Category Archives: Owners/Managers

Are you ready for the Boxing Day rush?

Keep your up to date to avoid disappointing travellersFor many people, Boxing Day is the first day of the Christmas holidays where they can spend some time doing whatever they fancy – for millions of people that includes booking holidays.

The dinner’s done, presents have been exchanged and sock drawers everywhere have been restocked. And with Christmas money to spend, it’s easy to see why many like to put their feet up and shop online for some sunshine. Boxing Day is the catalyst for the traditional summer holiday booking period. Traffic to our website kick-starts its steep rise from here and if you’re listing’s not in tip top condition you can bet someone else’s is and that they’ll be ready and waiting for the booking too.

So, what can you do to make sure you maximise on the Boxing Day rush? In short: get your listing ready for 2015 and get yourself ready to respond to booking enquiries and requests. Here’s how to get it in shape and get 2015 off to a roaring start:

Your prices

  • At the very least set your default prices (a base weekly and nightly price that will enable travellers to book dates not yet covered by your seasonal prices.
  • Without prices, your ad will appear at the bottom of the search results and won’t be displayed at all in dated searches. If you use online booking, no prices against future dates means guests can’t send you a booking request.
  • To set default prices, log in and go to Properties > Update prices.
  • Add seasonal prices to indicate pricing specific to periods throughout the year, e.g. summer, half term, off peak, etc.. You may want to increase prices at popular times such as the school holidays or for special in-demand periods such well-known local events. Lower, out-of-season prices will encourage guests to book for the quieter periods. We ask that you set seasonal prices for at least the next 12 months. However, we often see travellers wanting to book 18-24 months in advance, particularly for larger group trips.

Need help updating your prices? Check out our video guide.

Your calendar

  • If you’re not letting the property for any period of time, for example, if you’re staying there yourself or are doing maintenance work, be sure to mark these dates as unavailable on your calendar.  You don’t want any disappointed guests on your hands having enquired about dates already booked but not shown as booked.
  • Don’t have any changes to make to your calendar?  It’s still a good idea to update it often so that travellers can see your ad is well maintained. Log in and go to Properties > Update calendar, click on Update my calendar and the date that appears just below the calendar on your ad will change.

Our video guide explains how to keep your calendar up to date.

Refresh your ad

  • Give your ad a quick refresh to make sure all the info is up to date and it sounds as enticing as possible. If you’ve had some reviews or feedback, use the comments as inspiration to talk about what other guests have enjoyed most when staying at your place. Ask a friend to take an objective look at your ad and see if they would choose your home over the other homes in the area.

Get ready to respond

  • Make sure standard messages in your account are current and you’re happy with them. Go to Bookings > Update booking settings to check your standard messages. You can also download the mobile app so you can respond to booking requests and enquiries on the go.
  • Protect (or improve) your response rate: 24 hours is the maximum time we want to keep travellers waiting for a response so please respond as quickly as you can to every enquiry or booking request you receive. Your response rate is shown on your listing and reflects how timely your guest communication is.
  • Familiarise yourself with sending quotes – they’re quickest way to convert an enquiry into a paid booking (and the only way if you’re using our free listing). A quote enables travellers to book and pay once they’ve heard back from you with answers to any initial questions they may have had.

Watch our video guide on how to respond to enquiries with a quote.

 

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How the response rate works

Most people now have access to the internet through a mobile device, so sending and receiving messages quickly has become the norm. When booking a holiday online, travellers will expect the same quick response and won’t want to be kept waiting, especially if they’re trying to make travel arrangements at the same time.

The response rate on your ad is there to encourage travellers to enquire as they can see that, if a response rate is good, they won’t need to wait too long for a reply.

Where can I find it?

Your response rate appears by your name on your listing. It appears after you’ve received your fourth enquiry.

Capture

It’s based on whether or not you’ve responded within 24 hours to your last 20 enquiries or booking requests. If you’ve not yet received 20, the percentage is based on those you have received.

Your response time is displayed on the conversation page and your average response time for the last 20 interests.

Why is it important?

