I was first introduced to the holiday let industry when I worked for a holiday letting agency.
That was over 10 years ago, when my children were young and I was looking for a part-time admin job to fit around school hours.
Little did I know how this experience would underpin my values as a holiday home owner. And Spring Cottage (my own holiday let) was just a pipe dream at that time. An idea that hubby and I had for spending quality weekends with the kids in the country, out of the city.
Little did I know how much I’d love the industry and how my knowledge gained here, would lead to
me helping other owners to make the most money they possibly can from their holiday home.
It was small but growing holiday letting agency, taking on new properties all the time. It was regional and only managed 5 star luxury properties in that location. This niche is what set it apart.
My job was both front line: to take bookings, process payments, answer guest’s queries by phone and email, to get them to book. Also back office tasks: to liaise with owners and prepare their monthly statements.
Key learnings from my time working for this holiday letting agency:
1- The more marketing you do yourself, the more direct bookings you take, the higher your revenue (obvious that one!)
It didn’t take me long to realise that when I saw the difference between what the guest paid and the owner received after paying 20% commission. But do research niche agencies/listing sites. They can form part of your marketing plan, initially sitting alongside your own marketing.
2- Having systems in place, that get followed on every booking is key
No winging it here. Have clear instructions written down so someone else could process a booking in your absence.
3- Use professional images on your website and in your marketing
Images which sell a lifestyle, staged with props and focussing on the detail as well as room shots.
4- A 5-star Visit England rating is just a number
It’s a tick box exercise against a checklist. Over deliver and aim for 6!
5- How the property is styled and presented is crucial to bringing in the bookings
Vital to ensure you stand out for all the right reasons and persuade guests to book with you . That doesn’t mean gold plated taps and crystal chandeliers. It means applying home staging principles of making every space count. And applying minimum spend for maximum gain.
6- Know exactly who your target market/or niche is
And what they want when they come on holiday. What problems do you solve for them? Use this in the copy on your website and social media.
7- Stand behind your prices
Don’t get sucked into accepting a heavily discounted booking, just to get a booking. Keep your eye on the bottom line. Your costs to get your property guest-ready are the same, regardless of how much that set of guests paid.
8- As an owner you don’t have to do everything yourself
It’s worth paying for someone else’s services if it reduces your angst and gets the job done more speedily and effectively. If it takes you from A to B quicker. How you spend those freed-up hours is up to you!
9- Guests who come back for a second time are to be treasured
They must love what you offer or they wouldn’t bother. Treat them with the respect they deserve. Too often care is only awarded to ensuring new guests are OK.
10- Always be prepared for the unexpected
The questions guests ask pre-booking (no there isn’t a large supermarket in the hamlet) and during their stay (no I’m afraid we only provide the one iron!) didn’t cease to amaze. And still doesn’t! Working with the general public was a steep learning curve.
Such vital lessons learnt from my time in that holiday letting agency. Lessons I apply to my own holiday rental business and that of the lovely owners I work with. Because they work; they boost bank balances.
And I hope that by sharing my experiences in a holiday letting agency can help you do the same.