Holiday letting tips

Holiday letting tipsAs a holiday home owner there’s so much to think about; from guest safety to website photography and Facebook posts to the internal fixtures and fittings. Or even who’s doing the changeovers and mowing the lawns before those guests roll up the driveway.

The good news is that we’re here to help. We talk with holiday homeowners and letting agents every day giving us an insight into many aspects of holiday letting. As a result we’ve put together some of our most useful articles containing holiday letting tips all in one place.

No matter if you’re looking for ideas on how to cut electricity bills or keep the visiting kids safe in the garden, here are some of our top holiday letting tips when it comes to getting the most out of your holiday home this year….

Keeping your guests safe – checks to make before the peak season

You’ll undoubtedly want your guests to have a great time in your cottage and that means that they’ll also need to have a safe time. There are a number of checks and processes you should have in place and these should always be done prior to the busy summer season.

Here are a few checks that you need to tick off the to-do list as a priority:

How to make your cottages dog friendly

There are nearly nine million dog owners in the UK and almost 40% of visitors now want to take their pet with them on holiday. If you’re looking to make the most of this continually growing market or want to fine-tune your cottage to welcome our furry friends then here are some great pointers…

Engaging with the growing green tourism market

It’s not just a welcoming cottage for our trusted canines that piques potential booking interest, as more and more of us are becoming driven by sourcing eco-friendly accommodation. A whopping 58% of English consumers surveyed by VisitEngland indicated they’d want to stay in green accommodation with awards or environmentally friendly practices. Here’s how to communicate your green credentials and a few ideas to grow them, too…

How to make your cottage a haven for families

If you’re welcoming young children into your cottage this year, you’ll need to answer all of the needs that your paying parents arrive with. Here are just a few ideas on how to make your cottage perfect for each family, no matter what the weather….

Keeping children safe on outdoor play equipment

If you’re welcoming children to your cottage then it’s certainly not uncommon to have an outdoor play area for them to enjoy. Ever wondered what you need to do in order to keep them as safe as possible whilst playing on your outdoor equipment? Here’s our guide on everything you should be doing in order to minimise the risks of an accident…

How to make a first impression

Your guests will only ever walk into your home for the first time once. It’s therefore vital you achieve that wow factor which will leave a positive lasting impression. Hampers are an easy and popular welcome gift for guests and, if used well, can start someone’s holiday off on the right foot. Here’s how to get the content right whilst also catering for those with allergies and those who like a tipple!

How to get your property photography right

A photo speaks a thousand words, so getting them right is definitely a priority! Here’s our guide to make sure your images are immaculate. Also included are some elements you might not have thought of until your photographer has made his way home!

Increase bookings by promoting your cottage as a destination

Visitors spend 80% of their time outside of your cottage, yet the average cottage website has 80% of its content focussed on what’s inside. Here’s how to promote your destination and experience in order to grab people’s attention and bookings…

Become more energy efficient

Energy bills across the UK risen considerably; by up to 10% this year and for some by more than 30% in the past 30 months. Being energy efficient is becoming increasingly important, not only to prove your eco credentials but also to keep costs down. Here’s a few ideas on how to do just that…

Electric vehicle charging points

The UK is going electric when it comes to cars and the growth continues to be exponential.  In 2012 there were just 2,254 electric cars sold in England. Fast forward to 2015 and that figure was hitting 30,000. Last year? Near 60,000 electric plugin cars were sold. If you want to welcome this growing trend of traveller then here’s all you need to know about your electric hook-up point….

Getting your insurance right

We’ve been working with holiday home owners for more than 30 years and we’re specialists in making sure that cottages across the UK have the insurance in place that they need. For more information on insuring your holiday home or cottage complex please give our experienced team a call on 01237 429 444.

#2minutebeachclean board Lundy
#2minutebeachclean board Lundy

Left to Right – Dean Jones, Conservation Warden, Derek Green, Lundy General Manager, Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd

Devon based holiday cottage insurance specialists Boshers have teamed up with insurer Ecclesiastical to support the #2minutebeachclean initiative and sponsor a station at Lundy.

The firms are providing £5,000 of funding to #2minutebeachclean as part of Ecclesiastical’s ‘Closer to You’ community grant program. The proceeds are being used for setting up 10 new beach clean stations including one at Lundy Island to help remove plastic from its otherwise pristine marine environment.

