They won’t tell you to come out of the shadows, to stand out and to go get your own bookings!
I imagine we all have experience of a big holiday home agency either having used them in the past or maybe still using them now?
They have their uses, in particular their large marketing budget! But this does come at a price: both financial (commission rates) and in the control you as an owner lose through not handling the booking yourself. For this reason I advocate owners to work towards being independent of the larger listing sites and agencies.
But whether you use them long term or short term until you find your feet, here are 5 things a big agency won’t tell a holiday home owner to do. But these are things you should be doing as an owner if you want to maximise the return on your investment!
1. Get your own website
They don’t want you going off and being independent and getting bookings yourself. They’ll miss out on their commission. Yet your own website is crucial if you want to grow your holiday rental bookings and earn more by taking you own bookings.
A website is your chance to showcase your holiday home how you want it to be seen. It’s your big chance to get your marketing messages across. You can use it to highlight what there is to do in the area. It enables you to display your prices your way. It’s your chance to be unique and stand out from the competition.
2. Use word-of-mouth advertising wherever and whenever you can
By this I mean you making your own connections and your own links with people and businesses around you. So they come to you to book directly. Word of mouth advertising works as people get to know you and like you and it takes them one step closer to booking with you.
Start by making links with local businesses. Get them to recommend your property to their guests and in turn you recommend them to your guests. This works particularly well with a business in the tourism industry such as a small museum or a company operating tours. It also means letting the local pub and newsagent know about you. Keep building that relationship as often as you can so you stay top of mind if they’re asked for a holiday cottage recommendation.
Spread the word by letting friends know and friends of friends know that you have a holiday cottage and that you’re taking paying guests.
Word of Mouth advertising is free, so use it to its fullest.
3. Take care and take time over how your property is presented
I know from experience that the larger agencies just want your holiday home on their books as soon as possible. They don’t want owners spending time, making their property stand out, adding value to the guest’s holiday experience. It’s not important to the larger agencies and they wouldn’t take that into consideration when pricing your property anyway.
They’d price by its size, location and the number it sleeps. Of course these factors need to be considered when pricing, but a property that is beautifully presented, with added extras and homely touches can demand a higher price per booking (and rightly so). An opportunity wasted if marketing via a large agency.
4. Come out from behind your brand
One thing that makes your property unique and stand out from the crowd is you. As such you should inject your personality into your holiday home business. Even though transactions are done online, people still do business with people. If you come out from behind your logo, from behind your social media accounts and interact as you (not the business) this is a way for you to stand out, get people’s attention and get your own bookings.
5. Enjoy your holiday home
It’s important you spend time there. It will help your business as you’ll spot first hand any little issues that need fixing and you can continue to build local word-of-mouth relationships as mentioned previously. It will also remind you of how fabulous it is, what’s to do in the local area and how a holiday there can make your feel. All valuable first-hand information to relay to guests.
Be mindful of booking peak weeks and book out your time more last minute , but you should spend quality time there – after all, it’s yours to enjoy! And we all need a break from time to time.
By following these 5 points it will take you 5 steps closer to big agency and listing site independence. Some may seem scary such as setting up your own website or stepping out online as the face of your holiday home business. So break the task down into small, actionable steps and take steps towards listing site independence and large agency independence each and every day.
You can do this! And if you need any help or motivation to keep going, then I’m here to help.