Google+ Rent a Cottage Scotland: How to set up and run a successful Self Catering Holiday Cottage Part 2

Thursday, 9 August 2012

How to set up and run a successful Self Catering Holiday Cottage Part 2

How to set up and run a successful Self Catering Holiday Cottage Part 2

Attracting guests, setting up a new  web site

Having bought a holiday cottage in Lower Largo Fife we realised that with busy working lives, our time was very limited to stay at the cottage. The solution? Rent it out and make some money.
What would we call the cottage? The family were duly consulted. The name Castaway Cottage was decided. This was derived from the location in Lower Largo Fife being associated with the author Daniel Defoe, creator of Robinson Crusoe. There is even a famous Crusoe statue in the village. Castaway Cottage where every day feels like a Friday..hmmm a bit cheesy… perhaps?
As we lived an hour away in Perth we arranged for a housekeeper to clean the cottage and do the laundry for the changeover, usually on a Saturday.
How do you market and advertise a cottage staring from scratch?
This was the early days of the internet, 10 years ago. No social media, blogs , twitter or Facebook.  We simply did a search for holiday cottage Fife and took note of the top listings on the net. I employed a website designer on the same basis and inserted the cottage in some the directories at the top of the search pile. I also entered the website in as many free listings as possible. We were off and running!

The next step was to try Visit Scotland.
The cottage was assessed and given a star rating, a disappointing 3 star. Entry into the Visit Scotland brochure and website were arranged for an extra fee. It all felt like they were doing us a big favour but always at a cost. Disappointing from an organisation that receives massive public funding. The 3 star rating would do little to attract visitors. It was clear most guests were looking for 4 star or higher. Less than 4 star attracted little attention or enquiries.
As it turned out most enquiries were coming from our own website by email.

Our main attraction and strength was the location of the cottage right on the beach in Lower Largo. The village also had a decent restaurant, local shop and pub within staggering distance. St Andrews, the main visitor attraction in Fife was only 15 minutes away by car. Within our first year we had over 30 bookings.
But our website began to slip out of sight on the search. How do you keep your web site on page one of google? My next post will answer that question.