Holiday Retreat with Private Pool

Nine indisputable steps to holiday rental success


The holiday rental landscape is growing at a rapid rate. Worth in excess of $100 billion dollars, it now sits proudly amongst mainstream travel accommodation. In the US alone, over 40% travellers have stayed in holiday rental accommodation.

As our industry grows, technology platforms and booking partners launch channels to streamline the work of the holiday home owner or rental manager, and the landscape of advertising portals is constantly changing.

To run a successful holiday rental business in today’s market takes commitment and perseverance. It will always be a work in progress: marketing channels grow, the market becomes ever more competitive and your guests demand more. Yet if you get down to the core of the business, there are still fundamental elements, that if you get right, will prepare you to compete with the best.

Know your ideal guest

‘Ideal guest’ seems to be a buzzword in the world of holiday rental marketing at the moment, but our Rental Tonic team have been working with clients for many years to identify and create successful holiday rental businesses with the ideal guest in mind.

Taking the time to identify your niche market and defining your ideal guest are essential elements within your marketing strategy, which help you create a holiday rental experience targeted at guests you want staying in your holiday home.

It’s also more effective and less of a strain on your marketing budget, when you communicate your proposition to a smaller target group. And importantly, it’s far more enjoyable to connect with the one person who is going to book and love your home, over any other.

Tip: When you have a good idea of who you want to target, it becomes much easier to create the story around your holiday, and create a home that will attract your ideal guests time and again.

Affordable quality

The prime objective of any owner is to develop a holiday rental business that enjoys full calendars, ideally based on a high percentage of repeat bookings.

Why repeat bookings? Less marketing expenditure and work to fill your calendar. And guaranteed happy guests.

It doesn’t matter whether your holiday home is budget or luxury. If you don’t fit it out with good quality furnishing and equipment, and update and maintain the property on a regular basis, you will be chasing new bookings every season. If you want to create a serious income generator, it’s time to inject sensible quality into your holiday home.

Good quality doesn’t have to mean expensive. You will need to invest time, over money, in finding furnishing that will be comfortable and withstand wear and tear.

Tip: Tight budgets can go further when you think on your feet: add a mattress topper and good quality pillows to an economical bed; scatter comfy quality cushions on your sofa and adorn your walls with lovely destination photos and tasteful artwork. Coffee tables can be expensive, but two attractive side tables will give your guests some space to put their coffee down, and to add a lamp.

Be visual

Do you ever scroll through your advertising channel to see what your competition is up to and then get despondent about how they achieve such a professional look? It’s no big secret. It’s all in the staging…

Holiday rental staging and good photography are essential in creating an enticing presentation for your holiday home and ultimately will maximise your booking opportunities.

Good staging and photography will paint a picture so entice, a guest can imagine themselves in the scene; as if they are living the experience already.

Another essential reason to maintain a good level of photography is to maximise the opportunity to be seen in listing search results. In most cases, a percentage of your quality score is based on posting a decent volume of images.

TripAdvisor statistic: Travellers are 150% more engaged with listings that have more than 20 photos than properties with only a few photos.

Don’t compete on pricing

The first and only thing I want to say on the subject of pricing: never compete on price.

Do not enter into a price war with the local competition, there will always be someone prepared to beat you on price. If you have followed the previous steps: set up a quality holiday home, know your niche market and ideal guest and have taken the time to create a compelling story, then you should be able to step out of the price war and charge the rate for your holiday home that meets YOUR expectations i.e. covers costs and somewhere down the line generates a profit.

Tip: Price should be based on three principles: running costs + location + quality. It’s really very simple.

Placement? It’s a jungle out there….

In today’s holiday rental landscape there are a myriad of portals to choose from. The likes of the giants, such as Holiday Lettings/Trip Advisor/FlipKey, Airbnb, and HomeAway/Owner’s Direct, will be a necessary evil when you start out and need to get immediate bookings, but ultimately your long-term goal should be to become independent, before they gobble up your profit and run your business how it suits them; taking away your client interaction and sitting on your booking payments.

In the first couple of years you should be testing the water with the international portal sites, and getting regional coverage from some of the smaller destination-focused portals. Use forums such as to get advise from owners who have tried and tested the market.

Tip: Whatever channel you use, your holiday rental must be instantly bookable.

Copy that creates that WOW factor!

Free Copywriting e-book for vacation rental ownersAnyone who knows me, knows I am a bit of a content freak. I have been travel writing and blogging for many years, and I can say unconditionally that getting your headline and description just right – or incredibly wrong, can have a huge impact on holiday rental enquiries.

Of course, if you’ve done your preliminary work and know your niche and ideal guest, writing exclusively for them is much simpler than trying to please everyone within a 500 word description.

Tip: Stop focusing on your accommodation. Become the local expert – create local experiences.

Learn how to create WOW-FACTOR copy and achieve full calendars and happy guests. Click here to grab a copy of our FREE 7-Point Checklist to WOW-Factor Copy!

