Category Archives: Owners/Managers

Free photo shoots available – limited offer

Some holiday homes are eligible for a free photo shoot to help them attract more bookings. Owners who’ve already taken us up on this offer are receiving a massive 90% lift in enquiries on average.

Do I qualify for the free photo shoot?

If there’s a photographer available in your area you’ll receive an email inviting you to take up the offer. Keep an eye on your inbox and respond quickly to secure your slot.

Unfortunately we have a limited number of photographers with very tight schedules, so are unable to offer the photo shoot to everyone.

What happens next?

Once you’ve secured your slot, we’ll arrange a date and time that’s convenient for you for the photographer to come and visit your property.

Your new professional photos will be uploaded to your advert and a Visited by Holiday Lettings badge will go on your listing, encouraging more guests to book.

Want to find out more? Read our FAQ

Spot the difference

See how our photographers put a new dazzling new shine on these holiday homes.

Before the photo shoot                                          After the shoot: there’s much more                                                                                                         light on the living space at Brooks House.

Living room (before)

 

Before the photo shoot                                       After the shoot: Apartment Vila Sol Village looks                                                                                     set for a good night’s sleep.

Master bedroom (before)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before the photo shoot                                             After the shoot: a fresh perspective on the                                                                                               kitchen at 107 Royal Mile.

 

 

 

 

 

Before the photo shoot                                              After the shoot: Villa No. 27 is captured in a                                                                                             whole new light.

 

 

 

 

 

 

7 top tips from a professional

You can get your photos looking pristine even if you’re not in line for a free photo shoot. Read Mike’s top photography tips – he’s a professional photographer who runs his own holiday home in Spain.

If you’d like to find out more about getting a free photo shoot (subject to availability), please contact us: iwantphotos@holidaylettings.co.uk

Is your holiday home pet friendly?

dogIf your holiday home is in a rural or coastal area with plenty of walking opportunities, or if you simply want to reach out to a wider market of potential guests, then it’s well worth thinking about accepting pets at your holiday home.

All pet cats, dogs and ferrets can enter or re-enter the UK from any country in the world without quarantine provided they meet the rules of the PETS scheme. See the gov.uk website for details of the scheme.

But before you market your holiday home as pet friendly, read about the benefits and the ways you can prepare your property for four-legged friends.

What are the benefits of accepting pets?

  • You’ll be reaching out to a larger market so you’re likely to increase your number of bookings. According to a poll by travelsupermarket.com, two in five Britons now take their pets on holiday.
  • Less hassle than you think. It’s normal practice to charge £10-£20 per pet to cover additional cleaning and the provision of food/water bowls, etc. Find out more about adding extra fees to your standard prices.

Common worries and how to overcome them

  • Odours. If you ensure your home is well aired and provide a good quality vacuum cleaner and air fresheners, any odours will be reduced.
  • Hair. Pets will shed hair in your holiday home – another reason to invest in a powerful vacuum cleaner, but also an incentive for you to determine house rules and request pets are kept off soft furnishings. Leave the vacuum cleaner in your holiday home so guests can hoover up as they go along.
  • Damage. Request that guests never leave dogs alone in your home and that they keep a close eye on them. Make sure that any fragile items are removed beforehand.
  • Fleas. The vast majority of responsible pet owners keep their pets free of fleas at all times. However, even with the best intentions it’s possible that a pet could pick up fleas while at the beach or just out and about. Have some flea spray on hand at your home and leave a note to say where it is. Check your home when airing it between guests – you can even ask people to flea treat their animals before staying.

Is my holiday home suitable for pets? Ask yourself:

  • If your holiday home is in a resort/complex, do the community rules allow pets on site?
  • Is there enough indoor space? Is there enough room in the kitchen/living room for a dog to lie  down and for guests to still walk around easily?
  • Are the bedrooms and living areas separate? It will be difficult to make sure dogs are kept off beds if you have a studio apartment.
  • Have you considered putting a stair gate in to prevent dogs from going upstairs? This would also be helpful if guests want to restrict pets to certain areas of the house while children or babies are playing on the floor.
  • Are you happy to remove any expensive/fragile furnishings?
  • Does your home have a secure, enclosed garden? Are there holes in hedges or fences where animals could escape? This is particularly important if the holiday home leads straight out onto a busy road or a field of livestock.

