Maximise Your French Holiday Let Bookings

Written by on December 13, 2016 in Gîtes in France, Property in France

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Donna Sloane, general manager at online accommodation specialist French Connections, shares her tips on how holiday let owners can be ready and active in attracting bookings.

Special offers

There’s no doubt that a special offer gets your property noticed online. We have dedicated pages for special offers that are prominently displayed. Usability tests show that many browsers search special offer properties first – and some will look only at these listings. When an owner makes an offer, it is also flagged up in the individual advertisement for the property.

At French Connections, we make offers listings free to owners who choose unlimited photos capacity, so encouraging owners to use two great marketing tools. The uses and benefits of special offers are many – from the certainty of bookings made early in the year to filling sudden vacancies due to cancellation and cross-promoting services.

What should you offer? In the old days, it may have been enough to hold out a case of wine or a bottle of bubbly as a lure, but these days holidaymakers are interested in prices and value. In the present market, discounts are definitely the most convincing incentive – typically between 10 and 25%. Other options are prices fixed in sterling when exchange rates are unfavourable or offering a fixed exchange rate.

Reviews and response

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Holidaymakers generally notice and trust user reviews, so make sure you publish several five star guest reviews in your listing. Choose a selection that highlights a range of features of the property and the attractions of a holiday and include at least one from guests who say they have made repeat bookings.

When holidaymakers do take an interest, it is essential that you monitor enquiries with email and SMS alerts and respond quickly to avoid missing bookings. The most professional owners aim to reply within 2-3 hours – and certainly within the day. Having great technology ensures that they reply in good time to convert enquiries to bookings.

Make sure that you can be reached at the phone number posted on your page or can reply quickly to messages. It’s always best to return both calls and online queries with a phone call as this will establish a personal rapport and answer all questions in one conversation. Be friendly, business-like and positive and have answers ready for all the practical questions.

Calendar and charisma

Holidaymakers often search availability by date, so don’t miss out because your calendar is incorrectly set. To ensure that your property will come up in search results for specific periods, check that you accurately show available weeks. If your changeover date is Saturday, be sure to show availability from the Saturday night – and always keep your calendar up to date.

If you have no bites after a period of time, then it’s quick and easy to refresh your online page. Try a different lead photo, update information, add a plan or describe something new. To get your property noticed, you could also use featured property slots for extra promotion within the website, such as a ‘grabber’ with photo on the home page or your regional pages.

Enticing extras

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Grab the attention of potential guests and enhance your own income by offering incentives and extras and really sell these on your listing page. Think about good welcome packs that include local wines and produce. Nice toiletries and good quality linen and towels add a special touch that makes the difference in reviews and repeat custom.  So does supplying bikes, table tennis and other games.

You might also offer additional services such as a home cooked menu delivered to the property (at extra cost), a communal barbecue or  babysitting. Other ideas are organising car hire, taxi transfers, chef service, grocery shopping, restaurant reservations,

There is another big opportunity to release the potential of your property – out of season short-term breaks and activity breaks based around art, therapies, sports or wine tours. Renting weeks out-of-season can be difficult as there are fewer people looking and more owners wanting to attract them. Yet selling themed breaks in out of season weeks can really make a difference to profits.

More information and ‘free listing for six months’ offer at www.frenchconnections.co.uk

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