Category Archives: Owners/Managers

Gorgeous places to go gooey over dairy products

Nothing beats a decadent scoop of ice cream or lashings of golden butter on your toast. But where do the crème de la crème of dairy goods come from? From potting cream on a Cornish farm to making mozzarella in Campania, we’ve got some top spots for enjoying your favourite dairy products.

Cream in Camelford, UK

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It’s not just the cat that gets the cream at Cansford Farm. Watch the cream being separated, help pasteurise the milk and pot up some cream. You can even feed the calves and milk the cows. It wouldn’t be a proper trip to Cornwall without indulging in a cream tea – can you resist one on the farm?

The neighbouring Cornwall at War Museum is well worth a visit: sit in a bunker listening to the sound of bombs dropping around you, wander round the Officer’s eerie mess or take a trip across a former airstrip. Alternatively, you could follow the scent to St Kitts Herbery, where you can try their Bergamot Perfume or select a plant from the nursery.

Book your Cornish break

Chocolate in Bruges, Belgium

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The Choco-story exhibition follows the humble cocoa bean from its early days in the Americas to its present day popularity in Europe. Drift through the galleries and learn about the health benefits of hot chocolate as well as cocoa-growing methods, before tasting pralines made while you watch.

How about working off the tasting with a stroll along the city’s picturesque canals? On your way you can admire the quaint architecture and take in an exhibition of elaborate local lace. Stop as you cross the canal over St. Bonifaciusbrug bridge to catch dreamy views of the swan-filled Minnewater Lake.

Find a place to stay in Bruges

Cheese in Campania, Italy

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Calling all pizza fans! Here you can see how the Caseificio Michelangelo factory has made mozzarella for over half a century, from the first drop of milk to the finished cheese. You can make your own using traditional production moulds and tubs, then step outside and feast al fresco under the orange trees.

Pluck up your courage and venture down the nearby Amalfi Coast’s twists and turns – your rewards are Amalfi Cathedral’s shady cloisters, Positano’s sun-drenched beach and a zesty sip of chilled limoncello. Why not sail to the gorgeous island of Capri too? You can hike to the Roman emperors’ imposing holiday pad at Villa Jovis or marvel at the Blue Grotto’s ethereal light.

Book a pizza-filled stay in Campania

Butter in Cork, Ireland

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Find out more about dairy history at the Cork Butter Museum (did you know people used to preserve butter in bogs?). You can see a keg containing butter that’s over a thousand years old and a collection of butter bricks. Afterwards, wander past the retro wall displaying butter wrappers over the years.

You can spy dairy motifs throughout the city’s Shandon district, for example the cow above the former butter market. Absorb the nearby hilltop’s panoramic views over Cork city centre and stroll through Shandon’s quaint squares and alleyways. Pause in its art galleries to see inspiring works and check out the antique centres packed with quirky treasures.

Find your favourite Cork getaway

 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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”

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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…”

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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…”

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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:

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Think like a local – what’s in your area?
How TripAdvisor reviews work
How to collect TripAdvisor reviews (and boost bookings!)

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”

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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


Location, location…where exactly are you?

haystack2If you haven’t pinned your holiday home’s location on the map, finding your place can be a bit like searching for a needle in a haystack.

This is because ads that aren’t using the pinpoint map feature won’t appear in Map view searches and will only show in the List view.

Location is the deciding factor for many people when booking a holiday. You need to make it easy for them to see how far your place is from local facilities and attractions such as the beach, airport, museums, theme parks and restaurants. It’s especially worthwhile adding a pin for travellers who are planning a stay for a specific reason, such as a wedding, so they can check how close your place is to the action.

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Example of a Map view search

It’s really important that travellers can find your advert, however they choose to search our site, and it’s as easy as pie to add a pin:

  •         Go to Properties > Update location info in your account
  •         Zoom in and click to pin your place on the map
  •         Click Save

If you don’t want to give your property’s exact location, you can show the general area so potential guests still have enough info to make a booking. Just check the tick box: Don’t show travellers the pin on the map.

And remember: your property’s address details will never be published on your ad or shared with travellers who don’t have a confirmed booking.

A pinpoint map tempts travellers and boosts bookings

When you’ve pinned your place on the map, travellers looking at your ad can easily see nearby attractions and restaurants. They can take a look at them on TripAdvisor and get more info. Seeing what there is to do in the area can be the difference between them looking elsewhere or making a booking with you.

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Example of a map on an advert

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Give your guests the gift of local knowledge

Quotes just got better

We’ve listened to your feedback and have changed the way quotes work. Gone are the days when a quote would reserve dates in your calendar. From 9 December 2014, when you send a quote the dates will still be available for other guests to enquire and book.

So sending quotes has become a much more valuable way of pulling in bookings for your holiday home. And especially because travellers have told us they want quotes so they have a chance to pay.

A new sense of urgency

There’s no more missing out on bookings if a guest is biding their time and then decides not to book. Guests must act fast to grab the holiday dates they want. It should make getting your calendar filled up a much smoother process.

Plus, you can send more than one quote for the same holiday dates – the traveller who pays the fastest gets the booking.

Booking requests stay the same

The only time your calendar is marked as reserved is when a traveller sends a booking request. This is because they’ve provisionally paid and are just waiting for you to accept.

Wondering who gets the booking if two travellers want to book the same dates? Here’s a little run through of how it works:

Let’s say that Michael sends a booking request, but you’ve already sent Jean a quote for the same dates.

If you accept Michael’s booking request first, his payment will be processed and the booking is his.

But if Jean pays the quote before you’ve had chance to respond to Michael’s booking request, her payment goes through and Michael’s request will be declined.

More quotes = more bookings

Quotes are a fantastic way of encouraging guests to book. Create a quote from scratch by going to Bookings > Create a quote in your account, or see our video guide on how to respond to enquiries with a quote.

Thanks again for sending us your suggestion!

See our help pages

What is a quote?

How do I send a quote?

How does my calendar automatically update?

All your guests want for Christmas…

Santa brings a presentIs a holiday! And with 1,000s of travellers spending Boxing Day booking their 2015 holidays, it’s essential that you have prices displayed for the year ahead.

In fact, 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 traveller searches for specific dates. And what they can’t see – they won’t book.

How to make your ad visible and bookable

Update your prices and give your listing the attention it deserves. It’s easy to do and doesn’t take long. Here’s how:

1. Set default prices if you haven’t already done so. They do exactly what they say on the tin – they’re the price we default to for any dates not covered by your seasonal prices. This means there’s always a price shown on your listing so travellers can always send you a booking request (providing you’ve got the dates available). Log in and go to Properties > Update prices and click on Set default prices.

2. Set seasonal prices to indicate prices for specific periods throughout the year. For example, you may want to increase prices at popular times such as the school holidays or special 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, but up to 18 months would be great – yes people really do book that far in advance!

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


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Prices – how much to charge

FAQ: How do I add/update my prices?