Finishing touches:

  • A doggie welcome pack. You could include some treats, a new hide bone and some tennis balls for a game of fetch.
  • Separate water and food bowls.
  • Waste bags for owners to clean up after their dogs. A shovel and a separate bin in the garden will also be appreciated.
  • Some old towels to protect carpets when dogs come in from a muddy walk.

 

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Do you know your audience?

 

7 types of successful holiday home owner

Shot of a young man working on a laptop at homeWe’ve been working with holiday home owners and property managers worldwide for over 15 years, so we’ve learned a thing or two from them about how they keep business booming. From the organiser to the social-savvy marketer, here are seven types of successful holiday home owner – are you one, or all, of these?

The go-getter. As a wise sage once said, the early bird catches the worm. Successful owners are proactive and determined to maximise bookings by following up every enquiry with a quoteresponding quickly and being ready to answer any questions from potential guests. Owners who are quick off the mark will snap up the bookings.

The welcoming host. First impressions are often long-lasting. Owners who provide their guests with a warm welcome will see those guests coming back year after year. Owners who give their guests the VIP treatment, from the moment an enquiry comes in to the day the guest checks out, are sure to succeed. They can even make some valuable friendships along the way.

The social-savvy marketer. Aside from your listing on Holiday Lettings and TripAdvisor, there are lots of other ways to get the word out about your property. FacebookTwitterGoogle+ and Pinterest are all fantastic tools for promoting your place. Don’t forget to add a link to your Holiday Lettings listing so that guests can book online. Some owners even run a blog about their place, posting news of any recent improvements and info about events in the local area.

The student. Successful holiday home owners are always learning and seeking to improve their business. It’s a good idea to keep tabs on the latest travel industry news, such as info about any new airlines operating in the area, by subscribing to websites such as travelweekly.co.uk. Forums are a good place to exchange insider knowledge with other owners and the owners/managers section of our blog is packed full of advice.

The tour guide. The more information you can give your guests about the area, the more enjoyable their holiday will be. Give them tips about the best places to eat, walk and sightsee, plus advice about local trains and buses. They won’t want to spend too much time researching the area, so be their tour guide and give them a head start. Find out more about how to think like a local.

The organiser. Guests tell us that one of their biggest bugbears is finding adverts that have out-of-date information on them. Be sure to keep your calendar updated regularly, your prices set at least 18 months in advance and your photos recent. This will keep your potential guests happy and make sure that your home appears in all relevant searches. Log in to update your ad.

The communicator. One of the most important traits of a successful holiday home owner is to be a good communicator. That means responding to all enquiries, being at the end of the phone should your guests need you while they’re on holiday and listening to their feedback. Show you’re interested  in their opinion by asking them to write a review of your place, then respond to it, even if it’s just to thank them for their comments.

Click on the links in the article for more advice.

How to write a description that will get guests booking

Shot of a young man working on a laptop at homeThe secret of writing a great description is to put your guests in a holiday frame of mind – that way they won’t be able to resist booking with you. By following our tips and taking a look at some examples of successful descriptions, you’ll be writing your own enticing text in no time.

Note: we’re focusing here on how to write your main description (the block of text a traveller sees first when they click your ad), which is an extension of your search results summary.

Your description should:

  • Include your unique selling points (USPs). What sets your place apart from the competition? A sea view, wood burner, Jacuzzi and garden are all worth mentioning.
  • Appeal to your target audience. For example, if you’ve got a two-bedroom cottage that’s perfect for couples, talk about how romantic your place is and why.
  • Focus on the type of holiday you’re offering. For example, if you’ve got a ski chalet in the Alps, make sure your description mentions some of the skiing facilities (without going into too much detail).
  • Say a little about the location. If you’ve got beautiful beaches nearby, mention these. Attractions such as theme parks, museums and restaurants are also worth including.
  • Be checked for spelling and grammar. If travellers can see that you’ve taken care with your advert, they’ll be more confident that you’ll take good care of their holiday too.

