Well, here it is – possibly one of the most unusual Christmas’s many of us have ever experienced in an equally unusual topsy-turvy year. Here for your more than casual interest is a compilation of the most interesting articles we have come across in the past few weeks. This is also a slightly longer than usual Homefront because it includes some helpful ‘How To’ tips.

We’ve broken with tradition and moved a couple of articles aimed at My Favourite Holiday Cottage subscribers because they are very important to know. If you’re not a subscriber, you might still find them of interest – especially the one about photo-copyright. But if not, scroll down to the ‘Naughty or Nice’ article and continue from there. As ever – Where an item refers to another article, click on the title to upload it. Titles with links are in a brighter blue.

 

Read on!

 

Advert Management

IMPORTANT! BROKEN WEB-LINKS WILL SUSPEND YOUR ADVERT

Nobody, be it a potential booker or Google, likes a broken link. 

If you are building a new or re-designed website, please note that if the URL addresses (https://www.etc.) for all or any of the pages have changed, you will need to log-in and update your home page and booking page with the new website addresses. This is because our Broken-link Checker will detect and automatically stop the old link from working. As our site focuses on driving people to your website, if your website address is missing or doesn’t work, it prevents your advert from appearing. A helping hand:  if you cannot remember how to log-in, send me the new page addresses for your home main property page and the booking/availability pages. We’ll upload them for you.

 

IF ONE PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS – THEN FILL YOUR PHOTO GALLERY WITH TWENTY-THOUSAND WORDS.

A feast for Father Christmas. in front of a burning coal fire a table is lined with plates filled with mince pies, fruit, nuts and a carrot for the reindeer.

Image: A Snack for Santa at Pilgrim Corner in Minehead. Click here to view

Not everybody uploads their full allowance of 20 images to show off their cottage, presumably because they don’t need twenty opportunities to show off their entire property. However, if you find you’ve still got space to upload more images, upload some location photos of places to go, see, visit, etc. Visitors are very influenced by tempting images of nearby landscapes and attractions. 

Upload these to your photo holder to enhance the appeal of your property. For images to expand to large size, they must be at least 1920x1080 pixels in size – preferably landscape.

If you’re not sure how to resize an image – follow this:

  • Open the photo to be re-sized.
  • Select the Tools’ drop-down menu from the top menu bar
  • Select ‘Adjust Size’. This will open the Image Dimensions box that should look something like this:

For a landscape image: Fit into. Select: Custom. (This should say pixels on the right – if not, select that option) 

Leave the ‘Scale proportionately’ box ticked Enter 1920 into the Width box. 

The Height box below should adjust itself, and as long as this is 1080 or above then you can hit the OK button and close the image.

If the height is shown as less than 1080, enter 1080 in the height box. This will automatically increase the Width size to keep the size change proportionate. If the height is above 1080, that’s fine.

Leave it at that.

Need to resize more than one image? You can batch resize them in one go.

  • Select (but don’t open) all the images you want to resize. When all have been selected click on Cmd and ‘O’ . to open all the images in one frame.

 When the frame opens, click on the top image. This will highlight the thumbnail.

The top image in the example below is highlighted.

  • Click Cmd + ‘A’ to select (highlight) all the thumbnail images.

 Then complete the resize process as described above for resizing a single image.

And that’s it. Your images will be re-sized and ready to upload.

NB If your original images are below around 640x300 pixels when you open the Resize box, they will be too poor in quality to enlarge. You can try it, but you probably won’t be happy with the result. If you haven’t got a larger size, then stick to the small, size instead. There’s nothing more off-putting than an over-enlarged blurry-edged photo.

If you really get stuck, contact us for advice.


LEGAL & COMPLIANCE

PHOTOGRAPH COPYRIGHT (AND HOW TO FIND OUT IF PEOPLE ARE USING YOUR PHOTOS).

Image: Warming up for the traditional Santa Run on Woolacombe Beach I North Devon

Yes, I know we mentioned this last month – but it would appear that not everybody read it! And abiding by it could save you from a large fine.

Do you own the rights to all the images displayed on your advert? If the images you upload have not been taken by or owned by you, you must ensure that you have permission to use them.

There are many companies now who specialise in tracking down illegally used images, making it very easy to identify the person responsible for uploading them.  We know this because we tend to get the first letter from the company’s solicitors because it appears on the site. We then have to carry out the unpleasant task of forwarding it to the person who posted the image. There is an automatic fine which is payable even if you immediately remove the photo.

If you are in any doubt as to whether you should be displaying a photo in any of your advertising, I’d recommend that you remove it straight away (and then try to get the necessary permission).

How do you know if your photos are being used by someone else? Well, in case it is of interest, here’s one way to find out.

If you want to see who is displaying your photos, open and right-click on the photo you want to check,  select ‘Search Google for Image (See below)

This will reveal image-based search results. Scroll down to be:

  • Reassured that nobody is pirating your images for commercial gain.
  • Amazed at how many people like your work.
  • Convinced that you need an agency to chase some royalties.

