Posts

GDPR

GDPRMany of you will have by now heard of GDPR (the General Data Protection Regulation). However there still remains a degree of confusion around what holiday homeowners need to do in order to comply. The new legislation on how we all handle data comes into force on 25th May 2018.

So what is changing and why does it affect you as a holiday homeowner?

The new regulations are designed to supersede the Data Protection Act (DPA) 1998.

Why the need for change? Simply because the old Act no longer represents the internet today; if you think of the changes in technology over the past twenty years it’s completely understandable that the old legislation has become outdated.

The new legislation builds upon the DPA (which we should all be adhering to already); it makes some slight alternations in order to fit with modern methods of marketing and the way data is often used in today’s world.

Its aim is to attempt to stop poor use and the abuse of data; not to catch small businesses or holiday homeowners out and issue fines. Therefore if you’re a holiday homeowner that only uses data in a responsible way then the changes should be embraced.

What does it mean for your email lists?

Most holiday homeowners will use email to communicate with, and market to potential guests. The new GDPR legislation won’t stop you from doing this, but there are a few things that you need to be aware of:

  1. If you’ve bought an email list then you’ll no longer be able to use them after 25th May 2018; unless you’re able to get them to opt-in to receiving emails from you before that date.
  2. The same logic applies to any competitions you’ve run. It’s not uncommon for holiday homeowners to run initiatives that offer an incentive or prize in exchange for their email address.  If you’ve run this type of competition, then it is again imperative that you’ve gained an opt-in from entrants to receive emails from you. If in doubt, then it would be recommended that you no longer contact them unless you can gain their permission.
  3. The new regulations make reference to ‘current customers’, which could potentially be something of a grey area; afterall what constitutes ‘current’? Generally, if you’ve been sending emails on a regular basis to someone that has previously stayed with you, and they’ve not opened any in the past year then it would be sensible to remove them.  Aside from regulations, it’s best practise to cleanse your data like this on a regular basis to ensure you’re only sending to those interested in your content.

The common theme throughout the GDPR is that you need to have up to date data. Also those on your lists need to have signed up to receive your emails and be engaged with them.  Now is the time to get your data in order, conduct an audit and establish where it came from. Doing this will allow you to stay the right side of the well intentioned law!

Guide to the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

The best resource to help businesses including holiday homeowners prepare for the General Data Protection Regulation is available by clicking the link below:

Further guidance is also available in the VisitBritain Pink Book Online:

If you require precise or detailed information on the legislation mentioned in this article, or on the legal implications for you in particular, you should consult a professional legal adviser.

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

holiday cottage neutral decor

holiday cottage neutral decorTake a look around your home; what is it that makes it unique and yours, rather than just any old property? Whilst some will say memories, many will say the stamp they’ve put on the place; the extra touches they’ve made, or the changes they’ve crafted.

We all decorate our own homes to our own tastes; makes perfect sense as we’re the ones living there and we want to be surrounded by items that we find to be attractive and appealing. But what happens when you’re decorating your holiday home?

You’re not the only one that’s going to be enjoying it, so how do you decorate in a way that doesn’t alienate the market you’re trying to persuade? The answer is of course creating a light and inviting holiday home with neutral interior décor. Let us tell you why that doesn’t always need to mean magnolia, cream and all things bland…

Colours

Try taking inspiration from your surroundings with the colour scheme, without getting too carried away. If you’re on the coast you could try soft blues combined with shades of white or cream. If you’re in the countryside, take inspiration from the trees and grass outdoors and have little touches of green throughout your holiday let; combining this with warm creams will make the property feel cosy yet classic. Urban holiday homes can’t be forgotten either; a classic white keeps things modern and fresh (and believe us there are many shades of white!).

If you want to have simple walls in cream or white, then you could choose an accent colour in each room. A plain white living room can be brought to life with a splash of colour in the furniture and accessories. It’s important to keep a good balance of accent colour and neutral colour; take it too far and the room could look garish.

Accessories

Ornaments are a tricky one; that favourite china cat statue may have been in the house for the past decade, but it won’t be popular with everyone. Sticking to simple, modern accessories is the best way to add a homely yet stylish touch to your holiday home. Soft blankets in tones that work with your colour scheme, plain cushions, simply framed mirrors; these are all things that will work well for your neutral interior décor, yet also add some personality and life.

