As the 2015 season comes to a close, lots of Guests are already looking to book their holiday for 2016 - so there really isn't scope to sit back through the Winter months & "wait for silly season" to begin again, when the sun comes out in the Spring.... Always remember that "competition" in every Holiday Home area is usually pretty fierce, so your adverts need to be "up-to-scratch" if you want to grab some early bookings!
ETK have taken a look at advertising from the GUEST view-point:
Put yourself in their shoes:
More important than you think! Guests generally look through a fair amount of adverts before they decide where to book, even if they have a specific area in mind.
- Would YOU book a holiday via an advert showing ONE photo of the Holiday Home? Most probably not! Guests like to see "what is on offer" before they book, (understandably) :- ideally you need to include at least one "outside" photo & at least one photo of the living area, dining area, bedrooms & kitchen (some include bathrooms, but not essential)! If a Guest cannot see what the property is like - they are quite unlikely to book with you & will simply scroll on through to the next advert....
- Would YOU book a holiday via an advert showing hundreds of similar photos? No, because by the time you've looked at the 10th picture of the living area taken from a different angle, you would simply give up & scroll on through to the next advert.... Remember the word "Overkill" when you chose the photos to use, you don't need to show every room from every conceivable angle - or you will bore your potential guest into looking elsewhere.
- Would YOU book a holiday via an advert showing obvious "stock photos?" With various "scamming" incidents being reported, your guest is highly unlikely to "trust" you are a genuine Owner, if your photos are obviously taken from a brochure or sales catalogue! The Guest expects to be able to see exactly what they are booking, not browse through pictures of a "show home!" It's also effectively "false advertising" if you use brochure pictures, as even if you have the same make & model - you are advertising something you do not own!
- Would YOU book a holiday via an advert showing blurry & unclear photos? Why would you, when there are other adverts showing clear & concise photos of the Holiday Home? The Guest is likely to take the opinion that your rental service will be shoddy, if your photos are! Make sure the photos are clear & in focus! (Top Tip is to take them on a nice, sunny day so the feeling of "holiday" is there, rather than a day where it's pouring with rain & miserable!)
- Would YOU book a holiday via an advert showing the Owner washing-up in the kitchen? Much as it's nice to give a "family-feel" to your Holiday Home, it looks very unprofessional to see "chores" being done on holiday adverts! Same for pictures of your children watching TV, or the poor ole hubby with the key in the door surrounded by shopping bags.... If you want to use photos including "people" - make it "posed", so it gives the right impression of your Holiday service - just take a look at the Holiday Company ads: they show happy, laughing families sat on decking having a fabulous holiday.... Mum doing the washing-up, Dad coming home with the food shop & the kids sat bored watching TV does not exactly give the same impression!
- Would YOU book a Holiday Home that looks untidy or messy? Why would you?! If the Owner cannot keep the Holiday Home tidy to take photos, what will their rental service prove to be like? Always remove any belongings etc out of shot: the photos you use to advertise need to show the Guest how your Holiday Home will look on their arrival - not how it looks when you are staying there.
Think carefully how to word your advert, the information you provide can be the difference between a booking, or a Guest looking elsewhere.
- Would YOU book a Holiday Home without knowing how many bedrooms, or it's maximum capacity? Doubtful! Even if you have a relatively small number of people going on holiday - you would like to know in advance what the bedroom "arrangements" will be! Just by stating "2 or 3 bedrooms" doesn't necessarily explain how many can stay. Make it very clear as to what your maximum number of guests is. Remember that you cannot exceed the berth stated on your sales docs, even if you have "the room" to do so! If the sales docs states a 6-berth - that is the maximum you can rent to, or your insurance will be void! If you have added extra sleeping arrangements (some twin rooms add an extra "bunk-bed" to sleep 3 instead of the standard 2), the documents need to be altered accordingly before you can advertise that "extra space".
- Would YOU book a holiday without knowing exactly where it is? No! Simply by stating the Holiday Park name, or general location will not attract Guests - if your Holiday Home is on a park; they need to know the park name, the holiday company & the area. If your Holiday Home is privately owned (cottages, apartments, villas etc) - the Guest needs to know the location & area. Simply stating "The New Forest" may not be clear, whereas "The New Forest, Hampshire" will at least give them a rough idea of how far they will need to travel if they book with you! Lots of Guests like to travel to different areas for their holidays & are happy to travel for 5 hours to get there - but others don't! You may waste both your & your potential Guest's time by not stating on your advert exactly where your Holiday Home is located!
