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The Wood, Managed by Pebbles

Making your holiday home a profitable investment

Lots of people buy property as a second home or holiday home with the idea of making money out of it. However, if it was that easy there wouldn’t be a competitive industry dedicated to helping holiday home owners make it happen. 

Once upon a time, the idea of making money out of a holiday home was considered entirely unrealistic. At most, you could expect to cover your costs, and perhaps see some benefit in keeping the hot water running when you weren’t there in the winter to help prevent a burst pipe. 

Today, everything has changed. Different mindsets, different marketing, different technology and the availability of different products and services, have all made owning a second home a point of opportunity within the gig economy. 

The changing mindset of holiday home owners 

From a headspace perspective, the mentality of holiday home owners has changed. Letting a holiday home isn’t about scraping pennies together to help fund it or even as a nicety. Increasingly, property owners are applying the same business savvy to their holiday homes as they do to their other areas of business. They take pride in the presentation of a beautiful home, one that is entirely theirs and indeed its primary use is still mostly for their own enjoyment.  

However, the prospect of their home sitting idle for weeks or months, when they are not there, seems wasteful in every way. The result is a more business minded approach to the running of their holiday homes because, if you can turnover upwards of £40,000 a year, as many of our properties do, then why wouldn’t you? After all, it’s a lot of hours in the office. 

Equally, guest expectations have changed dramatically as well. They are happy to pay good money for their holiday, but they also expect standards akin to a four star hotel at the minimum.  

The impact of new thinking on the standard of holiday homes 

The mentality about doing things properly, also means that the days of kitting a house out in the cheapest furniture mankind can buy, has also gone. The same goes for service. Holiday home owners have realised that, much like themselves, when guests arrive on holiday, they don’t expect to find a ‘make-do’ set up. Where once guests may have been happy to treat a property as somewhere to simply rest their heads, today it’s about luxury standards and attention to detail. 

For example, guests won’t accept arriving to find that the house is a couple of glasses short for dinner because the previous guests broke them and no one has had time to replace them in the five hour window between departure and arrival. They also want to know that if something goes wrong – e.g. they get locked out of the house or the boiler stops working - there’s an easy solution and someone will come and help out  quickly - hence our 24-hour emergency call out service. 

Little luxury details also go a long way; a meet and greet service to explain how the Smart TV works, a luxury hamper on the kitchen counter filled with local goodies, bottle of wine in the fridge - chilled and ready to pop the cork and settle into your first evening away. And of course an impeccably clean and well presented house to arrive to. 

The benefit of all these details is twofold. Firstly, a property that is presented with above average standards, is more likely to be treated with respect by guests. Often it leads to fewer maintenance costs from redecorating scuffs from suitcases and replacing stained carpets.  

Secondly, the result of a premium property, is the ability to charge premium prices, and this is where the ability to make money rather than just move it around, has really come from. 

How technology has changed the holiday home market 

It mustn’t go without saying of course, that the other thing that has fundamentally changed in the holiday letting industry, certainly since we joined the Property Management scene more than 15 years ago, is the rise in technology.  

The advent of self-managed letting platforms such as HomeAway, Booking.com and Airbnb has facilitated greater ownership and transparency for property owners when it comes to the lettings process itself. It offers an alternative to the traditional letting agency approach and thus, allowing the property owner access to greater profit margins.  That said, it’s important to realise that just because on the face of it you can take a greater share of the margin by self letting, it’s also worth being aware that many, particularly the premium holiday letting agents, offer a standard of service that can add to the quality of the guest’s experience. So deciding which option you go with is a personal one rather than a universally obvious one. 

So what are our top tips for creating a profitable side gig from your holiday home? 

  1. Invest wisely: choose your furnishings and finishes in your property to present a home that people will like and respect.
  2. Talk to an expert: seeking the support of industry professionals such as property managers, may seem like an unnecessary expense in the short term, but it can be the difference between a guest visiting once and rebooking year on year. It can also have a highly beneficial impact on the fees you can command, as well as making managing the different aspects of the letting process much easier.
  3. Pay attention to detail: Whether it’s painting over scuff marks quickly, putting a Christmas tree up in December, replacing broken glasses or arranging for someone to be there when guests arrive to greet them, the details really do make a difference to customer experiences and reviews, which in turn impacts other bookings.

The Wood - Property Management

It is extremely important that the experience of staying at Phoenix House should match the expectations of guests who have chosen to stay there, and guest feedback has been very positive both in terms of the facilities that the house offers but also in respect of the cleanliness and presentation which has been consistently of a very high standard...[it] requires careful and dedicated management, which is provided by Kim. 
Phoenix House property owner, Mervyn Miller

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