Whether you are purchasing your first holiday home or already own one you may be considering sharing your property with guests rather than leaving it empty. If you are canny (and active with your marketing) you can enjoy a significant second income that can both cover the cost of home ownership and enable you to stay there for free.
Whilst you can try to find a local agency to manage your property, full-service property management often requires you to sign over control of your property, maximising the manager’s income at your expense.
The alternative - direct management of your holiday home - provides you complete control over bookings etc. Twice as many owners self-manage their bookings than don’t and many willingly share their experience to help others. I am one such owner, passionately supporting others in my online service for independent owners. Here are some of the basics to help you avoid the common mistakes and pitfalls of direct management:
Before renting out your holiday home make sure you comply with any local laws and enforcements relating to holiday letting. Find someone local to look after the property if you are not nearby. Carry out research to understand what other owners are charging to stay in comparable properties.
Get your own property website. You don’t need to build this yourself and it can be free! Your website needs to be informative, look great over any device and showcase your property with fantastic photos. Have up to date availability, pricing and the ability to send an immediate quote to enquirers. Don’t be discouraged away from major listing websites, they are an important marketing tool but understand how they work, the cost and implications of using them.
Guests get together with friends and family and want to make the immediate decision to book. So make it easy for them to choose your home with a personalised quote and the ability to book online. Make guests feel special and always be professional and personable however you communicate.
Nothing deters a guest more than a delayed incomplete response to an enquiry. Guests want to hear from you immediately so they feel comfortable before making the decision to pay. Make it easy for them to pay you, offer them online credit card payment, e-banking or any other means to pay that you are comfortable with. Provide foreign guests with quotes and payment in their native currency so that they can understand the cost. Be fair, don’t charge more for taking payments than it costs you, in some countries this is illegal.
Your most cost-effective advert for your holiday home is your last guest. Make guests want to recommend your home to others. Leave postcard adverts at the property showing your website address so that they can book directly. Invite guests to leave a review on your website, personally thank them when they do. When things go wrong, it is how you deal with them that the guest remembers. Follow up with past guests, let them know any offers or changes you have made.
Continue to learn about managing your holiday home. Understand where your bookings come from. Which dates are in demand, which are not? How do your rates compare? What additional options or services could you offer? How much profit did your home earn? Refresh your website periodically. Be part of a wider community of owners and share your experiences.