Why is your holiday villa not booking up as you had expected? There may be a number of reasons. The trick is to identify them, then adapt accordingly in order to kick start bookings again. The rental market can change from one year to the next, so it is vital to keep up with trends. With the right approach, you will discover how to increase your bookings. Here are my quick fixes:

1. Have a plan

Renting your home is a business so treat it as such by creating a business plan. Keep it short but put it in writing and review it regularly to monitor progress. Answering these questions will start you off:

What is the competition doing?

Search online for villas like yours for ideas. Where and how are they advertising? Which are the most successful or appealing? Why? Check their bookings, prices, facilities and testimonials. Compare it with your villa. How is your villa unique and how is it more appealing than the rest? This information will help you choose how to advertise, set your prices and work out how to increase bookings.

Are you investing enough?

Make sure that you set aside a decent part of your rental income for upkeep, purchasing new facilities, paying staff and marketing. Cost these elements into the plan. It will help you to calculate how many bookings you need to hit your target too. Investing in quality will definitely help to increase bookings in the long run.

How do you market your villa?

Villa listing sites have various fee options such as upfront fees and/or commission on each booking. Villa companies usually agree on rental prices which vary according to the season. They will then mark them up to calculate their rental prices. Which would suit you better? Do you have a good social network? Can you rent through a website, a Facebook page and other social media, word of mouth and recommendation? A combination of the above is often the best way to discover how to increase bookings.

Who manages bookings, house management and guests?

A villa rental company will filter out the most suitable guests for your villa and deal with your enquiries on your behalf. With a listing site, you are managing everything. Which suits you best? House management is time-consuming and best outsourced to a professional who lives and works locally if you are unavailable. They can manage efficient cleaning, linen changes, garden maintenance, troubleshooting and looking after guests. The best can also organise extra concierge service like cooks, chauffeurs and guides, enhancing your guests’ stay. This, in turn, encourages repeat bookings.

2. Update your photos, description & facilities

If you haven’t updated your website or listing for a while then it is time to do it. Even if your villa has not changed much in the last few years, new photos will refresh it. Ask a professional photographer to photograph the interiors in particular (see my other villa photography blog post for tips). A well-written description of your villa and location is vital to attracting more bookings. Be honest. Dedicate a page on your website about you/your family, the history of the villa and why you love it. Consider updating your furnishings so it doesn’t look dated. Highlight what is unique about your villa. I would recommend adding things which may just make the difference between someone choosing your villa or a better run alternative. A good quality coffee machine, luxury soap, bathrobes, children’s toys, table tennis table, board games and books are all welcome additions. Identify the profile of the kind of people who book your villa and when they book. You will then be in a better position to choose your new facilities in order to appeal to them.

3. Make it easy to book

How easy is it for a potential villa guest to book your villa? Unless the booking process is clear and simple, you risk losing potential guests to other villas. Make sure that your online booking availability is up to date so potential guests and agents can access it immediately. Contacting a villa owner regarding availability for each enquiry can cause unnecessary delay all round so you risk losing a booking. When you receive enquiries, answer them immediately. Give them your phone number, email and a friendly message. Add a call to action on your social media posts and website pages. Efficient communication will undoubtedly help bring in more bookings.

4. Value your guests

Good testimonials from happy guests are essential for attracting enquiries. The more positive, recent guest reviews which can be seen, the more visible your villa will become online. Your listing will be more credible too. A guest book is an unobtrusive way to ask for testimonials and acts as a kind of local guide for future guests. Another great way to encourage a testimonial is to send guests an email a couple of days after the end of their stay. Thank your guests for choosing your villa, ask them if they would like to book the same week for the following year, then ask for any suggestions and feedback so you can improve things for next time. You can give previous guests incentives by way of loyalty programmes for booking again such as offering the same price as this year, 10% off for booking a second week etc. Review how each promotion went at the end of the year in order to work out how to increase bookings for the following year.

5. Adjust rental prices and promotions

Are your rental prices too high? Review your prices regularly according to the time of year, the competition and current rental market conditions. Check out the competition and adjust your prices accordingly. Many listing sites have the option of searching by price so make sure yours falls in the correct category. If you offer discounts of 10%, this can increase your bookings significantly. Offer low season flexible arrival/departure days or under-occupancy rates to encourage couples or smaller groups to book.

For more guidance on how to increase your bookings for your particular villa in France or Italy, contact Rachel for a free consultation. Sign up for Rachel’s bespoke review and follow up sessions with the Villa Owner Consultancy Service for practical advice, useful tips and contacts.