The two minute beach clean initiative calls upon people visiting the region’s beaches to spend just two minutes of their time clearing the growing volume of plastic and debris washed up from the sea.

“We’re proud to support this growing initiative that ensures our beaches are kept clean”

#2minutebeachclean Lundy

#2minutebeachclean Landing Beach Lundy, Left to Right – Dean Jones, Conservation Warden, Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd

Mark Lavington, Director at Boshers Ltd explained; “We’re lucky to live in one of the most beautiful parts of the world where our beaches play a huge role in the region’s tourism industry. We’re proud to support this growing initiative that ensures our beaches are kept clean. As a keen sub-aqua diver and regular visitor to Lundy I’m thrilled we have been able to sponsor a board for the island’s Landing Beach”

Each year an estimated 6.4 million tonnes of plastic enters the sea, killing more than one million seabirds and countless other marine animals.

“We are delighted with our #2minutebeachclean board and grateful to Boshers for their support”

Derek Green, the Lundy General Manager said; “We are delighted with our #2minutebeachclean board and grateful to Boshers for their support. We hope the new board will encourage more of our visitors to help keep our beach plastic free. Our Conservation Warden, Dean Jones has installed bins above the beach, from where the plastic will be sorted and shipped to the mainland for recycling.”

Boshers applied for grant funding from Ecclesiastical Insurance Group’s ‘Closer to You’ community programme to boost its support for The Beach Clean Network Limited. This programme gives Ecclesiastical’s Select insurance broker partners the chance to be part of its ambition to give £100million to good causes. As well as providing funding for charities close to brokers, employees from the specialist insurer are also teaming up with brokers for volunteering days and fundraising challenges.

“It is very special for us to have a presence on Lundy Island”

#2minutebeachcleanMartin Dorey, founder of the #2minutebeachclean, said, “It is very special for us to have a presence on Lundy Island. It is a beautiful island that is well loved by many, me included! I have cleaned the beach there myself when I have visited and know that even marine reserves like Lundy need a little extra help clearing marine litter. We are so very grateful to our friends at Boshers for supporting our beach cleaning campaign, and for enabling us to enable Lundy’s visitors to do their bit to keep it pristine. Thanks also to the staff at Lundy for helping to make this happen. It’s brilliant!”

For more information on #2minutebeachclean and how you can get involved please click here.

Boshers are holiday cottage insurance specialists offering quotes and advice to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurance intermediary can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

sustainable holiday letting

sustainable holiday lettingWe live in a society in which we are all growing more and more conscious of the world in which we live and the impact we make upon it. Recent news of motor manufacturers moving away from gas-guzzling cars towards cleaner electric vehicles are indicative of this change. Indeed there is a trend towards sustainable holiday letting businesses installing electric vehicle charging points to cater for increased demand. These trends have also permeated visitor opinion and purchasing behavior when it comes to booking a holiday cottage. Building a sustainable holiday letting business will increasingly become good businesss.

Recent research has found that guests actively seeking sustainable holiday letting accommodation are still in the minority. Importantly this research also illustrated that a holiday home with sustainable credentials does add extra appeal to potential guests.

When combined with the fact that sustainable no longer has to mean expensive – and quite often leads to cost savings over the medium to long-term for the holiday homeowner – the idea of building a sustainable and eco-friendly brand for your holiday cottage can become quite appealing. For example owners who have embraced the use of LED lighting have seen a reduction in electricity use.

We’ve been taking a look at Visit England’s ‘Sustainable Tourism Management Good Practice Guide’. The guide outlines ways in which you can improve the ways in which you work sustainably as a holiday homeowner, and become more green in practice.

Understanding your current position and developing a plan

When it comes to being green, the first step is to increase the knowledge you have of what you’re already using and where. This should involve monitoring your meter readings and fuel deliveries to identify the current level of consumption and where savings can or could be made. A great tool for highlighting the potential for improvement and developing a plan of action can be found at Better Tourism – Securing a sustainable future for your business.

If you don’t already do so, be sure to let your energy and water providers have regular and accurate readings as these can significantly lower bills. Live a good distance from your property? Ensure the task is delegated to someone to undertake on a regular basis.

Communicate with your guests

Getting it right when explaining your sustainable credentials to guests can be tricky; you don’t want it to come across as too technical and you definitely don’t want it to come across as preachy. Ensure you explain the changes that have been made, and most importantly, how they impact and improve your guest experience.

