Does being on a listing site form part of your marketing?

(Although I know that really you want all bookings coming directly to you, via your own marketing; keep reading for more on how you can achieve this.)

When it comes to choosing a listing site there’s no black and white, no right and wrong. What works for you wouldn’t work for another owner.  But you do need a strategy.

And your listing site strategy needs to take into account:

  • your type of property and its location
  • will your ideal guest by looking there
  • how can you stand out in a sea of other holiday homes
  • will your pricing and season structure fit into theirs
  • your gut feel

To follow that strategy:

Be selective

You don’t have to be everywhere. Joining each site comes with a cost and a time factor to keep your listing updated and logging in each time to respond to enquiries from the different portals. Marketing time and money that you can be put to better use! And what’s the point being there if your guests aren’t looking there (see rule 3)

You need to know why you’re listing on that particular site and why it’s worth your while being there.

Are you just there “because everyone else is”, or “I may as well be” or “it only cost £10 to join for six months”? (not a good strategy)

Experiment with the larger players but ultimately the smaller, more targetted listing sites are the way forward.

Know your niche

You need to be listing where your niche will find you.  So you need to identify your niche, your target market, your ideal guest.

Say you have a 3 bedroom house in the Dordogne. It’s a common mistake to assume that your niche is anyone who wants to holiday in a house in the Dordogne. It’s not.  This is not enough. You need to dig deeper.

Brainstorm exactly who your property is ideal for and why.  What does your holiday rental offer guests? What need do they have that a holiday with you will meet ? It’s about more than just your location and property size.  These people you identify, who are ideally suited to your holiday rental become your ideal guest.  Your ideal guest is who you target your marketing message at (not just on listing sites but in all your marketing).

I talk more about the ideal guest concept in this strangely titled blog >>> Why getting bookings is like peeling an onion
(You’ll get the title, once you read it!)

Where will these ideal guests be searching?

Don’t just assume that they’ll be looking on all the large listing sites. If your niche is interested in a specific adventure activity, kayaking for example, they’d be looking for holiday rentals suitable for that.   So is there a specific listing site that is for this niche market? If your holiday rental is a “luxury” or a “special” place to stay then there’s little  point in listing on a “mass market” listing site as your ideal guest won’t be searching there. They’ll be looking on smaller, nicher listing sites such as Elite Cottages which specialises in,“elite” cottages.  Likewise if you’re pet friendly a niche listing sites for dog friendly holiday homes is where you’ll want to be.

Do your research

Spend some time on line researching which listing sites are available.

Then look at it from the point of view of a holiday maker. It is easy to navigate and find information, get prices, check availability etc.

Now from an owner’s point of view, will listing here showcase your property to its best?

What options do you have for adding photos and your own copy? Avoid sites where you just make a list.  Your offering is more than a list of amenities and facilities.  Is there a section about you the owner? You need to make sure your listing will stand out.

What are the booking terms and conditions? When will you receive any monies owed? Will this be paid directly to you or via the listing site?

Once you’ve made your decision, track number of quality enquiries and bookings. Use Google Analytics to track the source of all traffic to your website, to see which listing site is working best for you.  Monitor this and annually make a strategic decision whether or not to renew your listing.

The best listing sites for independent owners are those which include owner contact details and a link to your website. You pay an upfront annual free (around £100) to list here. But crucially you stay in control.  These are sometimes called membership sites.  This way you can deal directly with the guest and take control of the process, bookings and payment from day one. All this listing site is, is a portal through which your ideal guests will find you.

If I were to ask you now about your listing site strategy, how would you reply?

Likely you’d tell me your using some of the big listing sites when really you want to get bookings coming directly to you.

Make that happen, take action now to master your own marketing.  I can help you with that, just shout up!