COVID19 has led to quite a change in holiday cottage guest expectations. It's essential that you address these within your marketing – especially on your website, as many people won't book a property or even enquire about it if they feel that cottage is not going to meet their health and hygiene-related concerns.
Here's a helpful 10-point checklist of some of the most frequently raised concerns for you to address.
1. Cleanliness – Written evidence that a cottage has been meticulously cleaned:
- Post guest reviews that contain references to cleanliness, especially since March 2020.
- Provide a synopsis of your cleaning schedule on your website. NB: Many owners are duelling up on crockery and cutlery sets, removing one set and replacing it with the other that has been properly cleaned. This saves time cleaning these items during the changeover.
2. Things to do: Provide up to date information on generally what is open in terms of:
- Restaurants and bars
- Visitor Attractions
3. Free Wi-Fi Say if it is super-fast / fibre-optic broadband. This is because many people now use it for Zoom/Teams calls and need to be confident that the Wi-Fi can accommodate this.
4. Smart TV's. NB: only provide free access to Netflix, Amazon Prime etc. if you are happy to change the password as part of your change-over programme. This is because guests may keep your login details to try and use them back home!
5. Remote check-in:
* Some people don't want owners to meet and greet for social distancing purposes. Ensure you have a remote access option – even if this is putting the key under a bucket (although a key safe would keep your insurance company much happier. If meeting and greeting your guests is important to you – let guests know that both remote access or meet and greet are available and let them choose which one they would prefer.
* External lights – for five months of the year it's more likely that guests will arrive after dark. Let them know that there will be lights on, such as external lights to leading up to the front door (solar lights are a good and cost-effective option for this). Leave the hall light on to avoid guests scrabbling around in the dark – and provide this information in your marketing materials. Guests appreciate being told where the main light switches likely to be used when arriving are located. Put this in your advance information, and they'll feel well-cared for even before they arrive.
6. A Dishwasher – even in 1-bedroom cottages: people perceive these as being far more hygienic than hand-washing dishes.
7. install Home Office Facilities: With so many people now adapting to working from home, there's a whole new market emerging of people happy to take mid-week breaks as long as they online. In addition to strong Wi-Fi, can you provide suitably-lit desk space and other simple office facilities? NB: If you've got a good mobile phone reception - flag this up!
8. Online Bookings: The reason for including information on all the above within your website is that 75% of bookings these days are done online (which also means you should have an online booking facility on your site!). A potential booker wants to see this info on your website (possibly within a special COVID page), If not, they are more likely to look elsewhere rather than pick up the phone or wait for you to respond to an email.
8. Vaccine Concerns: People are assuming that there will be no 100% effective vaccine in 2021 so are looking for the safest possibly holiday options. Self-catering holidays which offer better social-distancing lifestyle holiday than hotels are becoming increasingly popular. This is particularly advantageous for individual properties in rural areas where there is no sharing of facilities. Again, if your cottage fits the location requirement, make it clear in your adverts as well as your website.
* Advertise widely – don't put all your eggs in one basket. It’s a business maxim: the tougher a market gets, the more you need to invest in marketing.
* Prioritise sites that allow you to have direct contact information with a potential booker, e.g. website links to your site and direct email links for enquiries. Direct contact information for guests is especially important for properties that have a high ratio of returning guests – you need their information!
10. Repeat Booking: Don't overly-rely on your existing repeat bookers, especially elderly ones. Older people are being far more cautious about booking holidays and travelling long distances. To fill the gaps in your calendars, diversify your advertising to reach new markets.
Have you noticed any other guest expectations that have emerged as a result of COVID19? If so, do share them with us. The more the self-catering sector can do to establish a perception amongst guests that this is one of the healthiest and safest ways to holiday – the more business will grow.
How Does My Favourite Holiday help Cottage Owners?
If you’re considering advertising a property on the My Favourite Holiday Cottages website, you’ll be pleased to note that:
* We work hard to persuade potential bookers to visit and enquire from your website where you’re much more likely to convert an enquiry to a booking than those from adverts.
* We allow you to display your online booking facility enabling you to enjoy direct bookings straight from that advert. No commission charges or guest fees apply!
* You get direct contact with all enquirers – and naturally, you’ll get the same information from the additional traffic we drive to your website.
We look forward to hearing from you. We’re all (carefully-scrubbed) ears!