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Website update. Stethoscope on laptop keyboardTop tips to get your holiday let website in great shape for the New Year

With the busiest months now behind us are you ready for a January rush of bookings? Here’re some helpful tips to make sure that your website is doing your holiday home and destination justice.

Is all of your website content up to date?

Now is an opportune time to review your holiday let website. Make sure it’s up to date and saying everything you need it to.

  • Do you have all of your unique selling points covered?
  • Have any new additions to your holiday home been mentioned and promoted?
  • Are you using bullet points to quickly highlight what your visitors will be getting?

Learn from what’s working well

If you have Google Analytics, consider looking at which are your most popular pages.

  • Why are they the most popular?
  • Do they give you an insight into what people are looking for when visiting your website and property?
  • Do they give you ideas for building upon the current information with even more?

Promoting your destination

Remember that up to date content doesn’t stop with your holiday home. Your visitors are likely to spend a good deal of their time away from your cottage.

  • Do you have up to date information on where they could be spending their time?
  • Have you spoken with local attractions to gain a link as a local accommodation provider?
  • Have you got information on season opening times?
  • Is there information on how long it takes to get there and how easy it is to find?
  • The more information you have on the local area the more likely a visitor will be attracted to stay.

Make a content plan and consider scheduling your activity

Whilst fresh, regular and relevant content is becoming increasingly important to Google, the biggest problem for most holiday homeowners is finding the time to create it.

During the summer months, when every minute is precious and often fraught with activity, time is not often available to be penning regular blog posts.

Take the time you have in the winter to put a plan in place and to create some great content for your website visitors.

Most content management systems such as WordPress will allow you to schedule when this goes onto your website, leaving you with fresh content all year round, without having to spend all year writing and publishing it.

Update your photography and make sure it does you justice

If a picture speaks a thousand words, are the photos on your website saying the right ones about your holiday cottage?

Remember that when someone is visiting your holiday home they want to have the best possible impression of where it is they’re staying. Out of date, old or poor photography can leave your marketing in tatters so ensure that the latest and best available to you are on display.

Use the visitor book to your advantage

Many holiday homes will have a guest book where visitors can leave comments. Increasingly owners encourage those staying to leave reviews on popular websites such as Tripadvisor.

If those that stay in your holiday home shout about how great it is then ensure these testimonials are prominently displayed across your website. Ensure that they are also up to date!

Is your holiday let website up to speed with current technology?

The average life cycle of a business website is said to be three to four years and you can see why; ten years ago the world hadn’t heard of an iPad! 18.9% of the global population will own a tablet within two years; 42% already have a smart phone.

It’s essential that your website not only keeps up to date with technology but also with other holiday homes. If others are taking advantage of the 52% of internet traffic that now comes from smart phones, should you be too?

Secure your holiday let website with SSL

Short for ‘Secure Socket Layer’, an SSL Certificate is something that you as a website owner buy (usually from your website hosting provider) and then install on your site.

Its purpose is to encrypt the information passed between you and your visitor, and visa versa, therefore making this information secure and unable to be hacked or intercepted.

The cost of an SSL Certificate for your holiday let website can vary from £20 a year up to £150, depending on the needs of your site and your website developer should be able to point you toward the most effective and appropriate for your needs.

Update your holiday let website Copyright

With the dawn of 2020 will come a new copyright number to be displayed on your website. Often forgotten, this small number at the bottom of most sites will need to be updated from 2019 to 2020.

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

 

Marketing your holiday cottage during the winter months

Marketing your holiday cottage during the winter monthsSo the clocks have gone back; the nights are certainly a little darker, as are the mornings, and the mercury in the thermometer has noticeably dropped. It may seem strange that now is an opportune time to be targeting one of the fastest growing areas in the tourism industry; the winter booking. We take a look at opportunities for increased bookings by marketing your holiday cottage during the winter months.

Marketing your holiday cottage during the winter months

For a long time many cottage owners will have been trying to fill those shoulder months, but for many this is now very much a reality. Visit England reported that for the months of January – April this year bed nights were up by a staggering 22%.

Wanting some tips on how you could be attracting a few more of these brave winter souls? We’ve taken a look at six factors to be considering….

Where do you price yourself?

One thing that may put some cottage owners off, and cause plenty of debate with others is how much should you really cut your prices in winter. Remember that there are increased overheads such as heating costs, and also that it’s not always the best to be the cheapest; what does this say about your cottage?

