How to fill unsold summer weeks at your holiday let

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Do you run a holiday let or gites in France and still have weeks to fill for this summer? Now is the perfect time to be pro-active in chasing those bookings with some simple marketing strategies.

At French Connections we specialise in France, with 20 years of success online as a holiday property listing site, so here’s my advice on action that owners can take.

Quality photographs

Rocamadour

“First, focus on what you show and tell about your property in your online listing. Does your ‘thumbnail’ photograph prompt the viewer to click to see more? Make it attractive and interesting – the most enticing ‘kerb appeal’ view of your property. With so many people searching on tablets and smart phones, it’s important that your lead-in image is clear and works in a small size.

Next use large format photographs to tell the story of your property and the holiday experience to be had there. Right now it’s good to show plenty of blue sky and sunlight, the idyllic appeal of summer, and maybe a table laid for dinner under the stars.

Enthusiastic description

Use your description of the property to share your own enthusiasm for the place as that is really infectious to readers. Describe in colourful phrases what visitors can see and do on a summer holiday, why it’s perfect for children or couples. Talk about lazy days around the pool and outings to historic towns, what facilities, help and extras you offer. Visitors like to make travel and journey planning easier, so briefly share your knowledge of the best routes and ferry crossings.

Guest reviews

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Guest book comments on your listing page are trusted by holidaymakers and it’s easy to display them. At French Connections we invite holiday makers to email in their reviews together with their star rating and the period they stayed at the property. Owners find that honest, vetted user reviews give holidaymakers extra confidence to book. Use comments that mention a range of the features and benefits of your property and reasons why visitors enjoyed their stay. Try to include one or more that say ‘We’ll be back again next year’.

Featured property

If you want to get noticed and sell those summer weeks, then a Featured Property slot can be really effective. For a modest fee, you ensure that a photo and brief description of your property features on the site’s Home page for a set period of time. This makes it visible as soon as a browser lands on the website. We also invite owners to book slots to feature across the top of  search landing pages and in regular e-newsletters sent to interested holidaymakers. Both are high profile and grab the viewer’s attention.

Special offers

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Target a special offer to help sell remaining weeks of the summer season. These are free to list for our owners who have an additional photo display package, so many owners take advantage of posting on the high profile ‘Special Offers’ pages as often as they like. Our research shows that some browsers click on these pages first.

The most effective offers are discounts. By all means add in a wine gift or food hamper, but on their own these incentives are insufficient for a modern, price conscious market. A discount of, ideally, between 10% and 25% will grab the attention you seek.

 Prompt response

Many consumers are constantly connected, so a quick response to their enquiries is key. Give a mobile number, answer the phone if at all possible, leave a personal message to tell people you’ll call back soon – and do it. Have email on your phone and reply to online enquiries quickly – within hours at most. If you can’t give a full reply, then send a brief holding reply saying you’ll call or email more detail. Good service and personal connections will help to make it a full house for your property in France this summer.”

More information in the Owners area at www.frenchconnections.co.uk  or call 01580 819303

Glynis Shaw is joint MD of French Connections holiday rentals and property sales online.  Founded in 1996, the website was one of the first to specialise in France and still offers a personal service to owners. Photos show holiday lets available to book through French Connections.

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