With so many holiday lets on offer in France it can be difficult to attract guests but by following these 11 tips you will make sure your gîte stands out from the crowd
1. Get the price right
Research the prices charged by other holiday rental owners in your area and then set your own rates with the aim of accurately and competitively reflecting the quality, size, location and facilities of the property. Most owners charge a premium rate in the peak summer season and at Christmas/New Year, with lower rates for the less popular spring and autumn seasons. Consider setting your prices in sterling so guests won’t be put off by fluctuating exchange rates.
2. Keep pricing simple and clear
Try to avoid setting too many seasonal variations throughout the year and avoid charging extras. Holidaymakers prefer an all-inclusive rate and resist paying more for cleaning, laundry etc. Always show rental prices in your advertising, as prospective guests don’t like to have to ask and you may lose bookings.
3. Use special offers to attract guests
Special offers can be targeted for a specific purpose such as helping to attract early bookings or help sell any remaining weeks of the season. In the early weeks of the year, give a discount or incentive fos, sat, Easter or summer bookings and then make offers for any unsold weeks or periods as the year goes on. The most effective offers are discounts of 10% to 25% and are really noticed by site visitors.
4. Make your property description personal and engaging
Write your property description with a personal touch and share your enthusiasm – say why you love the place, give a history or story of the property, describe the glorious sunsets or rolling countryside, how you can help guests and what your local knowledge can offer them. Include lots of local information about activities, local attractions, markets, festivals and special events. Make your information accurate and honest but also interesting and enticing so the reader wants to be there.
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5. Find and promote your unique selling point
Your USP doesn’t have to be totally unique, it just needs to relate to your particular strength, such as your location, the activities you offer, your luxury or family-friendly facilities, even the warm welcome or extra service you give guests. Make your USP prominent in your online advertising description and post testimonials from other guests that verify your own claims, as many holidaymakers really study guest reviews. Emphasise your unique identity by giving your house a name.
6. Offer great facilities that are aimed at your market
Guests expect good-quality mattresses and bedding, good outdoor facilities and plenty of crockery and cutlery. People also appreciate thoughtful finishing touches like flowers in the room and local wine in the fridge. Aim the facilities at your market, for example families need entertainment while couples like privacy. Introduce colour and personality into rooms with pictures and fabrics but avoid cluttering rooms with excessive ornaments and furniture and family photos – guests want to feel like it is their home for the week.
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7. Invest in your advertising
Advertise on one or more online listing sites and make regular use of techniques that will get your property noticed. Have your property featured on the listing site’s home page and book slots for search landing pages and on e-newsletters, all of these grab the attention of potential guests. Get listed in categories that will get you noticed, such as long winter lets and Christmas and New Year accommodation. Be creative and ensure your property is as prominent as possible.
8. Choose the best images to show off your gîte
Choose between 12 and 32 of the best images of your property and pick the best image possible as your main photo. This is crucial to draw the viewer in so choose an eye-catching and interesting image that shows what your property has to offer. Be sure to show interiors, especially bedrooms and kitchen, the garden or land and images of the surrounding area.
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9. Use social media
Social media can be a very useful tool when it comes to promoting your accommodation, so consider setting up a Facebook page for your property and post regular photos and comments about local events, improvements you’re making, special offers, the lovely weather, etc; anything that reminds holidaymakers of you and engages with them positively. If you have your own website then invest in a good one as a poorly designed or functioning site will make you look amateurish and could put people off.
10. Show guest reviews
Have a guestbook at the property and encourage guests to leave their comments either in this or online. Use the best ones on your website and listings sites to give holidaymakers the extra confidence to book. Many holidaymakers study reviews so this can be a great way to make your property stand out from the crowd.
11. Respond quickly to any enquiries
Monitor your enquiries on a regular basis, every day. Potential guests expect a reply within 24 hours and will assume you are uninterested or unprofessional if you ignore them for longer. An email reply is acceptable but a phone call is best as it gives you the chance to establish personal contact and really sell your property. Use SMS alerts to make sure that you know when an enquiry has been received.
Glynis Shaw is joint managing director of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online
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