With many years’ experience in assisting holiday home owners advertise their properties to guests, the team at OwnersDirect.co.uk take a keen interest in passing on good advice to any potential first time holiday home buyers.
1. Can you tell us a little about OwnersDirect?
OwnersDirect.co.uk has been advertising holiday homes on behalf of owners since 1997. We now have over 40,000 properties listed on the website in countries throughout the world. Properties range from one bedroom apartments in city locations up to large chateaux in France. We are the most searched for holiday rentals brand in the UK and in the last year over 500,000 holidays were booked via the site.
2. Do you feel that holiday home owners in the UK make the most of their investment? What could they do to get more from their holiday home?
There’s a complete mix in approaches from second home owners. Some view it as a pure investment and look to get as much of a return as they can from it but for many it’s a passion and a deserved retreat and so any income they can generate from it is an extra benefit rather than the means. There are many owners who still don’t rent their property out and that is a missed opportunity.
Of those that do rent their properties out, a good number of them under-invest in marketing it, either not putting it on the right websites or not investing in things like professional photographs to make the property look as amazing as it should do when it’s on sites.
3. Can you tell us what you have found to be the biggest pitfall of renting out your holiday home?
Many of the concerns people have before renting out their home tend to be unfounded. Most people are nervous about renting to strangers who won’t treat their property with the respect it deserves or are worried that things will go missing. In fact, it is very, very rare to have issues with holidaymakers damaging the property or not leaving it in an appropriate state.
The bigger pitfall is that it does take time and effort. You can generate a good return but you need to be able and willing to respond to enquiries as soon as they come in and then to make sure the guests have everything they need before and during their stay. A lot of this can be handled by other people but owners need to get organised when they start to think about renting out their property. You should also ensure you take out appropriate holiday lettings insurance.
4. Holiday home ownership is on the increase, even with the current economic conditions. Do you feel that investing in a holiday home is now accepted as a sound investment choice?
I am not sure we are best placed to provide investment advice. We have a wide spectrum of owners, some of whom make their holiday home pay for itself, and others who let out their property for shorter periods to cover some of their costs.
Always ensure that you factor in all the costs of owning a holiday home. We have some advice on calculating expenses for second home owners here.
It makes sense to invest in a property in a location you really love rather than following the latest trend. Your enthusiasm for the location will come through when marketing to holidaymakers, and if you have vacant weeks then it can be your readymade holiday!
5. Word of mouth is a great way to increase the reputation of a rental holiday home, can you give our readers a few tips in how to increase your property’s reputation as a premier holiday home and how to transfer that reputation online?
Word of mouth is one of the most cost effective ways to maximise rental income. Many of our advertisers receive repeat bookings or recommendations from past guests. To maximise this opportunity ensure you communicate with guests once they leave your property. Ask them to give you feedback. If you list with a site that offers reviews then email them after their stay and ask them to leave a review.
Social media is a growing tool for increasing awareness of your rental home and keeping in touch with past guests. Many owners may never have used social media such as Facebook before, but it is worth considering setting up an account to promote your holiday home. It’s a great tool to keep past guests up to date with improvements to the property or to let them know about special deals or local events.
6. What areas in the UK are the most sought after for holiday home rentals? Do you feel that there is enough supply to meet this demand?
The most sought after destinations in the UK for holiday rentals are London, Cornwall, Devon and Cumbria, and this is reflected in the fact that these are the areas where we also have the most properties.
7. Creating a good first impression can be key to setting the scene for a fantastic holiday home rental experience. What do you think are the most important factors in setting the scene for the renters?
In a crowded market place first impressions really count. When advertising their property, owners should put themselves in holidaymakers’ shoes and think about what would attract them to the property. Search through adverts from your location and see which properties really stand out.
Pictures paint a thousand words, and are the most important element of any advertisement. They should show all interior rooms of your property as well as exterior shots of the facilities and surrounding area.
Photos of pools and gardens look more attractive when shot with blue skies and sunshine. Interior shots look best when staged – lay the table with a welcoming glass of wine, add cushions and throws to sofas and ensure you eliminate clutter! Most important of all, make sure the photos are sharp. You’d be surprised how many advertisers upload blurry images of their treasured holiday home!
Investing in professional photographs can make all the difference. It always feels like a huge cost but we’ve seen owners double their bookings just by getting professional photos taken.
8. Do you think that holiday home owners know enough about insuring their holiday property and having the right cover in place?
We’re not involved in helping the owners with insuring our homes so we don’t have good information on this. There are many good providers out there who focus on insurance specific to holiday rentals. When we speak to the owners they seem to be very aware of what they need and where they can get it.
9. Advertising a holiday home can have pitfalls of its own, what do you recommend as best practice in holiday home advertising?
As mentioned before, ensure your advertisement puts your property in the best possible light, with great photos and a detailed description which covers all aspects which holidaymakers need to know. At the same time be sure that the information is accurate; if information is misleading then guests could leave unhappy which could have a knock on effect on future bookings.
Ensure you price your property competitively. Too low and it might be seen to be “too good to be true”, too high and you won’t generate enquiries. Take a look at other properties in the area to see what the average rate is.
Responding to enquiries
Respond to enquiries as soon as possible. It seems obvious, but one of the biggest complaints we receive is from holidaymakers who never receive a response.
Many holidaymakers may send enquiries to several properties, so the sooner you respond the more chance you have of securing the booking. If the enquiry is for dates which are booked then you should still respond as the holidaymaker may book for an alternative date.
Once you have taken a booking, ensure you confirm details in writing with a detailed payment schedule.
In terms of taking payment, the most popular methods are credit card, bank transfer or Paypal. We never recommend holidaymakers pay via Western Union or Moneygram as they are open to fraud.
Once you receive payment ensure that you confirm receipt and keep communicating with the holidaymaker prior to the trip. There is nothing more worrying than a holidaymaker making a payment and then being unable to contact the owner!
Ensure you send directions and details on how to access the property well in advance of the stay.