Laura Habgood of Brittany Ferries tells you how to get those French holiday home bookings flooding in…
Make a good first impression
It’s really important to make sure your property is spotlessly clean, tidy and tastefully decorated so that it sends an excellent first impression to your guests. Make sure the furniture is practical and robust. Lock away anything of sentimental value.
Take high-quality pictures of every room (and outside)
Your advertising portal is your shop window to the world so it’s crucial that it sends a good impression! Try to include a high-quality photograph of every room including bathrooms so guests can get a good idea of your property. Many portals will also allow you to include a video of your property which can be an excellent selling point. Consider asking a professional company to do this for you.
Sell the destination and local area
Although some people will know exactly where they want to go in France, many people will not. Make sure that you sell the area and let guests know why they should choose to stay with you above any other areas. It’s a good idea to include pictures of the local area on your advertisement and also your recommendations of where to go and what to do during their stay.
Know your target market
It’s vital to know who you’re targeting and sell your property appropriately. If you are targeting families, make sure you have plenty of toys and games on-site and provide information about the best child-friendly days out in your area, or if couples are your market think about providing little touches like a bottle of wine or logs for the wood burner for cosy nights (although frazzled parents would love these two too!).
Think about your pricing
The holiday rental market is more competitive than ever so you need to set your rates appropriately. Compare similar properties in the local area and price yourself somewhere in the middle – you don’t want to be too expensive but you also don’t want to appear too cheap. It’s also important to think about seasonality and when your peak booking season is likely to be.
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Provide clear T&C
It’s a good idea to provide your rental terms and conditions from the offset so that your guests know what is expected from them in terms of booking and payment. Your guests will appreciate you being upfront with them and it should help to avoid any awkward conversations regarding security deposits, breakages etc.
Offer five-star service
Make sure you always provide excellent customer service and go the extra mile to meet the needs of your guest. Try to be as flexible as you can with arrival dates to allow guests to take advantage of cheaper midweek travel, or if you know their stay coincides with a special occasion such as a birthday or anniversary your guests will really appreciate thoughtful touches such as a card or cake.
Collect reviews and respond to them
Most guests will look online for reviews before enquiring so it’s good to get as many as possible on your advertising. Don’t be afraid of the odd criticism either, the key is how you deal with it. Respond quickly, take action to rectify and apologise, and potential customers are actually more likely to book with you than to look elsewhere.
Social media is a key marketing tool these days. It’s free and easy to set up accounts and the most commonly used platforms like Instagram, Facebook and Twitter are an excellent way of interacting with your guests, particularly younger guests and prospects.
Pick a good portal
There are a huge variety of services available to help market your property, from fully managed to deal direct options, so it’s really important to do your homework. Fully managed schemes allow you to sit back and relax while someone else takes care of the bookings for you whereas deal direct schemes give you complete control of bookings, which means guests contact and deal with you directly for every aspect of the booking.