Lighting is another important aspect. By day, there may be plenty of natural sunlight, but in the evening your guests could create a cosy and relaxing atmosphere with lamps. Tall, free standing lights and table lamps both work well; just make sure they’re placed correctly to provide the right amount of illumination. Add extra control to your lighting by installing dimmer switches. This will also have the added advantage of keeping the assessor happy when your holiday home is quality assessed.

Furniture

This is where you’ll need to think practically. Guests will expect durable and good quality beds, sofas, tables, and chairs so make sure you are providing that. It may be tempting to get that cheap sofa from Ikea, but investing in a quality one will save you money in the long term and provide visitors with a comfortable place to relax.

Simple styles are also best in terms of furniture. Plain fabrics and classic looks work best, you can add a finishing touch with stylish duvets and cushions on beds and sofas, and table cloths and heat mats on tables.

What does your target market think

Ultimately your holiday home needs to appeal to a certain type of person and you need to think of them at all times. If young children are going to be present then you will of course cut down on small additions to your cottage that could be swallowed, or easily broken.

A young couple on a walking holiday will be wanting more functional items such as wet clothes storage items, whilst the more romantic upon us might want some cosy blankets to cuddle under in the winter months.

Keep it natural, use neutral interior décor in line with what your guests want, and you’ll not go far wrong.

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.

For further information on UK holiday home insurance visit the website page most relevant to you:

 

holiday letting blog

holiday letting blogFor a long time now we’ve been told that content is king; not only does Google love it, potential guests enjoy reading it and engaging with what you’re sharing in your holiday letting blog, whether that’s information on places to go in the local area, images of the latest stunning sunset or sharing a few guest reviews.

You don’t need to be an expert in online copy to create great content, you just need a bit of knowledge on what your existing and potential guests like to read about. Alongside this, you’ll need attention grabbing headlines.

If you currently have a blog for your holiday cottage business, we know it is more than likely that you spend hours labouring over a fantastic post then rushing a headline without giving it too much thought. You may not realise, but this could cost you visits to your holiday letting blog and as a result fewer bookings.

Research has shown that 8 out of 10 people will read the title of your blog, whilst 2 out of 10 will read the whole post. So it is worth spending time on a great headline and making a first impression that grabs attention.

To help you get started, we’ve compiled a list of 7 tips on creating the perfect blog title for your brilliant post.

  1. Use power words

Adding words such as ‘brilliant’, ‘easy’, and ‘fun’ lets the reader know that your post is interesting and worth reading. They target human emotions which makes people more inclined to take the time to read your blog post.

  1. Include a number

Research shows that blog post titles get a much higher click-through rate on search engines when it includes a number. This is because we have short attention spans, particularly when it comes to browsing online. A quick skim of a blog title and we can find out that we’ll get 7 fun family activities in North Cornwall.

  1. Make it odd

Experts aren’t entirely sure why, but odd numbers in blog post titles are more popular than even numbers.  Research from The Content Marketing Institute found that titles which included an odd number led to 20% more clicks. We may not know why this happens but it is definitely worth doing!  We seem to have seven points in this one!

  1. Show you can help

Readers are always after blog posts that will benefit them in some way. From the headline, they need to know that what you have written can help them and benefit them in some way.

Instead of a simple title like “Devon coastal walks”, add in a benefit (and an odd number and power word!) to make it more appealing. Something like “6 beautiful Devonshire coastal walks for the whole family”.

  1. Keep it short

Google can currently only show 65 characters in its search results (which are taken from the title of your blog), so a long title will be cut off and your hard work will be wasted.

We recommend keeping it below 45 characters for maximum impact. If you really can’t get it any lower than this, make sure your key words are at the start of the headline so that if some is cut off by Google, readers will still know what your blog post is about.

  1. Read around

If you want to know how to be successful with blog headlines, then take a look at those at the top. By spending just 10 minutes looking at popular blogs, you can start to see what techniques they use with their headlines.  Before you know it the creative juices will be flowing and you’ll be inspired to write some great headlines!

  1. Test it

If you think you’ve done a great job but want to double check, then try out this great free headline analyser tool. CoSchedule  checks your headline and scores it for relatability and emotion.

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.

 

Rugby World Cup 2015

Rugby World Cup 2015

International sporting events have the potential to captivate, engage and inspire a nation. If proof were ever required we need only to cast our gaze back to 2012 and the London Olympics; 900 million people tuned in to watch the opening ceremony of a games that kept everybody on the edge of their seats for the entirety of a summer.

So with the dawn of a Rugby World Cup hosted on home soil for the first time in 24 years now less than nine months away, is the tournament an opportunity your holiday home letting business can afford to miss out on? Is your holiday home ready for the Rugby World Cup?

