Here are 5 common mistakes holiday home owners make in their first year. Mistakes that you may not realise you’re making but that can have a negative impact on your holiday rental business.

Even if you’ve been in the holiday rental business for a while, these mistakes may still resonate with you.

Don’t worry if you feel you’re making every single one of these mistakes. You wont be alone and that’s the whole point of this blog.  So as you go through the list, if you find yourself nodding “yep that’s me”; no worries, as they are mistakes that are easy to fix.

Let’s start with these 5:

1. Listing anywhere and everywhere

It can be tempting when you first start out, to list on as many listing websites and agencies as possible. You do a generic search in Google and all the big guys appear (no surprise given their big marketing budgets).

Even if the listing sites are free to join, each one takes up precious time filling in the boxes, uploading photos, adding descriptions.  You can’t just copy and paste, as each site asks for a unique description and pricing data needs to be entered to fit their specific structure.

Plus each site’s booking calendar needs to be kept uptodate at all times, which can be a time consuming job.  As well as the time factor, there’s often a financial cost to each listing so it can work out accumulatively rather expensive.

How to avoid mistake number 1:
You need to remember that more exposure from as many listing sites and agencies as possible doesn’t lead to more bookings.  Think about your niche, who are YOU wanting to attract? For example if you want to target dog owners, list on a pet-friendly listing site. You’re much more likely to find your guests there. Before you jump in and list everywhere, just stop and think: what is the best approach for me and for my holiday rental property. Be selective.

2. Not understanding your target market

This follows on from mistake no 1.  It makes your job so much easier, knowing your target market, also known as your ideal customer or your niche market.

Talking directly to your target market, means more success as you know and they get to know that your holiday cottage is perfect for them.  You need to be as specific as possible.  It’s not enough to say that “families” or “couples” are your target market.

Here’s an example, if you wanted to attract families with preschool children.

mistake number 2 is not knowing your target market“Imagine putting junior to bed, after an evening playing with the toys in the cottage’s huge toy box, turning on the baby monitor, then heading downstairs, pouring yourself a glass of local wine, sitting on the patio and watching the sun set.”

In other words what does a parent of a pre-school child want to do on holiday and how can you solve this for them.  This shows that you recognise it’s hard work on holiday with a toddler and that your cottage welcomes pre-schoolers but also recognises that parents want to relax on holiday and you can provide them with those craved for relaxing, peaceful evenings.

How to avoid mistake number 2:
Sit down and brainstorm about your guests and what problem your holiday cottage solves for them (like the toddler example above).  List as much detail as you can about your ideal guest and talk to them in your marketing.   If you talk to everyone in your marketing your message won’t get heard by anyone at all, it will be too generic and weak.  Avoid this and only talk to YOUR niche.

3. Setting up lots of social media accounts but not using them properly

get more bookings on Twitter

You do need to have a social media presence as that is where future guests will be hanging out. But if you’re just on social media because you feel you should be, then that’s not the right reason and no wonder your accounts are inactive and your posting sporadic!

Your reasons for being on social media need to be about building relationships, making contacts aware of your property and also staying top of mind for when guests are ready to book.  Something that often happens too and isn’t effective for your business is posting lots in one week then getting too busy and coming back weeks later. This sporadic approach doesn’t build relationships

How to avoid mistake number 3:
You don’t need to be and can’t possibly be everywhere. Unless you want social media management to be your full time job?  Instead choose 2-3 accounts to set up and master. Get to know them well and post regularly.

Be persistent and consistent once you’ve committed to these platforms and post engaging content.  Content that your potential guests will be interested in. For example, the festivals that are taking place this summer, close to your holiday cottage.  It’s important to talk about your area and what to do on holiday there, with only a little self-promotion otherwise your followers on social media will soon tire of you and lose interest.

4. Having no system for enquiry management and data collection

All guest data is useful to you in your biz.

For example if someone enquires about Easter and you’re already booked, next year you could email them in advance, reminding them that you’re free at Easter.

Tracking emails you send out too is important. For example if you offered a discount to a particular set of guests you need to know this for when they come back to you.

mistakes holiday home owners makeAlso you need to keep a note of any guest information, such as the daughter’s name or that they’re on holiday to celebrate granny’s birthday so you can reference this information. It shows you listen to your guests and little, easy-to-do touches like this will impress.

If you get an enquiry and hear nothing, good practice is to follow up with a quick email along the lines of “did you get sorted, can I help you with anything” but you can’t do this unless you have an enquiry management system.

How to avoid mistake number 4:
It’s simple: log everything. Set up a database and log guest information, enquiries and booking details.   Get into the habit of logging them as and when they come in. The system you use doesn’t need to be complicated, as long as it works for you eg an Excel spreadsheet or a dedicated notebook. Don’t rely on notes on scraps of paper or your brilliant memory!

5. Having no USP (unique selling point) and putting out bland messages

Your USP could be you the owner (and often is), it could be the view from your terrace, your location next to a popular tourist attraction, the walk which starts from your doorstep. It could be your cottage’s history.  It could be the fact that you supply lots of outdoor furniture, a parasol, a bbq a firepit, garden toys, a summerhouse etc so guests can really make use of your fabulous cottage garden.

It’s a competitive market so identifying your USP and what makes you and your holiday rental business is important.

How to avoid mistake number 5:
To avoid putting out bland messages you need to identify your USP.
Instead of “we have a lovely garden that’s very well equipped” write “imagine lying in the garden hammock in the shade of the tree while the children play a game of giant snakes and ladders on the lawn”.  This message is no longer bland, but enticing and plays to guest’s emotions because you’re selling the benefits your USP(s) brings rather than just listing it as a feature.

So there you have it. 5 common mistakes that I see happening time and time again.  Are you making any of these? If you are, then don’t worry, you’re certainly not alone. Knowledge is power. Now you can go about rectifying these mistakes and moving your holiday home business forward.

There’s more tips to building a profitable holiday rental business in this guide:

Are you ready to go-get those bookings yourself?

Do you have the right systems and strategy in place?  Find out via this easy to follow flowchart.  With nine video tutorials to keep you on track.