Holiday cottage descriptions: does what you write really make a difference?

Holiday rental description | SuperControl

There’s one big difference between selling or renting a house and booking a holiday cottage, and that is the ability to view before you buy.  However, just knowing that on its own won’t help you to get more bookings for your holiday cottage. But writing compelling and relevant content for each of your property listings will go a long way to increasing your occupancy. Here, founder and managing director of Holiday Cottage Compare, Paula Alexander, shares her top tips on how to create content that will get your holiday cottage easily found and quickly booked.

Less is not more

It may well be sufficient to provide a brief overview of a property to a prospect who will realistically go to view it at least once before they decide to rent or buy it. But when holidaymakers book holiday cottages, they’re taking a gamble with their money, based on what you do – or do not – say about the property.  Less is most definitely not more for those looking to rent a holiday cottage.

In practical terms, this translates into the need to provide as much relevant information about your holiday cottage as possible.  The properties we see booked up quickly and consistently often create a virtual ‘guided tour’ just using words or ‘content’, backed up with high quality photography.

So, for example, rather than just stating that your property comprises 3 bedrooms, why not describe them all in more detail, siting exactly where they are located. Is one downstairs?  Is the one with bunk beds for the kids next to the stairs?  Where exactly is the bathroom?

This may not seem all that important at first glance, but put yourself in the shoes of the customer making the booking and it can mean the difference between a property being a possibility and a property being the perfect choice.   For example, if you have an elderly relative coming with you and there’s a downstairs bathroom – that’s good.  If there’s a downstairs bedroom near to that downstairs toilet – that’s fantastic.

Or if you’re bringing the dogs and the property description says there’s a garden, that’s helpful.  If the property description says that there’s an enclosed garden, that provides valuable information which means you’re not going to have to put the dogs on a lead just for them to go outside.

Simple, well thought out information really goes a long way.  The more a potential customer can visualise what the property is like, both inside and out, the more confidence they will have that it is perfect for them.

What is nearby?

Yes, this does mean listing information such as whether there is a pub, a shop or a beach within a mile or so of your location.  However, there’s so much more that you can say to make your cottage stand out from the others in the area.

What seasonal events can you say your cottage is ideal for?  Do people come from miles away to take part in an annual triathlon or  food festival?  If you’re a £5 taxi ride away – say so!  You’ll make your cottage the first choice for people booking to go to these types of events, just because you mention them.

Where else do tourists love nearby?  Is there a museum, theme park or even a brewery?  If it looks like there’s lots to do, specifically near to your holiday cottage, then it’s immediately elevated from a similar cottage in the same location, which doesn’t mention any of these things.

Does your cottage provide wet weather options?  People may primarily use your cottage to explore the local scenery, but even hikers who love the great outdoors could opt for a day inside if the weather is atrocious.  In this case, does your cottage have things for them – and their children – to do?  This could be providing a good choice of books for all the family, board games or a fondue kit. Similarly, are there things to do nearby on wet weather days?  This could be something as normal as a cinema or swimming pool, all of which may seem obvious to you but which will be a lifesaving piece of information for parents if it pours down outside!

Speaking of children, if you describe your holiday cottage as child-friendly (undoubtedly a good thing to say, if it is) it can really help if you explain what exactly this means.  For some, it could mean that you’re happy for children to be guests, whilst for others it could mean that there are child-safety measures in the kitchen; stair-gates at the top and bottom of staircases and a paddling pool for hot days in the garden.

If you have anything which actually makes your holiday cottage child-friendly – say so.  Not having to bring their own stair-gates can actually be a big bonus to parents with young children (believe me, I’ve been there!)

Be different

Describing what is located nearby, included or within your holiday cottage can really make it stand out.  However, another way to make it a preferred choice for bookings is to make it that little bit more special.  This could be by saying that there is super-fast wifi or simply pointing out that all of the main supermarkets will deliver food for when guests arrive.  If there’s anything that you find useful about your property’s location, there’s a good chance that your guests will too.

Make your cottage easy to find

I don’t mean cut down all of the hedges nearby so that you can see your cottage from half a mile away – a simple map will suffice for actually physically finding your holiday cottage!   What we really mean here is making sure that people searching online for a holiday cottage, with the intention of booking one, find – and book – yours.

The good news is that if you detail every bit of information in your property listing about what is included and what’s worth visiting, you’re already making it far more likely to be found organically in search results on search engines such as Google. This is basic, content-driven search engine optimisation (SEO). But it works.

If you are listing your cottage on your own website, then your website is more likely to be found by Google for the things that you have mentioned e.g. whether you will accept 3 dogs, or if it’s the ideal location for people attending a popular festival.

If your holiday cottage is being advertised nationally via a portal, like Holiday Cottage Compare, then providing as much information as possible will return your property in far more searches.

For example, if you have said that you have a ‘downstairs bedroom’, we will include your cottage in specific searches relating to this. It’s just one of several hundred property tags we offer.

Similarly, if you have an enclosed garden, disabled shower, bike shed, washing machine, stair-gate, log fire and allow 3 dogs – people can easily select these options in our search.  And when they do, if your holiday cottage meets their requirements, you’ve got a fantastic chance that they’re going to make a booking there and then.

About the author

Paula Alexander founded Holiday Cottage Compare to make it quicker and easier for holidaymakers to find their perfect holiday cottage, whatever their requirements. From searching for a cottage anywhere during, for example, July, August and September to opting for somewhere with a thatched roof and hot tub that accepts three dogs, Holiday Cottage Compare uses the self-catering industry’s most flexible search functionality and widest range of filters to present the holidaymaker with their perfect cottage, drawn from a range of over 10,000 holiday rentals throughout the UK.