Whether you buy a villa or apartment in Orlando Florida, Spain, Turkey, Morocco or Cyprus you will have to plan the management of bookings if your property investment is to pay.The first step is to make sure your villa meets the demands of the market. If it does not meet with current best standards you will bring upon yourself a lot of problems:
Minimise Potential Problems – Maximise Recurring Bookings
There is no benefit in cutting costs when it leads to problems during bookings and loss of repeat bookings.
Get the word out
Advertise in as many forms of media as you can. It is not sufficient to develop a web site and expect all your bookings to come via that. You need to develop awareness across as many options as you can. Take time to investigate all the options available so you spend your money wisely. The web is comparatively cheap and your property information is available 24 hours a day. If advertising in magazines you need to select one which targets your potential customers and then choose your time carefully. Select the issues which are sold when people are planning holidays in your property area.
In addition to the usual advertising options, use every opportunity you can think of to spread the word. This includes flyers, business cards, footers in email messages, holiday snaps shown to friends and relatives - any opportunities to expand the awareness for your holiday villa.
Advertise villa availability at the first opportunity.
There is no point in getting people excited about your villa or other property if it’s not available when they need it. A villa availability calendar on your web site will let people know immediately if your villa is available and if it is worth enquiring about. It will also ensure that you are not plagued by repeated enquiries for a rental period which you have let long ago. A good availability calendar will include an option to hold ‘hidden bookings’, that is, bookings made through your management company which can be replaced by your own higher paying bookings when available. You can see all bookings, but the public see only bookings made via you. Bookings made via the management company are hidden from them, so those periods are still available to book. This needs to be agreed with your management company before you set it up.
Establish firm rules for letting.
By being up front in the nicest possible way, you will avoid misunderstanding about what you want and don’t want happening in your villa or apartment. You may want place restrictions on smoking, pets, children, part-week bookings, checkout and checkin times, deposits, use of pool heating and bar-b-queues. This will be good for the maintenance of your villa, however restrictions also limit the market for letting. Wherever you strike the balance, avoid listing the restrictions as a detailed set of laws in small print. The visitors will think you are over-fussy and will be wary of booking with someone who is so awkward.
Be flexible where you can.
Try to accommodate peoples’ needs eg extra television, video recorder, games room, pool table, foosball etc. You could possibly borrow or rent equipment from your management company to make the booking a success. People appreciate this help and are more likely to book again.
Make your visitors comfortable and confident.
There is nothing worse than sending someone a lot of money and not hearing anything back. Did they receive it? Have they run off with it? Do they have a villa to let at all? Keep the customer satisfied by keeping them informed at every step of the way. Most web bookings are transacted by email, so it won’t even cost you a stamp. If they get cold feet however, lack of communication could cost you a booking.
Respond to their questions as quickly as you can. If they have queries you need to investigate, tell them so. Send them receipts for booking payments and send them clear directions for finding your villa. Remember, they may be arriving late at night or in the early morning, and they will be tired and frustrated. First impressions count, so don’t make the start of their holiday difficult. The must be given a phone number they can contact 24 hours a day if they get into difficulty, and have clear instructions on what to do when they arrive.
Make them feel special.
If you can arrange for drinks or a personalised welcome letter to be left for them when they arrive, it shows you care about their visit. Your management company can do this for you. One booking is good. Repeat bookings are better.
Follow up the visit.
When your clients arrive home again, avoid the temptation to ask if everything was satisfactory. It just makes them think of things which weren’t, even if trivial. Simply tell them you hope they had a great time and as they are now valued customers you can offer them discount for next time. Any problems they had you will hear about anyway. You might even remind them of your care and attention by sending them a card at Christmas. It’s also coincidentally a good time to book holidays for the following year…
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If you need a calendar, check out VillaCal, an ASP villa availability calendar. Simple to install, uses an Access database, and holds info on bookings and clients. Can be tailored to match any site
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