Holiday Home Property Management – Marketing Tips For Owners Who Are Marketing Their Own Properties

Effective marketing is a key element of profitable holiday home property management. Unless the holiday home is achieving good levels of occupancy, the returns on the holiday home will not be maximised. If you use a letting agent, the agent will handle all marketing and PR on your behalf and you do not need to worry about it. The better holiday home services companies will also sometimes be able to help you with your website and online marketing. However, many holiday home owners do not use agency services and prefer to manage their own properties. Marketing is a specialist area and therefore owners are often not as skilled at marketing as they are at other aspects of property management. So if you are an owner who markets your own holiday homes, here are six marketing tips to help you win customers and achieve the highest possible yield from your property investment:

TIP 1: Firstly, work out who your target audience is for the holiday home. Taking into account the price band, location, style and layout of the property, what kind of people are most likely to want to stay there? For example, some holiday homes are ideal for families with young children, some are ideal for older people who want to be close to nature, some are perfect for young people who want to be close to nightlife and attractions. Clear definition of your target audience is a vital first step to effective marketing. Once you have defined your target audience, add any accessories and extras to the holiday home that are the kind of thing your target audience will appreciate. For example, a holiday home aimed at young families will be made more attractive by a selection of age-appropriate DVDs, a selection of toys and the provision of items such as cots or buggies that your customer would prefer not to bring with them.

TIP 2: Once you have decided on the target audience for your holiday home, think through all the ways you can attract this particular target audience. Which are the magazines and newspapers your target audience read? If you are not sure, ask the advertising departments at various publications to send you information on their readership. This will help you work out where you should be advertising or trying to get some free coverage through PR

TIP 3 Make the most of the internet. The worldwide web is used by the majority of prospective customers as their first port of call for research when they are planning a holiday. So it is essential that your holiday property is presented as well as it can be on the internet. Whether you have your own website or you advertise on a website belonging to someone else, do not be tempted to cut corners on photography for the website. It is worth using a professional photographer to make sure your holiday home looks its very best. Always use online booking if possible, so that it is as easy as possible for a customer to go ahead and book as soon as he or she has been interested by your holiday home.

TIP 4 Don’t miss out on the huge potential profitability of attracting repeat customers. Many people like to return to the same holiday home for many years, if they have a good experience first time round. So make it easy for potential repeat customers to decide to come back. Set up an email newsletter so that you can keep in touch with them and tempt them with a stream of special offers as well as news about the local area and perhaps even a web cam. You may also like to consider offering a reduced rate if customers book to return next year, whilst they are still on their first stay. People are often sad to leave so it is a good time to tempt customers with the prospect of a return visit. Many accommodation providers in the tourism industry see up to 70% or 80% of customers returning. Making the most of the potential for winning repeat business is an essential tool for effective marketing.

TIP 5 Try to increase your bookings by thinking laterally about how customers could enjoy the holiday home out of the peak season. Most holiday home property management companies say that although the peak season achieves full occupancy without too much difficulty, the biggest marketing challenge is achieving high occupancy early and late in the season. This is where effective marketing can really come into its own. One tried and tested tip is to create a theme for a break. For example, maybe your holiday home is close to gardens that look great in the early Spring. If so, this can be made into an effective marketing proposition, pointing out how close your holiday home is to leading gardens and maybe even creating a partnership with local gardens, so you offer entry tickets as part of the rental price for the week. If you start thinking laterally about what is going on in the vicinity of the holiday home at different times of the year, you will find it easy to come up with effective marketing strategies for achieving more sales out of the peak season.

TIP 6 The final tip is to pay close attention to how you can stand out from everyone else. The holiday home market is competitive and it is vital to stay one step ahead of the rest. It goes without saying that cleaning services and key holder services must be arranged to the highest standards and your customer will expect these to go like clockwork. To stand out from the competition you have to go one step further than simply providing a basic service. Nowadays, many self catering holiday homes also offer daily cleaning services – bringing a service normally only associated with hotels to the holiday home market.

