Even if you feel you have an incredible variety of holiday rental properties, how do you ensure people find you online? And even once they’ve found you, how do you encourage them to make a booking, and want to do so again in the future?
Being found online is one of the biggest problems holiday rental providers face. Not only does your property need to look and sound awesome, but the digital world is crowded with other holiday rentals fighting for the same customer attention – how do you stand out?
With this in mind, here are our top 15 tips for making your holiday lettings get a step ahead of the competition, and give those online bookings a much-needed boost.
1. Establishing Trust
First and foremost, your main priority is always to establish trust between you and your customers. Some key target areas to build trust include:
– Having a functional and attractive website with authentic Imagery and video
– A wide presence on social media, with regular posting & engagement
– Clear reviews and testimonials (a strong social proof for a first time customer)
– Partner brands/ logos on site
2. Know your customers
It might sound simple, but getting to really know your target audience is vital when marketing holiday homes. Nothing can be more dangerous than assuming your properties are attractive to ‘everyone’ because that’s simply not true.
Think about who has stayed with you already: Who were they? How old were they? What were they looking for? Why did they come? What did they get out of it?
From this, you can create fictional personas – those who are similar to your real customers, and so infer where your potential customers are likely to be/how they are likely to find you. Just think of how different marketing to a group of friends in their twenties will be to a family of four!
For an in-depth overview for creating customer personas, see Cottage Blogger’s guide here.
3. Secure communications
Building on no. 1, having secure communication between customers and management personnel is vital to establishing trust and securing more bookings. Clear and fast customer service is a real representation of a brand, so don’t let yours slip, or your bookings may do the same!
4. Verified Identity & Social Media
There are a wide variety of platforms holiday home owners can use to verify your brand’s identity. One of the easiest ways to do this is to have social media pages on. Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn, all of which point back to your website, and to each other (this is also one step to becoming ‘verified’)
However, each social profile can present another avenue for customer service, and so requires more than just posting about ‘me me me’. The social media rule of thirds – conversation with customers and sharing industry news, in addition to promoting your own products, is a great rule of thumb to follow.
If you’re unsure, have a look at the social pages of an industry leader or competitor who has a lot of interaction/a large following. What are they doing? What is their posting schedule? What platforms are they using?
Nobody likes to think they are talking to a robot too, so try to avoid automated responses, Work on your brand’s personality and tone of voice and try to avoid “posting for the sake of posting”. If you aren’t enthused by what you’re talking about, your customers probably won’t be either.
5. Powerful Search / Key Filters
There is nothing more frustrating than feeling like you can’t quickly find what you’re looking for on a website, or can’t filter an extensive list. Therefore, if your holiday rental bookings are down, do some quick user testing on your search features. Can your visitors filter by location? Number of guests? Price? Date availability?
Despite what you’d expect, your visitors probably won’t appreciate a lot of choice. Instead, they want to feel the whole journey is tailored to them.
Have a look at HomeAway’s listings for a simple and elegant way to search for rental properties.
6. Accurate property content
If anything is incorrect or misleading, your customers will be the first to tell you about it. It is therefore paramount that your rental property imagery, video and product descriptions need to be authentic -as well as attractive – in order to secure holiday bookings.
One of the best ways to test your property’s ability to sell is to ask a collegue or friend to perform a blink test.
This test (which is also useful for testing on your website) essentially assesses what a visitor can glean from a page in 3-5 seconds, which ultimately leads to them deciding if they want to perform an action on the page (e.g. book/save for later) or leave it.
Think about highlighting key features/images, great reviews, and making their next move clearly visible. For instance, a big brightly-coloured “Book Now” button will often do the trick – but have you tried testing different colours?
7. Know your USP
Every holiday letting is unique, so think carefully about how yours stands out. Whether it’s beautiful architecture, the local pubs, a stunning view or a cosy sitting room – think carefully about who you are trying to attract when you’re writing your holiday listing’s description.
Combine elegant writing with keyword research. What are your customers likely to be searching for online? What would appeal to them?
8. Added bonuses to listings
Having a list of worthwhile extras is an easy way to add to your holiday rental’s USP and increase holiday bookings. Think of places in the local area e.g. food, shops and attractions, and consider what added bonuses your guests would really appreciate. For instance, leaving a spare pair of wellies, tourist leaflets, pool inflatables or mention a high-speed wifi.
Wondering where to advertise to get more bookings is a case of trial and error. What may work for one property may not work for another, so test a few different areas and analyse the results.
Using a letting agent is an easy option, but they will charge fees to manage your holiday let, meaning you will have less control. There are many holiday rental websites that allow you to list your property for nothing but the best, most efficient way, to increase your holiday bookings is definitely via paid-for holiday rental websites. Not only do they have considerable advertising budgets, but they also receive high volumes of traffic. We’d recommend testing via commission at first then, once you’re comfortable with your website choice, change to subscription.
Tap the following to see how channel management can increase your bookings via gathering your properties to advertise to external websites.
10. Get listed in directories
Your holiday letting needs to appear in directories in order to be discovered, but this requires research. Different directories will appeal to your different buyer/customer personas, so bear this in mind. Some questions to ask include: Where do I want to be found? What is the value of the listing? Is it worth changing my property description/imagery?
11. Is your website awesome?
Even if you have an awesome social media presence and ad campaign, directing your visitors to a poor website will lead to a big drop of on holiday bookings. People want to trust in your brand before making an investment, so make sure your website is attractive, functional and easy to use. Some key areas to think about include:
– Consistent overall style and imagery
– The user journey – is it quick and easy?
– A smooth holiday booking process – will anything put them off?
Your website needs to consider three different types of traffic – visitors, leads and customers – and nurture these accordingly. Here at I-Pro Software we can help you with this process – creating a unique and beautiful web design, supported by a leading CRM-based booking system. If you would like to examples of our work, see our customers page. Or, if you would like to find out more, please visit our services page or get in touch!
By having an awesome website and holiday booking process, this allows you to be more efficient with your time.
12. Widen your horizons
Take a look at your bookings and website traffic to assess whether your holiday let might appeal to a range of nationalities. If it does, consider making your marketing multilingual.
13. Leverage your existing customers
Do you have good reviews? Then show these! An astonishing 88% of customers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations nowadays, so work to integrate these throughout your website. If you are lacking, then make it easy for customers to provide reviews, either by email or via a trusted review site.
Alternatively, if you are getting bad reviews, then work to fix what is being complained about, especially if many people are saying the same thing. You may be able to positively advertise this change later down the line.
Emails are a vital platform enabling you to respond quickly to booking enquiries, keep current booked guests up to date, and communicating with past customers. WIth this in mind, having a powerful email template builder can be essential to a business – enabling your staff to easily choose a template to quickly send an appropriate reply. Automation can also greatly increase your booking efficiency, as you’re 7 times more likely to qualify a lead when you respond to an inquiry in less than an hour.
An email newsletter is also a dynamic and useful way of communicating news to incentivise more holiday bookings. For instance, if it is coming up to October/November, show your holiday cottage in the snow with a fire, encouraging them to “snuggle up for Winter” or similar.
15. Holiday Booking Software
Last, but most definitely not least, having a holiday booking software that you know and trust is a key way to increase your online bookings.
Software provides a framework that can all you to manage all aspects of your rental business – from keeping track of suppliers, clients and partners, managing leads and bookings, to generating reports. If you want to manage several holiday rental properties simultaneously, a booking software is a logical and necessary next step.
If you would like to request a demo from us here at i-Pro software – providers of an advanced CRM based booking management system – please get in touch with us here!