This will dictate the style of copywriting you should use in your marketing. If it’s a cottage for families, get some parents to read it. Likewise if it’s a cool city flat your target market may be different.
6. With the sophistication of smartphone cameras today, there’s no excuse not to have loads of pictures. Make sure you de-clutter the rooms before taking pictures and try to let as much natural light in as possible. It may be a low ceilinged character property but potential visitors still want to see a light spacious clean house. That also means no modelling. Keep people and pets out of the photographs!
7. Take pictures of every room, the exterior of the property, parking and views from the rooms. If there’s a particularly interesting or useful feature within 5 minutes’ walk of the property, include that too.
8. Don’t forget to mention how your property is insured and the amount of liability insurance that you have. Knowing there is cover in place can lend peace of mind to renters – although guests are responsible for their own possessions, just as they would be abroad. HomeProtect specialise in holiday home insurance and 97% of the time we can give you an instant quote online.
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The next step is to get your holiday let in front of potential customers. Whilst taking bookings direct will be the most profitable, it is a very noisy market place, so it can be hard to stand out if you go it alone. Although you can promote your property through a single marketing channel, it is sensible to try as many different channels as possible, including print, social media, email and third party websites. Over time you will see which ones work best for you, then you can refine your promotion and optimise how much time and money you spend on them. It will get easier and more effective the longer you do it.
Third Party Websites
Traditionally, you have two choices when it comes to third party websites. These are local letting agents or holiday home websites. Both of these options will market your property and deal with customer payments and documentation on your behalf.
The big advantage of local agents is they may also offer the kind of support services that will make your life far easier, such as gardeners, cleaners and local tradesmen. Whilst hard to quantify, their local expertise will be invaluable if things go wrong. They may also offer a more personal touch to your guests. The easiest way to find them is to wander around your area and spot their name on signage for other holiday rentals!
Holiday home websites, such as homeaway.com and cottages.com, have a far greater online reach. That means that they will promote your cottage to a much wider audience. What’s more, they often come with software to help you manage your availability and customer bookings. We can’t neglect to mention Airbnb either. In recent years, Airbnb has come to the fore as a popular site. It has by far the widest audience and the best website design for showing off your property in the most engaging way, so it’s definitely worth a look!
The drawback to a partnership with these types of websites however is that you need to factor in about 30% of your rental income going to them. They are a more expensive option, but they offer a lot of help and it can be a great way of marketing your holiday home.
Marketing The Property Yourself
The starting point for marketing a holiday let yourself is a website. It needn’t be complicated but it should have engaging copy and photos, which we’ll cover in more detail below. You can pay someone to build the website for you but nowadays there are fairly easy DIY solutions for that don’t require any technical know-how. Sources like Wix, MoonFruit or even Wordpress are straightforward to get started.
Once you have your attractive website you need to drive interested potential customers to it. There are a number of ways to do this. Assuming you have a limited budget, we’re going to focus on the free ones here:
A presence on social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest is important. Whilst a social profile isn’t enough on its own to market your property, you can ask your social network to promote your holiday let.
As previously mentioned, you ought to set your property up on social review sites such as TripAdvisor, so once your first guests have visited you can encourage them to leave positive reviews. Over two thirds of people check TripAdvisor before booking a property so it pays to have good reviews there!
Be Visible On Google
The first step is to set up your property with a Google Business listing. You then need to make sure your website is visible to search engines like Google itself. There’s an art to this, as it involves what you say and how your website is built. Beware, however, as creating a strong presence on search engines requires a lot of work. You need to be active on your website every week, creating and publishing news and blogs, and sharing images or customer reviews to make yourself known.
As well as Google and other search engines, there are a number of listing sites to consider. The first step is to register your property with the local tourist office, then look online for any other free directories or holiday property sites.
If your property is particularly special you could send out a press release to the relevant press. Try the local papers, the travel sections on the national press and also any specialist magazines. Why not also approach people who write travel or regional blogs?
Long Term Holiday Let Marketing
Aim to contact all your guests and encourage them to book direct with you the following year, maybe by offering a small discount. The best properties have the same visitors booking direct year-after-year, and a small holiday let business can thrive on customer loyalty and word of mouth advertising.