Let’s start with a question – what’s your biggest objective as a holiday let owner?
Happy guests? Positive feedback? Additional income?
Whilst all of these are important, we’re guessing your biggest objective is to achieve high occupancy rates year-round to maximise your rental income.
So how do you go about achieving that?
Unfortunately, it’s not just a case of purchasing your holiday let, getting it guest-ready, creating a website, promoting it through listing websites and social media … and then bam, you’re fully booked year-round.
But on the other hand, it’s not as difficult as it may initially seem. As long as you put some processes in place – and make sure you adhere to them.
So what does ‘maximum occupancy’ really mean to you?
In reality the maximum occupancy that your rental can achieve is location dependant.
What we mean, is that unless you’re located in a year-round holiday destination, there are going to be times during that year when you won’t have any bookings.
Even if you are marketing a rental in one of those beautiful year-round destinations (lucky you!), you’ll inevitably encounter a low season. So again, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve bookings 52 weeks of the year.
So let’s exclude any low season periods from your maximum occupancy objective – if you get a booking during that time … great. But if not … you won’t be disappointed.
On average, UK-based holiday lets can expect to achieve 28 weeks per year fully booked. Again, this figure is location dependant even within the UK, but we’ll go with the average for ease.
And holiday rentals located in warmer climes get an industry average of 36 weeks per year.
How does your rental compare?
If you’re not quite hitting those figures, don’t worry, it’s not out of reach.
As long as you don’t sit back and expect it to happen on its own.
Gone are the days when all you needed was a website to be found in search engine results. The sheer quantity of holiday rentals with competing websites makes that ambition obsolete.
So here’s what you need to think about to achieve higher occupancy rates:
- Efficient processes
- Guest reviews
- Guest feedback & repeat business
- Dedicated website & online promotion
Now let’s look at each one in more detail …
1. Efficient Processes
As soon as you receive an enquiry, a response should go out.
Setup automated responses thanking them for their enquiry and explaining you’ll get back to them within X hours.
Ideally the ‘X’ hours should be less than 12, if you really want that booking. Remember, they’re likely to have contacted other holiday let owners too.
Being the first to respond puts you ahead of the pack.
Do you have standard templates setup?
If not, why not?
They’ll make your life so much easier and help you project a more professional image.
Create a first response template that you personalise for each enquiry.
- Enquiry dates.
- Guest numbers.
- Total cost.
- Payment methods and due by dates.
- Standard information about your property – even if that information is on your website, there’s no harm in reiterating it. It shows you’re being open, helpful and will start to build the all-important trust-factor.
- Standard arrival information – directions from airports, nearest motorway, train stations, harbour, etc.
Then create a booking confirmation template.
- Booked dates.
- Confirmed guest numbers.
- Reiterate the total cost.
- Outline payment(s) received / required:
- Deposit paid.
- Balance due date.
- Amount paid.
- Reiterate the standard arrival information.
- Provide full access information – are you meeting them? Is it a managing agent? If so, who exactly? Are they to find the keys themselves – if so, where?
- Provide season-appropriate accommodation information – what comforts will be provided to ensure they have a comfortable stay?
- Provide activity ideas – give an overview of what they can see and do nearby with website links if possible.
Next create a one-week before arrival template to wish them an enjoyable stay and express your openness to receiving feedback.
In addition, it’s wise to include:
- Access information.
- Local emergency contact numbers.
Finally, create a post-holiday template.
- Express your hope they had an enjoyable stay.
- Request any feedback they have, both positive and negative, to help you make improvements for future guests.
- You may also wish to include a discount off their next stay.
Getting efficient processes in place, helps ensure you cover everything and will make your business look more professional.
2. Guest Reviews
79% of consumers trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations*
So you can see the significance of getting that guest feedback.
Make it easy for your guests to leave feedback.
- Have a guest comments book on display inside the property.
- Make reference to it in your welcome pack.
- Offer an alternative online review mechanism on your website.
- Send a post-holiday email asking for feedback.
- Consider offering an incentive for leaving a review – discounted repeat booking, low season offer…
3. Guest Feedback & Repeat Business
It’s far easier to sell a product to a person you already have a relationship with, than it is to someone you don’t.
And yes, you are selling a product.
Many holiday rental owners tend to concentrate their efforts on new bookings.
Yet a whopping 80% of Brits go back to the same holiday destination each year. By not thinking of past guests, you’re missing out on this huge repeat business market.
Find out all there is to know about your guests.
How did they find you? What search term did they use? What made them choose your holiday let? How was the booking process? On arrival, what were their first impressions of the accommodation? What did they like / not like about their stay? Do they have any improvement suggestions?
This may seem like a lot of questions, but without understanding the process from your guest’s perspective, you don’t know if there are things you could be doing to improve conversion rates; from enquiry to booking.
And without getting honest feedback, you don’t know what you should do differently to encourage those guests to return time and time again.
When reviewing feedback, it’s important to remain objective. Remember it’s not a personal attack. These are just suggestions which will help you make improvements and achieve those higher occupancy rates.
Don’t forget to collect email addresses.
This allows you to start building a database of people you can sell too.
Send out regular newsletters updating them on any suggestions you’ve taken on board and implemented, improvements you’ve made, and any last minute deals or early bird discounts on offer.
4. Dedicated Website & Online Promotion
To have complete control of all marketing opportunities.
Want to showcase 50 photos? Add videos? Link to relevant external sites for added value?
Track visitors? Run promotional campaigns? Build a database of guests?
Without a website you can’t do any of this.
- Be the one-stop shop for potential guests: Use your website to link out to relevant websites to save your website visitors time trying to find out all the information themselves.
- Have greater flexibility: Take advantage of the opportunity to run promotional campaigns via Google Adwords or Social Media advertising targeting your ideal market, with a link that directs straight back to your website.
- Get more knowledge: Use Google Analytics to monitor where your website visitors are coming from, through which method – social media, email marketing, organic searches, where they exit your website, and much more. Use this information to make changes to your website to ensure they stay to make an enquiry.
- Increase promotional opportunities: Add your website URL to the signature of your email and any groups or forums you’re part of. Add a blog to share interesting information online and build an audience.
By setting up each of these processes, you will …
- Project a more professional image and streamline responses
- Be proactive about collecting guest feedback
- Encourage feedback and repeat business
- Be able to better promote your holiday let online
All of which will help to Increase your occupancy rates.