Take a look at similar cottages and where they’re currently priced during winter weeks and weekends. You’ll then be able to gauge the potential rental income you could obtain. If you’re with a letting agent they’ll be able to guide you with their experience in this area.

What can you add that’s of value to the guest?

Your guests are likely to spend more time in your cottage during the winter months than they would during peak season. So the key question is, what have you got to offer them?  Adding items to the welcome pack such as minced pies at Christmas will give a good impression, but have you considered putting together winter packages for guests?

How about linking up with other local businesses to offer discounts? Whether it’s restaurants, family attractions or even art galleries, the tourism industry is built up of many different businesses; by working together we can increase trade for all.

What’s happening in winter?

If your holiday cottage is located in a tourist hotspot you’ll no doubt enjoy the benefits of full peak season bookings, but for many guests, there may be the perception that your area just closes down during the winter. To avoid this ensure your website is kept regularly updated with information on local events, happenings and things to do. Just as in the summer, they’ll want places to visit and it’s vital it shows your area still has plenty to offer.

Email Marketing and Social Media

One of the most important aspects in gaining repeat or potential trade is building a relationship with the guest. If you’re looking to gain year round trade is stands to reason this will require year round contact. Be sure to email your guests with potential availability in winter months, and remain active on your social media. Even if this doesn’t result in a winter booking you’ll be maximising your chances of their return next summer.

Gain reviews from guests staying in the winter

The most credible feedback any potential guest could have on your cottage is from those that have had the pleasure of experiencing it. Ensure you’ve got reviews that make mention of winter stays; perhaps warm cosy nights in front of the fire, or great winter walks in local rugged terrain.

Get your photography right!

Combine reviews with some winter photography; most cottages will obviously have the majority of photos taken in the summer months. Consider if it’s worth having some cosy winter ones commissioned if you really want to take advantage of winter trade.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting 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.

Press Release

Press ReleaseMost holiday homes will now have a blog or latest news section full of lovingly crafted content; things to do, places to visit and great local food to enjoy. This is an effective way of increasing engagement with your site, and also maximising your chances of your holiday letting property ranking highly in Google.

So what more can you be doing?

Gaining media coverage for your holiday home could be the next step, but being able to write a press release likely to be picked up by local and even national news outlets may be a process you’re less familiar with. Here are a few tips to get you started…

It needs to be news!

Before we put pen to paper or begin tapping on our keyboards, the first port of call is to make sure what we’re writing is interesting and newsworthy.

Think to yourself; would someone outside of my business be interested in the story? If the answer is no, then wait for something more newsworthy.  If the answer is yes, we can move on to the release…

How long should a press release be?

Take a look at your local newspaper, how long are the stories? Your press release should be around 300/400 words tops. Anything over this will likely be cut so don’t waste time writing swathes of copy.

If you find yourself running out of words after just a paragraph or two, think back to our first point; is it newsworthy?

Headline

So the writing begins; we want our headline to be just a few words that encapsulate the story…

“Holiday Cottage wins Gold at National Awards”

No need for witty puns; keep it simple and to the point.

The Stand Alone

Wondering what a ‘stand alone’ is? It’s the first couple of sentences you’ll write in your press release, and the idea is that if they were taken in isolation, they would give the reader an idea of what the entire press release is about.

For example;

“With storms set to hit the UK this weekend, holiday home insurance specialists Boshers are highlighting the importance of property owners making regular checks on their homes.”

You’ve explained what the story is about, so it’s now time to write the main body of your release…

Main body

This is where you explain the story in depth. Avoid including too much promotional detail about your holiday home, as it’s likely to end up on the editing floor.

Remember, it’ll be appearing in a newspaper so will need to be written in the third person; this may take some getting used to, particularly when you create a quote for yourself (these should be included in your press release).

If you need to get quotes from anyone else (for example the awards company or local tourism authority) ensure they’re happy with their quote before distributing your release.

Notes to editors

Once you’ve written your press release, there’s just one section to go; the notes to editors.  Think of this as a short summary about you, and how to get in touch.  A short paragraph about your holiday home followed by your telephone number and email address if they need to contact you will suffice here.

If you’re attaching images with people in them also include their names so they’re easily identifiable.

Images

Include the highest quality images you have and give them no more than three to choose from.  Always send them in their original file format, and unlike the web, don’t resize them.

Send away

All that remains is for you to send your press release. Send it directly to the newsdesk and where possible address it to the editor/reporter who will receive it (some prior research will stand you in good stead here).

