Part #2: Holiday Lettings Action Plan
Anyone considering a similar step into the self catering rentals business will be wondering if there is more to it than simply putting an ad on Holiday Lettings or Owners Direct and hoping for the best.
Well the simple answer is that yes there is a lot more to it – but that may not be what the big listings sites want you to believe!
The house owner in our case study wanted to try and attract the family market to maximise summer rentals over the coming few weeks (we began his marketing late, in April time).
Cash flow was important to pay for repairs and decoration, but he was keen not spend money unnecessarily. So we needed a plan of action to get the house fit to advertise and then ready to welcome paying guests. We arranged a House Call to help him get this plan of action into place.
How the House Call was structured according to the target market
It can seem counter-intuitive to try and target a relatively small niche market, especially when the successful rental portals seem so generalised. So part of our job is to take an overall view of the property (and also to some extent the Owner) and to help as much as possible with creating a profile of the “ideal guest”. Having this profile in mind helps us to assess the property, providing valuable advice to make it appeal to that very target audience.
Rental Tonic also work with the child-friendly specialists Tots to Travel and so we have an excellent knowledge of family self- catering holidays. During the House Call therefore we were able to consider this market in the mix of opportunities that would make the biggest impact quickest in order to get the house on the market and open to enquiries.
As we mentioned before, this house was in a bit of a sorry state having had bad tenants renting it long-term. So one of the biggest priorities was getting it looking good enough to photograph – and that meant making it look contemporary, stylish and welcoming to our target audience.
We knew that the income from the first few bookings would be put back into decoration and repairs, plus some new equipment necessary to cater to families, so we needed to identify the key selling points and make sure those were attended to first in order to effectively promote the property to families.
What we looked at
The main objective of our consultation was to give the Owner a clear and sensible action plan in order of priority to get the house ready to advertise, through to welcoming the first arrivals and giving great customer service. This was very much a case of “where do I start?” and so to answer this we looked at:
- What was the USP (unique selling point) of the house – what features could appeal to our target audience?
- What facilities or equipment would our ideal guest really value?
- Were there benefits in investing in the extra equipment expected by a specialist holiday agency?
- A safety risk assessment to identify areas of concern for families to help with marketing and customer service
- What prices to charge in order to compete with the local market whilst balancing quality and value
- Where to advertise for guests and what strategy to go for to attract bookings
- Where to spend money first on the re-decoration, which rooms must take priority for marketing photos and when would we have enough to set up the first listing? (remembering that there is never a second chance to make a first impression!)
And so after looking at these key issues we were able to come up with a pretty exhaustive plan of action which we call our Complete Holiday Makeover. We highlighted these action points as priority:
- We decided to focus on the wonderful open-plan contemporary living area and conservatory as the main marketing draw – so these could be prioritised for photos. The swimming pool area and free sports courts were also a big attraction for families.
- There were some safety issues that were simple to resolve before first arrivals and did not impact on getting the house advertised.
- We decided to go the route of investing in baby equipment to be able to work with the specialist agency Tots to Travel – but worked out a way to get the items as bookings deposits came in. The owner was keen to invest in the house upfront so that he could turn it into a viable income stream for several years to come.
- We highlighted the rooms that needed to be photographed first. Our owner is a photographer so it meant he was able to take photos as each room was decorated – when we had a minimum of 10 decent photos we could make the first listing.
- As well as the images, well written marketing copy would be key to getting enquiries. The house was as yet an unproven product so we had to trial different advertising channels to see what worked best.
- We decided that the house was of a good enough standard to go into the market with a fairly high price tag, so we must back this up with excellent images and follow through with outstanding customer service.
In the next post we will look at exactly what we did to present the house to be advertised and share some key tips for photographing your holiday home. Read the post straight away here: Holiday Lettings Case Study Part 3: Property Styling and Photography, and sign up for our newsletter so you don´t miss out on future updates about this villa.