With a growing number of holiday homes in Languedoc being advertised on the holiday rentals market, now is the time to get smart about promoting your property. Here is the Go Languedoc Top 10 Guide to marketing your Languedoc vacation rental.
There are an estimated 37,500 holiday homes in the Languedoc region. Each year the Languedoc attracts around 350,000 people staying in holiday rental accommodation. Our research indicates that there are approaching 1,600 rental properties advertised on the main Languedoc holiday rentals websites. This figure has grown by nearly 16% in the last 2 years. It is estimated that 85% of all Languedoc gites rentals are obtained through the internet.
The market for Languedoc holiday rentals is very tight. We have seen some evidence of prices being held level or even reduced to attract bookings. The market for Languedoc holiday rentals is predominantly a web based business. It pays off to work with professionals who who understand how best to market your property and know the Languedoc gites rentals business.
Over the last 6 years we have developed a wealth of experience in the Languedoc holiday rentals sector. Our aim is to help make owning a second home cost-neutral for you by earning you more rental income. We work closely with a whole range of property owners to maximise the booking potential of their property. As well as our own website promotion, we utilise a range of online services to publicise our vacation rentals in the Languedoc. Here is some of our advice to help you promote your holiday property online:
Every property has its own special feature: fabulous views; close to the beach; near a pretty town or village; remote and tranquil; located in a vibrant holiday resort; etc. Whatever it is about your property, you need to articulate this to the buying public. Give them one or two reasons why they should stay with you. Avoid being bland. Make your property stand out.
Photographs sell holiday rentals - especially photographs of the outdoors. People like to see where they will be staying and picture themselves being there. Give them a taste of your village or the view from the bedroom window. The other photographs should emphasise how your property is clean, light and airy. Make sure that your photographs encapsulate the unique selling point of your Languedoc holiday rental.
Provide your potential guests a concise and accurate description of your Languedoc gite rental. Emphasise your unique selling points in your first two or three lines. Avoid listing every knife and fork that you provide. Make use of strong adjectives: comfortable, spacious, relaxing, etc. Paint them a picture in words of what it will be like staying in your holiday rental home. Don't forget to offer some holiday activity ideas that are located nearby. But remember, don't be bland. Turn 'walking nearby' into 'walk the beautiful trails of the Black mountains' and 'canoeing' into 'canoe down the spectacular Gorge d'Herault'.
Research from USA has shown that consumers are 6 times more likely to follow a recommendation than a standard classified advert. Recommendations give us confidence to purchase. If you have time and space, include some comments from past guests. Just one or two lines will do. Too much and it will come across as 'cheesy' or artificial.
You have about 1 minute to capture a potential customer's attention about your Languedoc gite rental. Generally they want to know 4 key pieces of information. 1.) how much it is going to cost? 2.) Will it be big enough? 3.) Is it available? 4.) Where is it? Make it easy for them to find this information in the description of your vacation rental. Let them tick all their requirements there and then. Wherever you advertise your holiday rental keep your availability calendar up to date. Leave statements of when the calendar was last updated (to shown that the information is accurate & up to date).
This is not so much a promotion issue, but more common sense. If you do get a booking enquiry, get straight back to them. At Go Languedoc we always try and get back within 2 hours with confirmation. We have alerts sent to our mobile phones and we can pick up and send emails on our PDA. Never lose a potential booking by being slow off the blocks. Also, try and offer them an incentive to book there and then. Throw in an extra night, mention a fete taking place nearby during their stay, tell them if you have added something to the house. Tell them anything that might wet their appetite.
Keep an email list of who has stayed at your Languedoc holiday rental. Send them an update email once a year. After 4-5 years you probably will have a guest list of approaching 34-40 people. You never know, by sending an email out to your contact list you might get a short break out of it or a repeat booking. Tell them how lovely it is in the Spring or the Autumn/Fall when the price is lower (and you have less bookings).
The internet is very impersonal. Anything you can do to show that you're a real person sets you apart from your competition. At Go Languedoc we write to our Languedoc gite rental customers the week before they arrive to tell them about good local restaurants to try or a festival that is taking place (see "Recommendations"). It is always a nice touch to write to a customer after they have stayed at your house. We email them to thank them for their stay and ask them if everything was OK. When it comes to getting referrals or repeat bookings, the personal touch is absolutely essential.
It is always wise to keep track of your booking enquiries. Which of your advertising areas generated the most enquiries? Where did your guests find out about you? It might be that one website generates lots of enquiries but no bookings. Speak to the webmaster about why this is the case. All of this information will help you update your advert details and plan your marketing plan for the next year.
If you want to get Languedoc holiday rental bookings you have to invest in advertising. We advise our clients that they should look to spend 5% of anticipated income on advertising. But where to advertise? There are so many websites out there all after your money. Where do you choose? Well, it pays to do your homework. Ask the webmaster what the average enquiry and conversion rates are. Ask them where they advertise their site and how much they have in their advertising budget. Also, ask around. If you know of people who rent out their house, ask them where they get the best returns. Post a message on one of the local ex-pat message boards and ask people for their advice.
Also it is important to mix and match where you advertise. Combine global sites with national and location specific sites. Think about what marketeers call 'short reach' advertising. Market your property to people you know - your work colleagues, your friends, your golf club members. At Go Languedoc we also place our properties on a number of free to advertise websites that charge a commission for a booking. We add in the commission to the rental price so that this does not cost us too much. We also keep a bit of a budget back to pay for short term adverts on places like eBay, laterooms.com and lastminute.com.