Your description shouldn’t:

  • Include a detailed description of the layout of the house and room dimensions.  It’s important to remember that you’re not selling your house, you’re selling a holiday.
  • List general facilities such as a washing machine and a toaster – that’s what your facilities tick boxes are for. You can check them by logging in and going to Properties > Update description.
  • Contain too much general info such as T&Cs, directions on how to get to the property or check-in/check-out information.
  • Be more than a few paragraphs. If you write too much in your main description, your reader is likely to skim through the text and USPs that you might have mentioned further down.

Here are a few examples of descriptions that work well:

Apartment in Prague, Home 222333

“This beautiful 4 bedroom, partially air conditioned apartment, with huge terrace is located on Bethlehem Square in the heart of Old Town. Just a short stroll to the river (2 minutes), Charles Bridge (3 minutes) and Old Town Square with is famous Astronomical Clock (4 minutes). All the magic of Prague Old Town is literally on your doorstep.

The historical apartment building is adjacent to Bethlehem Church and is close to many cafes, bars, restaurants, shops, boutiques, department stores and antique shops.

This 4 bedroom apartment sleeps up to 11 people. It has 3 bedroom each with queen sized beds, a twin bedded bedroom, and 3 additional sofa beds in the lounge. It has a great kitchen, and two bathrooms – one with bath and shower cubicle, and one ensuite to bedroom 4, with shower. The cafe style dining area opens onto a huge terrace where you can relax with a glass of beer or wine after your day of sightseeing.”

Villa in Chianti, Home 70883

“Casa Mazzoli is a very ancient stone farmhouse on two levels brimming with character and restored with total respect for its innate simplicity. All rooms are furnished to excellent standards, in an elegant country style with old terracotta floors and original beamed ceilings. There is a fully equipped kitchen with a beautiful fireplace and a dining table, a dining room, a living room and a library. The hosts live in the nearby self contained barn. There is a 5x10m swimming pool for the exclusive use of the guests, in a private ,enclosed area with a beautiful array of plants.

Casa Mazzoli is situated 3km along an unsurfaced road in a peaceful corner of Chianti. It is near the pretty cosmopolitan villages of Panzano (3km) and Greve (8km), where it is possible to find fashionable wine bars and very special restaurants. The position is perfect as its in the heart of the region only 30 km from Florence and Siena.”

Chateau in Cahors, Home 1197773

“A fabulous twelfth century chateau in the style of a fortified farmhouse, with many beautiful original features such as stone staircases, original beams, huge working fireplaces, and a vaulted stone “cave” which makes an exceptional dining room. Set in 60 acres of private woodland and arranged around a totally private courtyard, with swimming pool. Almost every room in the property has stunning views over rolling countryside.

The property has been renovated to an exceptionally high standard and is furnished with many works of art and antiques. Divided into the main chateau, which has 5 bedrooms and 5 bath/shower rooms, plus the guest house with a further 4 bedrooms and 3 bath/shower rooms. Every room is individually decorated with its own unique charm. The main chateau contains a magnificent fully equipped kitchen with professional quality range cooker, 2 conventional ovens plus combi oven, fridge, freezer and dishwasher. The guest house contains a second smaller kitchen with hob and fridge. There is ample dining space inside the properties and also in the courtyard for those preferring to dine al fresco.

The house is only a mile away from the beautiful medieval town of Penne d’Agenais, which contains many lovely restaurants and artisan stores.”

 

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Think like a local – what’s in your area?
Do you know your audience?

 

5 ways to keep guests coming back

Picnic blanket, basket with food and wine, champagne, grape and sign WELCOMEMany owners tell us that guests who return year after year are incredibly valuable to them. They tend to book early, are more likely to rave to family and friends about how great your place is and, sometimes, become friends for life.

