What’s Trending in January?
In addition to the big increase in site traffic, we have noticed that interest in the main summer holiday weeks is well up on last year. Naturally, the fact that the sun decided to grace the UK with its presence last summer may be an influential fact. However, it may also be because people have woken up to the fact that many local education authorities have reduced this year’s official summer holiday dates from 6 to 5 weeks (although some schools may allocate training days to extend the holiday). In addition, schools are now working hard to stop parents taking their children out of school for holidays during term time, (in some cases even fining them), all of which may mean more families competing for holiday dates in July and August. If that means the peak summer is taken care of, the challenge now is going to be positioning your cottage to attract bookers able to holiday during term time. Brainstorm the type of niche holiday experiences you can offer groups of adults outside the school holidays – and update your listing accordingly. You might also consider adding a new page to your website on a specific theme, such as this example of a walking holidays page from Rock Cottage in North Devon. From visiting historic sites and outdoor activities to romantic or culinary retreats, it’s surprising how much you can really offer if you think about it. Add information and photos that will appeal to the types of holidays that couples, groups of friends or families with non-school age children might be looking for. You can enhance this by encouraging reviews from guests writing about what they were able to enjoy while staying in your cottage. Analysing activity on My Favourite Holiday Cottages: the other trend we have noticed is the fall in click-throughs, from adverts to websites, for properties still not offering Wi-Fi facilities. The growth in tablets (Kindle’s, Hudl’s etc.) means that just about everybody expects to be bringing and using them while on holiday – even if only to download new books to read during their stay, or check the local weather forecast (the BBC weather app had its 5 millionth download this week). So, if you’re still without Wi-Fi, bear in mind it would seem that Wi-Fi has become as necessary as fridges and washing machines. You should find that the installation and monthly cost will be much less than the value of the bookings you’re losing to local Wi-Fi enabled competitors.
Could You Do Better?
I’m guessing that you’ll probably know about Featured Favourites – the opportunity to get your thumbnail listing on the home and other site pages. With traffic at peak levels, the next 2-3 months are a good time to make use of this facility if you want to enjoy an increase in your stats. We limit the number of Featured Favourites to ensure that your property will appear at least every other time a page is opened, and at £20 a month they represent excellent value. If you want to try them, just log in and select the Featured Favourites option. It won’t take too much time. Most of you will know that a Featured Favourite listing will boost the number of visitors to your site. Don't forget that there is a cunning little way to get Featured Favourite listing free. Suggest a way for us to improve My Favourite Holiday Cottages and help us to make the site more appealing to potential bookers and, if we think it will benefit bookers and property owners, we’ll implement it and give you a month’s listing for free. If it’s truly brilliant, we’ll give you additional months. Just e-mail us with your ideas. Is there information about your property that we don't allow you to display? Are searches easy to do? Does the design look good?. Tell us what you like as well as what could be better. All your thoughts will be most welcome. However, if inspiration doesn't come, or you just need to act fast, you can still secure a Featured Favourite slot for just £20 (while slots remain)!
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Fancy a Tweet?
Give your cottage a boost via one of our Twitter Accounts - we have two! These are @holidayhomefan and @mfhcottages. @holidayhomefan is aimed at providing news and advice for holiday cottage owners – helping you to improve your cottage, marketing and bookings. @mfhcottages is largely aimed at the traveller and potential holiday cottage booker. We’ll tweet and retweet special offers or reasons to visit a place, such as a festival or news of awards and the like. All you have to do is follow us on one or both accounts and we’ll follow you back so that we can receive your tweets. We obviously can’t retweet everything – just the ones that are relevant to the purpose of the account.
Top Marketing Tip
Online booking software company, SuperControl, have published an interesting guide for owners entitled ‘The Travel Buying Cycle’. It is worth spending time over it with a cup of tea and a pen to make a note of things that might get you a few more bookings this year. Here’s the link to it: The Travel Buying Cycle We can recommend SuperControl software (and they ain’t paying us to say that!). We use it and if you’ve got it, make sure your calendar is displayed on your listing. It certainly works as we have been getting online bookings via the calendar link from listings on My Favourite Holiday Cottages. The only downside is that as you get more and more bookings, a full calendar means that fewer people are clicking through to your website if they can see you are already booked. However, it will save you hours and hours of responding to enquiries saying, ‘I’m sorry we are already booked’.
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Top Security Tip
Do you use a key safe at your property? If so, you'll find a helpful list of precautions to use to ensure it does its job. Thanks to Boshers Insurance for coming up with most of it It's good common sense stuff. Given that it comes from a reputable insurance company it also gives you an insight into the questions a loss adjuster might ask you in the event of a claim. If you've failed to follow good practice then that might have implications. You've been told! 1. Buy the best you can afford. Avoid those with a 4-digit code (too easy to break). 2. Find somewhere accessible to locate it out of sight from the approach to the house, i.e make sure it can't be seen from the road. 3. Bolt the key safe properly into brick or stone. Don't just attach it to the rendering. 4. Ensure that the keys are not left in the key safe for more than 24 hours prior to your guests' arrival. 5. Ask your guests' to avoid leaving keys in the key safe when they go out during their stay. 6. Ensure you or your housekeeper remove the keys from the key safe as soon as possible after your guests have left, and always within 24-hours, unless your next guests are due to arrive the same day. 7. Remember to change the key safe code between lettings (see the key code idea below for a memorable way to do this). 8. Never leave keys permanently in the key safe when your property is vacant unless guests are due to arrive. 9. A key code idea: To stop late night phone calls from guests who arrive and find they have forgotten to pack the key code, set it to the last few digits of your guest’s mobile – easy to remember and never left at home! It also means you don’t have to worry about losing the scrap of paper on which you carefully wrote the latest code number.
Help Us and We'll Help You
It’s our policy to ensure that each monthly newsletter is always worth reading because it’ll contain useful (and sometimes amusing) information to you as an owner. Everything we write is geared towards helping you attract more bookings. Is there a hot topic that you’d like to see us address – or do you have a question about how to make your listing work better? E-mail us with your thoughts and if we address your topic in future issues a free Featured Favourite listing will be awarded to the first person to suggest the topic. Thinking caps on, folks!
Thanks for Reading!
That’s all for this month. I’m off to study the long-range forecast to see what kind of weather we can expect for February half term. Will it be snow boots or ongoing muddy wellie time?