Travellers are much more likely to book with you when they receive a fast response to their enquiries.  We’ve provided a 24-hour window for you to send a response, but responding within six hours doubles your chances of a booking. And there’s more:

  • Responding quickly shows you’re proactive and don’t like to keep guests waiting. Not only will you be more likely to confirm the booking, it bodes well for a good relationship with your guests resulting in repeat bookings and glowing reviews.
  • Your response rate is the biggest factor affecting your position in the search results. Maintaining a good response rate means that more travellers can easily find your property.
  • If your response rate is poor, travellers who’re looking to book last minute will shun your ad in favour of another with a higher response rate. Getting a reply quickly is even more important when time is limited.
  • If travellers repeatedly have to wait a long time for a response, we’ll have no choice but to remove the advert to avoid any further frustration.

How to improve your response rate

Reply within 24 hours to every enquiry and booking request (or better still, within the first few hours) to get a 100% response rate. We know you’re busy and this isn’t always easy, so here are some helpful tips:

  • Have a smartphone? Our free mobile app makes it easy to manage bookings from your iPhone or Android device. Download the app to respond to enquiries on the move.
  • Log in often and make sure your ad is kept up to date so you don’t need to worry about checking any details before confirming a booking.
  • As you probably already know, your account contains default messages for your guests to accompany your responses. Make sure you’re happy with them so you’re less likely to need to make any edits before responding.

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Is your listing unique? If not, Google knows it.

Google is far and away the most used search engine, so we work hard to help your advert appear in search results. But when a listing contains copied text, it doesn’t stand a chance: Google removes it from their search results and bookings take a nosedive.

When you’ve taken the time to take great photos of your property, why skimp on your description? When owners copy and paste descriptions into their adverts from other websites, it’s a lose-lose situation for everyone involved. Here’s why copied text is bad for business and bookings:

  • Whether your descriptions have been copied from somewhere on the internet (such as a tourism site) or they’ve been taken from another advert on Holiday Lettings, copied text is against our terms and conditions. We hope it doesn’t come to this, but if an advert infringes intellectual property rights, we may have to remove it from the site.
  • If Google receives complaints of copied text or detects the use of duplicate content, they’ll remove it from any searches. Travellers can’t book what they can’t find. It’s easy to find duplicate content by putting it in inverted commas and doing a simple Google search.

Copying descriptions is tantamount to stealing. What’s more, when a sentence here and a paragraph there has been copied, the overall effect is a description that doesn’t sound right and could set alarm bells ringing for travellers.

If you’re setting your advert up in a hurry, here are some top tips on writing descriptions that travellers will love and that won’t land you in hot water:

  • Go to your local tourist information centre and pick up some leaflets. Use these to find out what there is to do in the local area and describe the attractions in your own words.
  • Do your research. If you’ve found some info on the web about places to visit nearby, there’s no harm in using it, but you need to paraphrase it so it’s in your own words. Just copying and pasting isn’t allowed.
  • Cover the main points and come back to it later. You don’t have to have a finished advert from the outset. You can edit your descriptions at any time, so don’t worry if you haven’t got time to write lots of information to start with. It’s more important that whatever you do write is original and in your own words.
  • Use your photos and reviews for inspiration. Sometimes guest reviews will mention local things to do that you might have missed. You can use these as inspiration for your descriptions by logging in and going to Properties > Update description or Properties > Update location info.

Finding answers to your questions

New Help section: answers to your questionsIf you’re wondering how to update your prices, respond to reviews, manage your bookings and everything else in between, there’s a wealth of information just a few clicks away. Here’s where to find it:

Frequently asked questions. We’ve categorised frequently asked questions on the left hand side of the page. Simply open the category to find more common questions on that topic. If you’re looking for something specific, for example how to send a quote, use the search box to type in the key word ‘quote’. You’ll then see a list of all related questions.

Keep a look out for more info and links at the bottom of each question.

Videos. Our handy video guides show you around sections of your account. You can play and rewind as much as you need to and the video will show you exactly where to click to complete a task.