Will your guests be watching or interested in the Rugby World Cup?

The statistics indicate that whilst many of us won’t be motivated to get down to the local ground on the average Saturday, we’re more than happy to get behind our team when the World Cup steamrolls into town:

  • 5 million applications for tournament tickets were made in 17 days; that’s four every second!
  • 650,000 people applied for tickets to see England’s Pool A showdown with Australia at Twickenham Stadium; enough to fill the stadium eight times over.
  • 5 million people tuned in to watch Jonny Wilkinson kick for World Cup glory in 2003, with many of them welcoming the trophy home in a Trafalgar Square parade.

How close will you be to the action?

The following venues will be hosting World Cup games in 2015;

  • Brighton Community Stadium
  • Elland Road (Leeds)
  • Kingsholm Stadium (Gloucester)
  • Leicester City Stadium
  • Manchester City Stadium
  • Millenium Stadium (Cardiff)
  • Olympic Stadium (London)
  • Sandy Park (Exeter)
  • St James’ Park (Newcastle)
  • Stadium MK (Milton Keynes)
  • Twickenham Stadium (London)
  • Villa Park (Birmingham)
  • Wembley Stadium (London)

How can you attract and cater for the World Cup rugby fan?

Get ready now

Don’t wait until the tournament is upon us; begin your promotion now. Your blog and the latest news section of your website will be a great place to show your guests what you’ll be doing for them during the tournament.

Here are a few things you can be telling them about:

Where can they watch the games?

Some will want to watch from home, others to get together in front of a big screen and cheer their team on. Ensure you give visitors to your website and holiday home information on local pubs and venues showing the games.

Are there local events?

A huge element of this year’s World Cup is family engagement. A series of events will be taking place across the country before and during the tournament so keep an eye out for any that may be of interest to your visitors.

Do your research and make sure they’re featured in your welcome pack and promoted on your website.

Customise your welcome pack

It can be as simple as adding in a tournament planner / itinerary, or perhaps even some rugby related paraphernalia or snacks to eat during the game.

Remember there is only one chance to make a first impression so it pays dividends to ensure it’s a good one.

Is it time for a new television?

One thing you may have noticed before a ball was kicked at last year’s FIFA World Cup is that retailers know it’s time to cash in. There will be deals on televisions before the Rugby World Cup so is it time to upgrade?

Technology such as High Definition (HD), 3D televisions and Home Cinema Systems have become commonplace amongst many holiday homes across the country; is yours up to scratch?

If the television is sorted do you have any way of your guests recording the game to watch in peace once the kids are in bed or they’ve returned from a great day out?

If you’ve gone to the expense of giving your guests a great television experience make sure it’s clearly promoted and communicated on your site and by your holiday home letting agent. If you do go so far as to upgrade your television, ensure that that your holiday home insurance sums insured are sufficient and that you have the correct levels of cover for your needs.

Here’s to a great World Cup!

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

Holiday Home Letting Agent

Holiday Home Letting AgentIf you own and run a holiday home have you ever considered using the support and expertise of a specialist holiday home letting agent?

If you haven’t, we explore ten benefits of using a holiday home letting agent that you could enjoy:

1. Saving time

Answering emails, the phone ringing off the hook, updating availability after the call, making sure you’re ready for changeover, taking payments, booking the plumber.

Owning a holiday home can be incredibly rewarding but it also takes time and even more so during the peak summer season. A letting agent can take this administrative burden away from you, allowing you to focus on the things you enjoy.

2. Taking payments

Many of your guests will want to pay quickly and easily over phone with their debit or credit card. PCI compliance, which allows you to take these sorts of payment, can be costly, time consuming and arduous to set up.

3. Chasing payments

As well as taking time, chasing people for money is not a task that many will relish, let alone enjoy. Your booking agent will not only take up the mantle for you, but also have systems in place to ensure that not a penny is missed, allowing you peace of mind that you’re not missing anything when times are fraught with booking activity.

Your letting agent will have these facilities in place, meaning you needn’t worry about missing out on potential bookings as a result of the payment methods you can accept.

4. A larger shop window

The Internet is an extremely competitive environment and getting your holiday cottage seen is vital to your success in driving holiday letting bookings. Holiday letting agency websites will boast good levels of traffic, driven by proven search engine optimisation (SEO), pay per click (PPC) and scoial media campaigns, potentially putting you in the shop window for even more bookings.