For example, if you’ve insulated your holiday home, explain what this means to your guest in the winter (particularly if your cottage is stone walled or of original construction and therefore may be perceived to be pretty chilly in January), not what it means in terms of your exceeding building regulations, its millimeters in thickness or how they should do the same themselves!

Get the guests involved in your sustainable holiday letting business

If you can, get the guests involved in your efforts. Clear communication is the key here too; do they know what they need to recycle and where within your holiday home? If they’re staying for a week, do they know when the recycling collection is made? Consider communicating this in your holiday let welcome folder.

Make this as obvious and as easy as possible for them to do, and if you’re attracting families, think of ways and games you could create to get the little ones involved in the effort. Things that are fun are more likely to be done.

Remember it doesn’t stop at the front door

It can be easy to think of sustainability as being contained within the four walls of our holiday homes. When in reality it can and perhaps should extend to the garden and grounds of your cottage. Consider using plants and shrubs that are in keeping with the local environment. Perhaps encourage wildlife through bird boxes in order to create the perfect holiday haven. Water butts can also be a handy addition in reducing the mains water that you use on the garden.

For more tips on how you can be a little greener please take a look at: VisitBritain – Maximising your Sustainability.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. Need an insurance quote for your holiday let? Give us a call on 01237 429444.

green accommodation

green accommodation

When it comes to tourism, being green is really beginning to pay; a whopping 58% of English consumers surveyed by VisitEngland indicated they’d want to stay in green accommodation with awards or environmentally friendly practices. So as a holiday homeowner providing green accommodation with solid eco credentials, how do you communicate with this potential marketplace? How do you ensure that they choose your cottage over someone else’s?

The varying levels of engagement with sustainability

Now that we’ve said that more than half of consumers would want to stay in green accommodation, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is an incredibly important factor in the decision making of many guests. You’d not be wrong. However it is important to understand the varying levels of engagement that potential guests feel when it comes to being green.

Around 10% of the population are truly engaged with sustainability; they care for the planet and the society in which they live, and they’re likely to extensively research their potential accommodation and travel, even paying extra to stay in the eco-friendly option.

The rest of the population can be broadly split into two categories:

  • those that are willing to buy sustainable and will pay extra if there’s a demonstrable benefit for them (around 60%); and
  • those that aren’t interested or motivated in their decision making by sustainability and would be reluctant to pay more (accounting for 30%).

So this leaves us with around 70% of the market to target and engage with, ensuring that they not only know that we’re green, but why and how that benefits them as a paying guest.

The integration with your website

Having a sustainability page and a green policy isn’t going to cut the mustard anymore; they can be dry and they’re also rarely visited. In comparison with your other pages this is the sort of content that is only going to hit home with the 10% of the population whom are heavily invested in green tourism.

Make being green a central element to all of your copy, but ensure it doesn’t become over-baring by focussing on the actual positives of your actions. Take a look at your copy and ask yourself if you’re really communicating the green advantages; if there’s a photo of your cottage with solar panels are you saying how much Co2 you’re saving and how much that’s saving them as a guest in return?

Carrying this message through to your other communications

Don’t just leave this on your website for a couple of years; ensure that you’re delivering the same message through your Facebook page and your email marketing efforts. These are key ‘touch-points’ with potential and returning guests between now and the point at which they come to make that booking decision, so make sure they’re well educated in your green credentials to save the need of them having to research and find somewhere else.

The benefits of green accommodation awards

Awards are still a great marketing tool when it comes to communicating credibility and quality with potential guests. 51% of respondents to a recent survey conducted by VisitEngland indicated that they’d select one hotel over another if it had a green award. The same findings can broadly be applied to the holiday home market. Therefore the question is, have you applied for a green award to give your actions and hard work the credibility they deserve?

These don’t have to be through a glitzy award ceremony; there are a number of schemes that reward and promote businesses operating with a consideration for the environment. Do your research, and once you’ve achieved the certificate or won the award promote it. Ensure that the logo goes onto your website and all other promotional material.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.

Holiday Homes with sedum green roofs

Holiday Homes with sedum green roofsMany holiday cottages across the country have taken a greener approach to tourism in recent times, adopting new technologies such as solar and biomass to power and heat their holiday homes.