- Would YOU book a holiday via a 2-line advert? Of course you wouldn't... so why should the Guest? If you simply state "3-bedroom Holiday Home to rent in Kent, includes toaster, kettle & a pull-out bed" you are highly unlikely to attract many potential rents. As far as the guest is concerned, if you can't "be bothered" to add some detail about your rental - what will your actual rental service be like? They will simply move on to the next advert on their "possible-bookings" list. Spend a bit of time drafting out informative text.
- Would YOU read endless text on a holiday advert? In a word: "no!" On the initial advert, Guests simply will not read never-ending text... Putting too much text on an advert is as bad a habit as putting too little! Don't waffle! Your guests don't need to know the "ins & outs" of absolutely everything at the point of advertising! Your potential (& by now bored to tears) Guest will just drift on to the next advert if yours is too long.
- Wood U booke youre holiday if th eadvert was baddly writen or waz in tx tk? Absolutely NOT! Just what sort of impression does it give of your rental service if your advert is full of spelling mistakes & grammatical errors? (Favourite one being "birth!") Scroll on to the next well-presented, well-written advert.....
- Would YOU book a holiday having seen the exact same advert over & over & over again? Probably not, as if the Owner can't be bothered to update their advert - why should you bother booking with them? Don't just use the same advert over & over: keep it fresh, even if it's just altering the order of the same photos! It does make a difference to the Guest. Don't fall into the trap of "over-advertising"... it will make you seem "desperate" for bookings - to which the Guest will wonder "why?!"
The way you react to enquires has a huge impact on whether the Guest books with you or not.
- Would YOU book a holiday with someone who took a week to reply to you? Nope! Quite simply, if the Owner can't respond to your enquiry relatively quickly, what sort of rental service will you receive? Stay on top of any enquiries you have through and answer as soon as you can... if that's more than 24 hours - apologise for the delay.
- Would YOU book a holiday with someone who gives you a "one-line" answer? Doubtful... if a Guest asks for dates that are already booked, don't simply reply with "booked, sorry" - get into "conversation" with them... apologise for their dates already being booked & offer them others!
- Woudl you book a holday wiv sum1 who;s repley is ful off speling mistaks or gain tx tlk? Again NO! This is so important when dealing with Guests, as it does give totally the wrong impression about your rental service... if your spelling or grammar isn't great - use a spell-check before you write a reply - it will look much better!
- Would YOU book a holiday with someone who seems to "want to be your new best friend?!" Be careful with your contact, there's a very fine line of being "friendly" towards your Guests (which is obviously a "good thing") & being a tad "over-zealous" in your enthusiasm to obtain a booking... until your Guest possibly becomes a "Regular-Renter", don't lose your "professional" approach to their booking. Remember that Holiday Park reception staff are generally "friendly" to all Guests & "personal friends of none!" Take the same approach!
As ever, is a very important part of the booking process & needs to be 110% in order before any rentals can take place!
- Would YOU book a holiday where no paperwork is offered? NEVER. No more needs to be said.
- Would YOU book a holiday with someone who issues no receipts for your payments? Errrmm.... NO!! Regardless of what method of payment is used, a receipt needs to be issued with EVERY payment the Guest makes to you, & a hand-written scribbled bit of paper will not suffice!
- Would YOU book through someone who doesn't give you their home address? Nope... If the Owner doesn't provide full details, why not? You must supply full home details when you rent your Holiday Home.
- Would YOU book a holiday with no Terms & Conditions? Afraid not, how would you know if you had broken any "rules" if you are not supplied with them when you book? These need to cover cancellations, deposits, damage bonds along with general T&Cs of the booking & the stay itself.
Offer a "Little Extra":
At this time of year, rentals notoriously slow down as everyone is gearing up for the festive season, but there will be Guests looking for "bargain" breaks for next year - so consider offering up that "Little Bit Extra" for some early bookings... But carefully plan any offers.
- Would YOU book a holiday that has a reduced deposit? Of course! But remember to state in your advert when the remainder of the deposit is due & any consequences should that not occur!
- Would YOU book a holiday that has "free" additional options? Yes again, but you need to state exactly what is "free" & how much the rest of the holiday cost will be!
- Would YOU book a holiday that has been reduced in price? No reason not to! Just make sure you have quoted the original price, so the Guest can see what their saving actually is.