This is the first of a series of six articles looking at some of the decisions which you will need to make if you want to market a holiday cottage.
For our first article we are going to look at pricing and occupancy rates and some general advice on what you need to do here.
Occupancy rates – this is probably the most talked about statistic for owners of holiday cottages.
As a starting point you will need to aim for at least 105 days of short term lets if you want to qualify as a furnished holiday letting which will then enable you to claim more tax advantages.
So essentially we have 30% occupancy as a minimum. In your first year we usually see around 40% to 45% being achieved. This will obviously differ depending upon location and if your house is inland and away from the coast you have a hard task ahead of you, don’t underestimate how long it can take to become established.
It is really important to set the right price as early as possible. It is important to set a realistic price from the start. You also need to remember that coastal cottages can carry prices which are higher than those inland by between 20% and 30%. The best way forward is to look at comparable properties and work out a price for each season per guest. This should give a good start.
One of the issues on pricing is the difference between low season and peak season pricing. If you look at holiday cottages in the Lake District there is often a smaller differential to reflect a year round demand. Northumberland can be more challenging in the low season so don’t be afraid to be competitive, well at least until you have built up a list of customers.
Unless your cottage is in a very popular location then we believe that the only way you can achieve high occupancy rates is through repeat business. You have to build up your own database of customers and enquirers. Then keep in contact with. Send Christmas cards, email offers and even telephone if there are late offers on the table. Your database will grow over time and become quite valuable, don’t miss out.
Finally it helps if you have a particular type of guest in mind. What is your unique selling point? For instance these are popular requirements:
- Dog friendly accommodation.
- Holidays for couples (maybe a discount for couples).Also marketed as romantic holidays.
- Large family holidays.
- Maybe targeted as accommodation close to a major tourist attraction.
I really hope that this has been useful. There is a summary of the subjects which will be covered in the following articles as well contact details for more information and good references.
Articles which will follow:
- Choosing a letting agency.
- How much to pay for a website.
- Tripadvisor and Facebook. Problems or Benefits?
- Videos and Youtube.
- Adwords and Google places. Do you need to pay for appearing on Google?
Resources and contact details.
1. Website for marketing advice for holiday cottage owners: http://bookourcottage.com/.
2. For professional advice on letting your holiday cottage you can contact Vicky at Northumbria-byways.com: http://www.northumbria-byways.com/cottage_owners.htm.
3. The best guide to occupancy rates is found on the Supercontrol website. Read more here: http://bookourcottage.com/2011/12/08/occupancy-rates/.
4. To keep in contact with your guests it is a good idea to use a specialist email service. We use Mailchimp, it is free for the type of list size most owners will have. This is list management made easy. http://mailchimp.com.
5. If you would like to chat to Colin about this or any other marketing issues then please email him. Colin.firstname.lastname@example.org.