So what can you do to encourage your guests to return? Here are five ways to keep them coming back for more:

#1 A warm welcome

If you can be there to greet your guests in person and show them around, that’s brilliant. Don’t linger too long, however, as they’ll want to get on with their holiday as soon as possible. They probably won’t be in the mood for a detailed presentation about how the cooker works; that’s what your welcome pack is for. A friendly exchange and a short tour is enough to make them feel at home.

If you can’t be there, that’s fine as long as you’ve already given your guests detailed instructions about how to gain access and how to contact you should they have any problems. It’s also a good idea to give your guests a call shortly after checking in to ask if everything is ok.

#2 The VIP treatment

First impressions are important so, if you want your guests to return, each one needs to feel like they’re getting the VIP treatment. A welcome hamper full of goodies and little extras, such as a vase of fresh flowers or some homemade treats, will keep guests coming back to your place rather than trying somewhere else in the area next year.

Get to know your guests: if you know that they’re bringing a dog, get a couple of squeaky toys and some dog treats. If they’re travelling with young children, a few activity books and some crayons will be appreciated.

#3 Keep in touch

It’s a good idea to set up a mailing list so you can email all of your previous guests if you’ve got some news about your holiday home. For example, if you make some improvements to the property, such as the addition of a hot tub or extra bed, you could send an email to let them know and even include a picture. Don’t forget to include a link to your Holiday Lettings advert so they can make a booking online.

You might want to catch previous guests at a point when they’re likely to be planning their next holiday. Log in to your account to check when they made last year’s booking and send them a quote around the same time the following year. Add a personal message to encourage them to book again. Or go the extra mile and send previous guests a Christmas card featuring a picture of your home to act as a reminder.

#4 Extra incentives

Consider offering returning guests exclusive discounts and offers. For example, you could send an email shortly after their stay to say that returning guests get a percentage off their next booking if they book within one month. Or maybe you could let all of your guests know that if they make a repeat booking, they can stay an extra night for free.

#5 Saying goodbye (for now)

A successful check-in is just as important as a successful check-out. It’s great if you can meet your guests on their last day to collect the keys from them and wish them a safe journey home. But if you can’t be there, make sure they know well in advance what the check-out process is.

Send them an email shortly after they leave to welcome them back next year and to ask them to write a review of their stay. If they do leave a review, don’t forget to respond to it, reinforcing that you’ll be pleased to see them again soon. And for a final touch, consider leaving them a few little souvenirs from the local area, such as notebooks and keyrings, to remind them to come back again.

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Useful info to include in your welcome pack

What’s in your welcome hamper?
Collect reviews with our email template
FAQ: How do I send a quote?

Useful info to include in your welcome pack

welcomeYour welcome pack is one of the most useful resources for your guests. Along with other info, it should explain how to use appliances in your home and what to do in case of emergencies.

Use a binder with tabs separating each section so the information is easy to find. Along with your tips, place a welcome letter at the beginning of your book to help your guests feel at home when they first arrive. Don’t forget to leave it somewhere your guests will easily find it, such as a table near the door in the hallway or on the dining table.

Here’s a list of information we recommend including in your welcome pack:

Essential information:

  •         Emergency numbers/contact information
  •         Address of the nearest doctor’s surgery and hospital
  •         Area maps
  •         Wi-Fi network and password
  •         Beach/park passes
  •         Check-out times and departure instructions

User guides for:

  •         Appliances
  •         Entertainment systems
  •         Water, plumbing and heating systems

Inventory of household supplies:

  •         Toilet paper, paper towels, linens, etc.
  •         Food items

Area amenities:

  •         Restaurants – include menus for takeaway and delivery options
  •         Supermarkets, farmer’s markets, nearest shop
  •         Local attractions – hiking trails, best beaches, amusement parks, etc.
  •         Local dog park or dog-friendly beaches

Transport options:

  •         Bus routes
  •         Taxi services
  •         Car and bike rentals
  •         Airports, train stations, etc.

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What’s in your welcome hamper?

More space for photos – change your gallery with the season

We’ve increased the number of photos you can store in your advert to 100. Your gallery will still display 24, but with all that space to add extra pictures it’ll be much easier to keep your gallery up to date.

