At last it’s ready! Your holiday let is ready to taking paying guests.
How exciting and well done for making it this far.
But now what? How do you rent out a holiday let when it’s all new to you?
Don’t panic, you can do this! Here are some key questions to ask yourself:
- who is your niche?
- how much will you charge?
- do you opt for an agency vs listing site vs direct bookings?
- how hands on do you want to be?
Here’s some help to make these decisions which will form the basis of you bringing your holiday let to the market.
This is the group of guests you are going to market to. Your holiday cottage will not be suitable and will not appeal to all folks. Your niche or target market will depend on its size, specific location, amenities. Also whether you’re presenting it as ‘basic’ accommodation or ‘luxury’ accommodation.
Take some time to brainstorm who exactly your holiday cottage will be ideal for. For example if it has two bedrooms and two ensuites it’s perfect for two couples holidaying together, if it has two bedrooms and one bathroom then it’s more suitable for a family. If your cottage comes with a garden then keen gardeners may be a niche you want to market to. If you’re situated in a National Park or a market town, then you’ll be ideal for guests who want to visit those areas. It’s a layering effect. Be as specific as possible (more of why later).
This is tricky. The temptation is to go low when you’re first starting out just to get a booking. To get the experience of those first sets of guests under your belt. And while this is understandable it can be a mistake because at what point do you then increase your prices to the level you think is right? It’s not easy to manage that with past guests. And if people are only choosing to book with you because you are “cheap” then long term are these really the guests you want? Don’t you want to attract the right guests from the start, who value what you’re offering? When it comes to pricing it’s best to start as you mean to go on.
Pricing is a topic nearly all my VIP clients talk to me about, so you’re not alone if you’re struggling with getting it right. There’s more info here in this article <<3 Holiday Rental Pricing Mistakes To Avoid>>
I’d recommend you have 6 seasons – low, mid, high, premium, peak and Christmas to maximise your income across the year.
Getting bookings coming directly to you from your own website is the optimum. You stay in control of your marketing and you don’t have commissions or listing site fees to pay. But it’s not always realistic. It takes more time and perhaps skills that you have not yet mastered.
No harm in making this your goal from day one. And taking small step towards getting direct bookings each day. Set up your social media accounts and get posting. Start talking about it and it’s location and get people interested in your holiday cottage.
This is why it’s important to know your niche as this is the group of people you will be talking to in your website, social media posts and any third party listings. You will specifically talk to them and tell them how your holiday cottage and its location is a perfect fit for them.
Listing sites are like a directory where you pay an annual fee to list your holiday rental there.
Many allow owner contact details in your listing, which means you can still control the guest/owner relationship from the start. Again think of your niche. Is there a listing site where walkers would be looking, or dog owners? Is there a listing site for your area?
Then there are the large listing sites like of Airbnb, Owners Direct, Holiday Lettings. They operate slightly differently. For example you can only communicate with guests via their site. Owners Direct will only show your listing if you have their automatic booking button selected. This means you can’t approve the booking before it’s made, even if it’s for 10 people and you only sleep 8! If you later decline it, this can have a negative impact on your listing being shown to guests.
These examples touch upon some owners’ frustrations with these big listing sites. Are the frustrations worth it? For some owners yes, for others like me, no.
Proceed with caution is the best advice when choosing to list with one of these large listing sites!
Agencies can be local or national and take a percentage cut from every booking they take for your holiday cottage. This is regularly 20%. Again think of your identified niche and those ideal guests who you want to attract. Will they be looking at this agency? Be selective if you do sign up and don’t be bullied into opting for the prices they suggest, if you believe you’re holiday let is worth more.
As a business owner there are many plates that need spinning and keeping in the air. If you’re in the position where you can spend 100% of your working week on your business then I guess you can do it all. Most of us aren’t in that position and therefore you have to decide where your time is best spent.
But even if you live next door, is the four hour changeover every Friday the best use of your time? Wouldn’t you, as a business owner, be better to outsource that task. Instead focus on tasks that only you can do. Such as writing your social media posts, responding to emails and taking more of a planning/strategic role in running your business.
Also the direct bookings route takes more of your time but it’s so worth it. Firstly you may have new marketing and social media skills you need to learn. Then actually implementing them takes time. But it’s your business, why wouldn’t you want to be as involved as possible?
Its not a case of the more you do yourself, the more profit you’ll make. It’s a question of looking where you existing skills and strengths are and sticking to those, to grow your business.
There’s lots to think about when you’re first starting out and we’ve all been there. Nothing is written in stone and any decision you make can be changed. Keep reviewing and tweaking and learning and as a result your business will grow.
Want to know what 10 steps you need in place to build a profitable holiday rental business? Then grab a copy of this and find out: