Be honest, are you totally happy with your holiday rental business?
Are there parts of your business that you want to change? Things you want to do differently?
Have you evolved but your business model remains as it did when you first started out?
Are you a new holiday home owner and want to get it right from the start?
Don’t go any further!
You need to be in love with your business to truly grow it and not begrudge the time you spend in it and on it.
This of course means different things to each of us but I’d be bold enough to say for most it means making as much money as we possibly can from the 52 weeks available to us each year?
So before you go any further and get focussed on getting a full booking calendar. Before you continue next season doing the same old same old, stop and take stock.
Don’t grow a beast!
If you don’t like what you’re getting now, you don’t want more of the same do you? What’s the point growing something that’s not right for you?
With the right holiday rental business foundations in place you can grow the business that will work for you. A holiday rental business that you love, that will deliver you the financial rewards you deserve.
It’s never too late to take stock, to evaluate your business and make the necessary changes. Consider:
1. Your customers/guests
Ensure the guests you attract are right for you and the business you want to run going forward.
Your holiday let will not be suitable for everyone. Factors can include the area, the immediate location, the type of property, the size, the layout, the features, the benefits, guests holiday needs.
For example take my two bed cottage in Yorkshire, my ideal guests aren’t those with pets who want to walk on Yorkshire’s beaches and stay in a modern property that’s in the middle of nowhere. I don’t actively welcome pets and we’re 20 miles from the coast and in a village.
My ideal guests are those looking for a quaint country cottage in a village, in a central Yorkshire location who enjoy walking and exploring the countryside, but aren’t made keen hikers and who want a village pub. Plus quality accommodation matters to them.
My ideal guests pay my prices without quibble as my holiday rental offering is ideal for them. It’s exactly what they are looking for.
Brainstorm and be as specific as possible about who your ideal guest is. Who is your holiday rental ideal for? And what type of people do you want to attract. If you’re attracting the wrong sort now, if there’s a mis-match for some reason consider why. Very often it happens when generic marketing messages are given ie “suitable for all”, rather than being more specific and only writing your marketing message to attract your ideal guest. Those who you’re a perfect fit for. Those who will pay your prices and leave a fabulous testimonial as you were perfect for them. Rather than guests whose needs you half met!
2. The pricing
Are you caught in the trap of each booking being of low value, where you want to increase your prices but are afraid that current guests wouldn’t book you if you do?
Don’t continue on this path. Your angst over it will only get worse. It costs you the same in terms of time and effort to get your holiday let ready for each set of guests – you deserve to earn as much as you can per bookings.
As do I! I want to earn as much as I can per booking – on every booking. So I’ve created a product to allow me to do that. I’ve created a holiday home for guests who appreciate quality and are prepared to pay for it. They’re professional people, who lead busy lives and expect their holiday’s to be special. They’re after more than a place to lay their heads.
As such, because my holiday cottage is ‘better than average’, it commends higher than ‘average’ rental rates per booking. And that’s how I maximise my income and encourage you to do the same.
Set stretching, yet realistic prices. If that means some of your return guest won’t book again because you’re now “too expensive” then so be it. It’s a hit you may need to take. You’ll still be offering great value for money, for your target market.
If past guests were only choosing you because you’re cheap then you can do without those guests can’t you. You’re about so much more than that! Charge what is right, what your holiday rental is truly worth. And if that means ‘upgrading’ it now to be worthy of higher prices, then make that change and ditch low value bookings for good!
3. The product
If you’re new, this is created with your identified, ideal guest in mind. For example if they like their home comforts (as my guests do then providing a dishwasher and wifi for example is essential). I know I’d lose booking without these.
If you’re reassessing, it will be worth the extra cost now to add such items, if that’s what your ideal guests need in a holiday home. And if you want to push up the prices you charge.
It’s never too late to change your product. If you’re product is ‘average’ and you want to move to ‘special’; do it!
From average to special is about more than just features, it’s about the extra touches you provide as standard such as a locally sourced welcome hamper, blackout blinds to ensure a good night’s sleep, bbq tools and charcoal at the ready. It’s about you the owner, going the extra mile and caring about your guests. Not just seeing them as a transaction, but as real people with real holiday needs.
Short term spend is worth it for mid-long term gains. And it will cost you less than you think. Adapt home staging principles of styling and presenting your property so it looks amazing, using what you’ve got with a few additional tweaks and spends.
How it’s styled is crucial to showcasing your product, to those looking for ‘special’ rather than bland and boring. A tin of paint on a feature wall, new scatter cushions, a rearrangement of the furniture, a declutter can singularly make a difference. Collectively it will transform the look and feel of each room.
3. Your marketing
Currently are you taking 100% of your bookings yourself or are you relying on the big listing sites to bring in all your bookings? On this scale where are you? And where do you want to be in a year, five year’s time?
If it’s 80/20 and you want to swing that in your favour, then do something about this. Tame the listing site beast! Slay it!
Don’t put up with their ever-increasing charges if you’re not happy. Don’t sit there getting annoyed at the control they take away from you. Instead make small moves each week, away from the big guys and back to you.
You can learn the marketing techniques and skills necessary to go it alone, if that’s what you want.
And you don’t have to do it all in one go, just a step at a time. You’ll probably want to stay with the smaller, niche listing sites anyway, just ditch the big listing sites.
It does take more input and work from you to make that happen. You need your own website, to be blogging, to be active on social media. But it’s doable
If you set up a website, make sure it’s a WordPress one. For too many reasons to go into now (that’s the subject of a whole new blog!)
4. Your systems
When it comes to your changeover system are you doing the cleaning yourself? You know you should outsource it as there are better ways you could be spending your business time. But each Friday you reach for the mop and bucket and away you go.
If this is getting to you and you curse it each time, guess what – the power is with you to change this. Why not spend those four hours on your marketing instead? On taking steps to move away from the big listing sites.
If you’re sick of scratting around, managing your bookings on bits of paper, take time to set up a proper system. It needn’t be hard or complicated, an Excel spreadsheet will suffice.
Or do you bury your head when it comes to looking at the figures? You know you should do better! But in your head you’ve grown it into a mamouth task that is now just too big to tackle. But if you want to bring together a profitable holiday rental business, it’s time to stop running it on the hoof.
Time to look at your systems and spend time now streamlining them.
All successful holiday rental businesses need these foundations and it’s never too late to reevaluate, reassess and make changes to ensure you’re running a holiday home business that you’re totally happy with.
Even if it means knocking down a few bricks and rebuilding the wall, metaphorically speaking!