Wednesday, 18 November 2009

How to get the most from your holiday property.

Many of you already pay a fee with one or more of the large advertising portals that are out there on the internet.

Although costly, especially if you list you property on several of them, they are still a good investment, as many of these control the search engines first 1 or 2 pages, and are likely to employ someone full time to carry out their SEO (search engine optimisation)

However in recent times even these sites are struggling to attract the number of enquiries many owners rely on in order to generate enough revenue to maintain the running costs of the property.

So how can you make sure you get the most from your holiday property?

Communication is key. If you do get enquires from these sites it pays to be first to respond as you are probably one of many the enquirer has contacted. Most enquiries come via email so make sure you have access to the email account you use for your advert at all times. If it’s a Hotmail account and your employers block access to Hotmail, chances are you’ll miss out on turning enquires into bookings.

Answering quickly is not the only thing to consider here, the content of your response and the manner you use when addressing the enquirer will also play a big part in whether that person chooses to make a booking with you. On most occasions the enquirer will have one or more questions they want answering. Make sure you give them as much information as possible, make a point of offering more information then required and visualise yourself as them. What would be the next question you would have following the answer you give?

Unfortunately converting 100% of enquiries into bookings are not always possible, and in some circumstances you may not be able to offer the enquirer everything they want. It could be a heated pool for instance. This is where networking comes in.

Building a network with other property owners in and around the area your property is situated can be a key tool for helping you generate additional bookings as well as repeat business. When you find you’re unable to help an enquirer, pass them on to someone in your network. You’ll find that the favour will be returned on a number of occasions and that the enquirer may actually come back and book with you the next time round.

Availability is another point to remember. Listing your property on the advertising sites is great, however if you forget to update your calendar, two things can happen. Firstly you will continually get enquires that you’ll have to turn down due to existing bookings. Secondly it can be seen as a negative if you have no bookings, enquirers will assume there is a reason people don’t want to stay at your property.

If you are currently advertising on sites, make sure you are showcasing you property in the best possible light.

There are two key things to consider here; photographs and USP’s (unique selling points)

What is it that makes your property fantastic? What separates it from others in the local area?

Take the time to consider, why it was you bought that property in the first place. What sold it to you? Then think about what it is most enquirers are looking for. Draw up a list of the top 10 selling points about the property and make sure you include these with your advertisement.

If you think your property has selling points don’t assume others will be able to see them. Don’t be afraid to boast about them, or repeat yourself in several different areas of the advert.

Not everyone will read your whole advert from top to bottom. Many will pick out the part most relevant to them, be it the outdoor facilities or perhaps the local area.

Photographs are also a key part to helping the enquirers visualise themselves in your property. Personally I would recommend hiring a professional photographer. Although an expense you will find it will pay off in the long term.

However if your on a budget, most standard digital cameras offer a good quality picture resolution, making taking photographs yourself a good option and there are still a few things you can do to enhance them.

Make use of natural light. Open all the shutters and curtains and take photographs at a time of day when the room gets the most natural light.

Dress the room, if you’re taking photographs of the dining room or balcony then lay the table, or place a decorative fruit bowl or flower vase in the centre. Even an unopened bottle of wine and a few glasses will help the enquirer to visualise they are sat there enjoying a relaxing drink.

Once your taken your photographs, it’s worth using a desktop photo editor (you can download several for free from the internet) Easy to use, they will help you make the best of your photographs and can auto adjust brightness and colour with the click of a button.

Once you’ve bought your property, investment shouldn’t end there. With so many new developments still springing up your property can become old news very quickly. A continual stream of rentals will take its toll on your property and its content. Invest once a year on a full deep level clean. Stream clean soft furnishings, curtains and blinds. Replace chipped or broken crockery and cooking utensils. This will help keep your property in the best condition attracting return business.

Lastly, take a look at alternative methods of marketing your property. Have business cards made that you can hand out to people, or leave on counters in local shops and bars. Place a poster in your place of work or the local supermarket.

Investigate some of the smaller cheaper marketing sites; there are some out there that do not charge you up front and only ask for a fee if they have successfully helped you sell your availability. This is a great solution when you have odd weeks or cancellations that you would like to sell. Make sure you cash in on every opportunity. If you can’t sell a certain week or month then consider special offers or auctioning that time period.

It might sell for less than advertised, but better to make some money than no money at all?

Chances are you still have to pay management costs and utilities over that period, so even if the rental price only covers these, its still better than having to take it out your own pocket.