One approach that has perhaps gleaned less of the media spotlight than it’s renewable energy counterparts is the humble green roof.  Popular for more than 50 years in countries such as Germany and the Netherlands, could the UK soon be awash with the floral patterns of sedum? Destinations where eco holiday home new builds are sprouting green roofs include The Village – Watergate Bay.

What is a green roof?

A green roof is an alternative to conventional roofing and consists of living plants (usually sedum) that grow in a layer of material (known as a substrate) above the roof’s waterproof membrane.

They have actually been around for years, but are now becoming more and more popular with the increased focus on being green and carbon friendly.

The Benefits of Green Roofs

  • Because the roof consists of living plant life they are able to create microclimates for insects, wildlife and some rare species. Your visitors will be able to enjoy the new abundance of wildlife and the changing colours of your roof throughout the year.
  • One of the most common causes of storm damage is the inability of drain systems to cope with the sudden increases of rainwater travelling through them. Sedum roofs absorb large amounts of rainwater and reduce runoff.
  • Green roofs can help with temperature regulation in your holiday home, providing cooling in the summer and a degree of insulation in the colder winter months.
  • These roofs have been shown to significantly increase the lifespan of waterproofing membranes lying at the base of the roof, meaning you could enjoy some financial benefits over the longer term.
  • The World Tourism Organisation recently found that one in three people now consider the environmental credentials of their potential destination, with 40% willing to pay a premium to stay in such accommodation. Having a green roof will not only appease this growing marketplace, but also give you more weight when you enter the increasing number of sustainable tourism awards.

How much maintenance is required?

Once installed, the maintenance of a sedum roof is minimal, with only a few visits in the first year required to ensure your system is effective and performing correctly.

It is then recommended that your roof is checked once a year, and trimmed whenever necessary (usually every couple of years). The trimmings will be left and allowed to root again, thickening mattings and ensuring no wastage.

Things to make sure you get right

Ensure that your green roof is installed be a specialist manufacturer or installer with a proven track record. If necessary, ask for client references for a selection of systems that have been in place for some time.

  • Commission an integrity test of the waterproofing layer on your roof prior to building up the green roof strata. Any damage or leaks to this layer could be potentially costly and disruptive to repair.
  • Ensure annual servicing of the roofs drainage outlets is undertaken and the roof is stalled in accordance with the installers recommendations.
  • Use a specialist holiday home insurance provider and fully disclose the construction of your holiday letting property to ensure adequate cover

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

How holiday home owners who embrace new mobile technology can save on heating bills

Smart Home Device - Home ControlAs a nation we’ve embraced technology more than most; one in four of us now own a tablet, an item that was not in existence just four years ago!

We even spend more time on technology than we do asleep; recent research from the BBC shows the average UK adult will spend 8 hours 41 minutes in front of some sort of tech!

So what does it all mean for holiday home owners?

A key area of progression and development has been technology that controls the heating of our homes and holiday homes. UK energy consumption has actually fallen by 22% since 2001, with heat control systems contributing in part to that drop. We explore how holiday home owners who embrace new mobile technology can have more control and save on heating bills.

How much can be saved on your heating bills?

Heating is a key expense for holiday home owners and one that impacts directly on the bottom line, particularly during the winter months.

The installation of thermostats and thermostatic radiator valves can save up to £150 per year. Turning down the heat on the thermostat you’ve installed by one degree can lead to a saving of another £75 over that year!

Different ways to save on your holiday home heating bills

There are several different ways in which you can reduce the heating costs of your holiday home but all have one thing in common; reducing wastage.

Wasting heat can come in many different ways;

  • Heating the entire property excessively when only key areas are being used by guests
  • Maintaining excessive heat throughout the day when visitors are outside enjoying what your local area has to offer.
  • Sporadic occupancy during winter months, where the heating is left at the same level.

How is mobile solving the problem?

Most holiday home owners will already be familiar with thermostats, which can be the answer to the first two issues we’ve mentioned. There is however one nagging issue with the common thermostat.

It is literally hands-on, which for holiday homeowners living away from their property makes it increasingly problematic.

With occupancy more sporadic during the winter season what happens if you have one week occupied, another empty and the following occupied again?

Do you head down to your property and turn the heating down, only to return again in order to turn it up again?

The answer in all likelihood is no, and the result will be wasted heat and unnecessarily increased bills.