Include a brief explanation in your email and attach the press release. Also copy your press release into the main body of the email, it will save the reporter’s time and allow them to copy it quickly and easily.

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting 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.

Holiday Let Bookings

Holiday Let BookingsSo that’s it, the temperatures are beginning to fall, the school holidays are a distant memory and those visitor numbers have subsided. It’s time to take a deep breath and begin to prepare for next year. Even if your website has proven to be a real winner this summer, competition is fierce and there are plenty of things you can be doing to make sure next year exceeds your expectations.

Drive Holiday Let Bookings by maintaining contact

Your visitors have gone home; it may now be several months before they consider booking their next break away. How do you maintain contact with them in order to make sure they’re thinking of your holiday home when it comes to making that decision?

It’s been proven that if you’re in regular contact with guests, they are far more likely to book with you again.  Email marketing and social media are the best ways of doing this. If you don’t already take email addresses, or encourage visitors to like your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter then ensure you plan to have these mechanisms in place for your next surge of summer visitors.

If you already have a fantastic Facebook fan page or an ever-growing list of emails you’ll need to consider our next point.

Develop a content plan to increase bookings and reach

Content is key, but what this doesn’t mean is you need to spend an all-consuming amount of time writing blog posts. Remember, everyone else is creating content so yours needs to be of high quality and not quantity.

Making sure that you have consistent content going out will ensure the regular contact points mentioned in our first point are achieved. In turn, having a plan in place will make sure you devote the time to produce it, and give you the focus to realise results from it.

Review your target market

So if we’re saying content needs to be quality and not quantity, what exactly is ‘quality content’? Everything you do should invariably be linked to your target market. It’s success and the engagement you’re able to gain from it is linked to whether or not it interests the people that are seeing it.

It is relevance that makes your content quality.

Before you put together your content plan, think about who it is that stays at your holiday home; how old are they? What are the interested in? What will they want to do when they’re in the local area?

Placing them at the center of everything you produce will ensure it delivers results.

Photography

We’ve already mentioned that content shouldn’t become time consuming, and photography will ensure it isn’t. A picture paints a thousand words, and this is great news for holiday homes.

Photography should form an important part of your content plan; make sure you’re continually snapping that camera lens, and that you’re always updating your website with new imagery. It’ll make sure it’s fresh, inviting, and generating the bookings you deserve.

Review advertising on other sites

The end of the summer is a sensible time to take stock of any advertising you’ve been running. You should review the performance of any online memberships or advertising you’ve undertaken, whether good or bad.

Use Google Analytics to review the referral traffic from the sites, and cross-reference this with the number of bookings you’ve gained.

Drop the ones that aren’t working, and focus more of your time on generating that content and creating contact that engages.

If you’re a holiday cottage owner who finds marketing your cottage to time consuming, don’t worry, holiday home letting agents are there to take the strain:

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting 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.

You may also find the following posts of interest:

win-win strategy for entering tourism awards

win-win strategy for entering tourism awardsTourism awards; they come around each and every year, so if you’re yet to enter your holiday home and it could have been a winner do you really know what you’re missing out on?

Here’s our look at some of the ways in which a tourism award submission or win could give your holiday home a valuable boost.

  • Time to take a step back

No matter which award you’re entering it should be a period of evaluation, reflection and a time to focus.

What is it that makes your holiday home great? What could make it even better?

Life as a holiday homeowner can be a busy one, particularly during peak season. Award submissions should give you the chance to focus your thoughts and do the research that may have otherwise been left to the bottom of the pile. During this process you’ll rediscover what makes your holiday home or cottage special, you will no doubt pick up on aspects that you’ll want to improve for the future, all part of a win-win strategy for entering tourism awards.

Reviewing your current activity, looking at previous winners and thinking about what it is the award judges are looking for and why, should all give you the information from which to make your property even better and more attractive to visitors.

  • Get great PR

It’s difficult to put a monetary value on appearing in newspapers and magazines but the undeniable fact is that the more people that are aware of your holiday home and it’s pedigree, the better.

An award win or shortlisting will put your property firmly in the shop window.

  • Get a search engine boost

Your search engine rankings will also stand to gain from your newfound publicity. Links from other websites do still play a role in how your site performs on Google, meaning that when your holiday home is featured on award sites and other publications you’ll be gaining an online advantage over your competitors.

  • Charge higher rates

It stands to reason that if something is of demonstrable higher quality, we’ll be willing to pay more for it. Think of the impact the ‘award winning’ banner could have on your chargeable rate.

