Encouraging online booking for your holiday let

Whether you’re promoting your Cornish holiday house on a bespoke website, on an online portal, through a self-catering agency like us, or getting someone else to take care of your lettings (or all 3), the online booking process is vital.

The Corncott website homepage

It must be straight forward and secure so that potential holidaymakers can book your property quickly and easily. In this article, we offer some tips for streamlining the process to book your holiday let online and thereby turn more enquiries into firm bookings.

Add absolutely all the details

When browsing for holiday houses in Cornwall, most holidaymakers already know their preferred dates and how many are in their party. They’ve also usually got a pretty good idea of which boxes a property needs to tick for their requirements.

Example property description

Enrich their browsing experience by providing as much information as possible about your property. Ideally, your photos, descriptions and online presence will answer all their questions straight away.

Bottom line? The more information you offer the more likely a holidaymaker is to make an enquiry and book with you.

Keep that calendar bang up-to-date

As part of your information providing service, make sure your booking calendar is as up-to-date as possible. This allows holidaymakers to see at a glance if your property is available for their preferred dates so they don’t have to waste time enquiring if it isn’t.

Example property page

Most online booking platforms automatically update the calendar every time a booking is made, but if you know there are dates you will be using the property or it will be out of action due to maintenance, you’ll need to block those dates manually.

If your property is promoted on multiple sites (e.g. your own and a holiday lettings portal), keep the calendars in sync. There might be calendar integration tools for managing this more easily, if not check and double-check dates often.

Bottom line? Nothing annoys a holidaymaker more than finding there’s been a double booking.

Be ready and waiting

Holidaymakers tend to make several enquiries at once so time is of the essence when it comes to answering. If you’re handling enquiries yourself, respond as quickly as you can to an enquiry – the sooner you do, the more likely you are to bag that booking before they go elsewhere.girl using a mobile at the beach

We’re talking minutes, not hours, and definitely not days. This is easy via a smart phone where you can set up email and SMS alerts. If you can’t react that quickly, have an automatic reply in place with a message saying you’ll respond as soon as possible.

When you do reply, answer the questions specifically and precisely. Show you’re prepared to be flexible regarding requests. For example, if you don’t have a cot in your Cornish holiday let, offer to provide one or that they’re welcome to bring a travel cot if you have room. If the exact dates requested aren’t available, offer alternatives, perhaps at a discounted rate if they’re out of season.

Bottom line? Radio silence converts no enquiries into bookings. Always reply to every single one as soon as you can.

Make it a definite yes

Once the guest is ready to book your holiday let, mark their dates in your calendar. If you have a ‘reserved’ status so you can show the dates as provisionally booked until the deposit has been paid, all the better.girl confirming bookings at her holiday cottage

If you’re doing this yourself, send your guests a copy of your booking contract. This should include their holiday dates and number of people in the party, your booking conditions (including the deposit and cancellation policies) and house rules. In the same email, let them how much you want for a deposit and when it must be paid. 3-5 days is the norm.

If you’re using online booking or instant book via a listing site, this happens mostly automatically. If you’re using an agent like ourselves, we take care of it all for you.

Bottom line? Holidaymakers want safe, secure payment – by credit card is the safest, but offer Paypal too.

Set the booking in stone

Once you’ve received the deposit, confirm the receipt and thank the guests. In the same email, remind them of your payment schedule – ask for the final payment at least 4 weeks before they are due to arrive. This gives you time to chase up delayed payment or find other guests if they cancel.

payments due calendar

A short time before the final payment is due, send your guests a reminder email. Don’t rely on them remembering to do it.

Bottom line? The clearer the information you give your guests, the fewer problems you are likely to have further down the line.

Keep your guests in the loop

When you have received full payment for your holiday let in Cornwall, keep guests informed. Confirm receipt of payment and send an email with the following:

  • Directions – make them clear and easy to follow. Nothing gets a holiday off to a worse start than time wasted trying to find somewhere.
  • Key handover – give guests clear instruction on how to get into the property, including the code for the key deposit box (or details of how and when they’ll receive this). Include a contact number in case they struggle to access the property.
  • House rules – include a copy of house rules clearly stating do’s and don’ts as well as check-in and check-out times. Make sure there’s a copy displayed in the property too.

Bottom line? Be the host with the most and offer as much information and help as possible. Not only will you make your guests’ holiday easier, they’ll be more likely to return and recommend your property to others.

Get some expert help

By far the easiest website booking process is to put it in the hands of the experts. Our Cornish holiday let management package takes care of the entire process – from the first query to the final payment. Get in touch to find out how we can help you bag all the bookings, easily and efficiently. https://www.corncott.com/cottage-owners/blog/contact-us/