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How would you begin if you were starting now?

 
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 5:25 pm    Post subject: How would you begin if you were starting now? Reply with quote

Our barn (which should have been ready last June and STILL isn't finished!!!) should be ready for this season (the triumph of hope over experience). I've been reading through various threads about websites and booking sites etc and I am wondering, with the entry of AirBNB into the equation, whether it would be worth just using them? Or should we develop a good website with e.g. PIMS booking system and try other online booking sites too? There is a local online company (Wyevalleyholidaycottages) that has been recommended to us as a good place to list our place but I assume they will take a large chunk as a service charge. However might it be a gentler, helpful way to begin? The barn is quite luxurious and can sleep 10 people or be divided into a 6 or 4bed property. If you were starting out now, what would you do? What's the minimum I need to do? We have absolutely NO experience of holiday letting at all so far.

I realise this is quite a big question but would value your thoughts before I dive in head-first and regret at leisure.

Thanks. [/quote]
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newtimber



Joined: 24 Nov 2012
Posts: 1516
Location: Brighton

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a quality sleep 10, I'd probably be tempted to use an agent who is used to dealing with your type of property and will actually visit it and give it a rating and lots of advice. You want to price it high (avoid Sykes) to attract responsible guests - is it suitable for Rural Retreats or English Country Cottages?

If you want to go it alone, you need to advertise widely and not just with one site. It'd probably be worth getting a rating with Visit Wales.
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks. That's interesting! I was kind of hoping you'd say 'just use ABB but maybe a more targeted approach would pay off. After reading a thread about service costs (someone said between 40-50%), with the addition of the costs the company would take I'm not sure what we'd be left with! Perhaps I'll register as a charity Wink
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Bunny



Joined: 16 Oct 2013
Posts: 3387
Location: South of England

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 7:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

For a quality sleeps 10, I really wouldn't rely on Airbnb alone. If it sleeps 10 you are not going to want to do many short lets which is Abnb's speciality. The other day I had an ABNB enquiry asking how much for an extended stay. They wanted 8 nights! Shocked Rolling Eyes
Your own website is an absolute must too. Putting all your eggs in one basket would be fatal and you need to spread yourself around. Can't comment on Wyevalley because I've never used them, but if you choose an agency route to get you started, read the small print and tie in terms very very carefully. Also check if they allow you to take your own bookings.
Good luck.
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 8:18 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Bunny! Very helpful. (What a fantastic resource this forum is). Very Happy
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Annew



Joined: 04 Nov 2009
Posts: 908
Location: Devon

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We used an agent for the first few years of operating (Classic Cottages) as our properties are large and we wanted to get to grips with the housekeeping (and looking after guests) before we went it alone.

Admittedly, the rental market has changed somewhat since we gave up with the agent (8 years ago) but personally speaking, I would possibly avoid ABNB and maybe not do too many short breaks until you have everything else running like clockwork as parties of 10 can be hard work and rather demanding.

Best of luck!
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Sun Jan 03, 2016 9:53 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks AnneW - beginning to sense a trend here. I am definitely feeling like we need a hand to hold initially. It's just that our children go on endlessly about ABB and I thought maybe it's the way to go now. I think I'll check out some more appropriate websites.
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:51 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks AnneW - beginning to sense a trend here. I am definitely feeling like we need a hand to hold initially. It's just that our children go on endlessly about ABB and I thought maybe it's the way to go now. I think I'll check out some more appropriate websites.
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greenbarn



Joined: 30 May 2009
Posts: 5901
Location: The Westmorland Dales, Cumbria

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 11:25 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Tymawrfarm wrote:
It's just that our children go on endlessly about ABB and I thought maybe it's the way to go now.


Are your children representative of your target market? If not, you may want to actively avoid AbnB?

It's essential that you establish what your target market is and then aim at it. With initial experience you may widen (or narrow!) that market, but that's a little way into the future.

