In this edition of Lay My Hat, more advice from rental owners on what we all want in life: more bookings!
If you haven't visited the Lay My Hat forum yet, take a look - it's a thriving community of helpful owners discussing everything to do with rentals. You can just read what others think, or you can contribute your views and questions.
In this newsletter I'm giving you my 'dealmakers' - those little extras that may clinch a booking. And there's part two of how to hoist your site higher up in the search engines. You'll find these articles discussed in more detail at the forum.
As always, I would love to hear from you because this newsletter is intended as an exchange of ideas in the community of rental home owners. Email me your views, suggestions and tips, or post them on the forum - you'll notice that contributors get a link to their own site, giving them a nice little boost in the search engine rankings!
All the best for 2005,
P.S. You can read past editions of Lay My Hat here:http://www.laymyhat.com/newsletters/newsletterList.php.
Dealmakers - how to tip the balance in your favour
I think that the key to success in a crowded rentals market is differentiation - offering what the competition doesn't. There are hundreds of ways to stand out, but here are some based on what potential renters ask me most often. I call them dealmakers - not having them won't lose you the deal, but having them may just be what makes the deal.
Hairdryers in the bathrooms. Not the tiny travel ones, but the real thing. The benefit: guests pack less.
Cheap car hire. Research the cheapest reliable car hire from local airports and stations. This would usually be online through a consolidator, but the car would still be from one of the big international companies, only cheaper.
Free phone. Make your phone free for all incoming and local calls, so they can call restaurants and tourist attractions. Even better, make the phone free for all calls. In some countries you can get a monthly rate that gives unlimited long-distance calls. Or you can meter the phone and they can pay when they leave.
Internet access. Some people have to stay in touch with their work so try to make it easy for them by at least having a metered phone line they can plug into, or better yet broadband/ADSL. If you have an old computer lying around, provide it for email and internet - they won't need to bring their laptop.
Baby things. Parents with babies have to pack like Elizabeth Taylor. Make it easier on them by providing bulky items like travel cots, high chairs and bottle sterilizers.
Baby sitting. Can you provide on-site baby-sitting for a token fee? Parents of toddlers would love a night off. They wouldn't be expecting it from a rental property, so it would be a nice surprise option.
Dinner at home. The trouble with self catering is you have to cater for yourself! Sometimes it would be lovely to have dinner cooked for you using local ingredients and featuring regional specialties. This could be cooked on-site or delivered.
English TV. For English-speakers in non-English speaking countries, it's nice to have CNN or BBC for the news. And a multi-zone DVD player so you can bring your own DVDs.
What are your dealmakers? Add your ideas here at the Lay My Hat forum for rental owners: http://www.laymyhat.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=307
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What's hot at the forum this month...
Owners share their trade secrets - if you find them useful, why not join in? Email to email@example.com
Owner's secret #1
"I agree that white towels are nicest, but unless you have a good laundry nearby they can begin to look dingy. I colour-coordinate the towels to the bedrooms - coral for the rose bedroom, turquoise for the "ivy" bedroom, etc. Unless there's an en suite bathroom for every bedroom, mixed groups can muddle up their towels in the bathrooms - guests tell us they like this system."
Thanks to Jane - www.chateauduberouze.com
Owner's secret #2
"For people without their own web site it is easy to make an online guest book (with entries copied from the real book) on the Yahoo Geocities sites. These are free and easy to make. Ours is at: http://www.geocities.com/villavenetia2003/Guest_Book.html. When I reply to enquiries I send the URL. It's not perfect and I'm working on it. The plan is to add guests photos with their comments. We also photograph our guests with their approval and give them a print before they leave."
Thanks to Paul
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Remember, the point of Lay My Hat is that it's an exchange of ideas and opinions for holiday rental owners, so please don't be shy in sharing yours. Here's my address: firstname.lastname@example.org