Most of our promotion for the villa is done using holiday-rentals.com. It’s a pretty good way of generating leads, but once you receive an enquiry it’s absolutely vital that you respond with detailed, clear and honest information that answers the exact needs of your potential visitors. Here are some suggestions for converting leads into bookings. (By the way, if you are a potential visitor, by all means have a read through – hopefully it should reassure you about our quality of service as well.)
1. Tell the truth. Yes, I’m starting with the blinking obvious. But I’m still amazed, from my own experience, at how many owners shy from providing honest information about their property. Let’s be clear – we’re not talking about lying here. But if you leave out critical information, provide out of date or misleading photographs, for example, then you immediately jeopardize the relationship with your customer.
2. Target your response to the enquiry. A couple with a dog are likely to have very different expectations from a large family group. Try and put yourself in their shoes. Are they looking for peace and quiet? Nearby shops? Modern appliances that take the heavy lifting out of washing and cooking? Try and pick out at least three points that you think will be helpful.
3. A secure property. Young families, especially, are keen to know about locks, gates and fences. Make a point about pool security as well. Is it alarmed, fenced or does it have a security cover?
4. Answer every question. Make sure you respond, in detail, to specific questions. How high is the fence? How large is the bathroom? How deep is the pool? They may not seem to be that important, but you can be certain that it matters to your visitors. Especially if they had a bad experience when renting a property in the past.
5. Show off your reviews. Don’t be shy. If someone wrote back and told you they had a great time and why, make sure that next year’s visitors get a chance to read the good news. Holiday-rentals.com has a good review page for each villa. If you think that a review is relevant to an enquiry, then by all means include it in your response.
6. Photographs. In our experience you can’t show potential visitors enough photographs (See 1). Try and make sure that you have every room covered. Bathrooms and kitchens are particularly important. As are bedrooms, living spaces, gardens and nearby attractions. Come to think of it, that pretty much covers everything. Upload your photos to an easy-to-use web site such as Flickr or Picasa and send the link with your response.
7. Information, information, information. If you have a welcome pack or your own guide to the area, include it as an attachment with your response. We also recommend including a satellite image from google maps or similar so that visitors have a good idea of the environment.
8. Languages. Try and respond in the native language of your potential visitor, even if they write in English. We’re fortunate to have fluent German and French speakers in the family. If you have to look further afield then try and get a friend or colleague to help you with some standard responses. If you reply in English, acknowledge, politely, the nationality of the correspondent: “It’s nice to get an enquiry from a German family,” or similar will do.
9. Costs. Be completely open, but not pushy, about the cost of the stay. Make sure that if you are converting currencies that you use an up to date exchange rate and quote it. If there is a deposit, be completely up front about the sum and the conditions. Most visitors are familiar and comfortable about these arrangements.
10. Convey your enthusiasm. If you were delighted and excited when you first visited your property, try and channel that enthusiasm into your response. Help the visitor understand that you are a private owner and they will get personal and attentive treatment during their stay. If you have a concierge or similar on site or nearby, put their mind at rest by telling them that they will welcomed in person and that someone will be on hand to help out during their holiday.
Ok, that’s all for now. What about you? If you rent out a villa, what tips would you add? And if you’re a potential visitor, what else would you want to know?