Where is the holiday lettings sector going?
What are your aims and targets for 2016? Fifty directors from some of Europe’s biggest holiday lettings agencies talked exclusively to Muchosol about their strategies for success, as well as their current concerns. The experts have spoken, and here’s what they had to say:
1. Clients are looking for experiences, not just a roof over their heads
“We want to offer holiday packages, not just accommodation. Offering our clients excursions, dining experiences, opportunities to try new sports… creating memorable experiences.” Ottavio Pasotti, Garda Domus. Trento
“Gaining the customer’s loyalty – that’s the key. By looking after them and giving them unforgettable experiences. When it comes to their next holiday, they’ll think of us again.” Ferran, from BedandBCN. Barcelona
“This year we’re going to be upgrading the services and extras we offer. It’ll complete the customer’s trip: from the minute they arrive to when they leave. We’re going to complete the whole customer experience value chain” – AssuInmo. Niza
2. If they can’t find me, I can’t sell
“We need to improve our visibility in order to reach a greater number of tourists. We’ll be doing so with the help of property marketplaces; the more our product features on, the better.” – LocationLacAnnecy. Annecy
“100% real time on the web. We are investing in a channel manager in order to better manage all our properties across all the different distribution systems we are currently using. It will help keep availability and pricing fully up-to-date. Then the client can see what’s actually available and the current price.” – Home Rental. Paris
3. Social networks as advisors
“Social networks are where we’re looking at investing over the coming year. They offer great visibility, and we can work on the brand’s image. It’s the best word of mouth which exists today.” – Ferran, BedandBCN. Barcelona
“We want to be in touch with the client through social networks, as well as to see what they thought of their holiday and stay with us.” – Daniel, Espatur. Valencia
“We are seeing an increase in sports tourism. It’s primarily from northern Europe, especially footballers and cyclists. The best part is that they come in low season.” Isabel Agulles, Serviden. Denia
4. Bookings on mobile are on the rise
“We’ve seen a huge rise in mobile reservations, and a considerable drop in the number of telephone bookings. Responsive web design and catering for mobile devices is now 100% necessary.” – Emilio Torrent, Costa Calpe. Calpe
“Looking to 2016, we want to be paying particular attention to mobile, since we’re now practically getting more bookings via mobile devices than through the website.” David, Real Rent. Valencia
5. Clear pricing and great photography are key to driving sales online
“We have removed additional costs. We always show the final price on our website. The client can then see the real and final price of their accommodation right from the start. No surprises!” – Emilio Torrent, Costa Calpe. Calpe
“Good photography of the accommodation speaks volumes on the web, influencing customers… a lot. Showing the accommodation in a good light with carefully taken photos and detailed descriptions helps allay any fears the client might have before they even arise. Display the product exactly as it is” – Alejandro, Livin4Málaga. Málaga
“We want to develop a great portfolio of our accommodation, describing it all in detail with photos of each room, all perfectly listed. This includes descriptions, extras, its best features, etc.” – Happy Holiday, Bergamo
“We are planning to invest in the renovation and modernisation of our listings. We’re looking to update all of them so that they fully meet our clients’ needs. They’ll have Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and the client will see accommodation which 100% meets their needs.” – Isabel Agulles, Serviden. Denia
6. Conflict in the Middle East and North Africa is affecting the market
“We’ve seen the return of our German clientele, caused by the instability in other destinations. In our area, we have also seen an increase in Russian clients; Spain has become a top destination for them because of the instability of other destinations.” – Mari Carmen , Parque Montroig. Miami Playa
“Following the attacks in Tunisia, we have seen a rise in the number of French tourists; they’ve always been one of our main clients, but since the attacks, we’ve seen a real spike in bookings from this market.” – Emilio Torrent, Costa Calpe. Calpe
7. Regulation within the sector is intensifying
“We need to maintain a close relationship with the SLPM, the Parisian holiday lettings union. We have to keep on top of all the changes to the law and fully adapt to any new regulations.” – Home Rental. Paris
“Barcelona will soon see new regulations, which could help increase the amount of accommodation listed. The “cull” of illegal lodgings has also helped us out; the Airbnb craze is widespread, but is slowly being wiped out. Needing a licence to operate is now something which is very positive.” – Ferran, BedandBCN. Barcelona
“We want to make sure that our whole business complies with the law. This means following legislation, keeping up to date with all the changes and adapting to comply with them.” – AssuInmo. Niza
Experiences, reservations and trust
These are some of the concerns and trends that the experts have spoken to us about, and we have tried to summarise and set out a few points below.
Experiences. One of the key words used by and a common denominator among the majority of our conversations with the experts. They all realise that to make the customer loyal and gain their trust, year in, year out, they will have to offer much more than just accommodation. This means being present throughout all of the customer’s travels, including optional services, transfers, excursions, sports activities and anything which could add value to the client’s stay.
To get reservations, you need to be present across as many channels as possible, both for sales channels as well as on social networks. Visibility is a very important point.
On your own website, don’t confuse the client: only show what’s really available, give the real prices that they’re going to pay and give a good description and photos of the accommodation. This is the product we’re selling, so it deserves 100% of our attention.
Of course, despite all this, there are external factors which can have an effect on trends, or which can affect the way you manage the business, so you have to be prepared to deal with them. Two of these seem to have been highlighted by our experts: Changes due to international terrorism and changes in regulatory framework.
So, according to our experts in the holiday lettings sector, these are some of the trends which will define this year, and where we will need to focus in order to succeed. What are your thoughts? We’d love to hear from you, so please comment on this post or tell us about your own vision for how best to tackle 2016.