Thank you for dropping in to read the August 2021 edition of The Holiday Homefront for UK Holiday Cottage Owners. As I write this, the weather has begun to warm up after a slow and rather damp start, and blue skies prevail again. Let's hope this sets the pattern for the remainder of the month.
Articles in blue headlines: Click on the headline to read a full copy of the article.
If you want to know what it really takes to scale the heights of guest care and experiences in the holiday cottage business, take a look at these leading examples from Forbes Magazine.
Do you love watching TV programmes about holiday cottages, searching them for advice and ideas that can easily be replicated elsewhere? Then you should check out this list of TV programmes as recommended by Rentals United. Granted, some of these are American – but given the high standards of hospitality offered by our friends across the pond, you’ll find some valuable insights to adopt over here.
Do you use Instagram to promote your Holiday Cottage? Find out the best daily times to post your images. These are times when posts generate the greatest response. This report from Later is based on a study of 35 million postings by Later. So be warned - you’ll need to be an early bird or know how to schedule posts!
Well, this looks like good news! If the research is accurate, this report from Original Cottages suggests that there is still a strong desire amongst us Brits to holiday in the UK. It reveals some of the reasons that are deterring people from travelling abroad. Interesting reading! Read this in context with our article below: Bookings for 2022.
Get Better Results From Your Advert (No Matter Where You Advertise)
If you are the type of laissez-faire owner who, other than updating prices, calendars and rarely adding a review to your website or advert, are otherwise content to leave it as it is, then you’ll get fewer bookings.
It also means you (and your guests) will be paying more in booking fees and commissions on websites that charge such things (My Favourite Holiday Cottages doesn’t).
Of course, you can spend more money on adverts – but why not invest time in getting a better return from your website and your existing adverts instead? That way, you save money and make money. Most importantly, advertise on sites that offer a direct link back to your website. You are far more likely to convert individual enquiries from your website than mass-produced enquiries sent to all and sundry from an advertising site.
How else to rank highly with a potential booker? We’ve noticed that there are three information points that, if neglected, lead to your property being overlooked by potential bookers. To enjoy improved responses from your advert, keep the following up to date:
1. Price guidelines (to reassure bookers that your cottage is likely to be within their budget). You don’t have to go into details: Just minimum and maximum annual will suffice.
2. Availability Calendar (an empty calendar means nobody else wants to book your property).
3. Guest reviews (only the recent ones will impress).
To make your website prominent on Google, you need to be thinking about its written content – not just on your website but on adverts as well. To support you, My Favourite Holiday Cottages welcomes owners keen to write a guest blog on topics that can feature their property as a recommended place to stay. For example, view a blog written by the owner of Tredington Mill entitled What to do on weekend breaks in Warwickshire out of season.
These blog articles attract more potential bookers to your advert. Better still, the links from a blog to your website will enhance its Google rankings, meaning an increase in visitors to your site over time.
If you’re interested in writing a guest blog that extols the virtues of your location in terms of things to do, then get in touch. We are more than happy to provide guidelines and tweak/proof the final version. It’s a great way of increasing the return you get from your advert.
Bookings for 2022
The positive findings by the research conducted by Original Cottages notwithstanding, after at least two years of enforced staycations, the novelty may be wearing off for some folks. Unfortunately, while nothing is certain – the overwhelming demand for bookings experienced this year cannot be automatically relied upon to continue into next.
While some agencies are reporting that bookings for July and August are up from 2021 already, the media is already reporting a surge in overseas bookings for 2022. For example, check out this article in the Guardian.
So, be proactive. Ramp up your advertising before the autumn. Don’t wait until the peak periods have passed before you find yourself forced to react, spending more while fighting for scraps. Keep existing averts and calendars up to date and look to test a few other sites too.
Work hard on encouraging repeat bookings – from giving this year’s guests the best possible experience (view that Wanderlust list above) to using advertising sites that will provide you with a booker’s or enquirer’s full contact details. Personal information allows you to build a personalised relationship with your guests before they arrive and one that you can continue afterwards.
Here’s a tip I learned from a TUI Marketing Executive. Draw attention to your cottage at a time when a previous guest will be planning to book their main holiday the following year. A proven way to do this with past bookers is to send them an ‘anniversary greeting’ (an email or a postcard) about a year from the date on which they booked your cottage (not the date of the holiday). That’s because most people tend to do the planning and booking of their holidays at the same time every year. So make sure that you are in contention when it counts!
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