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February 2014 Newsletter

Show Sunshine on Leith

...and Lincoln, Lowestoft, Launceston or where ever you are! The arrival of spring will probably come as a relief to everyone, as it’s quite clear that most people experienced a reduction in the number of last minute half-term bookings in February. The nation seemed to assume that everywhere in the countryside was under water, while all holiday cottages within a few miles of a beach were being inundated by massive waves. The priority right now is not to let bookers believe that such soggy conditions will prevail into April, May and June. The most common question being asked in phone calls to our offices at the moment is “What’s the weather going to be like at Easter?” 

It seems that bookers believe we are blessed with meteorological foresight. Experts at holiday cottage marketing and management we may be, but as yet, we haven’t completely mastered the art of sunshine on demand. Believe me, if we had, we’d be giving a hefty chunk to the Somerset Levels right now. That being said, there are things you can do to create a subliminal impression of good weather at Easter or springtime generally to encourage bookings. If your garden or surrounding countryside scrubs up nicely in April (banks of daffodils, primroses, flowering cherry and lilac trees etc.), then it is worth ensuring that you have photos of those - basking in full sunshine - prominently displayed on your website, especially if you are featuring any Easter or other spring offers. These will create the strong impression that the sun usually shines down on your cottage in springtime, based on recent photographic evidence!

For those of you who still have picturesque snow and ice images featured on your website with a view to attracting Christmas and winter visitors, now is also the time to return them to the nether regions of the gallery page. Right now, the majority of bookings are being made with the hope that the sun will shine and only T-shirts need to be packed for a holiday in your cottage.

So, leading off with pictures of snow-decked trees in winter won’t inspire confidence and could cost you a booking. That’s our top tip for a spot of website maintenance this week for those of you still needing a few more bookings between March and May.


More Bookings For SuperControl Users

If you use ‘SuperControl’ Booking Software, you can now see which of your bookings have come via My Favourite Holiday Cottages. If a booking is made online via the calendar on your MFHC listing, on the notification e-mail you receive, you’ll see a little note in red telling you that the original enquiry source came from MFHC. Look out for it. If you are thinking of investing in SuperControl software and would like an independent opinion on its merits, then feel free to call Rick at MFHC on 01598 710631.

The Value of Click Throughs

A little food for thought when subscription renewal time comes around. We have a ‘control group’ of around 50 cottages that we use to analyse the impact of their listings on MFHC to identify just how much value they generate from their subscription. As you know, we know that click-throughs to your cottage's website from your MFHC listing are more important than enquiries, as the former are much more likely to generate bookings than the latter. Enquiries from your website are far more likely to convert to a booking than those sent from an advert. It also means you spend less time responding to enquiries that never go any further

 While click-throughs therefore deliver better value to you, we recognise they make it hard to prove the importance of a MFHC listing. Here therefore, is some food for thought. On average we find that we get one booking from every 32 click-throughs to a property’s site, based on our use of analytics that tell us where the booker first discovered the property. Interestingly, although we ask people how they heard about us, the vast majority never remember the details and usually say something general like “the Internet”, “Google” or “your website”.

Of bookings that we know originated through a MFHC listing, only about 1 in 10 responses accurately attribute MFHC as the booking source. So, if you’re getting 30+ click-throughs to your website from us, by law of averages suggests you have had at least one booking as a result (but, it seems, you’ll need at least 10 before someone ever remembers to quote us as the original source).

Get More Repeat Bookings!

Talking of more bookings, we recently ran a seminar (to huge acclaim) for holiday cottage owners on the sacred art of attracting repeat bookings. We’ve written up our presentation into a full-scale blog article on our My Holiday Marketing website (this is the site which outlines our other services for holiday cottage owners). If you think you need a few more repeat bookings, but don’t want to chase them if it means getting all chummy with every paying guest, then you’ll find this of interest.

The majority of guests come back because they’ve fallen in love with your cottage – not you! So, the article lists 10 ways to help guests develop a relationship with your property. It follows an irreverent article on the same subject which set out ways to ensure you avoid repeat bookings (it’s a reverse psychology thing – or more literally, examples of bad practice we’ve happened across over the years!). Click here to read the genuine article.

Hot Tubs: Worth Every Penny?

Thinking of installing a hot tub? We know from our own experience that hot tubs in a holiday cottage have a genuine appeal factor for bookers. They aren’t cheap and require a fair bit of maintenance, but, over their lifetime, they should prove well worth the investment. Our good friends, Boshers Insurance Company have published a useful blog article on the care and use of hot tubs in holiday lettings. As insurers, they naturally write about things from the perspective of what needs to be in place should you ever have to make a claim on your insurance, so their (eminently sensible) tips are well worth considering. This applies to those of you with hot tubs in place as well as those of you considering their merits. Click here to read the article:

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Thank you!

Well, that’s it for this month. As always, we welcome responses to any of the comments in this Newsletter (and thank you to the owner who wrote saying our Newsletter was worth their MFHC Subscription alone – we have your photo on our wall and pay homage to it daily). That being said, if there are things we can do to make the Newsletter even more beneficial for you – just let us know. We value feedback! Just e-mail us. See you (in the sunshine) in March.