Well, the short dark days of November are upon us with thoughts of long hot sunny days little more than a memory, hopefully kept alive by the number of bookings already in your diary for summer 2016. If your availability calendar is still looking a little vacant, then this month’s Newsletter contains some useful tips on ways to attract more visitors to your advert.
Get Better Stats
No - this isn't a ‘Get Well Message’ to your old mate Stats - but it is a recommendation to those of you who'd like to find a way to improve the statistics for their advert on My Favourite Holiday Cottages.
We regularly analyse the site's traffic flows and try to understand why some properties do better than others. Aside from the usual factors such as location, our analysis often yields some interesting results. We have noticed how those owners who have invested in uploading a full portfolio of 20 high quality photos enjoy more enquiries and click throughs to their own cottage's website. Here's why...
More photos = More Visitors
To begin with, the more high quality photos you can display the more it appeals to those looking to book a cottage. Note use of the phrase 'high quality'. If you really want to turn prospective bookers away, just try uploading poor quality images (dark poorly dressed rooms, out of focus or just plain boring images that give away little of the holiday pleasures you can offer your guests).
You can display up to 20 images on your listing. Even if you haven't got 20 rooms, you can always add some eye-catching close ups, photos of the garden or nearby places and attractions for your guests to visit (make sure you own the right to display the photo when doing this).
As well as enhancing your cottage's appeal to those who land on its page, you'll also be increasing the number of people who find your page in the first place. Google ranks a page using a number of factors including two that will be of relevance here: 'Dwell Time' and 'CTR'. Dwell Time simply means that the longer a visitor spends looking at your page, the more Google assumes it to be relevant to that visitor's needs and the higher your advert page will be ranked. As a result, more people will find it when using search engines to seek a suitable cottage.
What Does 'CTR' Mean and Why Is It Important?
CTR stands for 'Click Through Rate'. Google and other Search Engines use this as another measure of a site's relevance to those landing on it. If page visitors click on a link in your page, such as to open up a photo to enlarge it, that is a 'Click Through', and is perceived by Search Engines to be relevant to the visitor. The more click throughs your page enjoys, the higher it will rank and - you've guessed it - the more people you'll find looking at your cottage on my Favourites.
I hope that makes sense. Anyway - to achieve this, if you are not already doing so, make full use of the option to display up to 20 images on your listing. DO make sure you use good quality images though (we cannot stress this highly enough). If you're only a happy snapper, invest in a professional photographer. They are not that expensive and their cost will be more than outweighed by the increase in bookings you should enjoy. I'm sure those who have done this will endorse this shrewd move. We are happy to offer our photo shoot services at a discounted rate for My Favourites subscribers, and can give you links to websites featuring examples of our work if you are interested. Equally, for those of you contemplating venturing forth with your own camera, we are happy to provide a free set of guidelines for preparing your cottage for a photo-shoot - you'd be surprised at which little things make a massive difference!
If you'd like a copy of these guidelines or would like to enquire about a photo-shoot for your cottage, then click here for your photoshoot guidelines.
Kittiwake Cottage - One of our newest additions, Photographed by us!
Time For Testimonials
Excellent Reviews posted on My Favourites this month including Ford Hill Cottage in Devon, and Gwenoldy Cottage in Flintshire - clearly, both wonderful places in which to stay.
Potential guests really do take note of these (as do the search engines). Let's face it, folks - if you are looking at 2-3 listings for some appealing cottages - are you going to prioritise the one with a healthy handful of visitor testimonials saying what their favourite things about your cottage were, or the one in which reviews are conspicuous only by their absence? Don't forget: More Reviews = More Click Throughs = ...and you should know the rest if you have already read the 'More Photos = More Visitors' section above.
In the quiet days of winter - spend a little time uploading a testimonial or two to your listing on My Favourites to help it stay at the top of the food queue. Do, and this is very important, only post a review you haven't already put on another website elsewhere for, as you should know by now, the Great God Google frowns upon duplicate content. So, if you have a handful of great testimonials, share the love and spread them around a little rather than cramming them all on your own site.