As holiday home property management companies look to find new ways of standing out from the competition, a new trend is the emergence of the holiday concierge. A holiday concierge can arrange any extras the customer may want, such as arranging day trips, theatre trips, restaurant bookings, spa trips or even arranging for a gourmet dinner party to be prepared and served at the holiday home. By proving these kind of additional services through a holiday concierge service, you really will make your holiday home stand out from its competitors. If you follow these six tips, you will be able to increase profitability though effective marketing as part of your holiday home property management.

Problem Gambling and Gambling Problems Come in Varying Degrees of Intensity and May Worsen

Problem Gambling and Gambling Problems Come in Varying Degrees of Intensity and May Worsen

Problem gambling, also known as compulsive gambling, is recognized as a disease or sickness. But not all people who have a that problem would be diagnosed as being compulsive gamblers. As with any behavior, the degree or severity of the behavior determines the clinical classification.

Therapists use different scales to assess a gambling behavior and base the therapy according to the assessment. Most therapists use DSM-IV or the South Oaks Gambling Screen for diagnosis.

Just having compulsive or pathological gambling recognized as a treatable disease was a major accomplishment for the therapists who treat those problems. For many years gambling was looked upon as a character flaw or weakness, but not a true disease. Now that it has been accepted that out of control gambling is a disease that may be treated effective methods are emerging.

One point that almost all clinicians agree on is that the best way to effectively treat the problem is to stop the gambling immediately. Some clinical studies have indicated that neuro transmitter deficiencies may be a cause of the problem and drug therapies are being tested while other forms of behavioral therapy, such as support groups and guided mediation or hypnosis are also showing some success.

If you are wondering if you or someone you know has a gambling problem, here is a checklist

that is used by clinicians to assess for pathological gambling …

“As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, pathological gambling is an impulse control disorder that is a chronic and progressive mental illness.

Pathological gambling is now defined as persistent and recurrent maladaptive behavior meeting at least five of the following criteria, as long as these behaviors are not better explained by a manic episode:

1.Preoccupation. The subject has frequent thoughts about gambling experiences, whether past, future, or fantasy.

2. Tolerance. As with drug tolerance, the subject requires larger or more frequent wagers to experience the same “rush”.

3. Withdrawal. Restlessness or irritability associated with attempts to cease or reduce gambling.
4. Escape. The subject gambles to improve mood or escape problems.

5. Chasing. The subject tries to win back gambling losses with more gambling.

6. Lying. The subject tries to hide the extent of his or her gambling by lying to family, friends, or therapists.

7. Stealing in order to feed their gambling addiction.

8. Loss of control. The person has unsuccessfully attempted to reduce gambling.

9. Illegal acts. The person has broken the law in order to obtain gambling money or recover gambling losses. This may include acts of theft, embezzlement, fraud, forgery, or bad checks.

10. Risked significant relationship. The person gambles despite risking or losing a relationship, job, or other significant opportunity.

11. Bailout. The person turns to family, friends, or another third party for financial assistance as a result of gambling. ”

(from wikipedia at Compulsive Gambling Pathological Gambling)

My own experience as a therapist has led me to believe that number 4. on the list hardly
qualifies as a gambling problem or an indication of a gambling problem since most people who
gamble recreationally do gamble to escape and have fun. On the other hand, the list is a good
place to start if you have concerns. Another suggestion is that you sit in on a meeting of
Gambler’s Anonymous and seek professional counseling. The sooner you address a
suspected gambling problem the sooner you can get it under control and stop the progression
of the illness.

Wil Langford, R. Hy., is a 54 yr. old. Clinical Hypnotherapist, Integrated Energy Therapist, and teacher. He is the author of, “Your Loved Ones, Your Self; finding and Raising the Family Within.”

With hundreds of hours of clinical work, Wil is an expert on finding the keys to change unwanted behavior. His guided meditations for relaxation and habit control have helped many people to find happiness and change their lives for the better.

Why Your Business Should Upgrade to a Responsive Web Design Sooner Rather Than Later

Why should my business have a responsive web design?

Responsive web design has become the go-to solution for businesses who want a user friendly interface and higher customer retention. If your company has come this far without taking advantage of all the benefits it has to offer, you may have already begun to see lower visitor numbers and a disappointing conversion rate.

