Letting Your Holiday Cottage - The Times They Are A Changing

Letting your country cottage in The New Forest or anywhere couldn't be easier these days but there are some guidelines and helpful hints that you need to take into account and action along the way.

Ancient history;
Times were, auntie bequeathed a sweet little country cottage (last modernized 1975) to distant nephew. A few bits of original furniture and fittings were salvaged and the rest sourced from the local auction house. Advert duly went in either "The Lady parish magazine", or "post office window" 'Holiday cottage to rent' and hey presto, job done.

How times change, UK holiday cottages are no longer the poor relation of the hospitality industry. Candlewick bedspreads and shag pile have long given way to the 'boutique cottage'. Shabby chic is one thing, a collection of un-coordinated clutter is quite another.

Location choice;
The profitability of your holiday cottage business is down to several factors, for pure investment and income purposes, choose a location that enjoys a long letting season. A New Forest holiday cottage can achieve up to 45 occupied weeks per annum. The downside is, a cottage here costs considerably more than an equivalent in say Norfolk or Devon. Research the market before you buy.

Two up - two down?
There is a customer base for most sizes of accommodation. Better to renovate and furnish a two bedroom holiday cottage to a high standard then undertake a larger project. To capture those off season bookings, retired couples, parents with preschool aged children are a likely market. Returns are similar for a five star cottage that sleeps 4 and a two/three star cottage that sleeps 6.

It's looking great, what now?,
First, call in a professional photographer. The most cost effective way to promote your holiday home is through the internet. A good web site is essential, but it needs to be seen on the search engine results. Steer clear of gimmicky site design, keep it sleek and simple. Your web designer should be thoroughly clued up on SEO (Search engine optimisation) and build in the essential features from the start. If search engines can 'read' your site, up you go in the rankings.

DIY or Agency
Will you be available 24 /7 to answer phone calls and emails? Fact, internet customers sourcing a holiday cottage will just carry on surfing if they can't get a fairly prompt response. A cottage agency will charge between 15 -25% in commission. It is worth itemizing your real costs of DIY. Advertising, web site, telephone calls, time for paperwork, stationary, postage, look at your bottom line figure and compare with the agency percentage. The best plan initially might be to find a holiday cottage agency that does not restrict owner bookings. As your cottage achieves repeat bookings, you may well reach a point where it is viable to go it alone.

Key under the mat, not anymore;
An important element to holiday cottage success is a personal welcome for your guests, difficult if you live 200 miles away. Engage a really good housekeeper for turnarounds (and as your representative) and never try to economize on this aspect. As the seasons rotate, watch the return bookings flow in.

Jude Dalton is the MD of New Forest Living, specialists in offering a selection of holiday cottages to rent and providing good quality accommodation in the New Forest.

Source: www.articledashboard.com