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Getting bookings for your holiday home in a challenging market

The current economic climate is challenging for all and, not surprisingly, it has had an impact on the holiday market.

Does this necessarily mean that you must accept fewer bookings for your holiday home than perhaps you did in the past?

No, not necessarily, but it does mean that you will probably need to put more effort and thought into the marketing of your property.

Whilst there is a fair amount of competition in the French holiday market, tens of millions of holiday makers are still choosing to visit France every year from all over the world.

With the internet firmly established as the main and most vital tool in the marketing of French gites and holiday homes, it is perfectly possible to attract a wide range of guests.

Mistake

The biggest mistake that some holiday home owners make during more difficult times is that they cut back on their marketing. This is a huge error. When times are more difficult, why on earth would you stop or reduce your means of attracting guests? It simply doesn’t make sense. If anything, you need to do more to attract your share of the market, not less.

However, we at We Adore France do understand that costs are important too and do, ultimately, come off your bottom line. As we rent out French property ourselves, we are in exactly the same position.

We would never advocate cutting back on your marketing when times are tough but what you can do is market more sensibly and cost effectively.

Unlike other property listing sites, we do not charge large upfront fees, which have to be paid whether or not you gain any bookings. At We Adore France, you pay a low yearly membership fee and then you only pay a small flat-rate booking fee when you have actually gained your bookings.

In other words, rather than paying your fees upfront whether or not you get any bookings, you only pay them once you are already making a profit. This way, you cannot lose.

We believe this is a much better way of managing your marketing and is one of the main reasons why We Adore France was set up.

The other benefit of listing your property on We Adore France is that you know exactly how many bookings your membership brings you each year, as bookings come directly from the website. In fact, you do not even need to have your own individual website if you don’t want to, or you want to avoid the expense.

No matter what website you choose to list your property on, being able to measure the success of your marketing is absolutely vital. How else will you know how successful it is and whether it is paying for itself?

It is hard to measure how many enquiries you have received from other listing sites if all they offer is a link to your own website or contact details. Even if you ask your guests when they book where they saw the ad for your property, some will reply somewhat vaguely and give you such answers as ‘the internet’ or ‘online somewhere.’

Therefore, if you want to ensure your marketing is paying for itself and more, make sure you are always able to track where your bookings are coming from.

Is there anything else you can do to increase your chance of success in this difficult market?

Yes, you can get clever with your marketing and try looking at the economy as an opportunity as well as a challenge.

Remember that a natural reaction of people in a difficult economy, whatever business they happen to be in, is to cut back on their marketing. Some home owners will inevitably do this, even though it is unwise.

If you, on the other hand, use this time as an opportunity to step up your marketing, you will be taking a larger share of a less crowded market by doing do.

Now is the time to be creative. Think about what you can do to make your guests’ experience more special and your property more attractive.

Special offers

Special offers can be very useful in this climate and a proportion of holiday makers will be searching specifically for offers, but make sure that yours are meaningful. These days, an offer of a free bottle of wine is not really going to be enough. People know that French wine can be pretty inexpensive anyway and they will be looking for more.

We do have one word of warning, however, when you are considering your special offers.

In a difficult economy, when money is tighter, most people are looking for value for money more than for rock bottom prices. (Around 10 to 15 percent of the market will be looking for the cheapest prices possible but, before you go down this route, ask yourself if this is really the type of guest you wish to attract. After all, if you get to the point when you are not making a profit, or are even making a loss at certain times of the year, what is the point of renting out your home at such a rate? Also, how then will you be able to afford to reinvest in your home if you want to improve it?)

Look around you. People are spending less but does everybody drive the cheapest car, live in the cheapest home or shop at the cheapest shops?

No, of course they don’t. Most people are not looking for ‘cheapest’ but are looking for real value for money and are spending more carefully.

Therefore, research your local area and property type and make sure your rental rates are fair and realistic. Then look at introducing attractive special offers if you want to fill off-peak times of the year or if you have last-minute weeks available.

Offer value, but do not undersell your property or appear too desperate. (People will wonder if there is something wrong with your home.)

Remember that a self-catering holiday in France, which in many cases can include a journey by car or train rather than expensive flights, already represents a cost-effective option for many families, groups and couples.

Explore new markets

Consider whether you are unintentionally limiting yourself when marketing your property and whether you can explore new markets.

If your property is large, and you have been targeting families or large family groups, ask yourself whether you may have unintentionally been putting off couples or smaller groups. Larger homes are popular with families during the peak summer months but they may be harder to let during the slower season, unless you make it clear your property will also equally accommodate couples, perhaps with an attractive discount.

Make sure your listing on We Adore France shows off your property to its best advantage - there is plenty of advice on this website on how best to do this and numerous options for you to take advantage of.

We also strongly recommend that you make full use of our unusual video option. Very few listing sites offer this and yet it makes a big difference to the conversion of interest into bookings.

Exploring new markets also includes marketing to different nationalities, as only about one in 60 visitors to France comes from the UK. Our unique site offers translation into four other languages (French, German, Spanish and Italian) at no extra charge and will enable you to significantly widen the net in your efforts to attract guests.

Bear in mind that, whilst France is one of the most visited countries in the world, only around 12 per cent of the French holiday abroad themselves, so ask yourself whether you could market your property more successfully to the French.

Are there popular attractions within a close distance to your property that you could emphasise and advertise more? Are there opportunities for fishing or golf nearby?

Most of all, make sure your marketing is a fluid thing that is changed and updated according to the seasons and that you measure your results so you know what works.

It may be a challenging climate but there is plenty of business to be had for those who want it. What’s more, we at We Adore France are here to help you to find it.

Wishing you a happy and successful year,

The team at We Adore France

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What Owners Say

Dear Susan, thanks you so much for setting up my property details on your website, it is without doubt, one of the most user friendly site's to use for both myself and our customers.

I have been in the gite business for some 8-9 years and have always taken part in any "new start" website, like yours, that have been offered to me, up to this time not one has delivered a single enquiry, well you have broken the mould! not only with enquiries but a firm booking, so We Adore France is my first sucess and I thanks you very much, so please keep up the good work.

All the best to you and your team.

Mike and Donna De-Berryman