Newsletter Autumn 2013
Thinking ahead to Christmas 2014
A recent survey by a leading holiday cottage rental company showed that weeks 40-42 (roughly October 3rdst to 25th) are the busiest period for enquiries and bookings for Christmas and New Year.
Thinking on from the above, the Christmas/New Year period is financially one of the most important to any holiday cottage owner and for this reason alone, its worth making a bit of an extra effort to ensure your property is well booked. One idea is to add some suitable Christmas photographs of your cottage. For example, a photograph of your living room with beautiful Christmas decorations and tree along with a roaring open fire or log burner(if you have one!). You could take this a step further and, in the latter half of the year, it may be worth adding an extra page to your website dedicated to the Christmas period with perhaps spelling out what you have to offer and including extra bottles of wine/sherry/mulled wine etc, boxes of chocolates or other suitable gifts.
So thinking ahead to next year (unless you are really quick and well organised for Christmas this year), I can help with Christmas photographs. The idea would be to take great photographs of your cottage while its decorated and prepared this Christmas and these could then be used for next year’s Christmas marketing campaign. I know quite a few cottage owner’s failed to take any bookings for last Christmas, losing out on a large income so a little planning may well pay off.
Arguably, the cleanliness of your property is one of the most important aspects of a successful holiday letting business. Unfortunately its an area that raises a huge number of guests complaints. Interestingly, according to one of the bigger holiday cottage rental companies, the properties that get the fewest complaints about cleaning, are the ones where the owner personally cleans the cottage. I suppose that’s common sense or may be just human nature in action as an owner will always have that extra pride in their property. The flip side is that if you employ a cleaner or cleaning agency, you need to be aware of the standard or work produced.
As a very minimum, you need to have some kind of monitoring or checking process and the cleaner concerned needs to be well aware that this is carried out. I often find that the problem can simply be that your average cleaner, who is more used to cleaning every day domestic houses, is simply unaware that the standards required on a holiday cottage clean need to be so much higher than anything they have been previously used to. Two of the most complained about areas are cookers and fridges for example, as these are often just missed out.
If necessary, you can produce your own checklist for a cleaner to work to. But again, you need to carry out your own checks on the property regularly as, with the advent of review sites such as Trip Advisor, any bad experiences quickly affect your bookings and stop any chance of repeat bookings.
A Nice Cup of Tea
That seems to be the first thing I always want after a long journey and I’ve no doubt that guests arriving at your holiday property are probably thinking the same thing. But I wonder how many cottage owners make this as easy as it could be? At my own holiday cottage, I always leave a pint of milk in the fridge, and a good starter supply of sachets of tea, coffee and sugar so the newly arrived guests can make a hot drink as soon as they arrive. I also take it a step further and leave a decent bottle of wine, a packet of good quality biscuits and fresh flowers. The whole lot costs less than a tenner but its worth its weight in gold for the amount of goodwill in generates from our guests and I’m often surprised at just how many comment on it in our guest book. Its also worth thinking about locally produced welcome gifts. For example, we have someone nearby who produces superb jars of honey and they are an ideal welcome gift. Another idea is to leave half a dozen local free range eggs. The golden rule in all cases, is to buy good quality products (don’t buy your supermarket’s ‘saver’ range!) as this feeling of good quality transfers to your actual property too.
Going back to tea and coffee, when we first started, we used to buy huge catering packs of sachets and while they are very cheap to buy in large quantities, we use so relatively few that they would often go out of date before we had chance to use them all up. We have since discovered that you can buy these in much smaller quantities from places such as Ebay and the price still make sense too.