Instead of having to upload new photos over existing ones, you can now simply move them out of your displayed gallery to your store of saved photos and swap new ones in. This means you can keep your gallery looking fresh and seasonal all year round. Here are some ideas about using your gallery to attract bookings for each season.

Spring

Holiday Lettings - Daffodils

Home 58919

Well-lit photos of your home with extra springtime touches (for example, the table laid ready for dinner complete with a vase of tulips) help to freshen up your gallery. As the trees start to blossom and flowers start to bloom, get out and about with your camera and take some pictures of the local area too – for example,  bluebells in a nearby forest or a field of daffodils.

 Summer

Home 546568

Summer brings some of the most beautiful sunsets so it’s a good idea to get some snaps when the sun’s going down – especially if you’ve got a balcony with a sea view. If there are beaches near your home, head down on a clear day and get plenty of pictures. If you’ve got a garden, capture some of the ways it can be enjoyed. You might want to set the table for an al fresco lunch,  or bring some of your outdoor toys or equipment into shot, such as a trampoline or swing.

 Autumn

autumn

Home 4613676

As the leaves start to turn red and brown and the nights draw in, it’s time to get some autumn photos of your home and area. If you’ve got a wood-burning stove or an open fire, a softly lit picture of the room with the fire blazing away will help potential guests imagine themselves relaxing there on a chilly day. Pictures of local indoor attractions, such as museums, theatres and water parks, make good additions to your gallery for when the weather is less favourable.

 Winter

christmas

Home 1378232

Take several photos of your home dressed for the Christmas holidays, complete with twinkling lights and a tree. If you get snow in your area in winter, pictures of dazzling white landscapes are really effective. Local area photos such as nearby Christmas markets and wintry woodland walks also work well.

To start adding photos to your gallery, go to Properties > Add / update photos.

 

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Be inspired by your guests

Whether you’ve got TripAdvisor reviews on your advert or a guest book at your home full of comments, your future guests will definitely want to read other people’s impressions of your home. In today’s competitive market, reviews form a vital part of your advertising: they offer reassurance and provide valuable first-hand experience.

You can even use your guests’ reviews to improve your advert. Here’s how:

 

“The photos don’t do it justice”

photos

Home 30856

If your guests are raving about the décor in your place but their reviews say that the “photos don’t do it justice”, it’s time to take some better photos! Similarly, if they’re talking about the local beach but you don’t have any photos of it, you’re missing an opportunity to promote your area. Read our tips on how to work wonders with your photo gallery.

 

“Walk to the apartment in 3 minutes…”

l

Home 1395878

If you usually drive around the area near your holiday home, your guests’ reviews can offer insight into the best ways of getting around using public transport. Which bus to use and how long it takes to get to nearby amenities and attractions is all valuable info for guests.

Use these tips in the How to get there section of your advert. Go to Properties > Update location info to update your advert.

 

“Beautiful sunrises and sunsets…”

Home 621209

You can also use your reviews to get ideas for your descriptions. This review mentions the “breathtaking” views and the “quaint harbour town”, evoking a tranquil seaside holiday. Need more ideas for your area descriptions? Find out how to think like a local.

 

“Thank you for your feedback…”

It’s a good idea to respond to all of your reviews, even if it’s just to thank your guest for the feedback. It also gives you the opportunity to emphasise the positive points the guest has made and address any of their suggestions for improvement. Read our top tips for responding to guest reviews.

Here’s an example of a great review and response:

Home 1770369

 

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Think like a local – what’s in your area?
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Think like a local – what’s in your area?

iStock_000006078276Medium“What’s the area like?” is an inevitable question that pops into travellers’ minds when choosing a holiday. It doesn’t matter whether your place is surrounded by a variety of tourist attractions or whether it’s a secluded rural retreat, your guest will want to know why they should choose your home over one in a neighbouring area.

It’s all about giving your guest a feel for your neighbourhood. Is it quiet? It is busy in summer? Are there shops nearby? What’s the local pub like? If you’re lacking in local knowledge, guests may look elsewhere. Here are some top tips to help your guests feel like a local.