  • Increase conversion

Award wins are a great source of credibility for your holiday home. If someone visiting your website can see that you’ve won awards for your accommodation they’ll know right off the bat that what they’re getting is good.

If a choice needs to be made between two very similar holiday cottages, the award winner may well get the booking.

  • Get advice from specialists

Awards will usually be judged by a panel of experts, meaning that entering can provide an opportunity to gain feedback and consultancy advice from specialists in their field.

Whether it’s online marketing, PR, general tourism and destination management or a whole host of other industries, their advice and feedback should give you ideas on where you can further improve.

  • Speak to others in the industry

Awards give you the opportunity to spend time with others in the industry. This should allow you to share knowledge, to chat with tourism business owners dealing with exactly the same issues that you are, and to find how they have dealt with them.

Knowing and understanding how others have navigated issues and added value to their own business can be a significant asset in developing your own offering. Developing a strategy to enter your holiday home business for tourism awards will be a win-win outcome whatever your final result.

We wish all of our holiday homeowners the very best of luck with their tourism award submissions!

Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to holiday letting 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.

What motivates your guests to stay at your holiday cottage and are you using this to increase bookings?

The Dolls HouseWhen we make decisions, no matter how large or small, logic and reasoning will more often than not play a role in the outcome.

Choosing a holiday destination is no different; visitors will be looking to find the answer to their needs as an individual, a couple or as a family unit.

So what is it that drives visitors to stay with you? The likelihood is that they’ll have compared and contrasted your offering with that of others that fit a similar profile or destination group.

Yours will be the one that most closely aligns with their desires and matching budget.

Having the answers to someone’s holidays needs is of paramount importance in creating enquiries as a holiday homeowner. The growing popularity of accommodation that boasts green credentials or offers opportunities to pursue hobbies and activities such as surfing, cycling or walking suggests that if you are marketing your holiday cottage to these groups and provide them with what they want you’ll potentially be reaping the booking benefits.

A good holiday letting agency will have access to a large number of potential visitors and be able to place you in front of your chosen market.

If you market your own property here’s four things to consider when marketing your holiday home to your target market:

Focus on what your visitor want and need

A temptation when marketing a property can often be to first think of what you have to offer rather than what the visitor wants you to offer. The two are by no means synonymous and it’s vital to ensure that in all of your marketing communications you’re highlighting the things visitors’ want from your holiday home, rather than what you think they want.

What are the three things they love about your cottage?  Is it the short walk to the beach, the local family bike trails or the big open spaces for the kids to play in?

Have you asked them or do you regularly seek feedback, both positive and negative?

Different demographic groups will have different needs so make sure you know what they are and you play to your strengths accordingly.

Where do you find these people?

You have chosen a target market and you’ve understood what those people want from your holiday home.

Now where do you find them?

Apply logic to where you need to spend your marketing time and learn from the time you’ve already spent. For example, if you don’t get any gain from your Facebook page review why that is and respond to it.  Is it because your advertising has been targeting the wrong people? Is it because you’ve been putting the wrong sorts of posts on? Or your target demographic is actually on Twitter instead?

Find the marketing avenues that are going to deliver results for your time and money.  Make sure you research this and find where you are best going to gain visibility with your target audience.

Once you’ve found your marketing avenues continue to think about what it is your visitor wants in all communications.

Learn from the past

Marketing is all about learning. Make sure that all of your activity is measured and reported on. This can seem like an arduous task but can in its simplest terms be asking where your visitors heard about you. Your website will be a big tool in your promotional armory so ensure you’re continually monitoring your performance.

Don’t panic at failure or bask in glory; take those statistics and learn from them. By continually learning you’ll be building on what’s working and avoiding what doesn’t. This will perpetuate more success from less investment.

Don’t leave anything on the shelf

It can often be incredibly satisfying when a visitor tells you that their stay was even better than they expected. If you’ve exceeded expectations then that’s fantastic but make sure this isn’t happening because you’re simply not telling people about the things that make your holiday cottage what it is.

It’s a competitive market and you’ll not want to be leaving things for potential visitors to assume or to work out for themselves.

As we’ve said, the key to reaching any target market will lay in identifying your target, understanding what it is that’s most important to them and delivering this message to them where they’ll receive it. Of course there is always the option of putting your holiday letting property in the hands of a local holiday letting agency to manage the bookings and take the strain for you.

For further information and if you require a quotation from a specialist for your holiday home insurance call our team on 01237 429444.