I was contacted a couple of weeks ago by a lovely lady asking for some feedback on the website for her property in the South of France. As we got into a deeper discussion about all the challenges she is having to overcome with marketing her holiday let, it got me thinking about the many ways in which Rental Tonic could really help owners with similar problems.
Claire is just like the typical rental owner who I imagine might read this blog. Although new to holiday rentals she is very independent, fairly internet savvy and keen on the DIY approach to marketing her property. But what came across from our discussion was that she had to spend a lot of time on researching and learning things before being able to take action, sometimes making mistakes along the way.
I wanted to share some examples of the problems Claire told me about, which you may find familiar.
On where to advertise
Claire’s sister had experience of holiday lets so gave her advice about the different advertising portals, but she still found it hard to compare options and make an informed choice. As well as telling me about the positive aspects of the portals she uses, there were also negatives:
“They recommended Holiday Lettings and Owners Direct, also VRBO. We are with Owners Direct and this is working really well but Holiday Lettings doesn’t generate nearly as many hits or enquiries. However by the time I started advertising with them last year, June, July and August were already booked through Owners Direct, so it’s difficult to compare directly. I do like the way that Owners Direct keeps a monthly tab of how many hits you have had, so you can compare the months. We haven’t gone down the VRBO route yet but we are considering it. I did do a Homeaway.com upgrade with Owners Direct which worked quite well. The problem with the upgrades is that you can’t put a link to your own website and they won’t put any reviews on. I don’t feel this is properly explained when they try and sell it to you. I am tempted to bin the upgrades and just do a full advert with Homeaway.co.uk and Homeaway.com.”
She also told me…
“There is very little information out there about the statistics of these websites …for example do Owners Direct and Holiday Lettings aim for the same kind of market? They won’t tell me either. More info on these websites would be hugely beneficial in deciding the marketing strategy.”
On building her own website
Claire was keen to have a website to give guest more confidence about booking the property, but had a steep learning curve in how to go about building a website. She began with a wordpress.com website which is not ideal, but fortunately has now moved onto her own hosted domain which she has complete control over. Here is a bit of what she said:
“First of all I was just going to do a Blog but then once I realised that I could do Pages with WordPress, I decided to turn it into a website with a blog. My reasoning for creating it was to give credibility to the house. Booking direct with the owner, there is less security for the guest, so I think a website gives more confidence to guests. It also gives me more scope and more control. I really do see this as a small business. I have to because if we can’t rent it successfully we simply can’t keep the house, which would break our hearts….The biggest challenge for me with the website was the technical side but I was so surprised by how easy WordPress is to understand. It does take a long time though, especially as I am not used to doing anything like this… it’s the little things that are hard to understand. E.G. setting up my RSS feed properly! I will get there but it’s not obvious to someone who isn’t used to dealing with websites and I wouldn’t have had a clue about it, if you hadn’t mentioned it.”
On using Social Media
Claire was fairly sure that using social media would be important for her rental business and had already set up a Facebook page for her property, but she admits:
“With regards to social media, I do use Facebook but I’m not obsessed with it. I don’t use Twitter or Pinterest. I have set up a Facebook page but I am yet to launch it. I will do that when I tell people about the website. I am going to set up a Twitter account and a Pinterest account. I’m also planning on using Linked In. I feel a total novice in this area but I know it’s important. I also want to get into the habit of writing a blog post once a week…. feel I have learnt a lot already but I know the climb has only just begun.”
Does any of this sound familiar to you? Do you have other challenges that are not even mentioned here?
Claire is trying to set up all of this whilst looking after her children and preparing to go back to work full time, so my heart really went out to her. I also know of many owners who are in a “make or break” situation meaning that if they don’t rent out the property they just can’t afford to keep it.
So how can we help you with your holiday rental business? Instead of providing content on this website that we think is interesting, what I really want to do is provide the information and resources that are of the most use to our owners. But to do that I need your help.
If you could spend just a minute to leave a comment below and tell us your own holiday rental “pains” it would be of great value to me as I try to bring a wider range of resources to our readers.
Rental Tonic can also help you with most of the issues mentioned here; from simple copywriting, uploading a blog or new page for your website, to a complete website design and social media set up.
So if you need help with your holiday rental marketing please do get in touch , and if you haven’t already then sign up to the Rental Tonic newsletter to stay on top of the latest holiday rental news, tips and reviews.