So you have signed up for all of the holiday rental schemes you can find. You are paying memberships to them all but still you are still accepting last minute prices. Would you prefer early bookings, deposits in the bank, full prices and the security that the weeks are already booked?
Of course you would!
Believe it or not, it can be just as frustrating for the people advertising your property as you that bookings are not coming through. The advertisers might be losing the booking from you to other properties on their books, but if they are losing bookings to other sites then they also are losing out.
The first step to more bookings – be available
Have you asked the owners of the website directories some basic questions about their service? Not the obvious ones, but some that can tell you how well they do and how well you are performing within them – find out if you are under-performing.
For a start, ask their support desk how far in advance booking searches on the website are for. We’re not asking here about the enquiries customers have made but the searches visitors are running. Then look at your availability calendars. Are they up to date? Do they cover most of these searches? The chances are not.
People searching for similar accommodation on the internet can easily be looking 15 months in advance, especially on bigger and more luxurious properties. So the first step to more bookings is simple – extend your availability calendar.
Step 2 to more bookings – look better
Now look at some of the competition that are displayed on the same results pages. What do they offer that you don’t? Maybe they have expensive hot tubs, swimming pools and so on that you can’t afford, but they aren’t the only way to be better. Look at the pictures they supply, now look at yours.
What is the first impression from your photographs? Do they show a bright, welcoming, sunny rental that is clean and luxurious? Or is it a hastily shot photograph with vehicles blocking the view?
Retake those photographs if necessary. Don’t use pictures of the local area unless you are selling your property’s view and have already included plenty of pictures. Choose pictures that show the cleanliness and features. If appropriate, show classy bathroom fittings, patio furniture, four poster beds etc. If you provide a welcome try, that might be a suitable shot. Make sure rooms are tidy and well lit.
These are what visitors will see first. And make sure that the one picture included in the search results really spells out the quality of your property. If that’s the only picture the website visitor will see, make it a good picture.
Step 3 – read better
Now take a look through your competitor’s text and bullet points. What do they describe? How do they describe it?
Remember to include in the text any major local attractions that people will be search on. Put yourself in the shoes of a visitor looking for “accommodation near to….” and will they find you? There’s no need to waste a picture on this, just text is fine.
Any special features should stand out. Some sites offer lists of points to include them, else just make a quick list within the text. The aim here is to quickly draw your reader’s attention to the main features.
Step 4 – go for commission schemes
Schemes that charge only a small listing fee are good, but those that charge a commission, whilst costing more, only get paid by results. Also, because of the commission payments they have more avenues to market your property such as affiliate sites.
It is important to remember that some of the large directories use affiliates to sell rentals. These affiliates may be taking feeds of properties to create their own websites. So search the internet for part of your property’s name or description and see just how many sites it appears on.
Including phrases in text such as ‘picture on left’ might be a good idea at the time, but when the affiliate publishes the text, it could be a different picture! Far more useful to describe the picture – which in turn makes it more likely to be found in searches.
Following on from this, affiliates may search property descriptions for key attractions and create new pages based around these attractions – another reason for clearly mentioning them in the text.
Don’t forget, it is just as annoying for advertisers to see hundreds of availability checks not producing rentals as it is for owners not to receive rentals. Don’t be afraid to approach the support teams and ask them do they have suggestions for increasing your bookings.