Saturday, January 24, 2009

Advertising your gite and the recession.

Although I have touched upon this topic before I thought that you might be interested in some comments I came across this week. The first is a definition of the financial times that we are in. "Recession is basically the reallocation of resources from the scared to the bold. You just need to decide which you are going to be and then not let anyone (especially the media) tell you otherwise." Of course along with that goes the old cliché "when the going gets tough, the tough get going"
I also found an article on improving your conversions.

"UK market or more?
Still, relying solely on the UK market is surely not the best solution for gite-owners and B&B providers, particularly in the current climate. I'm surprised how many websites advertising, only use English! This is fine if you only want to receive visitors from the UK or perhaps the Netherlands; but it is important to remember that across the board, the French make up the lion's share of the customers for gites. In some regions, they represent 80% of gite customers, according to local tourism statistics. Obviously, this figure is lower in tourist hot-spots, such as along the coast. Incidentally, if your gite is registered as a business in France, it is actually - in theory at least - illegal to advertise your services only in a foreign language.
Visitor stats show clearly that sites which are posted in both English and in French get more visitors than similar sites with a website in just English. And those who have websites in three or four languages do even better.
Of course, there is one way to discourage all but visitors from the UK, and that is to list your prices only in sterling! Most sites list prices in sterling and euros, or indicate that both are accepted, and that is certainly a way to increase your chances of bringing in visitors from France and other parts of Europe too.
Advertising in another language is fine as long as the translation is correct, whatever you do, do not use an online translator the results will not impress anyone especially those you are trying to convince that your property is professionally run. I have seen some catastrophic examples of sites with pages in the most garbled and incomprehensible French! You will not bring in French customers if their first contact with you is in the shape of a very poorly written web-page; After all, look at it the other way round! If you are British, and were looking for a holiday cottage in the Yorkshire dales, would you feel inclined to book a cottage whose website was in mangled and incomprehensible English?" I thank Andrew Rossiter for those last comments.
In hard times thinking outside the box to find a new angle on attracting customers is the way forward. It is interesting to note that in this recession the downturn is likely to be around 10%, yet raising your prices by 4% would increase your bottom line by 15%, and anyone booking your gite would probably still do so if the price was say £468 rather than £450. It is an interesting thought that raising prices during a recession can in fact be profitable and history shows many examples where this has worked. One example is Showerings Ltd, during the 30's depression they sold Peardrax at 3p per pint (that’s old money) and were going out of business, they were bold and decided to change the price to 1shilling and 3p a 5x increase and at the same time reduce the size from 1 pint to less than a quarter of a pint, the increase in profit allowed for aggressive adverting which lead to the multi million pound brand "Babysham". Only for the Brave.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009


The Video Collection: click on a title to watch the video.

Gardens and Facilities at La Grange Gites Vendee
Local Attractions.

Le Cedre. 5 Bedroom gite with private pool

Ardoux. 5 Bedroom gite with shared outdoor and heated indoor pool.

Frene 3 Bedroom Gite.

Chene. 4 Bedroom gite.

Sapin. 2 Bedroom gite. Sleeps 6.

Tournesol. 2 Bedrooms gite. Sleeps 4

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Vendee Beaches

The Depths of winter is the time of year when most people book their summer holiday. The Christmas festivities are over and the days are dark and dismal so what better tonic than to think of those balmy summer days, hot summer breezes, the French wine and cheeses and of course the crystal blue sea lapping gently on golden sands, you can almost smell the ozone drifting on the breeze. This is of course the picture that travel brochures around the world use to lure you to book their holiday destinations and of course we’re no different.
Luckily for us the Vendee is blessed with some of the finest beaches in France, the blue flag for cleanliness is proudly flown from most of them and the choice is extensive. Our review of all of the beaches in the Vendee is now finished and though there will always be a need to keep them updated you will never the less be able to see exactly what’s on offer. In addition there are also further pages on Surfing, Fishing and Sailing.
Beach holidays may not be everyone’s idea of a great holiday. Some people do not want the hustle and bustle of crowded resorts or sand with everything, but still enjoy the occasional day on the beach. Rural Vendéen gîtes and holiday homes offer those people a tranquil setting, far enough away from the coast to enjoy the peace and quiet of a traditional Vendéen village, yet close enough to the coast for it not to be a chore getting there with the added bonus of passing through pleasant interesting countryside on the way. The other major advantage of a rural gîte holiday in the Vendée is that the cost of renting your holiday home is dramatically reduced, often by a much as 40% for a similarly sized property. There is also much greater choice in the type of properties available, especially for the larger family or group of friends.
Winter is the time for dreaming of golden sands and blue seas. The Vendee is where dreams become reality

Sunday, January 11, 2009

Gite bookings get a boost.

As the old saying goes "what a difference a week makes". The weather outside may be freezing but the temperature is sure rising in the holiday industry. According to the news over 200,000 holidays were booked last week and that was only with the big operators and virtually everyone I have spoken to has said that they are not only receiving a ton of enquiries but they are converting to firm bookings at above average rates.
For those of us that still advertise in pounds sterling, especially if you live in France, then the dramatic rise in the value of the pound this week is as good a new year’s tonic as one could wish for. With a rise of nearly 10% from is lowest point it can make the difference between a successful season and a disastrous one, and I am confident that this rise will continue until it gets back to around 1.30 or higher. Of course there will be the bad days so let’s just keep our fingers crossed that the rise goes beyond even my prediction.

On another Front the new look to our sister website is complete and is now live for all to see. I'm sure there will be some tweaking and perhaps the odd link that’s failed, but in general the fresher look and quicker loading has meet with approval by both advertisers and viewers alike. Let me know what you think.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

Gites Vendee with swimming pools

I am often asked if having a swimming pool makes any difference to how well my gites rent and does it make any difference if they are heated or not. The answer to the first part is a definite yes, it is not only easier to let your property but also the rate is significantly higher, as to whether its better to be heated, well that’s a much harder question to answer. It would undoubtedly be easier to let a property with a heated pool and as more properties with them come on the market it will be an increasing advantage. It will also depend on the size of the property, for gites with 5 plus bedrooms it is not such a great advantage as there are, in general, fewer of these than the demand so they are usually taken up quickly. The problem with smaller gites is the cost ratio. It is quite expensive to install the heating system and depending on the type of system installed and the size and construction of the pool, the running costs can be quite significant, so returns on investment will need careful consideration.
Why do we need a pool? Well the answer is simply.... conception! Think about it, what do you imagine as your dream destination for a holiday? What elements should your dream holiday have? I bet you will imagine a pool with sunshine in that equation some where, perhaps your only sitting by it drinking that cool beer, but its a powerful image so it becomes a must have. It is strange that the reality is often quite different, on many occasions I have had customers demand that they have a pool, its top of the features list that the property must have, yet when they arrive they checkout the pool first, they may even make it there first must do thing, but then they either never use it again or certainly not enough to have justified the increase in price they have paid.
A few years ago I was approached by a Frenchman who had a nice gite by the beach just south of La Rochelle, he wanted to know why it didn't have as good an occupancy as I did. I asked "do you have a swimming pool?" no he said "I don’t need one I'm only 50 meters from the beach". So I explained about the concept of a holiday and illustrated it by explaining that a friend of mine has a similar property not that far away from him in a reasonably similar location, he has a heated pool, he charges twice what the Frenchman charged and is fully booked often two years in advance for the whole period from Easter to October. The Frenchman scratched his head and walked away without saying another word.
So in conclusion I would say that if you are serious about letting your gite(s) then you should give having a pool very very serious thought.