1. Your favourite places to visit in the area. Start by making a list of where you like to go nearby. This could include:

  •         The nearest beach
  •         The local park
  •         Your favourite pubs and restaurants
  •         Shops and cafes
  •         Places to go walking
  •         Museums, theme parks and other tourist attractions

Next, write a few lines about why you enjoy them. For example, maybe the shops in the area include artisan bakeries, vintage clothing shops and delis. What’s the sand like at the beach and does it have Blue Flag status? Is there a walk you can recommend and if so, what can you see along the way? Is the food good at the local pub?

It might seem obvious to you but remember that your guest might not have been to the area before (or even heard of it) so you really need to familiarise them with it. And don’t forget to make your descriptions unique

2. Use your reviews. Have a read through your reviews and use tips left by previous guests as inspiration for your descriptions. Insight from former guests can be invaluable. They might mention attractions in the area you might not have considered and may offer information about public transport timings. Take a look at this example:

“The location of the apartment is perfect to get around pretty easily, There is a bus stop a minute from the apartment which runs very regularly, we would get the bus to the main street and get off just after a restaurant called Da Luigi’s, cross over the road to lots of little cobbled streets very close to Piazza Navona, such a vibrant area and lots of places to eat”

review

Home 54427

Haven’t got any reviews yet? Find out how to start collecting them.

3. Be a good communicator. It can be a little daunting staying somewhere you’ve never been before, especially if you’ve got small children in tow. Even if you’ve written a detailed area description, be ready to answer any questions your guests have about how to get to your home and what the area is like. Is there parking nearby? Are there any safety concerns? Can you arrange a pick-up and drop-off service for them? Considering these points in advance will make responding easier and you’ll be able to put your guests’ minds at rest.

4. Give directions and pinpoint your map. When your guests aren’t busy getting excited about what there is to see and do in the area, they’ll be planning how to get to your place. It’s really important to complete the How to get there section of your ad, which shows your nearest travel links such as the airport, ferry and train station. This will help travellers decide on the best mode of transport. Also, if you haven’t already, make sure you’ve put your place on the map. You can update your area info by going to Properties > Update location info in your account.

5. Provide a welcome pack. A great place to start building a welcome pack for your guests is at your local tourist information centre. You can usually pick up plenty of leaflets providing info on local attractions and free maps of the area. Go the extra mile and invest in a few souvenirs, such as pens and notepads, so they can plan their itinerary based on the local knowledge you’ve armed them with.

 

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Location, location…where exactly are you?

How TripAdvisor reviews work

Don’t let your listing disappear

iStock_000053559666MediumAs the saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it. If your advert isn’t coming up in searches, you won’t get any bookings. Here’s how to help your home get the attention (and the bookings) it deserves:

1. Tell guests how much it costs

Without prices for the next 12 months your ad is seriously missing out. Your place will be at the bottom of the search results and won’t get seen at all when travellers search for specific dates.

Log in and go to Properties > Update prices and click on Set seasonal prices.

Read about how to set your seasonal prices and watch our short video guide.

2. Respond as soon as possible

Travellers tell us all the time that having to wait ages for a response to their enquiry is their biggest bugbear. Because of this, your response rate has a big influence  on where your ad appears in searches. Find out how the response rate works and read our tips on how to improve it.

3. Collect reviews

Did you know that travellers can sort the search results by reviews? Even one review is enough to make sure your ad appears in these searches, but the more reviews you have the better.

Reviews help to build trust and there’s no better recommendation than the words of a happy guest. Start collecting reviews to get your advert noticed.

4. Keep your calendar current

Not only does it mean that your home will appear in all relevant date-related searches, it also stops travellers getting frustrated if they send an enquiry for dates that should have been marked off as booked. A recently updated calendar reassures travellers that your information can be trusted. Watch our short video to find out how to update your calendar or read our FAQ.

 

Find out more

Prices – how much to charge

Why updating your calendar is the key to securing bookings