It looks as though spring is beginning to arrive with sunshine coming through the windows and showing up the wintery dust – spring cleaning our gîtes is something we pretty much automatically think of doing, each year.
All of our property managers in France will be beavering away on the gites they care for, getting them ready after winter, either for the owners and their friends and family or indeed for their guests if they let the property out as a holiday destination. How many of us though, think of updating and overhauling the advertising of our wares or services on a regular basis? That too can look tired and dusty if left “as is” for too long! We should all look critically at how we present ourselves to the world and to our prospective clients or guests. So applying this to advertising your gîte, what would I advise? A complete refresher course, that’s what!
I was talking recently to a local gite complex owner who has been in the business for more than ten years, and he was saying, it was so much easier to be “the best” when he first ran the business! Now, the standard expected and therefore needing to be provided by owners of property in France, have to meet the expectations of self-catering guests used to top hotel type accommodation with all the trimmings – luxurious bedlinen, fluffy towels, docking stations for I-phones – how times have changed! When you are upgrading your property and it’s contents, then make sure its advertising reflects that.
Everybody knows my stance on letting property in France – firmly in the middle between owners whose expectations of how many weeks they might let their property for are far too high, and those who feel that the gite market is completely oversubscribed. The truth is, there is a lot of choice out there, and when you have a lot of choice then you get more and more discerning (I could have said, “picky”) about what you will accept or expect. Therefore your aim as a gite owner, is to keep your property from automatically going on the “no” pile and your advertising is crucial therefore. There are some basics now which were luxuries not so long ago – so dish washers, and free wi-fi, are absolutel requisites if your property is going to be taken seriously.
There’s one other thing which is noticeable recently when potential guests are searching for their holiday base – and that’s how many bathrooms there are in the property. Once upon a time, it was all about how many could sleep in the property and it would be advertised proudly claiming it was for six to eight people. Well, that’s fine as long as there’s a big enough dining table and lounge area – but nowadays another aspect has crept in: and if you have a property which sleeps six but only has one bathroom, you might do well to choose to market it and advertise it as sleeping four…maybe the rental you receive will be less, but the number of weeks booked should be more. And, if one of those bedrooms is a tiny room you could do much worse than invest in having an extra shower and toilet put in…
So assuming you have mentally spring cleaned what you provide – now let’s look at spring cleaning your marketing. Plenty of photographs which are light and bright – and recent! Make sure you show off the property to its full potential – you don’t want to mislead, but with the advent of the digital camera, there is no excuse for poorly thought out snaps with beds unmade or cushions arranged untidily. Look through the lens with a strangers eye and see the difference some well thought out props make or how tidying the books or ornaments gives a different mood. You want to give the impression of cozy and inviting in these days of stiff competition for the guests bookings. Rosé wine by the way photographs best if you have a table with an inviting bottle and glasses at the ready! Cream towels in the bathroom look better in photographs than white, which can make an unsightly glaring effect when photographed.
Look at the portals you are marketing on, and check that you have updated the description: a tip here is to have a section on local amenities so that your potential guests realise from the word go what attractions there are in the area – that is so often not given enough thought to, when in fact it can make all the difference to bookings. Whilst on that subject, consider a changeover day for your gite which is not a Saturday – lots of owners are horrified but I’ve never known a Friday, Sunday or Monday start to a holiday affect bookings. It’s a positive advantage for your guests, because travel outside of needing to arrive for a Saturday, will be much cheaper for them Another reason to select your gite!
For more information visit Les Bons Voisins.
By Sally Stone
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