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Making the right first impression

Top tips for holiday rental owners

Renting your property for a week or two is, in many ways, like selling it.

Everyone knows how important it is to make the right first impressions when their home is for sale; it’s common to hear estate agents and sellers throwing around that well worn phrase, “you never get a second chance to make a first impression…”

But how many holiday rental owners apply that same principle to their holiday property?

Making great first impressions on your guests – from the moment they find your property online to the day they arrive – will get you great feedback you can use in your marketing, more repeat business, word of mouth referrals…and ultimately more booked weeks.

‘Selling’ a holiday home relies on engendering the same feeling in the ‘buyer’ as you would want in a sale. Does it say ‘blissful relaxation in the sun’ or ‘a bit dated and it might rain…’?

The fact is, whilst every potential guest is superficially searching by criteria – bedrooms, proximity to a beach, pool, airports – what they are REALLY searching for is their dream. Can they imagine themselves there, far from the daily grind, happy and relaxed?

Top tips:

• If you get one thing right, make it the photos. Few holidaymakers will even glance at the words if they don’t get the right first impression. Investing in professional shots could mean the difference between empty weeks and a full calendar.

• Don’t leave it to the photographer to tell you what you need. He or she is the expert in getting the photos right, but you know your market best. Make sure you tell them what you want the shots to convey (wine and glasses, children playing, happy skiers, relaxed walkers, the beauty of the surroundings, fabulous markets, whatever your market wants most…)

Get into context…

It is safe to say that every holiday property is coloured by the customer’s own perceptions. Everyone  has a set of pre-conceived ideas about each holiday destination, be they positive or negative.

Say, for example, you have a property in Brittany. Experience has told us that the general perception of this region is ‘great for transport links, weather may be poor…’

The description and photos should therefore show rooms bathed in sunlight, pools with laughing, happy holidaymakers and bright blue skies, as well as a reminder that it is less than an hour from the nearest port.

Top tip:

• Get into the mindset of your average customer. Ask your existing guests, friends and family what their honest opinion of your area is, and what their preconceived ideas were before they came.

• Ask yourself, how can you corroborate or dispel those ideas with your photos and description?

Have them at ‘hello’!

Those property owners who consistently receive outstanding feedback from happy guests always demonstrate one key trait – an understanding of the importance of the first five minutes.

Guests will often arrive at your property weary, hungry, perhaps with little ones who are approaching ‘meltdown’; their first five minutes at your property will determine how they perceive their entire holiday from that point onwards.

Making a special effort to make them feel welcome, relaxed, happy and relieved to be there can only set up the holiday as a positive experience.

By contrast, arriving to no greeting, beds that aren’t made and nothing with which to make a cup of tea can only lead off on the wrong footing; that feeling is what leads to niggling doubts and irritation that can become a destructive force.

Top tip:

• Focus all the effort you can muster on that ‘first five minute experience’. Ask friends to come along and be guinea pigs whilst you role play how you meet and greet. Put yourself in the guest’s shoes – is now the best time to show them all you have to offer, or would a cup of tea, homemade cake, a snack for the kids and half an hour to catch their breath be a better start?

Read more practical tips, advice and case studies about getting the most from your holiday home in our free book by multi-award winning Tots to Travel founder, Wendy Shand: ‘Empty Weeks? How to get more bookings and make more money from your holiday home’ at www.yourfreeholidayletsbook.co.uk

Article submitted by Helen Jones, Lettings Expert – Algarve