The short answer is no!  You don’t need a marketing budget to set up as an independent owner and to go out and get your bookings yourself.

What you do need is a commitment and a promise to yourself to take action every day (or certainly 5 out of every week), to show up and to be persistent.

You have to use what you have as an individual owner to your advantage. Something the big agencies and listing sites don’t have.  Namely your

  • love for your property and for the area it’s in
  • uniqueness – as an owner and of your property
  • local knowledge
  • drive to build a profitable holiday rental business.

You then need a strategy and a plan.

Firstly, who you are targeting?

Who are the guests for whom a holiday in your holiday rental would be ideal? Would they be the adrenalin junkies keen to experience the mountain biking and the theme parks close by? Or would your guests be those seeking solitude, an escape from their busy city life? Is your property perfectly suited to couples in their 20 s or families with toddlers?  You need to make this decision. But be specific about your guests wants and needs on holiday and how you can fulfill these needs.  Keep these ideal guests forefront in your mind. All your marketing efforts will be targeted at these people.

Secondly get your own website

Your website will become the hub around which all your other marketing activity revolves.   All your marketing efforts will be to drive traffic here.  It’s on your website that you will showcase your property to look its best.  And your copy will be written for your already identified ideal guest and how you can solve their holiday needs.

Building your website does not have to be scary or expensive. You don’t need a website designer, you can do this yourself.

You’ll need to buy a domain name for £10 a year and then buy a hosting package for approx £80 a year.

My preferred platform is WordPress.  It is user friendly, liked by Google and easy to add your blogs to. Check before you buy your hosting package, that a WordPress single file update is an option.

Add your quality images and you’ll be amazed at just how professional your website will look!

Thirdly get Google friendly

You need to optimise your website (each page and each blog) for the keywords and keyword phrases you’d like to be found on, in a Google search.  This is why I advocate WordPress, as their plugin called Yoast makes this process really easy for you.

Writing regular blogs not only sets up as an expert on your area but also each blog gives your website a change of being found in Google.

Be specific, and be niche with your keywords if you want to show up on page one of Google. You do need to be realistic that for competitive key words such as “Yorkshire holiday cottages” the big listing sites have this covered (and pay thousands of pounds a month to ensure this).  Opt for a more specific phrase such “luxury holiday cottage near Malton” instead and you can get to page one.  OK the volume of searches will be lower, but you want quality rather than quantity of viewers.  You only have 52 weeks a year to sell!

Fourthly take to social media

Use a mix of posts – some promotional with the specific aim of selling certain weeks in your holiday home. But importantly social media is about taking a more subtle approach to selling. For holiday home owners it’s about positioning yourself as an expert in your local area and about being a source of knowledge.

To do this talk about the local visitor attractions, post your images of the beautiful countryside and importantly share images and information from other businesses in your area. Businesses such as the local bakery and pub, the opening times for the local stately home and which beaches to visit.

Your social media content will be a mix of your own, new, fresh content and sharing that of others.

Use quality images of your holiday rental, but also more informal images work well too. For example post some behind the scenes images of you weeding the garden. People are naturally nosey!

Remember social media is free from a money point of view.  There is of course a time commitment. Initially set yourself a 1 hour a day rule to spend on social media. Spend this time creating new content, commenting and interacting with other’s posts and content.

Choose 2-3 platforms to focus on (you can’t be everywhere!)  Select platforms where you’re comfortable being and also where your ideal guest will be.

When first starting out, it’s likely that you’ll rely on a listing site or an agency to get you those first bookings.  These bookings will give you experience, knowledge and confidence you need to become independent.  Once you’re ready to go it alone (or even partial independent) you don’t need a huge marketing budget. Make a plan and stick to it religiously.

You will get noticed and start to build you fan base so the bookings come directly to you. And you will take 100% of the profit.  That’s got to be worth striving for!

Whatever option you choose, when building your holiday home’s website think long term.  Don’t opt for the quickest fix or the cheapest solution as you may well regret this long term. Give the right impression with your quality images and targetted copy. And importantly stay in control. It’s your website – you need to boss it!

Here’s one website building program I would recommend:

Business Beautiful