Maximising the rental potential of your French property

PUBLISHED: 10:00 15 May 2014

Château de Villars is a luxury 'maison d'hôte' in Dordogne run by Kevin Saunders and Bill Davies

Château de Villars is a luxury 'maison d'hôte' in Dordogne run by Kevin Saunders and Bill Davies

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Glynis Shaw advises on the benefits of strategies such as special discounted rates in quiet seasons and the importance of good property descriptions

When you are running a holiday let in a competitive market, you need to make use of smart marketing strategies. As a small business, it is just not possible to emulate the big tourism players with their mass advertising and discounting. Nevertheless, there are some simple steps you can take to get your property noticed and generate bookings.

Here, we look at two of those strategies: making special offers and providing a really good description of your property. The first may cost you in terms of slightly lower revenue – but that is better than no income if the property would have been empty. The second simply demands some empathy, creativity and imagination.

The real deals

Most holiday property listing sites have dedicated pages for special offers that are prominently displayed.

Usability tests show that many browsers search special offer properties first and some will look only at these listings. When an owner makes an offer, it is also flagged up in the individual advertisement for the property.

The uses and benefits of special offers are many, from the certainty of bookings made early in the year to filling sudden vacancies due to cancellation and cross-promoting services.

So, what should you offer? In the old days, it may have been enough to hold out a case of wine or a bottle of bubbly as a lure, but these days holidaymakers are more interested in prices and value. In the present market, discounts are definitely the most convincing incentive – typically between 10% and 25%. Other options are prices fixed in sterling when exchange rates are unfavourable, or offering a fixed exchange rate.

Some listing websites do make a standard charge for any offers, so check the different packages when signing up.

The benefits

• Attracts advance bookings and attention

• Fills unbooked single weeks in high season

• Promotes permanent off-season discounts available

• Fills ‘shoulder’ periods in spring and summer

• Gets holidaymakers to click on your listing

• Raises the property profile on the listing site

• Cross-promotes services and facilities offered

• Quickly fills vacancies left by cancellations

• Attracts new clients who may revisit

Language of lets

I am sure you are well aware of the importance of having appealing images on your property listing, but how much attention do you pay to describing your property or explaining local activities and attractions?

It is really not enough to give basic statistics and minimal information in your listing. Prospective visitors need to be wowed and persuaded, to feel a sense of connection. You love where you live – so pass that passion on to the reader. Of course, you have a duty to be honest, but enthusiasm is key and it’s good business to catch the eye with lyrical phrases and buzzwords.

Put yourself in the shoes of potential customers and enthuse with a few carefully chosen sentences about your property’s character and unique selling points.

Tell them what a holiday at your place will offer for a whole range of interests. Mention the peace and quiet, the views, the quality of the fittings, the extra facilities on offer, the swimming pool and outdoor dining experience.

Most listing sites have separate tabs for information about the local area and activities. There may be a list with options to tick off but don’t leave it at that. Imagine one owner simply lists ‘golf’ and the other writes ‘golfers have a choice of two superb courses within half an hour’s drive, one with views of rolling countryside, the other beside the beach’. Which makes you feel the owners know and care about your holiday? Which one would you choose?

Finally, double check that your grammar and spelling are perfect and there are no errors or repetition. Get objective feedback from someone who knows the property and someone who has never seen it, asking for any important omissions or missed opportunities.

The benefits

• Gives an air of quality and professionalism

• Sets the tone for a culture of excellence

• Allows holidaymakers to visualise details and plan their holiday programme

• Gives confidence to book

• Attracts visitors looking for a range of different holiday experiences

• Makes a personal connection which converts to bookings more easily

• Manages visitors’ expectations, leading to greater satisfaction

• Can sell extras like meals and activities

• Helps larger groups understand what’s on offer for different interests.

Glynis Shaw is joint MD of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online

Tel: 01580 819303

www.frenchconnections.co.uk

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