Is this post ambiguous? The Market and reports for September

Blog – Holiday Lets for Sale in association with Country Holiday Lets

This blog will take the place of the CHL google blog in due course.

DSCF1421We have, recently, received two sales ‘cold calls’, one from a subsidiary of Wyndham World Wide and, another, from a business that thinks, wrongly, that you can establish a nationwide cottage listing site without spending on advertising.  Those days have gone.  The Stillwells’ call was interesting.  The person doing the sales call was, obviously, well informed and spoke as if he were of significant management status; he knew his stuff and had been around for some time.  It is hard not to come to the conclusion that the market is turning up the pressure on some larger organisations.  It has certainly made us work hard to increase quality and to add new features as well as to offer new products.  Is this post ambiguous?  The market and reports for September are far from that.  There’s no choice but to be flexible, keep working on developments and stay ahead of the competition.

COLD CALLERS

I take the opportunity to sound out cold callers who appear to know their business. You can often tell they are under pressure because they are often genuinely interested but, after about 3 minutes, they need to hit another ‘possibility’.  I remember a similar situation in the early to mid-1990s.  Unlike the callers from India where there is often a polite neutrality, you can, sometimes, feel the fear or desperation in voices… this is more so from older people ringing because they lack the ‘gung ho’ of younger people.  There is a ‘catch 22′ in many telesales operations.  Younger people tend to be less able to read the signs and are, therefore, less sensitive to the upset of the vast majority of people receiving unwanted sales calls but younger people, usually through inexperience, often know little about what they are trying to sell.  For older, more experienced staff the problem is the other way around.  They know what they are talking about and, if they reach the right person, can impress accordingly.  But they also are much more aware and more susceptible to the often quite rude and abrupt style that many now receive cold callers on the phone.

I always try to be kind but, when tired, this can be quite trying.  One good approach is to simply say, ‘company policy is not to do any business from telephone sales calls.  We are very sorry but we cannot help.  If you wish, you can write to us or send a message from thSheepSnow2e details on your web site’.  They often go on, regardless, so I apologise again and say, ‘I really have to ring off now.’  Although it is rude, try not ot engage as you will have to be even more abrupt to end the call if you make this mistake.

This is desperate stuff and it can ‘get to you’.

NEW PRODUCTS

Developing new products or improving existing ones is essential. In retail, this would be obvious but, for some reason, in service businesses or one such as ours it can seem less important.  Demand for good quality remains high but people who know how to shop around will not put up with second best any more.  The astonishing thing is that many listing sites and on some of the legacy booking agency sites you can still find many substandard offerings,

In our new section, linked here, for BnBs on Holiday Lets for Sale, towards the bottom, we cover how to deal with upsetting or negative feedback on sites such as Trip Advisor.  For all its faults, Trip Advisor will soon have done more to raise the quality and standards of accommodation across the UK than any other single organisation including, I suspect, Visit Britain.  The rise of trip advisor, coupled with modern internet / computing I.T. with the arrival of many photos on letting web sites, has developed a momentum effect which has stratified the accommodation market into cottages doomed to fail and those with a future.  It is as radical as that.

It does take some nerve to launch out on another product especially as Google take some time to permit you any half decent organic (free) search results.  Even then, it is a very long shot, and a risky assumption, to think you can simply put up a web site, get great organic results and you have free marketing thanks to Google.  If such things ever existed they have long gone.   Content is one major factor and we have stuffed Holiday Lets For Sale with content. To start we just put in information about Holiday Letting but our work developing a Twitter following soon proved strong interest from B&Bs as well as Estate Agents to accompany the many owners and operators of Holiday Lets and, even, holiday parks.

DSCF2474

Catering for demand, we have made a first stab at information people thinking about running Bed and Breakfasts.  Working through thousands of internet pages and speaking to experienced operators quickly taught me a bit of respect for this sector and that the amount that similarities exist in certain aspects is great as there are differences in others.  What the market may dictate about the most suitable way of arranging a bedroom and en suite may be much the same, but the niche markets, the types of guest and the demands on personal life appear to be very, very different.  Understanding, if only to scratch the surface, of this market has provided a very useful perspective on the Holiday Letting market.  This, alone, has made the exercise worthwhile.

The combined Twitter following of Country Holiday Lets and Holiday Lets for sale now stands at  8,600  and 400  = 8,700   Cross marketing including use of relevant Facebook page has produced a major benefit for the new web site.  Curiously, already, we have noticed useful web traffic going from Holiday Lets for Sale back to Country Holiday Lets.  When setting up a new business you have to find ways to make Google a useful aid and to make sure it is not a necessity.  As the business matures any assistance from Google will, of course, be greatly appreciated but the early days of any business model for a web site should assume absolutely no help, whatsoever, from Google.

 

September booking value index

The index to date:

 The index for 2013 to date:

 Jan             Feb            Mar             Apr         

74.72          85.70        110.60        90.13     

 

May          Jun            Jul             Aug               Sept

68.47       53.80        64.20         100.2           80.4 / 95

Over 100 is an advance on the previous period.  Rental value of holiday lets available is factored in.

The two figures for September represent the monitored market performance followed by how well CHL did in the market.  New products and increasing quality of our owners’ holiday cottages are significant factors as well as counter seasonal business from commercial customers.  Despite difficult conditions, by reducing costs, developing products and constantly pushing for quality, we have exceeded our cash flow targets already in August, September and will exceed them in October.

October has started off quiet in terms of the value of bookings taken.  But is is early days and we have not yet completed the first week.  For more information about Holiday Lets for Sale or Country Holiday Lets you can e-mail charles@holidayletsforsale.com or ring on 01568 612467.  We will do our best to help whether you call is business related or a request for information.