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Helpful Holidays is a leading West Country holiday cottage agency, so we asked Head of Property Recruitment, Helen Hayes to give us some of her top tips for achieving letting success…

As Head of Property Recruitment at Helpful Holidays, I visit a huge variety of properties in unique locations throughout the year; from stately mansions and beautifully renovated farmhouses, to quirky seaside apartments and simple log cabins.

Many holiday home owners assume successful holiday letting depends on a straightforward shopping list of must-have items. Certainly, many properties have got the latest gadgetry. Huge smart TVs, wireless audio systems and super-fast WiFi does attract customers and helps properties book well. However, a property in a magical, isolated location with no WiFi or TV can be fully booked almost year-round – so clearly plugged and unplugged holidays are both winners.

Vive la différence!

The key to creating a popular holiday cottage lies in recognising your property’s strengths, rather than aiming for nondescript homogeneity. Guided by our experience, owners of the properties we let can achieve success by identifying guests who will enjoy the unique features they offer, working with us to promote them.

If you own a remote moorland cottage, the open fire and sparkling spring water will delight a different client base to the modern glass and chrome style of a pied-à-terre in sophisticated Salcombe.

Know your customer

Attempting to appeal to the mass market will pitch you into a price war amid fierce competition, where it’s easy to lose focus, squandering money and effort. So, work out who you appeal to, have a plan and stick to it. Don’t imagine your property can be all things to everyone.

I advise property owners to provide what they would like to find in a holiday property, which creates a personal home-from-home feel. Ask yourself, for instance, would I happily sleep on a second-rate mattress that rolls me towards my partner’s ‘I’m David Beckham’ dream?

Inject some personality

Consider extra, thoughtful touches to make your property special. A sense of generosity can be created inexpensively with squashy cushions, lined curtains, coordinated furnishings, quality bedding and fluffy towels – tactile things which create a warm welcome.

Cast-off furnishings, sparse loo roll and an empty tea caddy may tarnish what could have been a perfect stay for guests, tempting them to seek somewhere more special next holiday.

Aim to exceed expectations

Increasingly guests expect a holiday cottage at least as comfortable as their own home, if not better. They’re willing to pay a premium for a cottage that makes them feel spoiled. It isn’t quite as simple as a ‘no’ to syrup-hued pine furniture and a tape deck or video recorder, and ‘hello’ to Farrow & Ball paint and the latest gadgetry.

In today’s increasingly competitive holiday home market, success means understanding the sort of guests who are attracted to your cottage and ensuring their happiness. Rather than thinking ‘that will do’, ask yourself ‘is that good enough?’ Quality will never go out of style!

Our top tips to make the most of your holiday home:

  • Target your niche rather than thinking generic and trying to attract everyone (but getting no one). Work out who will enjoy your property and kit it out for their needs.
  • Be generous and welcoming; small touches like flowers or a cake on arrival will make even a modest home memorable.
  • Don’t economise on basics: thick curtains, large beds, good mattresses, quality sheets, powerful showers and a dishwasher are essential. Furnish at the highest spec you can afford, with effective finishing touches.
  • Don’t use your holiday property as a depository for cast-offs from home. (Do discard the old Betamax in the back of the airing cupboard).
  • It’s a business – but approach it with love as well as good sense and it will reward you abundantly.
  • If you don’t feel confident that you can make the most of your holiday home by dressing it to impress, then it makes good sense to invest in some help from an experienced letting agency such as Helpful Holidays or a reputable interior design company like Hops and Camellias & Co. who has experience of the holiday home market.

Contact Helpful Holidays for friendly, free advice on successfully letting a holiday home: www.helpfulholidays.co.uk, call 01647 433593 or email helen@helpfulholidays.co.uk.