Blog. The Owners/Managers area is the place to go for tons of advice and information on letting out your home and advertising with us. We add new posts every week so bookmark it and keep checking back for all the latest news. As with the frequently asked questions, the search box is an easy way to find help and advice on what you’re looking for. Try searching for ‘photos’ to see what we mean.

Take a tutorial. Your Holiday Lettings owner account now comes with useful tutorials to help you complete tasks.

They’re a bit different from standard user guides. Simply select the topic you’d like help with and the tutorial will take you through the steps on screen, telling you where to click and explaining the process with handy notes as you go.

1 Log in to your account dashboard.

2 Click the blue Help topics box (top right on your screen) and choose a topic.

3 Clear instructions will guide you through each step.

Contact us. If you’re really stumped, contact the team along with your advertiser ID and we’ll be happy to help.

Useful links

Frequently asked questions

Video guides

Account log in page

How to get Christmas bookings

Cosy up on holiday at Christmas

Going on holiday at Christmas time is becoming increasingly popular. From sun seekers who want to escape the good old British weather to those in search of somewhere quieter, how can you make your ad appeal to Christmas time guests? We’ve got some tips to get you started.

Deck the halls. Invest in a few Christmas decorations such as a wreath for the door, Christmas tree, garland, baubles and fairy lights. Christmassy scented candles are great for evoking the festive mood and make the room feel warmer.

If you’ve got children coming to stay, it’s a nice idea to leave the tree decorations with a note in a box near the tree so they can enjoy decorating it themselves. You could even provide a few craft materials so they can make some of their own decorations.

Seasonal snaps. When your home is dressed for the Christmas season, take some photos of it for your gallery and add them in the autumn. If you’ve got a wood burner or open fire it’s a good idea to show that off in your photos too.

Wintery photos of the landscape and any seasonal attractions nearby, such as a Christmas market, help to get travellers into the Christmas spirit. If your home is in a warm country, pictures of a sunny beach will lure travellers looking for warmer weather. Don’t forget to swap out Christmassy pictures after the season’s ended. Log in and go to Properties > Photos to update your photos.

All the trimmings. If you’ve got a dishwasher and other kitchen gadgets to make Christmas Day easier, now’s the time to highlight them in your description. Provide a seasonal welcome hamper so your guests don’t need to worry about stocking up. Fill it with festive goodies such as gingerbread, fruit and nuts, chocolates, local cheeses, juices and wine. A box of crackers for the table adds the finishing touch.

If you really want to impress, order in a turkey for your guests to cook on Christmas Day. You can include this as part of your price or consider making it an optional extra as your guests may have other plans for their Christmas Day feast.

Update your prices. It’s always a good idea to make sure your prices are up to date ready for the Christmas period. Price your home according to how popular it is at this time. If you’re finding that you have a few empty weeks at Christmas, try offering a late deal or a special offer. Find out more about setting prices for the winter season.

 

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La Reunion holiday chalet in Bernex, Haute-Savoie

Home 625934

Winter is coming so it’s time to check your prices and make sure they’re up to date for the coming season.

Be accurate

When your pricing is accurate, travellers know straight away how much you’re charging and there’s no need for you to go back and forth with your guests clarifying out of date information.

Don’t hide away

What’s worse than inaccurate prices? No prices at all. Travellers won’t be able to book and might look for somewhere else to stay instead of sending you an enquiry.

Cater to couples

Couples are more likely to take their holidays outside of peak season, so if you haven’t already, you could consider adding a pricing table specifically for parties of two.

Plan for Christmas

Spending Christmas away from home is more and more popular with travellers. Make sure you’ve set the prices you’d like to charge over the Christmas holidays to keep your guests in the know.

Consider New Year deals

If your rental generally has a slower time of it in January and February, considering dropping your prices to attract those post-Christmas holiday-seekers.

It’s quick and easy to update your prices

1 Log in

2 Hover over Properties

3 Choose Update prices and make your changes

Don’t forget: if you’ve got some seasonal Christmassy shots of your property, now’s the time to upload a few and get travellers in the mood to book their winter getaway.

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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. The offer is mainly for new advertisers to help them get the most from their advert from the word go.