As a responsible business owner, you’ll probably need convincing before paying to upgrade your web presence to one that includes responsive design. However, by opting in you’ll soon see a return on investment that will make it worthwhile. In a nutshell, responsive design is just better than what has gone before and in order to keep up with the competition, you’ll need it too.

Responsive web design is crucial for the majority of businesses because it allows your users to achieve their goals quickly and smoothly. The important elements of your website can be pulled up on a smart phone and appear as a fully functional version of the original, complete with all the utility you’d offer to customers on a laptop or desktop computer. If you fail to provide a mobile-friendly experience like this for your visitors they won’t hang around, they’ll simply click away and complete the action or purchase on a rival site.

Unhappy customers are not good for business and neither is going up against a major search engine. Google have recently confirmed what many insiders have suspected for some time – sites that are not optimised for multiple users will slip down their search rankings. Google bases their rankings on how useful a page is for the query a user has entered, plus the utility of the site – for example, can a user complete the action they would like to?

Your page may be completely relevant to their search, but if visitors cannot access the content easily across a number of devices, your site may receive a less than positive review and be placed lower in the search results. If your company is reduced to a second or third page entry you’ll lose a considerable amount of traffic, as people naturally select links from the first page.

Google have also pointed out that companies which have a single responsive website – rather than one standard and one mobile version – are far easier for their bots to discover, because there is just one URL.

If your site is responsive and ready to service mobile customers, you can take advantage of many tools and helpful apps like the click-to-call button, this enables a web user to make a voice call to your company immediately. Potential customers can also read reviews about your business or even find you in a busy place using Google Maps, both keenly relevant to the needs of mobile users.

Branding is one of the ways in which we build a relationship of trust with a customer and keep them coming back for more of the same. This is pertinent to responsive design for two reasons, firstly, people do not feel confident in a site they cannot easily navigate and second, in order to create a uniform brand you’ll need responsive design to produce a consistent web appearance; however your clients reach you.

In today’s market there are only a handful of reasons why a company may choose to stick with static design on their web page. Those who do not rely in any significant way on web traffic to drive sales, or those who have few competitors, or those who have already looked into responsive design and found it was not right for them. For everyone else, if you want to stay ahead of the curve, responsive design is the only way forward for your website.

Responsive web design features

Until recently web designers created different pages depending on where they would be viewed, a tablet for example has a different screen resolution to a laptop, and so the content would be optimised for viewing on that particular device.

However, responsive web design has revolutionised the way in which users look at the internet, it has created an across the board experience allowing us to view pages on a PC, smart phone or notebook in exactly the same way. When they build a site, designers use the same coding on any number of resolutions, giving every device the same degree of functionality.

Responsive web designers believe that their clients’ web pages should be accessible to every visitor, giving them an optimal experience, regardless of the device they using. This kind of intelligent response to a web user’s actions keeps your company relevant in an ever changing online market place; it boosts your e-commerce figures and makes visiting your site an enjoyable experience.

In technical terms there are three key features of responsive web design, the secret ingredient is generally considered to be media queries. These are filters added on to the CSS or Cascading Style Sheets, affecting the look and feel of any individual page. CSS is a highly useful tool for web designers, but by tagging on a media queries adaption, the process of resizing, rendering and orienting a page becomes far easier.

Another linchpin of responsive design is the flexible layout, this is based on a grid formation, ideal for formatting margins, positioning the key elements of a page and getting the spacing just right. This means a designer is not limited to a certain number of columns, they can choose as many or as few as is appropriate for the page. A flexible layout also removes the need to work out the layouts and text size based on pixels.

Instead, designers use percentages which enable them to adopt a far more fluid approach to producing each page. Pixels work well in photographic images, but are a clumsy tool to use over a number of devices. One pixel may be expressed as three dots on a phone, but ten dots on a desktop, changing the quality of an image considerably between devices.

The third component of responsive design involves the use of CSS or a dynamic resizing function to create flexible images, videos and other content. Text can flow relatively easily as the containing area resizes, but in order to spread this across more complex segments, web designers need to use different techniques. Dynamic resizing gives a web designer greater control over how a page behaves and enables them to add or remove components as needed.