Many agencies will be able to tell you how many visits their sites gets, how many bookings they expect to generate and how often your cottage is being seen so you can keep a handle on progress.

5. Marketing and Specialist Support

Working with a holiday letting specialist can be extremely beneficial. You’ll benefit from the shared knowledge they’ve gained from managing not only your own holiday cottage property but also all of the others on their portfolio. They’ll know the best way in which to market your property, where to market it and how to gain the maximum level of bookings.

6. Their database of potential guests

Thousands and thousands of families, couples and individuals will book their cottage stay through a holiday lettings agent each year. Your agent will be able to promote you directly to those that have previously shown an interest in cottages just like yours; putting you right in front of a captive audience.

7. Complaints, disputes and issues

Whilst every holiday homeowner will want to give his or her guests the most pleasant stay possible, sometimes issues with your visitors will arise. With such a vested interest in the property these issues can sometimes become tense and stressful.

Lettings agents will be experienced in dealing with any disputes that arise from time to time and be able to achieve the best possible outcome whilst also diffusing the situation and keeping you stress free!

8. Keeping up to date with legislation and regulations

Regulations for holiday homeowners move a pace and at times it may be hard for individual holiday letting owners to keep up to date with the sheer volume of information they need to be aware of.

Do you know how often your gas boiler should be checked? Who should be checking it? When your appliances need to be portable appliance tested?

Lettings agents will be able to steer you through this potential minefield, keeping you informed and mitigating risk where they can.

9. Introducing you to reliable tradesmen, housekeepers and professional services

Reliable tradesmen, housekeepers and providers of other professional services, such as holiday home insurance advisers are key to the smooth operation of your holiday letting business. Your holiday letting agents will be able to recommend a list of people that they and their owners have had experience in dealing with. Indeed they may even offer a service to meet and greet your gas engineer when your boiler is due its annual service and safety check.

10. More bookings

Ultimately the role of your holiday home letting agent is to bring more custom through your holiday cottage door. All of the above will enable them to do that, whilst also freeing up your time and potentially lowering your stress levels!

Is now the time to use a specialist in every area of your holiday letting business?

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.

Is it time to heat your holiday home water with the sun?

Solar Water HeatingIn recent years solar energy has grabbed perhaps more headlines than any other renewable technology. Creating energy from the sun is an attractive proposition; particularly for holiday home owners whose usage of hot water and other household bills will increase exponentially during the sunniest time of the year.

We explore if solar water heating, using solar power to heat the water of your holiday home is a potential match made in heaven.

How do solar water heating systems work?

The first port of call will be to have solar panels fitted to the roof of your holiday home.  Once installed these panels will then collect the heat from the sun and use it to heat up the water in a hot water cylinder for use by your guests.

A common myth associated with solar panels is that they’ll only heat water during periods of glorious sunshine. Whilst potential output during cloudier days will compromised, they’ll still continue to generate sufficient energy from which to heat water. For those holiday homes filling shoulder and winter months the system can also be topped up with the use of immersion heating or a boiler.

Weighing up the costs and savings

Whilst a solar water system can often be installed within a day, the cost of installation is the first potential barrier for holiday homes looking to adopt this technology. A price tag of £3,000 to £5,000 (including 5% VAT) has been enough to deter some holiday homeowners from adorning their property in panels.

There are however significant benefits available for those turning to solar. The first is that sunshine is of course free of charge, meaning holiday homes heating their water through solar power will see a reduction in their bills when compared with gas or electricity providers.

Further financial benefits can also be borne out under the Renewable Heat Incentive (RHI). The RHI is the first of its kind in the world and pays those heating their buildings through renewable energy. It is estimated that a four person household could be paid in the region of £400 per annum if utilising solar water technology.

The benefits of going green

The tourism industry as a whole has seen an increased desire for eco-friendly accommodation. 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.

The average holiday home could reduce their carbon emissions by approximately 350kg of C02 per year if moving from oil to solar water. That’s the same amount emitted by a car driving for 13 hours non-stop or emitted by the average home over the course of 10 full days.

What level of maintenance will your system require?

With many owners living away from their holiday home a system that requires extensive and regular maintenance would in most cases prove to be unsuitable. Solar water systems usually come with a five or ten year warranty, and require very little maintenance after installation.

An accredited supplier should carry out a full check of the system every 3 – 7 years, with basic visual and performance checks being carried out by the home owner on a more frequent basis.

As with any system containing water, despite containing antifreeze it’s important to ensure that during colder winter months there are no issues and that the system is checked for potential frozen pipes or leaks.

