When marketing holiday cottages, the key to getting good bookings and enquiries for is making sure you create a good web listing. A well presented, clearly written web page & optimised listing with all the key highlights and attractive photographs will ensure that you will get a lot of interest.
Once you have laid out and determined all the practical aspects of letting your holiday property some aspects may need further consideration. Now you will ready to start completing your listings for your web pages.
It is always a good idea to have a look at your competitors or other properties that have struck you as appealing, what and how have they appealed to you? Do look at good live examples and adapt the best elements for your own holiday property. Do see example below for Hazel Cottage in the Scottish Highlands.
The following points will help you plan and prepare your listings and help you create a good, compelling & accurate description for your property.
- Target market – who would be the ideal customers for your property? Is it ideal as a romantic retreat, for families or groups, sporting activities, etc
- Research – know your location well, why do people come to visit, what are the attractions
- Highlights – What makes your property stand out from others, make sure the key features are highlighted – waterside, hot tub, lake views, open fire, free boat etc. It is a good idea to lay these out in clear bullet point style.
- Photography – good quality imagery and photos are critical to success. Make sure your property looks it best. Do spend time on taking good photos on sunny and bright days. Take well lit internal shots of each room and several external shots from around the property. Do show any views and key property features.
- Map Location – it is always a good idea to show a location and map, create a link to Google maps or Google Earth as many people love to see the precise location of your property
- Reviews – do you have any customer reviews, endorsements and awards that you can show
- Pricing – Have you set your prices for the whole year – be aware of peak periods and school holiday dates (do check similar properties to your in the same area). Check out for local events that may affect demand and in turn your pricing. Do make sure that any special offers are clearly indicated i.e. discount for returning customers, 2 week specials etc. Do show your pricing for the whole year for both weeks and short breaks.
- Short Breaks – Will you offer short breaks i.e. weekend and midweek breaks – all season or just outside school holidays – you will need to determine at what price (65-75% of the weekly price is fairly normal)
- Availability Chart – where possible keep your availability fully up to date, showing booked and available dates for both this year and next to encourage long term bookings.
- Start Dates – What start dates to select? – Ideally you want make sure your weeks and short breaks dovetail in with other to avoid un-booked gaps. The most popular are Friday or Saturday starts for a week and Friday starts for the weekend.
- Deposit – What deposit will you require (20-25% is typical with balance due 8 weeks beforehand). How is this payable – Cheque, BACS, Credit of debit card?
- Maximum Capacity – What is the maximum number you will accept (sofa beds are often a good idea to increase capacity). Be aware that insurances often will have a maximum number allowed particularly with lodges.
- Bedroom layouts – do clearly indicate the room configurations how many double bedrooms, twins, singles, bunk beds, Ensuite, TV’s / DVD’s etc. (how many bathrooms? – clearly show whether shower or bath). Zip and link twin / double beds are a good idea as they give you flexibility when letting your property
- Utilities – What are you offering with your cottage – Washing machine, Dishwasher, microwave, gas cooker, TV / CD player, WiFi, DVD, etc?
- Local facilities – do indicate proximity of local restaurants, pubs and shops etc. Distance to local towns, amenities and of course popular attractions
- Terms & Conditions – What are your booking ‘Terms & Conditions’ – this is important, it helps determine the ground rules & and will help protect both you and your customer. Do clearly indicate your payment & cancellation terms.
- Insurance – Are you insured correctly for public liability, accidental damage etc.?
- Welcome packs – how will you welcome your guests, will you a ‘meet & greet’ or maybe a welcome basket. Do offer a guest book for comments too.
- Guest Packs are a good idea with details of the key local attractions, recommendations, local discounts available, conveniences, emergency services, contact sheet & numbers etc.
- Cleaning – do you have professional & reliable cleaners organised to ensure smooth change over & keeping your cottage up to the standards you expect.
Now you have created your web listing you need to ensure that you keep it up to date. Regularly updated pages with new content, latest availability, offers and photos will always be rewarded with repeat visits and new potential customers. Make sure it does not become the ‘Best Kept Secret’, spread the word and start to get your property marketed properly.
Always look at new ideas to help get your property highlighted via the many directories and holiday cottage websites but as the web is host of opportunities to do so, do seek advice and ideas. Good luck!
It is always a good idea to create a checklist or all the practicalities before you start creating your web listings. There are a number of considerations that you need to take into account before you start marketing your property.
Waterside Breaks – Holiday Cottages & Lodges by the Water