For the uninitiated, ASSC stands for the Association of Scotland's Self Caterers, which held its annual conference in Glasgow earlier this month. My Favourite Holiday Cottages went along to see what we could learn with a view to future improvements to this site. One thing that emerged was a discussion with several delegates on the wide range of different charging models for advertising holiday cottages online on sites such as My Favourites. From a straight forward annual fee to payment by commission and all stations in between, there is a whole range of possibilities. But which is the best model? We would like to determine which options owners investing their money in an advert would prefer. So, we will be setting up a focus group or two with cottage owners to solicit their views. If we find there is a better, more mutually beneficial way of working together than our present format, then we’ll certainly be happy to look into it. While we obviously need to make the site pay its way, we want it to be seen as a no-brainer of an investment by owners, helping us become the go-to site for those seeking a holiday cottage to book.
Join One of Our Focus Groups
As our offices are based in Devon, the groups will need to be based there. If you’re a My Favourites subscriber with an opinion on subscription models, know what you want from a site like ours and would like to share them with us, then e-mail us so that we can add you to the shortlist. We’ll offer some incentives to say thank you for attending and provide pretty darned decent teas, coffees, biscuits and a Devon Cream Tea to get you through the hour. It’ll also be a chance to meet and share thoughts and ideas with other cottage owners as well, so everyone should learn something from the session. If you’d like to attend: click here or call Rick on 01598 710631. They'll be in the New Year and we'll work out dates to suit those happy to come along.
Another ASSC Conference avenue of interest for those of you with a cottage in Scotland in need of a good photo was a session from a leading Scottish photographer who specialises in photographing and videoing holiday cottages. Paul Saunders presented an interesting and nicely put together session on tips for those planning a photoshoot for their cottage - including a video option which is proving to be very successful. If you'd like to see his full presentation, here is a link to it: Paul Saunders Media
You don't have to miss out just because you are not in Scotland. Ask us for a copy of our own Top Tips for Holiday Cottage Photoshoots - or, indeed, to come along and do the photos for you. Just E-mail Rick
Our most recent blogs include 'Holiday Cottages for Christmas'. Thanks to those of you for submitting suggestions - you've been included along with other cottages close to suitably seasonal activities for Christmas breaks. You might want to check to see just which cottages get a mention in case one is yours!
For those of you who'd like a further plug for your holiday cottage online, here are the latest blog topics and deadlines for future News Articles to be published on My Favourite Holiday Cottages.
- Winter Walks
- Spring Flowers
- Cottages with Gardens for Easter Egg Hunts
- Pet Friendly Cottages (you must offer special facilities for dogs - not just allow them!)
- Romantic Escapes for Valentine Breaks
If your cottage fits with a particular theme, then let us know. E-mail us and, if you can, include a photo of your cottage. We'll include it as a recommended place to stay.
Thanks to Wendy at Riverside Cottage in the Peak District for her suggestion on Cycle Trails. We will be adding this to the list for late spring and ensuring the Monsal Trail features. All other cycle trail suggestions are most welcome.
Our Christmas Blog! Read it by Clicking Here
Carbon Monoxide Alarms in Scotland
For those My Favourite Holiday Cottage subscribers in Scotland, you may want to take note of this: As subscribers, you are naturally an honest, well-informed group of cottage owners, so you'll probably know this, but just in case...
As a holiday property owner you are, in effect, a private landlord. The law requires you to ensure your cottage meets the 'repairing standard' at the start of a tenancy (or, in your case, a holiday) and throughout its duration. One of the requirements is to have a working C02 Alarm fitted (or possibly more than one if you have a large shooting lodge).
Thanks to the ASSC (See ASSC Outcome article above) for conveying this. There isn't a law that says if you have a Scottish Holiday Cottage you should be a member of the ASSC, but it's an excellent organisation and we are happy to recommend you subscribe! The ASSC offers all sorts of useful, sometimes vital, information and assistance from scam warnings to handy Guidance Sheets, Tourism Webinars and an annual conference (attended by more than 200 self catering owners). Click here to view the ASSC Website. And don't forget to check that C02 alarm. English and Welsh owners should do likewise whether the law requires it or not!
Your tasks for November are to:
- Add or update photos and testimonials.
- Consider investing in a professional photoshoot.
- Install (or check) your C02 alarm.
- Suggest details for blog topics and/ or nominate your cottage for inclusion in one of the topics already planned.
- If you have a Scottish self catering property, join ASSC if you haven't already done so. We'll see you at the conference in 2016.
Have a great month!