Happy holiday experiences

So far, so good. You’ve got the bookings. The guests have arrived. Now you have to ensure they have a happy holiday experience. One that they want to share and replay.

Of course, if you’ve worked out your ideal guest credentials and created a quality rental, it’s reasonable to assume they’ll enjoy your accommodation. Perfect scenario, they’ll be leaving with long-lasting memories of their holiday experience.

Here you have a part to play.

Two of the biggest motivators for choosing holiday rentals, is authenticity and connection. The way you interact with your guests, even before they’ve arrived is like gold. It can be the make or break of a booking. If you think about the success of Airbnb. It’s actually the guest/host interaction that makes its proposition special.

During their stay, your guests will appreciate how much effort you, or your manager put into making their stay just perfect. It will be the icing on the cake, the part of their holiday that gives them a warm, cuddly feeling inside.

Tip: Nothing is too much for the ideal guest. Help as much as you can. You may want to consider adding a concierge-style service to your business.

Marketing? Do.It.Yourself

What do we want? Listing independence. When do we want it? Now!

No longer is having your own holiday rental website a question for debate. The consolidation of the global listing sites has lead to a controlling and costly marketing landscape.

The only way to survive is to strike out for independence. Creating a content rich website, which shows you for the local expert you are, and creates a platform for personal connection with travellers and guests.


Example: Casita Sitges Website

Your social media channels should then become a natural extension to your holiday rental website, where you can freely engage with guests, media and the industry.

A good social media strategy will help you build a community of people who have a common interest in your destination. Where you can share stories, and ultimately earn the trust of potential guests. Studies have shown that people need to “see” your brand as many as 7 times before they will consider doing business with you. This makes social media an important asset in your holiday rental strategy.

Reviews and reactions

In today’s market, guest reviews are at the very heart of travel marketing. They can tell a traveller everything they need to know about accommodation, activity or transport mode, to help them make more informed decisions. So we recognise how important reviews are to our travel business, but it’s not just about getting five star reviews and publishing them.

TripAdvisor statistic: 70% of guests say that seeing a management response to a guest review influences where they stay.

When you reply to a guest review, you aren’t just interacting with that guest, you are also engaging with the hundreds, even thousands of people who read your reviews and your reactions.

Repeat bookings

The mother of all things. The icing on the cake. The reason for living…  OK maybe that’s a little exaggerated, but as an owner it’s ultimately what you should be aiming for.

If you’re working hard to achieve all of the above, then your repeat bookings will start to follow. But if you want to go a little step further to achieve those, then how you interact with guests and clients post-stay is as important as your interaction before and during their stay.

Email marketing, post-stay surveys and guest profiling, are just three of the ways you can stay on top of client preferences, dislikes and key dates i.e. anniversaries, and create perfect personalised marketing actions to attract them back.

Tip: Research shows that personalised promotion is 9x more effective than generic marketing, so don’t follow the crowd. Don’t try solely to compete on generic advertising listing sites. Consider your ideal client, communicate to them, be local, and make it personal.

Rental Tonic call for help

Help us shape the future of YOUR holiday rental marketing

Rental Tonic has been working with holiday rental owners since 2012. Yes, we’ve been around that long! During that time we have built-up a resource portal focused on how to build a successful holiday rental business.

We have coached many of you, built your holiday home websites, worked with you to create advertising descriptions that WOWed your ideal guests, and showed you how to successfully stage and photograph your property.

Now as we move into our next phase, growing into a brand new kind of holiday rental coaching business, we want to share the moment with you.

In fact, we want YOU to be part of that moment. To help make it happen.

Rental Tonic call for help

We are super excited to be creating brand new content modules, tailor-made to help you develop a business delivering full calendars and happy guests!

Over the summer we’ll be fine tuning our content. To do that, we need your help. We know our business inside out, but in order to support your holiday rental needs, we want to know your business inside out too.

Talk to us about your business

So I would like to invite 7 holiday rental owners or managers to talk to me about their business, to help us understand and create solutions to your biggest challenges:

What support do you need to help your holiday rental business grow?

And what do you struggle most with in your holiday rental business?


In return for sharing your challenges with us, I will give you a FREE 30 minute marketing review. Then I’ll share ways on how to make quick and easy improvements that WILL make your advertising more successful!

 I only plan to speak to seven owners, so don’t delay in getting in touch. Don’t forget you will benefit from a free coaching session!

Shoot me over an email to to help us create the next generation in holiday rental marketing training. You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!

Film location using luxury villa in Marbella

How to sell your holiday rental as a film location

Kate Winslet’s cottage in The Holiday, the Chicago mansion in Home Alone and the Spanish villa in Sexy Beast. Great movies filmed in fabulous homes around the world. Producers are always on the lookout for properties with character to use as a filming location, whether it be for a TV commercial, series or feature film.

Rental Tonic’s very own Lindsay Gregory has experience working with production companies, with several properties from her Luxury Villa Collection portfolio featured in well known TV programs and reality shows.