What happens next?

Once you’ve secured your slot, we’ll put you in touch with the photographer to arrange the best time for their visit.

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.

Living room (before)

Before the photo shoot

Living room (after)

 

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

Master bedroom (before)

Before the photo shoot

Bedroom (after)

 

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

Kitchen (before)

Before the photo shoot

Kitchen (after)

 

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

Front of the villa (before)

Before the photo shoot

Front of the house (after)

 

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.

Photography tips to get guests booking

Villa with poolLooks matter for travellers when they’re researching their hard-earned holidays, so your photos need to show off your rental at its best.

You don’t have to be a professional photographer to take a great picture – but it helps to get some advice from one. Grab your digital camera and read seven top tips from Mike, a Holiday Lettings home owner and photographer who knows a thing or two about taking photos that sparkle…

Find some inspiration

Swimming poolFirst stop: check out the competition. When someone else’s advert leaves you itching to book a holiday, note down what’s great about the photos and try a similar approach.

Get the light right

Balcony during the dayExterior shots: it’s best to have a clear blue sky on your side. Stand with your back to the sun and snap away. You’ll probably need to photograph one side in the morning, then the other in the afternoon.

PatioInterior shots: take these during the day with natural light streaming in through the windows. If you want to show a room lit up at night, take your photos as the sun is setting – not when it’s already dark.

Forget the flash

LoungeYour flash will only light objects in the foreground, so it won’t always give you the best results.

  1. Set your camera to manual.
  2. Switch the flash off.
  3. Set the highest ISO (800 or 1600) for indoor shots, or a low setting (eg 100) for outdoors.

Cut the clutter

Dining roomMess and clutter will grab guests’ attention for all the wrong reasons, so have a tidy up before you start snapping.

Focus on your home

Dining on the patioTravellers don’t want to see pictures of someone else’s family having a blast – they want to imagine themselves there. Keep your shots super simple and free of people.

Give the full picture

BedroomYou don’t get a real sense of a room if all you can see is half a bed and a door. Stand in the corner of the room and set your camera lens to its widest to take in as much of the room as possible. You can use a tripod to keep your camera steady.

Be creative with angles

Bathroom photoTake a few photos while standing on a chair or holding the camera above your head. Now try tilting the camera. Do any of these approaches bring the best out of that bathroom?

Got your photos sorted?

We know 260 million travellers* who’d love to see them

When you create your free Holiday Lettings listing, your ad will also appear on 25 international TripAdvisor sites. Now that’s an easy way to get your rental noticed.

Find out about listing with Holiday Lettings

*Google Analytics, Worldwide data, July 2013

Using your message templates

As you might already know, your account contains default messages for your guests – one to accompany your quotes, one when the guest pays a deposit and one when they pay the full balance. You can edit these templates to make them more personal and to answer any specific queries a guest has raised.

Where are my message templates?

Go to Bookings > Update booking settings then click the arrow next to Messages to guests to view your templates.

How do I edit my templates?

Follow the steps above, type in your updates and hit Save.

You’ll always have a chance to review and edit your message for each guest before sending.

Can I send a message with a quote?

Definitely. It counts towards your response rate when you respond to an enquiry with a quote. This means you don’t need to send a separate reply.

What should I include in my messages?

When replying to an enquiry with a quote, make sure you clearly answer any questions the traveller has asked. Even if you think the answer is obvious on your advert, be patient – travellers often skim-read details for several homes at once and sometimes need confirmation.

It’s a good idea to thank your guest for their interest and encourage them to pay. Be friendly and polite to increase your chances of confirming each booking.

If you’re running a special offer, you could include that in your message to encourage bookings at that time.

What shouldn’t I include?

Don’t paste in large blocks of text, such as detailed terms and conditions – the booking contract will cover this sort of information.

Do I need to worry about dynamic text?

Not anymore. We’ve simplified our message templates. Instead of presenting the dynamic fields like this: ***GUEST NAME*** or ***DUE DATE***, you’ll now see the info written out in full as your guest will see it.

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Video guide to responding to enquiries with a quote