 NB: Before you embark upon the latter point, be aware that posting images on some social media sites may mean you give up some of your copyright, e.g. Somebody adding one of your photos to their Pinterest Board or sharing it on Instagram.  


ECO-NEWS AND TIPS

An electric vehicle charger installed on a stone wall
Click to view The Stables, Mornacott Cottages, South Molton, Exmoor.

THE NEXT BIG THING: ELECTRIC CAR CHARGING POINTS FOR ELECTRIC VEHICLES

To coin a marketing phrase, it may still be ‘early-adopter’ time for holiday cottages featuring electric vehicle charging points but, give it a year or two and electric vehicle charging points will be as commonplace as Wi-Fi and Smart TVs. 

By then it will be a taken for granted ‘must-have’, but right now it’ll be an attractive USP for eco-friendly Staycationers.Image: Electric vehicle charging points for each of the properties at Mornacott Cottages.  

Action Tip: If you are looking for a cottage with a charging point or an owner who has installed one, we have already installed a search category for ‘cottages with electric car chargers’ and ‘eco-cottages’. 

We rank at the top of Page One on Google for the latter. Login and tick the boxes to appear in searches for these categories to boost your visitor traffic.

 

AN EXAMPLE ACCESSIBILITY GUIDE FOR SELF-CATERING

Accessibility Guides have published a well-thought-through example of an accessibility guide for holiday cottages. If you are not sure if yours is good enough - or if you have yet to write them (as you should) - you will find this very helpful. When you open the page, click on the Download option to read it at your leisure.

 

ECO-FRIENDLY CLEANING SOLUTIONS FROM IRON & VELVET FOR YOUR LIVING AREAS, KITCHEN AND BATHROOM

We are not on commission, nor have we accepted any bribes to mention this. As you’ve probably gathered, we strive to be eco-friendly, so this is for those owners who want to use eco-friendly and plastic-free cleaning materials in their properties. More and more people are looking for eco-friendly holidays – and you don’t get many chances to brag about your socially acceptable cleaning regime!


PROPERTY MANAGEMENT

HOW TO SUCCESSFULLY MANAGE YOUR HOLIDAY LET REMOTELY

This article from Schofields Insurance reveals the myriad of stress-relieving options that will help you deliver a 5-star guest experience when you live many miles away from your property or are prevented from visiting it in the unlikely event of a pandemic.

 

THE RISE OF RISKY RESERVATIONS IN THE VACATION RENTAL INDUSTRY AND HOW TO AVOID THEM

With owners of large properties desperate to attract bookings in this Rule of Six world, don’t let people planning to use a property for an illegal large party slip through the net. And if they do, have you taken steps to ensure you cannot be held liable? Here’s a pertinent article from Rentalscaleup. It originated in Canada, but it is still relevant to UK shores. If you don’t want to read it all, scroll down to the essential bits which begin at "Tips on how to protect your rental property from risky reservations".

 

MINIMUM CLEANLINESS SCORE: BOOKING.COM TO DE-RANK AND DE-LIST DIRTY PROPERTIES

Do you advertise your property on Booking.com? Here’s a real incentive to maintain the highest cleaning standards.  All of your properties are now subject to Booking.com’s Minimum Cleanliness Score. You should know that properties that persistently score low points will now get penalised. Click on the title to read what those nice people at Rental Scale-up have to say on the subject.


LEGAL & COMPLIANCE

 

NAUGHTY OR NICE: YOU CAN STILL HOLIDAY IN THE UK THIS CHRISTMAS

You have probably got all the Christmas COVID rules firmly engrained right now, but in case you need a refresher, here’s a list covering the rules pertaining to the letting period between the 23-27th December when the existing tier restrictions are relaxed.


MARKETING ADVICE

 

23 QUESTIONS GUESTS SHOULD ASK TO ENSURE YOUR SWIMMING POOL IS RIGHT FOR THEIR HOLIDAY

Image: Manor Farmhouse, Sittingbourne, Kent

It does what it says on the side of the pool: This blog article is intended to help people find and book a holiday cottage with a swimming pool that meets their needs. If your property has a swimming pool, here are some questions you can now be ready to answer. If, in your experience, we’ve omitted any other frequently asked questions – please send them to us (preferably with a good answer). We’ll add them to the list and give credit where it is due!

 

TWELVE COMPELLING REASONS WHY UK STAYCATIONS ROCK!

After last year, most of us need a boost and it’s looking good for business already.

But, don't just assume that because more people plan to take a UK Staycation in 2021, you will get lots of bookings.

The trick is to understand the reasons why people want to stay in the UK - and what they are looking for. Them position the way you market and present your property to fulfil one or more of this needs. Then shout about it!

Here are twelve good reasons why more people will be booking a holiday in the UK – and some handy tips on how to appeal to the staycation market.

 

WE ARE HERE FOR YOU

As you know by now, we pride ourselves on our ability to respond to and help all our advertisers. If you need any help, advice or want to suggest how we can improve on the site, all you have to do is get in touch.

 

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