Today we’re sharing our professional tips on how to turn your holiday rental into a film location; how to sell it to location scouts and pre-production companies, and perhaps become the next ‘film star’ home.

Advertising shoot in holiday rental Marbella

First stop: Your Holiday Rental Website

Location scouts do search holiday rental listings to shortlist properties, but if your holiday home has that certain je ne sais quoi that could make it an ideal film or advertising set, you’ll stand out from the competition in your destination by creating your own holiday rental website. If you don’t already have one? You should have.

Tip: Set-up a well-optimised page on the site with information focused on the property as a film location.

Having your own website is an essential part of your holistic marketing in today’s competitive holiday rentals marketplace; helping you showcase your property’s star qualities, through images, videos and great copy. In this case it will also help production companies find you when they Google search a destination.

Pre-production and location scouts

If you’re feeling confident, go ahead and contact pre-production companies directly to present your home as a potential film or ad shoot location. Ask if they have a location portfolio that you can be added to.

Tip: Don’t leave out the production companies in the country where your property is located. They will often be contacted by international agents and scouts, and of course, filming also happens in your own country by local production companies, so getting your home on their books is essential.

Create a portfolio

Aside from using your holiday rental website as a promotional tool, it’s a good idea to create a mini brochure or portfolio to showcase your holiday rental. Use your best quality photos and create beautiful content about your property’s best features.

We recommend you get some professional ‘on location’ photos done to use for your brochure. If you have a video of your home, you can also add that to your presentation email and of course on your website.

Check out this holiday rental brochure example from Lindsay’s Luxury Villa Collection portfolio.

Local journalists and bloggers

Destination bloggers and local media often get contacted by production companies to help source locations, so get in touch with  the prominent travel and lifestyle writers and websites in the country where your home is situated. Follow them on social media and sign-up to their newsletters to stay on top of filming opportunities. You could also get in contact to see if they offer opportunities to collaborate. They might ask you to advertise your property on their website. You’ll need to evaluate if this makes financial sense.

Example: In Spain production enquiries come through websites, such as Family Life In Spain and Spain Buddy. Spain Buddy have a holiday rental resource that costs just 20 € to sign-up to.

Follow them on Social Media

If you use social media to promote your holiday rental, then it’s a good idea is to add the Facebook/Twitter accounts of relevant programmes, series and production companies. As they will often put a shout out when searching for properties.

Using Pinterest or Instagram is also a great way to showcase the best images and videos of your holiday rental. You could integrate your Pinterest boards into your website.

Professional photography for holiday rentals

Photographers and Videographers

Another great idea is to link up with local photographers and videographers and give them a commission if they get a location booking for your property. They are often contacted by advertising agencies, location scouts and designers to help source villa venues for advertising shoots.

Push for PR

If you have a luxury or unique property, we recommend that you create a press pack – pdf format – with the intro and main wording of the press release pasted straight into an email.

Make a contact list of Travel/Property editors of quality press: quality national press and lifestyle/travel magazines, such as The Independent, Telegraph, Sunday Times Travel, Wanderlust and Condé Nast Traveller.

Send them an initial email presenting your property for travel features and remind them every 4-6 months that your property is still available as accommodation. The more you get featured in the press, the more likely you are to get spotted by a production company or location scout. And of course it’s great for stimulating bookings!

Resource: All press coverage of your holiday home should be included on your website. Link to the page, or ask if you can publish a pdf version on your website.

Check the channels

Finally TV channels are always calling for program participants. So keep checking to see if there are any shows in production that need properties in your area. Here are some examples of where and how to register:


Tip: Agents, scouts and pre-production companies, etc. will try to hammer you for a bargain or freebie. It’s essential that you insist ‘in writing’ on having full credits, with the name of your property mentioned as the location, it won’t happen automatically.

Further resources

Greenlight is a great resource to find indie production companies.

Location Agencies and Libraries:

Locations Hub
JJ Locations
Shoot Factory
British Film Commission

If you are a pre-production company looking for quality properties in Spain, France, Switzerland, Italy and other locations throughout Europe, to add to your location list, please get in touch.

Rental Tonic and The Luxury Villa Collection work with some of the most amazing homes throughout Europe.

How to create the perfect holiday rental listing

Your holiday rental advertising listing is not performing, your bookings are down and you see other holiday homes in your destination with full calendars and happy guests. So why are you not achieving the same success?

Before you throw in the towel, take a good look at your holiday rental listing copy. Content can always be improved and optimising your content and writing copy that resonates with your ideal guest, should lead to increases enquiries and bookings.

Read more Guest booking statistics

How guests search and book holiday rentals

At Rental Tonic we love it when companies share data and statistics that help owners and agents improve their holiday rental business and their communication with clients and guests: How clients book, who they are, where they find you, where they go and what they like and expect from a holiday rental. All this ‘big data’ helps you understand a client, the best places to reach that client and how to communicate with them in the future. Read more