If you haven't already done so, have a read of the invaluable information freely given by member Charles Cawley. To save you searching, here's what he puts at the bottom of his posts (it's not clickable for good reasons):
Quote:
Helpful info. Please copy and put in web browser:
countryholidaylets.co.uk/about-us/landlords-homeowners-info-pack
Extra information:
holidayletsforsale.com/advice-cottage-owners-info-pack/


Good luck, and look forward to a few days of solid reading on LMH!
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Mon Jan 04, 2016 8:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks Greenbarn - I remember reading all this about a year ago when I foolishly thought our builders might complete the build by the target date but very helpful to read through again, if not a little daunting!

Thanks to all for advice.
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DEP



Joined: 31 Jul 2015
Posts: 6
Location: Moray Coast, Scotland

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

We were in your situation about 8 months ago! We had our first guests at the end of June 2015. We chose to use an agent as we don't live locally to our cottage and both work full time. We also use a company for changeovers and oversee any maintenance issues.

In our experience having an agent manage enquiries and bookings has been so beneficial as there is a steep learning curve. We were surprised by how much work was still needed communicating with guests when they were in the cottage, afterwards etc.

It all depends on what your situation is. If you have other 'work' then you might benefit from an agent initially.

Good luck Very Happy
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Wed Jan 06, 2016 8:46 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi DEP - Well I'm on site and retired and husband works (kind of) full time but even so, I think it makes sense to try an agent at first. If it was a smaller property I might have given it a shot alone but given that there might be multiple people to communicate with, I don't want to come a cropper at the outset and end up getting bad reviews.

Thanks for your contribution. Hope you've been busy. Can you say who you went with and what your experience of them has been?
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DEP



Joined: 31 Jul 2015
Posts: 6
Location: Moray Coast, Scotland

PostPosted: Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi Tymawrfarm, yes we have been busy. Considering we went live in mid June - we were fully booked all the way through from last week of June to end of October, for nothing shorter than a week. We are pleased with our bookings so far for 2016 too.

We chose to go with Sykes due to their national coverage, as our cottage is in the north of Scotland, and we had used them ourselves to book a couple of holidays so knew how things worked from that end.

It was only after that we discovered this site and read of some issues people had with them. However our experience so far has been positive. We were concerned with the pricing initially but once our cottage was finished and they viewed it, we requested the figures to be raised which they agreed to. I would say we are now on a par with other cottages in the area not using Sykes. Yes a chunk of money goes to them but in our present circumstances, it's a price we are willing to pay!

We were also clear with them that it was our intention to use the cottage ourselves and have had no problems with owner bookings, even during peak times.

We think we've made the right decision for us and I think ultimately that is one of the benefits of being in this industry (using this term loosely, in our case compared with the many experts we have on this site!) it is about being flexible and finding works best for you.

I wish you every success with your launch.
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Musetta



Joined: 27 Feb 2006
Posts: 1892
Location: Campania, Italy/NJ, USA

PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 7:57 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I did very well with vrbo/homeaway and holidaylettings (more w hl in the beginning and then more w vrbo in the later years) with my NYC house that slept 8 (I recently sold it so it's no longer in business.) I took zero booking with AirBnb (and it was booked 25+weeks/yr.) I actually removed it from the site because it was wasting so much of my time - I was getting text after text from people wanted to fit in way over occupancy and/or try to bargain down the price. The time-wasting was unreal. That said, I may list my Italy house there...it is in a different price-range and I think will do better. I found people were definitely bargin-hunters and that is not what I was booking for the US house. With the new (ish) commission-based models on all the sites, I don't see why you wouldn't try everything the first year or so and see what works for you?
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Tymawrfarm



Joined: 25 Jul 2012
Posts: 27
Location: Monmouthshire, Wales, UK

PostPosted: Thu Jan 21, 2016 9:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks - we are definitely giving ABNB a miss to begin with and might try it out when we are more experienced. We are thinking of trying some upmarket sites but STILL waiting for the B****y builders to finish. Will it EVER be ready? It seems to be going backward rather than forward. Gripe over!
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