Options for Owners

We list below the options for owners regarding holiday-let properties which are faced with and take the view that agents are expensive and owners are effectively renting a place on their platforms.  Owners run the risk of being dropped at any time and although the risk is low it certainly happens, even on the bigger platforms like Airbnb.  The only safety net is building your brand and marketing it to generate direct bookings.

Fully Managed Service

This option tends to be expensive in Agents commission and cleaning fees but if you have a holiday home and don’t live close to it, it is a logical choice.  Depending on which Agent you choose to list with, there may be restrictions on when you can use the property yourself.  You are reliant on the Agent’s marketing rather than well-known Online Travel Agents, and some Agents have restrictive terms making it difficult to leave them so it is important to choose wisely.

Typical Agents’ fees are 25% and that doesn’t include cleaning and maintenance.

OTA Managed

Many people use a single Online Travel Agent such as Airbnb to market their property or properties.  Due to the popularity of Airbnb, large numbers of property owners have joined the “holiday let” market and have never given any thought to any other way to go about it.  A service business has developed around Airbnb with

. Co-hosts (people who manage your Airbnb listing(s) for you),

· Trainers (people who train you how to make the most of your Airbnb listings),

· Cleaners (people who maintain your properties and get them ready for the next guests) etc.

We should not forget that the original purpose of Airbnb was for people to let their own homes or parts thereof rather than to let vacant properties, but such is the popularity of the platform that many people use Airbnb for letting out their second or holiday homes.   There may be better alternatives and we explore the options on this website.

Whether or not you use Airbnb, using a single Online Travel Agent is much simpler than using multiple OTAs.  That is because most of them come with a perfectly acceptable booking system with everything you need to manage your bookings.  In their own self-interest, they do not make it easy to cater for additional channels.  That is where Channel Managers come in.

It stands to reason that using a single Online Travel Agent reaches fewer potential customers than using multiple OTAs.

Typical OTA fees are at least 15% excluding cleaning and maintenance.

Hybrid (Fully Managed with Self-Managed)

Many owners of holiday lets like to be involved with marketing but also use an Agent.  In this case, the Agent’s calendar will be the master calendar which poses a problem for the owner.  They have to keep a record of the dates that are booked/available and liaise with the Agent if they take a booking privately so that the Agent can block those dates off in their calendar.  Many Agents refuse to work this way for obvious reasons.

If the owner uses Online Travel Agents as well, it gets more stressful as bookings can come in at any time of the day or night.

Owners can save costs by being involved in the cleaning and maintenance as Agents will generally use either their own cleaners or a cleaning company, both of which are likely be more expensive than a private arrangement and to charge VAT.

Self-Managed (Manual)

Many people with a holiday let or a room to let like to manage it themselves and are most comfortable with paper-based systems either because they prefer that to using computers or because they are unaware of what software is available and what it can do.  At its basic level, people will use their diaries and accept bookings by phone, email etc.  This requires them to write the details (names, numbers, telephone numbers, email addresses and anything required by regulations) into their diaries and communicate with their guests enough information for them to find and gain access to the property.

This works on a small scale for some people but gets difficult if there are multiple properties.  There will need to be some marketing for customers to find the property and this can be time-consuming and require expertise.  How many people who are more comfortable with paper-based systems are likely to be wizards of social media?

Self-Managed (Automated)

Automated systems for self-management require the use of a system known as either

·         Channel Management Software
·         Hostel Reservation Software
·         Hotel Reservations Software
·         Hotel Booking Software
·         Property Management System
·         Property Management Software
·         Online Booking Engine
·         Online Booking Software
·         Reservations Software
·         Vacation Rental Software
·         Vacation Rental Management Software
·         Etc.

These systems provide the same functionality as an OTA like Airbnb but are designed to work with multiple channels including your own website.  We maintain a list of such systems and are continually updating it.

Make sure you are up to date with the legislation for UK Holiday Lets.

https://www.visitbritainshop.com/gb/en/pink-book

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