Germany and France have emerged from the recession. Budget airlines are more than holding their own; new flights to Malaga and Murcia have been announced and occupancy levels are reasonably buoyant. It is bad news for pessimists.

People are more careful when spending and sectors such as cruising, holiday parks, and rental-tourism show marked improvements. Necessity being the mother of invention, hard-pressed second home owners increasingly make their home available to rental-tourists. By doing so costs are turned into profits and returns added to existing income often make the difference between comfort and anxiety.

With cost conscious DIY tourists opting for affordable independence and greater choice of location there is growing demand for holiday home rentals.

The cash in hand deal has always flourished but set against risks and uncertain bookings the ‘informal renting sector’ can no longer compete with the advantages offered by the professional approach. One letting company offering 32,000 properties is urging more to register as its website attracts 25 million visits every year. Many of its clients are multiple-owners who use it as rental wholesalers.

Michael McLaughlin of Southern Comfit is a specialist in holiday home rentals and offers advice to holiday home owners.

TOP TIPS TO RENT YOUR HOLIDAY HOME

  • Identify your target market. You are more likely to get bookings if you are candid as to appropriate clients: golf enthusiasts; walkers, water sports; children, couples; car essential, easy to find, local amenities, good access.
  • Pricing sensibly is important. Be guided by others advertising similar properties and location.
  • Calculate rental income against outgoings with margin to compensate for cancellations and vacant weeks. Under estimate and you have no room for special offers.
  • Obtain insurance cover and post a laminated copy in the property. Always take a refundable deposit to cover any breakages.
  • Most bookings are lost because leads aren’t answered quickly or fully.
  • Don’t use people in pictures; potential clients need to imagine themselves there, not others. Think ‘Show House’: set the table; glasses: Make the beds, don’t let clutter spoil the image.
  • Photos are super salesmen. Open windows to let in natural light; choose a blue sky day; aim to provide full room views; exterior shots, and pleasing views. When taking bedroom shots switch the bedside lights on for warmth effect.
  • Furnish sensibly with budget cost hard-wearing easily cleaned bright furnishings.
  • Think like a holidaymaker. Have it as you would like to find it on arrival and ensure a shopping bag of essentials.
  • Provide a list of useful services pinned to the inside wardrobe doors. Location of mains taps / electricity switches; emergency numbers, hospital and health centres, transport services; buses, taxis. General insider tips.
  • Separately set out location details for places to visit; beaches, shops, restaurants, local towns and attractions. Include local brochures.
  • Is your property child friendly? Thoughtful things get you recommended.
  • Make sure air-conditioning, heaters, appliances and TV are user friendly.
  • Make sure you have your clients mobile numbers and you theirs to better manage events.
  • Manage your on-line entry weekly and make sure all phone numbers and e-mail addresses are obvious.

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