Letting a holiday property in France needn’t be confined to the summer months. But how do you attract business and income for your holiday letting property during the other times of the year? Here's a guide on seasonal marketing.
The market for long winter lets has traditionally been those escaping the British winter in southern regions of France. Other people may want to get away for a sabbatical. But there is another market for long winter lets - families who want to emigrate and ‘try before they buy’. These families enroll their children into local French schools and really live the French life. They are also on the ground should that special property come up for sale.
How much can property owners charge for winter lets?
The price must be low enough to attract business.
Properties are very affordable during the off period,
says one owner.
Large, beautiful and very private properties that let at £1800 per week in the high season are available at between £600 and £800 per month for winter lets.
If you currently take bookings for holidays at Christmas and the New Year, then a long winter let may prevent that. You’ll need to do some calculations and consider whether you are willing to forego that Christmas market in favour of longer term tenants.
In general, the longer the let, the lower the price, so it pays for a property owner to agree the length of let and the rent to be paid during initial negotiations. Before you market your property, work out how you will charge for utilities. Open fires and log burning stoves are obviously an attractive option for heating.
If you are concerned that a large property may be too expensive to heat and too big for the needs of winter tenants, then consider closing off part of the house. A comfortable lounge, well equipped kitchen and quality bathroom will appeal – and one very useful piece of winter equipment is a tumble dryer.
Advertising Long Winter Lets
When it comes to marketing your property, it is worth paying a small extra to be listed in the dedicated section for Long Winter Lets on our website and so target enquiries for this specific market. You can state the period of let that you would prefer and should include in your property listing as much detail as possible about what’s on offer for winter.
Include heating arrangements and extra facilities and give details of local activities, places to eat and events during winter. Tell people what they can do and where they can visit, even for an overnight trip.
Images are also important selling tools. Include one or two inviting winter photographs in your listing or have them ready to email to people who enquire. When you receive enquiries, find out what guests want from their stay and be enterprising in order to help. Get to know about local schools, make connections with estate agents, check out the shops, restaurants and bars. You could soon find that long winter lets are bringing an extra stream of income and ensuring that your property is aired and secure during the off season months.
Marketing a Holiday Property over Christmas and New Year
One reason for heading across the Channel is to experience la difference. Noël in France is still a traditional affair, with evidence of both ancient pagan and Christian customs in markets, church services, public and domestic nativity scenes and varied local rituals. Food, too, is different. In general, the emphasis is greatly on family and the whole affair seems bigger on style than spend when compared with the season in Britain. This has the advantage of making it rather less expensive!
Celebrations are also shorter, starting on Christmas Eve and all over by Boxing Day, with life returning quickly to normal. This arrangement has great appeal both to visitors who want a quiet time with little fuss and those who like to get out and about once the main event is over. However, during the crucial few days, virtually all shops and restaurants close down, so that self-catering accommodation can mean exactly that.
But it’s also true that a major motivation for going away at this time is to escape much of the hard work at home and avoid the great rush of preparations. To resolve this apparent dilemma, an increasing number of property owners are not only providing accommodation but going a step further to offer the whole Christmas package, so that guests arrive to find the house decorated and the fridge bulging with food and drink – or even meals provided.
Creating a Christmas Holiday Letting Package
Of course, for many property owners it’s not practical to offer such a comprehensive package, but the principles of customer service and care can be applied to even the smallest holiday home. It’s always a good idea to liaise with guests in advance and do whatever is possible to help them. In even the simplest property, this might mean decorating the house, ordering food - including regional specialities that you can suggest - getting in logs and ensuring home comforts. Small touches that make a big impression are adding bowls of good quality Christmas mix pot pourri, leaving the makings of mulled wine with a recipe in the kitchen, putting down an extra rug and ensuring that duvets and blankets are sufficiently cosy.
It’s also important to manage the expectations of guests by letting them know shopping customs, such as early Christmas Eve closing and the free gift wrapping so often available. Restaurant opening times are vital and do provide guests with details of fetes, festivals and Christmas markets along with concerts, cultural events and classes. Include both spectator and participatory sports – and don’t imagine that if you’re not in a skiing area, you have nothing to offer.
Remember, too, that some visitors may actually want total peace and quiet or to escape the trappings of Christmas altogether. This is where rural properties can pick up business – but do be honest about how much or little is going on in the area at this time of year. The emphasis here might be on scenery, nature and country walks.
Promoting Christmas Lettings at your Holiday Property
Whatever facilities, extras and selling points your holiday property offers, you need to be sure to market them well and get your listing noticed. At French Connections, we advise that it is worth paying a small extra to be listed in the Christmas and New Year seasonal section and so target enquiries for this market, stand out from the crowd and be quickly and easily found.
Revise the details in your property listing to emphasise the seasonal opportunities for Christmas. List in enticing terms the extras that you can provide, with the emphasis on making it easy for guests, stating clearly where there is extra cost. List, too, the local events and their dates, emphasise winter activities like walks, sledging or skating and detail indoor places of interest like museums, castles and churches or attractive town centres.
It’s also worth posting any reviews from satisfied customers, as these definitely influence browsers. As do seasonal photographs – Christmas decorations, snow scenes, frosted twigs, a winter sunset. Convey the special mood of the place and make browsers really want to be there at a joyous time of year.
Advertise Your Holiday Property on French Connections
If you own a holiday home, gite, bed and breakfast, or rental property in France, then you should advertise on www.frenchconnections.co.uk. Our site was one of the original French holiday websites, and our low cost Advertising rates start from the equivalent of just £17.50 a month!