Cottages with sea views
How to

Market your Holiday Cottage

Posted on 20th May 2024 by Melissa Hawkins
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Step One – Holiday Cottage Marketing Materials.

We often get asked how to best promote a holiday cottage.  Our immediate answer is a professional set of photos and video footage.  But not all photos are created equal, our photographer Harbour View Photography is very talented but his services do not include dressing your home, ready for those vital shots.

external photo holiday cottage

Who would plan to stay in this holiday cottage and what facilities / extra touches might they look for?

Holiday Cottage Target Audience

Well before your photographer arrives have a good look around your holiday home and firstly think about your target audience.  Use this opportunity to assess whether your holiday home meets the needs of your target audience.  If you are lacking the tools to dress your cottage for your target audience, you are lacking facilities the will enjoy during their stay.    For example, if you are aiming your holiday home at the pet friendly market, a dog lead and wellies in shot are a reminder that people can bring their pets and go for a lovely walk.  Do you have a nice tray for an afternoon tea shot?  Is there a game of chess to lay out on the coffee table?  If you have a woodburner, a relaxed doggie in front of the roaring fire creates a story for your potential guest.

Holiday Cottage Quality.

Without doubt, quality sells.  We recommend that all holiday homes meet a four star gold standard. Remember that when you are renting your holiday cottage, you are running a business.  Your holiday cottage should be in an excellent decorative order, furnished to the best standard you can afford. A modern kitchen and bathroom is a must, extra special features such as roll top baths or feature super king beds can really lift a property and are well worth the investment.

When choosing your decor, if your priority is your booking rate, try to be fairly neutral with themes and colours – flaming yellow may be your favourite colour but might not be everyone’s cup of tea.  Good quality fabrics, beds with cushions and throws look really inviting, though out of shot remember that guests always appreciate a good quality mattress.

Dressing Your Home.

When we manage holiday homes, we dress every home to showcase it in its best light.  Firstly and most importantly your holiday cottage must be spotlessly clean and bed linen needs to be completely crease free!  Pick a bright day to take your photos but note what time of day the sun shines on the external facade you prefer to promote.

In the kitchen, make sure that cleaning products and washing up bowls are out of sight.  Depending on the style of the kitchen, you might accessorise with a bowl of fresh vegetables or Mediterranean oils & pastas.

holiday cottage dining table before being prepared                             holiday cottage dining room laid out

So much difference in these two shots of the same table.  Where to start, wrong angle, not wide angle, no table cloth, the list goes on.

Reception rooms should be free from clutter, wires should be hidden from sight and remote control tucked away in a drawer.  A well placed vase of flowers can lift a room and you should include these in your photography plan. Modern houses benefit from sleeker vases and less fussy flowers, magazines can be placed on the coffee table, or perhaps some simple candles (don’t place anything that guests aren’t allowed to use).  Cottage reception rooms can be decorated with an afternoon tea and a good sized bunch of sweet peas.

Bedrooms are fairly simple to dress, the bed linen must be crease free, I repeat myself but this is very important.  Beds with throws, plenty of pillows and matching cushions are the most appealing. If you are providing towels, they should be neatly folded and placed on the bed.  If you have ensuite facilities, where possible show a peak through from the bedroom to the bathroom. Bunk beds can be a devil to make up, persevere and make sure the duvets are tucked in tight and crease free.  Bedroom bins, hangers and wiring should be tucked away out of sight.

holiday cottage before dressing                    holiday cottage after dressing

The same bedroom above before and after dressing.  A better angle through to the ensuite, comfy cushions and brighter linen make all the difference.

Bathrooms can be a beautiful selling point but no one needs to see a picture of your toilet and it certainly shouldn’t be the main feature in shot.  Remove bathroom bins, toilet brushes and cleaning products and enhance with some well placed matching soaps and candles. You can run a bubble bath and place a glass of wine next to the bath so that guests can imagine themselves relaxing in your home.

When taking shots of your garden, you need to plan well in advance.  If you start marketing your holiday cottage in Autumn, ask your photographer to return in sunnier times to retake the garden and external shots, it will be worth the expense.  It sounds obvious but make sure your garden lawn is green and freshly mown, lots of flowers, tidy borders, bins removed and paths weeded. Garden furniture should be clean and laid out with an inviting breakfast complete with newspapers and fresh coffee.

Which Shots.

You need to have a discussion with your photographer.  We have worked with our photographer over a number of years and he knows the industry well.  But remember, your photographer is the photo expert, you must make yourself the industry expert.  Take shots that will appeal to your target audiences, and make sure your photographer has a wide angle lense.  Don’t be afraid to ask for more than one angle in a room and make sure all rooms get photographed (you may not use them in your marketing but guests often ask to see them).

A walk through video is a really good marketing tool and we highly recommend for larger holiday homes.  Drone shots can greatly enhance both your still and video images but there are rules that restrict their use.

Don’t neglect to add photos of the local area, your photographer might have some you can use but ensure anything you do use is free from copyright or you have permission.  Make sure to add a text description so guests know how far away the attraction is and don’t think it is a cottage view.

Your holiday home photos should tell a story and enable guests to imagine themselves relaxing in your holiday cottage.  Think about how to make your cottage stand out from the crowd. If you are unhappy with a photo of a particular room, your guests certainly will be – perhaps it is time to update the sofas, buy those comfy throws or change from a double to a king sized bed.  We always find that a holiday cottage that photo’s well, is often the most popular in terms of booking rate but most importantly repeat booking rate. It looks lovely because thought has been put into the extra touches and quality guest welcome.

If you would like some help from the experts, Dorset Cottage Holidays has been making beds and hiding wires for over 20 years and would be delighted to meet with you, without obligation to help promote your holiday home. We are proud to be only locally owned holiday cottage agency and best rated on Google.  Email us [email protected] or phone 01929 481547