Taken a whole, these multiple technologies mean visitors can enjoy the feeling of familiarity, regardless of what device they happen to be using, or will be using in the future.

When a mobile user changes from landscape to portrait mode, the intuitive design will ensure the page gets bigger or smaller. Furthermore, each element, be it an image, textbox or video will also resize itself to correspond with the different dimensions.

If you have ever tried to access a website and discovered that it was almost impossible to navigate around without shrinking and enlarging the text or buttons, you’ll understand why responsive design is considered good practice for the majority of website owners.

Responsive web design Vs Mobile web design

Until quite recently, mobile web design was considered far more relevant to modern consumers than it’s responsive counterpart, this approach sees designers using smart phones as a starting point and upgrading the technology progressively, through to notepads, desktop computers and beyond. This method meant that companies needed two websites, one for their mobile pages and one for PC users.

In the early golden years of mobile web design, there were a number of reasons why experts thought that web applications should always be designed first for use on a mobile device. Most important of these was the prevalence of smart phones and the fact that their popularity was continuing to skyrocket. By creating a platform that favoured these millions of users, companies could promote their service or product to what was seen as the next generation of computing consumers.

Secondly, mobile design was said to foster a cleaner concept without room for extraneous elements or unnecessary page clutter. In a screen the size of that on a mobile phone, there simply is not enough room to crowbar in extra buttons and widgets – instead, a design team had to focus on what was actually needed. By giving users a clear route to what they want, it was assumed that their experience would be better, faster, leave them more inclined to return or convert them into a paying customer.

Mobile applications were thought to have far more utility than PC based software, what users expected from their laptop paled in comparison to the capabilities offered on smart phones. From a digital compass, to gyroscopic effects, touch screen inputs and voice control, designers hoped to build on these tools to produce modern web design that was not limited by the constraints of a PC.

Although there are pros and cons for the adoption of a mobile site to run parallel to a main site, responsively designed pages are ideal for retailers who want a robust, homogenous website with plenty of utility for every user. A single site also simplifies marketing campaigns; there is only a need to manage one site and one SEO strategy. Therefore, a website which features responsive design can save companies time and money, but also provide a seamless, convenient way for customers to shop.

Responsive web design statistics

When a team of designers build you a responsive website you know it will adapt intuitively to whatever device it is accessed from, but where is the evidence that proves this is a factor in commercial success?

The content marketing company, Brand Point, found that over 90% of consumers buying decisions are affected by visual elements. In other words, if people land on your site and like the look of the place, they are more likely to stay and buy.

Screen resolutions are changing all the time as new devices reach the market, web developers Spyderweb found that in 2010 there were just 97 unique screen resolution sizes, but by 2013 that figure had leapt to 232. The only way of tackling this increase is to have a responsive website that is optimised for every customer, whatever device they favour.

Customers are driven away by high wait times and pages that take too long to appear; even way back in 2009, 47% of people expected a load time of just two seconds on a webpage. In a study carried out by cloud service providers, Akamai, it was also found that 40% of web users clicked away if they had not gained access to a page within 3 seconds. That is a pretty slim window of opportunity, and it’s fair to assume that people’s expectations have increased since this study was compiled.

Although external factors like a lack of Wi-Fi or 4G can also affect wait times, the importance of speed for business sites cannot be underestimated. Wed designers can write code for your responsive site that makes it selectively load the elements needed, or even bring in graphics at a later stage.

Design matters because it can have a huge impact on the number of new visitors to your pages, these are people who have reached you through typing in a specific search criteria and decided to click on the link to your site. Web designers, Domain7, have reported that in the case of their client Regent College, there was a leap of 99% in unique visitors after a revamp of their responsive web design.

If your mobile pages leave an unpleasant taste in the mouth of your visitors, they are far less likely to view your entire organisation favourably, and they’ll tell their friends. Industry experts at the Search Engine Journal discovered that 57% of people would never recommend a company that had poorly designed pages, strengthening the case for a consistent web strategy that performs the way your customers want it to – wherever they happen to be.

Author

Duncan Maund is the CEO of Mediatopia a professional web design and development company in Bristol, UK. Duncan helps small and medium sized businesses with customised websites and online marketing.