I recently compiled a small survey to try and find out a bit more about how people book their self catering holidays as obviously this affects how and where we advertise Eco-Gites of Lenault. It also came on the back of big changes taking place at one of the main booking sites we use, Owners Direct. Whilst some improvements will benefit owners like us many others will not. We are particularly unhappy with:
Instant QuotesOwners Direct will soon be giving Instant Quotes to holiday makers based on the information we input onto our site. However this will not be able to take account of variations in price based on so many factors such as different rates for short breaks, special offers and different prices for different numbers of people staying. We simply cannot understand why Owners Direct want to do this. The whole ethos of Owners Direct is that holiday makers deal directly with the owner without any middle man. In the past this has worked very well for holiday makers and owners alike.
Book Now ButtonsHoliday makers will be able to hit a book now button and book their holiday without any contact first with the owner. This may involve a booking fee/commission added on to this price.
Tiered advertising feesAt the moment when a holiday maker puts in their search criteria to Owners Direct a random list of suitable properties comes up but soon this list will be affected by a number of things. Some make sense i.e. the quality of the advert, whether the availability calendar is regularly updated and properties with good reviews appearing higher up lists (although the latter is unfair if you are just starting out and have no reviews). Some are less fair and/or it is less clear if they will be used i.e. properties that allow credit card payments may appear higher up the lists. There is, however, one factor that is completely unfair - owners will be able to pay for 5 levels of advertisement from the current classic listing (just under £300 per year) through bronze, silver, gold and up to platinum. The more you pay, the higher you appear in the listings. A platinum listing will cost just short of £900 per year. This amount is completely beyond the reach of most owners like us but is within the budget of the agencies who are now also allowed to advertise on Owners Direct.
With these changes afoot I compiled the survey to try and glean a bit more information about how people like to book their self catering holidays. Thank you to everyone who kindly filled it in. Some results really jumped out at me:
Book Now ButtonsWe are on one site with a book now button and have just, last night, received our first booking through the site. I do, however, wonder if people actually don't like this method and do like to talk to the owner before parting with what can be a considerable sum of money.
Would you use a Book Now button?
36.1% - No
31.9% - Yes
What attracts holiday makers to a particular holiday rental site?What do people like about the particular sites they use to book a holiday?
Thinking about the rental site you go to first when looking for a holiday, why do you choose this site?
50.6% - Deal direct with the owner
30.5% - Do not pay commission
22.5% - Other
19.5% - My payment is protected
Finding propertiesHow do holiday makers like their search results to be listed?
By what method do you like your searches to appear on a holiday rental site after you have clicked on your criteria? (Multiple choice)
72.2% - Random list
69.1% - Those with better reviews at the top
5.6% - Those which accept credit/debit card payments at the top
1.9% - Those properties where owners have paid more to be listed higher at the top
Which of the above points do you most like?
50.6% - Reviews
48.8% - Random
0.6% - Credit/debit card
0% - Tiered
CommissionIn these financially hard times would people prefer to pay commission and in doing so protect their holiday from, for example, scammers or misrepresented properties?
How do you feel about paying commission on your holiday?
63.9% - I dislike paying commission
36.1% - I don’t mind paying it if it gives my booking security
SummaryFrom my (probably not at all statistically significant) survey I can conclude that:
- There are mixed views on using a book now button
- Over 50% of respondents want to deal direct with the owner
- Having lists of properties appear either randomly or those with good reviews first are preferred and NO-ONE wanted them according to how much the advertiser had paid
- Almost 2/3 of holiday makers do not like paying commission.
All in all then, Owners Direct are not heading in a direction that suits many holiday makers and owners like us. We have until our subscription runs out at the end of the year to see how they perform for us but in the meantime, myself a group of friends are getting together to offer a new way to book your holiday - via Facebook.
We have created a Group where owners can promote their properties and holiday makers can search through the properties, which are grouped according to location and type. They can also put a call out on the group for a particular type of holiday. It's called "Book your Holiday Direct with the Owner". Do head on over and join if you either book self catering/B&B holidays or provide these in the UK or France. All holidays advertised will be commission free and you'll get to talk directly with the owner before making you final decision.