Way-Hay Up She Rises!
We compared our stats for My Favourites to see how visitor traffic compared with the same period last year. During the month of March, the number of pages viewed by those looking to book a holiday cottage somewhere in the UK rose from 18,927 in 2014 to a cracking 92,647 in March 2015. We are obviously getting it right but, from our perspective, we will never have enough laurels to rest upon, and will continue striving to attract thousands more people planning a cottage holiday to the site. However, at least we know that the plan is working!
Exit Page Lessons
OK, this is a big article, but one that should be well worth reading if you want to find ways to get more value from your listing. We use the wonderful Google Analytics to tell us where people leave a cottage page. Unless they are leaving having booked the cottage using its third party calendar, sending an enquiry, or clicking through to that cottage’s website, the reason for leaving is probably because the viewer decided not to consider booking that particular cottage. Looking more deeply into this, we have noticed some useful trends. People view and leave some cottage pages without taking any further action more often than others. We have formed the opinion that an early exit from a cottage’s page is much more likely if it meets any of these criteria: • Few or poor quality photos • No price list • No up to date calendar • No reviews. We suspect the same responses will occur on other sites as well. The good news is that these are all things you can do something about.
Photos The more photos the better. You can have up to 20, and don’t forget to include a couple of location shots as well as those of your cottage. If you haven't got a photo of a bedroom, exterior, kitchen etc. people will assume that whatever is missing isn't very attractive, otherwise why hide it from sight? It’s well worth investing in a professional photo-shoot for your cottage. You’ll be amazed at how good it can look. Have a look at the images in the slideshow we took earlier in March for: The Old Post Office Ilminster Notice how there are no dark or over exposed areas in any of the images, with views of the garden through windows (rather than white flare). Note also how much difference it makes when you dress a room properly (flowers, food etc.). If you are planning to photograph your cottage, e-mail a request for our free guide to preparing your property for a photo-shoot. It is full of handy tips to ensure rooms and exteriors look stunning. If you want to invest in a portfolio of beautiful images of your cottage, then why not e-mail an enquiry about our professional photography service for cottages?
No price list If you don’t publish a price list, 3 things will occur 1. People don’t call because they don’t want to be embarrassed if they then find your prices are beyond their budget and leave the page 2. People do call and waste your time (as well as their own) because your prices prove to be beyond their budget and leave the page 3. People are suspicious about your prices: they think you might have something to hide and don’t call and, well you’ve probably guessed what happens next. Spending a few minutes posting your prices on the site is therefore a worthwhile investment of your time. NB: We are already seeing enquiries coming in for 2016, especially for larger cottages, so you might want to get next year’s prices published as soon as possible. Worse still is an out of date price list. In effect, this implies a laziness that potential guests might also attribute to the way you care for your cottage and its guests.
Calendars: The busier your calendar looks, the more your property will appeal to guests, as it implies your cottage is popular and a safe bet. Empty calendars mean that no one wants to book it, so even if your cottage looks great, people subconsciously smell a non-existing rat, and look elsewhere. Now, having to update loads of calendars every time you get a booking can be a real pain. If you have a calendar on your own website, you can set it up so that it appears on your advert on My Favourites. To do this, log in and select ‘Update Your Availability Calendar’. Select ‘Third Party Calendar’ in the Status column and then paste in the link to your own calendar. And that’s it. Whenever you update the calendar on your site, it will automatically update on My Favourites. By the way, if you have an online booking system on your site, then if you can upload your calendar, it should allow your visitors to book your cottage direct from your listing (and no commission charges!!!).
No Reviews: Bookers love reviews, and on My Favourites we only feature reviews that say what people liked about your property. You can ask guests to upload them or post comments from your Visitors Book yourself. Again, it’s a quick and easy process. Keep reviews up to date; testimonials that haven’t been updated for more than a year make people wonder if your place has rapidly gone down hill if no one has had anything good to say about a cottage since then. To add reviews, click on the ‘Manage Reviews’ button in your member’s area. You can even add an accompanying image if you wish. We moderate all reviews before we publish them, so there’s no need to worry that something awful may appear without you sanctioning it first. If you find yourself with an evening and no enquiries or anything of merit on the TV, then why not invest a little time in updating your photos, reviews and calendars on My Favourites. What have you got to lose?
Booking Trends in 2015
We attended a meeting of the South West Tourism Alliance at the beginning of the month, at which a very nice gentleman from Visit England informed us that enquiries from abroad were showing a 7% decline compared to the same period in 2014. This is being attributed to the fall in the value of the Euro which has made the UK a more expensive destination to visit this year. If your marketing is geared towards overseas visitors, you might want to revise or intensify your tactics, or invest more in reaching the UK market. Figures for the number of UK holidaymakers heading across the channel to take advantage of the weaker Euro weren’t forthcoming. If anyone has read any stats on this, then we’d love to know! E-mail us with details or link to the article.,
Got Wi-Fi? Tell People
We’ve added Wi-Fi as a search category. While the majority of properties now include Wi-fi as a standard facility, many people still like to select it when searching for cottages. If you have Wi-Fi, make sure you tick the Wi-Fi box in your 'cottage details' to appear in more searches.
That’s all for this month. Time to head outside to hide a few Easter Eggs and polish off the hot cross buns. Have a great Easter!