There are several ways for gite owners to find clients for their properties and depending on how large your property(s) and therefore your potential income as which will be your best option. It will also depend on whether you want or have the time to handle the work your self.
Handling the bookings your self can give you the biggest return, however this will depend on how well and effective your advertising is done and this can be a mine field. Owning your own website is an option, but getting it found by Google is just one of the many obstacles and if you are not on the first page or two of results then the only use of your website is as a source of information for clients who have found you via another source.
Advertising using one of the major agencies where you pay them to publish your advert and the booking enquiries come direct to you has been a favourite with owners for years but there are draw backs. You may find that you are in an area where the agency has so many advertisers that there are 20 or 30 pages of then and this is a bit like having your own website and hoping to be found on Google, it is rare for a surfer to look more than a page or two before giving up, though many have filter systems so you can look for say "2 bedroom gites with heated pool”, but again not everyone uses the filters.
Another problem in picking the right agency to advertise with is how well they do their job. A site that does well this year may fail miserably the next as has been the case this year with a couple of the major players and of course it's not till you find that no enquiries are coming in that you realise the problem. Advertising with multi-agencies will solve this problem but is costly.
Alternatively you can choose an agency who will do all the work for you, find the clients, do the paperwork, collect the money and then after deducting their fee send you the balance. Most of the bigger ones are very efficient at what they do and you can expect a large amount of customers. The draw backs are, they demand sole rights to your property, some allow a week or two for your own use but in general it's out of your hands. The percentage they take can be high, so though you may have many customers your income can be drastically reduced.
There is a third choice. There are the smaller local agencies, these usually specialise in their area, do not have huge lists and more importantly most only charge 10% commission and most don't demand sole booking rights. This has great advantages. They are more competitive and have to work hard to secure you clients. You have no money invested so if one doesn't work you have lost nothing. You are free to use as many others or independent forms of advertising as you want its almost a win win no brainer format. It is however better if you use multiple agents to give one overall booking control to make sure you get no double bookings.
I personally use this system using Holiday1.net who specialise in the Vendee and surrounding departments of the Deux Sevre and Charente Maritime which along with my own websites that are then directed to them to handle the enquiries. During this season i have seen no decrease in bookings where as Holida1.net has seen a rush in owners wanting to join
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