If you’re about to let out your property in France to holidaymakers for the first time or do so already, here are some handy reminders about maximising the income from your valuable asset.
- Smart shop window
Make sure your online presence is spot-on – it’s your shop window to the world! Be sure to use all of the online tools available to you including advertising portals, social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter and even your own website to promote your property. When advertising on multiple sites, be sure the adverts and information are identical as guests will do their research before booking and may be put off by any discrepancies they see online.
- Make your property shine!
Be sure to include a high quality picture of every room on your advertising. That includes living areas and bathrooms so potential guests can get a feel for your home. Consider composition too and set tables up for dinner with a bottle of wine and glasses and be sure to take outdoor snaps on a day when the sun is shining so your guests can see really imagine themselves there.
- Destination focus
Don’t forget to sell your area too, remember your home is a priority for you, but it’s the overall holiday experience that’s important to guests. They want to know what there is to see and do as well as being comfortable about where they’ll stay. Focus on the best restaurants, supermarkets and boulangeries, illustrate options for walking and cycling, and don’t forget easy access to beaches, zoos or other attractions to keep kids entertained.
- Make booking easy
Make it easy for guests to book and enquire. Try to have lots of contact methods available to them, both online and by phone as some guests may prefer to speak directly to a ‘real’ person before making a booking. Always ensure your availability calendar and pricing are correct and are up to date. This will avoid the pitfalls of double bookings and guests enquiring for unavailable dates.
- Be business-like
Have good clear booking terms and conditions and provide these to guests from the outset so they know exactly what they are required to pay and when. Try to make payment easy for the guest and provide a variety of options such as bank transfer or cheque. You could even consider setting up a PayPal account for payments as guests will like the added security this provides.
- Customer service is king
Be sure to provide excellent customer service to your guests and encourage them to review their stay. Almost everyone looks for reviews before they book a holiday these days, and they have become a strong marketing tool. Don’t be afraid of the odd criticism either. The key is how you deal with it: respond quickly, apologise and take any action needed to rectify the problem, and potential customers are actually more likely to book with you than to look elsewhere.
Special offers are a great way to generate bookings at your property eg offering an early booking discount to secure a strong base of weeks for the busy season ahead. Or why not consider offering a special offer during quieter months to encourage guests to book? If you get any last minute cancellations, promoting a special offer is a great way of getting the weeks rebooked.
- Rental rates
Set your rental rates with care, they should reflect seasonality and traditional supply/demand rules! Be sure to do your homework so you know how much similar property rentals are in your area. It’s good to sit somewhere in the middle of the competition as being too expensive or too cheap can put potential guests off of booking with you.
- Target your audience
Define the low and high season for you and your property and think about who your target market is likely to be during these times. During the peak seasons of summer and Christmas, your guests may be more likely to be families with school age children. Out of season your target market is likely to be very different and more likely to include older people with grown up children, families with very young pre-school children, couples without children or possibly a group of adults. You will need to think about your marketing during each period of the year and tailor it to suit your target audience in order to secure the maximum number of bookings.
If you are able to, try to be as flexible as you can during the off peak season and offer short breaks or flexible changeover days to fit in with the needs of your customers and appeal to those who, for example, are looking for a long weekend in France. Ferry and air travel can also be cheaper for your guests midweek which is also worth considering.