Article by John Keggin, Director & Founder – Island Escapes Ltd

The self-catering market has seen huge growth in the UK in recent years, particularly since the recession of 2009, which triggered many Brits to look closer to home for their holidays. This “staycation” model has now become very much the norm with many areas seeing year-on-year growth. Back in the 1990’s self-catering accommodation was often seen as budget option, in comparison to a hotel or B&B. However, quality standards and expectations have risen over the years meaning many guests now choose a quality home from home for their holiday. 

Why a holiday let?

I meet many owners who are drawn to holiday letting for a variety of reasons. They may wish to use the property themselves, or extend their welcome to family and friends. The beauty of owning a holiday home is that it provides flexibility, and that is of great appeal to many of our owners.

Holiday homes often have less wear and tear than a residential let, with many guests choosing to eat out some of the time thus not living day to day in the property. At Island Escapes we maintain our properties to a high standard at all times, with the ability to thoroughly clean the home each week between guests really making a difference to retaining the quality of the property.

The investment return from a holiday let has potential to be greater than a residential let, but remember it isn’t guaranteed, you’ll need to furnish the property to a high standard, and in most cases you’ll be covering the bills. It may also take a year or two of visitors leaving positive reviews to gain a following and begin to see a return on your initial outlay. I always suggest to potential owners that if considering establishing a holiday home that they consider their objectives. How long do you plan on keeping it for? What sort of return do you want to see? Try writing a business plan to help you set out all your key considerations.  

What should I consider?

Any business should always begin with identifying who their customers are and their requirements, and opening a holiday let is absolutely no different. If you start with working out who your customer is likely to be and what they might enjoy, you will be well on your way.

But who visits the Isle of Man? Are you going to target the “2.4 explorers” or the “Our timers”. Visit Isle of Man have published research on the key market profiles for the island herehttps://www.visitisleofman.com/trade/strategy/key-market-profiles

Location, Location, Location! Where will work best for your holiday let?

Properties in towns and villages are often a popular choice, with amenities such as shops, restaurants and bars within walking distance. However, not everybody wants that and rural retreats can also be very popular. When considering your options, again, think about who your customers are likely to be and what their needs are. At Island Escapes our town and village properties generally speaking experience a much longer season than the rural ones.

Quality touches!

When choosing a holiday home a guest will typically look for a property that has features which make it a step up from their own home, after all, a holiday is a luxury. When furnishing your home think carefully on the style and design you wish to adopt. Again, think about who your customers are going to be, what they would like to see, and remember visitors may not always have the same tastes as you do. Ask friends or family for opinions, ask a letting agent or research ideas online. Visit Isle of Man publish a Quality and Standards document which will help. 

How should I market my property?

As part of the registration with the Department for Enterprise you will receive a listing on the Visit Isle of Man website. You may wish to explore other advertising channels, the major online platforms such as Airbnb, Booking.com, and TripAdvisor Rentals are all popular choices – these have varying fee structures, but also mass marketing ability, which is of course what you pay for. Social media and a website for your own property is something you may also wish to consider. 

Alternatively, you may wish to employ the services of a holiday lettings agency who can take all the hassle away from you in this regard. An agency will have experience in practical holiday letting, so will be able to help you perfect your property and pricing structure and market it for you. Holiday home lettings agencies use bespoke software to advertise both far and wide via the major online platforms, and to their own customer base. They will also be able to help with managing your property and looking after guests during their stay.

Housekeeping

It is absolutely essential that a holiday home is spotlessly clean and well presented. You’ll need to think about the smallest of touches and finest of details. At Island Escapes we develop a bespoke checklist for each property that is followed meticulously after each guest checks out and before the new one arrives. If you are going to clean the property yourself, make sure you allow enough time, it can often be a big task depending on the property size and features. Making your guests feel welcome is important, consider leaving a hand written card with a welcome pack of local produce – this always goes down a treat!

Be aware of the rules

Under the 1975 Tourist Act, it is a legal requirement for all types of visitor accommodation to be registered with the Department for Enterprise. The registration process ensures that all legal, health and safety and accommodation quality standards have been adhered to so that the safety and wellbeing of visitors is ensured during their stay. 

As part of this process the property needs to have Planning and Building Control approval in place. I always advise owners to contact Building Control at the earliest opportunity; they are very helpful and it is good to engage with them from the start and they'll give you invaluable information regarding what you may need to do to alter your property to make it safe to let. 

If you have a large property that sleeps 7 or more guests, you will need to apply for a fire certificate. This application will then be reviewed by the fire officers and a decision as to whether one is required will be made. 

You'll also need to insure your home as a holiday let and have sufficient public liability insurance in place. 

The full check list can be found here: https://www.visitisleofman.com/trade/registration-schemes/accommodation/accommodation-registrations

If you’d like to know more about holiday letting please contact the Visit Isle of Man team on 01624 695700 or tourismquality@gov.im, or Island Escapes on 07624 378378 or visit@islandescapes.im

Island Escapes is an Isle of Man holiday lettings agency. Their local presence means they very much operate a hands on approach to their properties, ensuring a high quality of service to guests and homeowners alike. They are proud to be a corporate sponsor of the Manx Wildlife Trust and a proud partner of UNESCO Biosphere Isle of Man.

www.islandescapes.im

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