First impressions count
PUBLISHED: 09:00 14 February 2014
It’s a competitive market for holiday property owners, but as RICK BOND of specialists My Holiday Marketing explains, there are still ways you can make yourself stand out
So, what do you do to create a first impression for arriving guests?
There are some things that you have to work at which guests will take for granted (and only complain if they aren’t there), such as cleanliness, every light bulb working and ironed bedsheets.
It’s what you do that goes beyond the expected that will really initiate the love affair between your guests and your holiday cottage.
Debbie at Abscott Cottage in Devon lovingly includes a special box of freshly made ‘Aga-baked’ dog biscuits in the welcome hamper for guests arriving with a dog or two.
Jenny at Devon Beach Court in Woolacombe (funny how it’s all women – don’t we blokes care as much?) likes to know the first names of any young children arriving as she creates a personalised welcome message for them with magnetic letters on the fridge.
Here at My Holiday Marketing we’d love to hear what YOU do to make your tenants feel welcome. Do send in your suggestions– even including an accompanying photo or two if you have them to show just what you do to pass that vital ‘first impressions’ test in creating a welcome for your guests.
Looking forward to hearing from you.
Savvy owners like to create a genuine sense of welcome for guests. It’s important: first impressions count. Being made to feel not just an expected guest, but also very special guest, is a great way to ensure your visitors start their holiday in your property on the right footing - the moment they arrive. Thereafter, if anything doesn’t quite go according to plan, they’ll be far more likely to forgive you for it because you’ll have already convinced them you have their interests at heart.
What can you do to make your guests feel special as they arrive? Sometimes it’s something very simple. For five years we had a villa in North Cyprus, not the easiest destination to market, yet we averaged 30-32 weeks of bookings a year.
We soon became aware that the majority of our guests arrived in the early hours of the morning after a long flight. The last thing they wanted was to arrive at a locked, unlit and unfamiliar property a long way from home. A welcome was necessary. To make guests feel welcome, we decided to acknowledge how they were feeling – and what their immediate needs were. The aim was to ensure they were able to tumble into bed as soon as possible, replete, relaxed, reassured and contented.
Firstly we ensured the path from the gate to the front door was stylishly lit with an impressive display of solar lights which, together with the underwater lights in the pool, created a fairy-tale welcome effect. We also left the terrace lights switched on by the front door so they could see immediately where to find the key. Stepping over the threshold, guests would then find the hall and landing lights already on as well as those in the lounge and kitchen.
A first glimpse through the lounge door would reveal a vase of fresh flowers from the garden on the coffee table with a box of Turkish Delight. In the kitchen guests would find a welcome pack in a locally made basket.
Guests would also find a hand written card from the housekeeper, welcoming them and giving directions to the nearest food shop. She would also mention that she would call round in the morning to ensure that everything was okay,
This investment, because to be honest it cost a few quid in electricity and victuals, delivered a number of advantages that more than offset the cost.
It meant we hardly ever received a complaint about the property. Of course sometimes something broke, or there was a power cut, but guests were more often than not, quite happy to take it in their stride. Guests don’t really want to complain to someone prepared to take such care of them.
It meant we appeared to enjoy a much higher ratio of repeat bookings than the properties around us. It also helped to ensure we were spoiled for choice in the quality of guest testimonials.