For more information on solar water heating for your holiday home please do consult an accredited supplier and be sure to get more than one quote for your system.

Be sure to speak to your holiday home insurance insurance broker and increase your buildings sums insured and to clarify that your solar water heating panels will be covered in the event that they are damaged by a peril, such as storm or fire. For further information or if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance call our team on 01237 429444.

Take the leadA guide to welcoming guests with assistance dogs to your self-catering holiday home

Are you aware that there are over 6500 registered assistance dog users in the UK who rely on their trusted companion to carry out practical tasks and support their independence? As a self-catering holiday home owner it’s important that you keep yourself informed of the legislation which impacts on your letting business. To help you understand the rights of guests with assistance dogs, The Equality and Human Rights Commission and VisitEngland have produced an informative publication entitled: Take the lead – A guide to welcoming guests with assistance dogs to your self-catering holiday home.

This useful guide aimed at all tourism businesses including accommodation providers covers topics such as:

  • What is an assistance dog?
  • Why you should welcome owners with assistance dogs at your furnished holiday letting property
  • Your legal obligations under the Equality Act 2010 to allow disabled people with assistance dogs to stay at your holiday home

Dog friendly holiday cottages

Whilst many holiday home owners already market their letting properties and cottages as dog friendly whilst a few also choose for many reasons not to accept pets, clearly every owner must take reasonable steps to accept guests with assistance dogs. Assistance dogs are highly trained and very unlikely to cause any damage to your holiday home, in any event quality holiday home insurance with accidental damage will give you peace of mind that most situations are covered.

A pdf copy of the guide is available to download here: Take the lead – A guide to welcoming customers with assistance dogs

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.

Holiday Cottage

Holiday CottageRateable Values: Your Holiday Cottage

If we said 140 days to you would this seem a long period of time?

That’s a little over four and a half months or in terms of the tourism season, approximately the length of time between this year’s Easter Sunday and the return to the classroom of many children across the country in early September.

The vast majority of holiday cottage owners in England will have their properties available during this period and beyond. As a result the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) will assess them for a rateable value. A process which is used In order to establish the level of business rates for holiday cottages.

What is a Rateable Value?

The rateable value of a property is a professional assessment of the annual rent your holiday cottage could obtain. It’s a key factor used by your Local Authority to calculate the level of business rates you should be paying.

If your holiday cottage is let for more than 140 days in a financial year then it will be assessed for a rateable value.

What is taken into consideration when calculating the ratable value of your holiday cottage?

When assessing property such as offices, shops or other industrial premises there is a wide range of rental evidence from which Local Authorities can compare, contrast and establish rateable values.

The VOA explain that because very few locations have this level of rental evidence for holiday cottages they often need to use other methods in order to establish a ratable value, such as the gross receipts your cottage takes during the valuation period. This allows them to build a picture of the potential income your cottage could make and in doing so, establish what someone would otherwise pay in rent for the property.

They may also take into consideration the type, size, location and the quality of accommodation your property provides when making calculations.

How is this information gathered?

If you have a holiday cottage that should be rated then you’ll need to complete a ‘Request for Information’ form.

The V06048 form has been designed specifically for holiday cottages and self-catering units, with the questions designed to take into consideration differences in tariffs, marketing, levels of service and other factors such as quality of furnishings.

The overall aim of the form is to establish the income you gain from the property and the level of expenditure required to achieve that income.

What do you do if you believe that your rating is wrong?

If you believe the ratable value of your holiday cottage is incorrect you should contact your local Valuation Office. If you’re still unsatisfied with your rating you’re able to launch an appeal, which is known as making a ‘proposal’ to alter the rating list.

You can make a single appeal to the rateable value of your holiday cottage during the ‘life’ of the rating list, which usually lasts for five years (the current list runs from April 2010 to 31 March 2017).

To appeal against your listing you can visit www.voa.gov.uk or by obtaining a form from your local Valuation Office. Other points to note are that non-domestic rates or business rates are an allowable expense and therefore tax deductible for income or corporation tax purposes. Any owners accommodation should remain subject to council tax.

Boshers are specialist providers of insurance for 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.

Based around the theme, create magical memories to take home and treasure. The new advert from cottages4you and Enjoy England promotes cottage holidays in Britain. Whilst it is likely that only the largest of holiday home letting agents will have the marketing budget for TV advertising, increasing awareness of UK cottage holidays will no doubt have a positive knock on effect for all involved in UK holiday home lettings.