cottage with outdoor pool

How do you make it easier for guests to book your holiday cottage? By removing any barriers to booking and providing the answers to their questions without them having to look too hard. Jo Blaylock, Marketing Executive at SuperControl shares her four top tips to help you on your way:

1. Make sure information is up-to-date and easy to find

Add a live availability calendar to your website so guests can quickly see if the dates they are searching for are available. Clearly show your start days and length of stay – we recommend you enable a choice of start days and accept short breaks whenever possible (even if you only do so during off-peak season). Provide a price checker so guests can clearly see how much their holiday will be – hidden costs are a definite no. Provide as much detail about your property as possible and provide photos – lots of them. If potential guests aren’t sure if you provide a cot and high chair, they might continue their search until they come across another holiday property that obviously does. Make the decision to book an easy one by providing all the information your future guests need.

2. Let people book and pay online

If someone is searching for their next holiday at 9.00pm on a Friday night, if they can’t book there and then they might not book at all. As consumers we are increasingly used to buying things online, and for many people booking a holiday is no different. Give potential guests the choice to book and pay online by providing a simple online booking process that can be completed quickly. There are a number of payment providers that enable you to take payments online, charges vary and you don’t have to have a merchant account for all of them, do some research to find out what works for you.

3. Look after your guests and stay in touch

Maya Angelou famously said, ‘I've learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’ It’s all about the experience.

So put yourself in your guests’ shoes and pull out all the stops (without going overboard). Make your guests feel valued: provide all the information they will need pre-arrival, check they have everything they need during their stay, then stay in touch after their holiday – ask them to submit a review, sign up to your newsletter, like your Facebook page or follow you on Instagram.

If you build a relationship with your guests, they are more likely to return. You can make that an easy decision by sending them an email around the same date that they booked with you the previous year – tell them if you’ve redecorated, added a new feature, or if a new restaurant has opened near your holiday rental.  It doesn’t have to be hard work to do this, choose booking and management software that provided automated emails – so you can set what messages to send when criteria (determined by you) is met. If your property is on their mind when they come to book their next stay, they’re more likely to book a return stay – it’s easier.

4. Get your holiday cottage seen

If it shows up in internet searches, it’s easier to book. So, list your holiday rental on as many booking websites as you can. There’s nothing to lose. The majority charge by commission, so you can tweak your prices to cover the commission costs – and if you don’t get any bookings, it won’t cost you a thing.

The reason we recommend listing on lots of the booking websites like Holiday Cottage Compare is so you appear higher in search results. Do a Google search that people looking for a holiday property in your area might do and see what sites rank highest, then consider listing your property on that site.

To optimise your listings on these websites, choose a property management system that has a built-in channel manager so you don’t have to manually update all the sites. It also removes the risk of double bookings.

Ensure your listing contains every detail about your property, all the features and amenities. Set your prices well in advance (you won’t show up in searches for summer 2019 if you haven’t added your prices yet). Add your entire property portfolio (some of the bigger channels will penalise you if you don’t). And finally, respond quickly to enquiries and don’t cancel!

About the author

Jo Blaylock is the Marketing Executive at SuperControl, the UK’s leading booking and management system for self-catering businesses that enables you to gain more bookings with less work. So you can free up money, time and resources to grow your business.

Founded in 2007 by Robert and Melinda Kennedy, IT experts with their own holiday rental properties, SuperControl now supports 30,000 properties worldwide.

To find out how SuperControl can benefit your business, start your free trial today or contact Keven or John on 01556 506701 to book a one-to-one demo.

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