The complexities of Online Marketing

Discover how key changes in online marketing continues to be challenging for many independent holiday cottage owners.

Letting your property as a holiday home is clearly recognised as a successful way to maximise your investment. However, the complexities of online marketing make this a much more challenging business than it used to be. Not only are there many more new properties coming onto the market competing for guests; visitor expectations are rising and the key ways to market your property are forever changing.

Historically, the online directory site Owners Direct was the main source for generating enquiries and bookings for most independent holiday cottage owners. “When I first converted my old barn into a holiday cottage 5 years ago, Owners Direct was the main vehicle for driving traffic and enquiries” said Harry Roberts, managing director at My Favourite Cottages. “And it was generating 50% of bookings for most of our cottages in our portfolio”.

In the last two years, US. company HomeAway owners of Owners Direct were also bought by Expedia as part of their plan to become the dominant player in the holiday market place. Since this acquisition took place, it has resulted in many changes made by HomeAway.

A new “Best Match” search approach considers the quality of the photos (are they formatted to the correct size?), conversions from enquiries into bookings, use of their dashboard to reply to enquiries and how frequently a property calendar is updated. If not done correctly, an individual property won’t stand a chance to be seen by potential bookers.

Sites such as Owners Direct should still be considered as a source of generating enquiries but we have learnt that as everything can change, it should not be solely relied upon to generate bookings. Our directory site and other key online advertising sites, a quality website for your cottage supported by a pay-per-click campaigns are replacing the gap left by Owners Direct/HomeAway to generate those booking levels for our home owners.