Getting a 5 star holiday home grading is awesome. But it’s what YOU do that counts! 

When I first started out I got my cottage assessed by Visit England’s Quality in Tourism scheme.  It’s what I needed to do to be able to prove to future guests the quality and attention to detail I was offering. Or so I thought.

I now know that 5 star is just a number.

It just means I’d ticked more boxes that a holiday cottage that’s been given a 4 star.

It’s totally brilliant, don’t get me wrong.  I even got awarded 5 star Gold and was cock-a-hoop to be given this extra creditation (5 star was my aim).

I was super proud of how the cottage looked. And I felt my extra touches and interior styling skills had been acknowledged.  It had been worth my while splashing out the Smeg-effect fridge freezer, ensuring the curtains were full length, rather than just hitting the sill (a top tip to create a luxurious look and feel). Providing junior visitors with a dressing up box wasn’t a step too far, as my husband had thought.

Ultimately it’s just a checklist.  And even then I knew it didn’t include everything that a stay in my holiday home offers.

I thought I needed this certificate, this badge of approval as proof that I offered a quality holiday experience.  You don’t!

Here’s how to prove to guests that your holiday home is special:

Be you!

This is one thing that’s not on the checklist!  It’s important to me that my guests have a fantastic holiday with me.  I care about them and their holiday experience.  I go the extra mile right from the first enquiry (even if it may not lead to a booking).  If a guest wants tips on where the best fish restaurant is, or where to park when visiting York, I’m there to help them. I’m the person running my website, managing my social media accounts and building relationships with guests online. I’m not a faceless brand, but a real person. I use me and images of me so guests get to know me and like me.   Me talking about, enthusing about my location, sharing other’s tips and places to visit, shows I’m the real deal and that I have nothing to hide.  It gives credibility to my ‘quality’ marketing message.

Use quality images

Ok my holiday home looks great in the flesh so how to best showcase that online? Getting a set of professional images taken is how.  I use these on my website and day in and day out on social media.  I still use snaps and pics taken from my phone but quality images showcase my quality holiday home to its absolute best.  They are an investment in my business and one that reaps rewards.  If the interior styling isn’t up to scratch, if the welcome hamper looks a bit sparse, images will show this.  It’s not just me saying how lovely my holiday is, me images back me up.

Put your guest reviews to good use

Once I had taken paying guests, what better proof did I need that me and my holiday home are delivering a 5 star holiday experience, than by receiving a glowing review from a guest, in my prominently placed Visitor’s Book.  These comments are social proof that I’m doing a great job.  I use these on my website and in my social media.  I create memes like this, using www.canva.com to bring the comments alive.

Collect guest’s candid feedback 

Next to the Visitor’s Book I also leave an evaluation form for each set of guests. Here I ask for their feedback and also ask them to be honest – what was missing, what could I do better, any suggestions for improvement.  I also ask their opinion on my website, the booking process and where my directions easy to understand.   I need to know all this.  This is how I keep my standards high.  I’ve been told to provide a tea cosy and a nutmeg grater (how could I forget these essential kitchen items).  My kitchen is now fully equipt!   Making guest-suggested improvements to my business, no matter how small, is all part of me continuing to deliver a 5 star experience without the need for an external assessor to keep my standards 5 star.

If you’re delivering all this, if your place is beautifully presented, if you’re active on social media, if you’re coming from a place of giving when it comes to helping your future guests then that’s what counts. A 5 star grading is just a number!

I know I’m offering a 6 star service as I’m about more than just ticks on a checklist and I’m sure you are too!

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