Mobile heating control technology is becoming more and more readily available, allowing you to control temperatures and zones of your holiday home remotely, putting you in control from wherever you are. In some cases these can be introduced to your existing heating systems and allow you to control your heating remotely from an App.

This market is becoming increasingly competitive; Google purchased the Nest heating control system for $3.2bn and subsequently hit the UK market, whilst other big names include Hive Active Heating (owned by British Gas) and Tado (the German market leader in this technology) are all now readily available to holiday homeowners.

With competition will come competitive pricing, meaning real savings can be made by holiday homeowners looking to adopt mobile technology for their property.

As with most technology, as time goes by it needn’t cost the earth to purchase and install. We suggest taking a look at all of the market options to find the best possible fit for your holiday home.

What do you need to do from an insurance angle?

One of the most frequent holiday home insurance claims is escape of water damage as a result of frozen pipes or cold weather. In any event you’ll want to ensure that the temperature throughout your property is sufficient to prevent pipes from freezing and are also maintained a a level to meet any conditions specified in your insurance policy wording. Our specialist holiday home insurance policy aims to highlight these potential issues for holiday homeowners and states that you’ll need to keep the temperature of your holiday home above 7c throughout during October to March, or ensure that the water is turned off at the stopcock and the heating system is drained when not in use.

These measures will minimise the risk of potential damage to your home.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home business, please give us a call on 01237 429444.

solar panels

solar panels

Sustainable Tourism: The benefits of Solar

One of the most significant developments in the tourism sector over the past decade has been the continuing growth in demand for accommodation providers and owners of holiday cottages to be green and eco-friendly.

Now is the time of sustainable tourism.

Worldwide tourism accounts for an estimated 4% of all carbon emissions and of that figure a whopping 38% is attributed to international air travel.  This has brought about a sharper focus on the impact travel has on the world in which we live and a potential move toward more and more of us enjoying what Britain has to offer hopefully draws nearer.

The World Tourism Organisation recently found that one in three people now consider the environmental credentials of their potential destination, with 40% willing to pay a premium to stay in such accommodation.

Many holiday cottages have embraced their green credentials and identified opportunities to not only reduce carbon emissions but also costs.

With the British summer now promising to flourish into full bloom we look at the benefits of solar power for your holiday cottage.

Potential Cost Savings – The Feed in Tariff

The first thing to say is that the sun is free and with that there are potential cost savings for holiday homeowners.  This is not only in the form of reduced bills but also through the government’s Feed in Tariff.  This provides payment for all the energy produced by the solar panels at your holiday home. You will have first call on the electricity generated by the solar panels with any surplus fed back into the grid.

Shouldering the cost of energy

You won’t always be able to control if your visitors turn the lights off before they go out for the day, if they leave the heating on at a high level or the television running in the living room.

Potential energy bills can continue to creep upwards as an increased number of holiday homeowners begin to fill ‘shoulder’ months when the weather can be colder and the bills higher; 60% of energy costs are attributed to heating and water.

Solar power has been proven to reduce heating costs, which can directly increase the margins of profitability for your holiday home.

Reducing your carbon footprint

As we’ve already highlighted there is an increased visitor awareness of the carbon footprint holiday cottages have.  Solar systems have been estimated to reduce the carbon emissions of the average holiday home by in excess of one tonne of C02 over the course of a year.

That’s the same amount of CO2 emitted by a flight taking off from London Heathrow and touching down at Sydney International airport!

Selecting a supplier

The cost of solar panels and their installation has dropped significantly during the past few years, which has made it an even more viable option for many holiday homeowners.  As renewable energy is such a fast moving market it is suggested that you get more than one quote when looking at installing solar panels on your holiday cottage to ensure you get the most competitive price. The Energy Savings Trust have really useful resources and offer impartial advice including a `find an installer’ facility. Visit their website and select England, Wales, Scotland or Norther Ireland depending on where your holiday home is located.

The insurance Implications

There are insurance implications associated with having solar panels on your holiday cottage.  You’ll need to ensure the buildings insurance definition in your holiday home insurance policy is wide enough to cover damage to the solar panels due to an insured peril such as storm damage.

All holiday homeowners enjoying specialist holiday home insurance provided by Boshers are covered for this as standard in their policy.

Boshers are specialist providers of insurance to holiday homes and cottages.  For more information on how a specialist insurer can help and support your holiday home please give us a call on 01237 429444.