The World of Google
Why people are looking for a reason not to rent your cottage, and why too many options can be a bad thing.
First, a brief history of cottage marketing...
Once upon a time choosing a cottage involved sending off for coffee table sized brochures advertised in The Sunday Times where even a small ad cost thousands of pounds. You then had to spend hours on the phone finding out that the cottage you wanted wasn’t available when you wanted it!
The first stage of transferring to the web was that these brochures were put online like clothing catalogues. This was a great improvement as you could see availability and later pay online at all hours but the marketing model was the same: You attract people to your brand and then present them with a huge choice to navigate to.
Then along came Google!
And with it a change in people’s shopping habits and expectations. Nowadays if we want a washing machine most of us don’t go to our favourite shop and ask them what they have. We research what we want, then search for the best machine and price online, looking at relevant results from many retailers. People looking for holiday cottages now tend to research and then run specific searches for what they want- cottage in Porthleven, pet friendly cottage near Sennen, Marazion accommodation etc.
The result is that anybody with a rudimentary knowledge of how to use the internet will quickly find themselves with a long list of cottages to choose from, all in the right area, the right size, similar price and they can see they are all available.
Getting on to the list- you have to be in it to win it!
This is where too much choice can be a bad thing; choosing a cottage is not like choosing a part for a washing machine, it’s more like choosing a book and you may well end up picking something different from your initial idea because you are wowed by a view or struck by the description of a harbour.
Too many options is the enemy at this point!
The best example of this is parking. If you offer an option that says ‘do you want parking’ then the majority of customers will say yes. On most of the sites I work on many of the best and most popular properties don’t have parking and when customers browse they often decide they can park up the road in fact they hadn’t thought about parking until you mentioned it! (Self inflicted wound)
Your cottage is up for elimination
Now our customer has their long list of potential cottages which they have gathered from many different websites and they have to make a choice. They have already picked the things that are essential- number of people, dogs or not, perhaps location or view, and now they have to use things that are less important to narrow the list to a few and eventually one cottage.
Simon’s top 5 ways to get your cottage eliminated
- Price – despite what many people say price is still a big factor in most decisions. It can be very hard to get right so it’s important to assess the level of bookings early in the year and adjust if necessary.
- Bunk Beds – getting to be more of a turn off every year. If you have a 3 bed cottage and you don’t need the space for yourself then you’ll do better with sleeps 5 than 6 with bunks. Parties of 6 put cottages with bunks to the bottom of the list and so do parties of 5, single adults especially don’t want to sleep in a bottom bunk
- No WiFi – there’s a growing band of guest who simply won’t stay anywhere without wifi and much bigger group who have it high on their ‘nice to have’ list. Probably the single cheapest thing you can do to increase bookings.
- No Towels – it’s really easy to look down a list and say get rid of the ones where you have to bring your own towels, and equally easy to supply them. I haven’t even mentioned no bed linen- might as well start talking about no heating or no roof!
- One Bad Photo – it goes without saying that you need a quality set of photos to sell your cottage but think carefully about every one you include. Remember customers are now looking for a reason not to rent your cottage! If there’s one shot that highlights a weak aspect of your cottage then leave it off. Watch out especially for things like a cheap kettle or old fashioned TV. These may not seem important but potential guests will assume that the quality of the rest of the facilities reflects what they see in a photo.
So take a look again at how your property is presented on the web and ask yourself ‘Why shouldn’t I stay in this cottage?’ Little things can make a big difference.