Your A-Z guide to holiday letting
There’s lots to learn when investing in a holiday home, but don’t let the terminology get you down. Here’s our A-Z of all things holiday cottages…
At the root of our success in maintaining fast and efficient administration is our commitment to the use of computers to handle the routine tasks. The technology is teamed with friendly and efficient staff who add the all important personal touch. They will ensure that all payments have been received before confirming final holiday details, and that guests are given full instructions about how to get to your property and collect their keys – even if they are booking at the very last minute.
Much of our marketing budget is assigned to attracting new clients. Our advertising spend is strategically split between traditional media like newspapers and magazines and advertising on the internet. We monitor every response from each advertising source carefully to ensure that it is effective. This allows us to recognise trends early – such as later booking – and seize these opportunities to gain a competitive advantage.
We believe our booking service is second to none. Not only can our customers leave brochure requests day and night, they can also ring our offices to have their holiday queries answered seven days a week. Our sales team are highly trained, and to help them achieve maximum efficiency we have a sophisticated telephone system and a fast, fully computerised, reservations facility, as well as systems for credit and debit card transactions that guarantee bookings can be confirmed and paid for immediately. In addition, customers can log on to our Web site at www.classic.co.uk to search for their ideal property, check availability and book securely on-line at any time of the day or night.
Even in the age of the internet our brochure is still our ‘shop window’. As well as being attractive and informative, it must also give the client confidence in the quality of the product we offer. We strive to produce the best brochure in the business. Please send for it by clicking here to judge for yourself.
The rents quoted in our brochure and on our Web site include the cost of our cancellation guarantee. This guarantee assures you of full payment once you have received written notification of a booking, provided the property is left available for us to re-let.
Cleaning and Gardening
We are holiday letting agents, and our specialist service is in marketing your holiday home. We do not undertake any property management. If you are unable to manage the property yourself, it is vital that you appoint a Housekeeper or an agency to take on all these arrangements, and of course your guests.
Our commission is 20% plus VAT (effectively 24%).
We do recognise that circumstances change and therefore our contracts run for a calendar year at a time. We send out new contracts every spring for the following year.
Our office is open seven days a week to take bookings and deal with enquiries or problems. We also have a duty Property Manager every weekend to ensure that someone is available to help in the event of a problem. We forward details of forthcoming bookings on a monthly basis, by email if you prefer, and notify you of any bookings that fall outside these mailings by telephone. We also forward booking information to your Housekeeper or Caretaker, if you have nominated one.
More than half our bookings are generated from previous clients, their friends and their families. Our previous clients are our most valuable asset and as soon as your holiday home is added to our portfolio, you tap into that large potential market.
Our clients are buying a high value product based only on the information they see on the screen or the printed page. Our professional and imaginative presentation on screen and page reassures our customers that we can be relied upon to provide the holiday they desire. Buying a holiday is an emotive pursuit and we add to the enjoyment by presenting our holiday homes in an attractive and exciting way.
We produce an attractive and specifically targeted direct mail campaign which is sent out to our large database of customers. It is highly productive and we are highly successful in encouraging repeat booking customers.
Where agreed, we offer late booking discounts to guests, normally up to 20% and generally only available within two weeks of the holiday date. They are designed to encourage last minute bookings. We also offer a 5% re-booking discount to encourage re-bookings from guests who book a holiday in the same cottage within 18 months of their last holiday.
Each year we plan a comprehensive email campaign, which offers customers new information, selected holiday homes and late availability due to last minute cancellations.
Bookings will not be accepted from groups of three or more single people under the age of 18, or all male or all female parties of more than four people without the prior agreement of our Owners.
Since the Furniture and Furnishings (Fire) (Safety) Regulations 1988 were passed, all manufactured upholstered furniture has been required to pass certain tests of fire resistance. All upholstered furniture purchased after 1st March 1990 should meet the requirements. The only exception is that furniture made before 1950 and the re-upholstery of furniture made before that date are exempt from the regulations.
We have negotiated a favourable policy exclusively for our holiday home Owners. The policy is specifically written for holiday homes and covers public liability as well as buildings and contents. If you stay with your existing company, it is important that they are aware that you are holiday letting. Also it is essential that you check you are covered for Public Liability.
Marketing on the internet is a critical part of our overall strategy. We were one of the first in our business to see its potential and we are determined that our internet presence will remain the best in the market. We have adapted fast to maximise the potential offered by the internet and will continue to do so as the internet environment continues to change, concentrating currently on search engine optimisation.
We specialise in offering a service to Owners who regard their holiday home as a small business. Our investment in marketing means that we must do the same. Hence, we do require our Agreement with you to be exclusive. In addition, the minimum period for which we are able to market a holiday home is 19 weeks between May and September. We will only market your holiday home if we are confident that we will be able to let it for a viable number of weeks.
If you have a mortgage you should inform the building society that you are holiday letting the property, but this can cause problems if not handled properly. Some societies do not allow holiday letting.
When your property is listed with us you can opt whether to open all year round or just for the main season in line with our minimum occupancy requirements, although we would advise Owners not to withdraw the winter months if possible as they are becoming increasingly popular travelling times, with a huge growth being seen in the short break market.
We have to deduct tax at the standard rate from your net rent if you are resident overseas. The Inland Revenue have now established self-assessment for Overseas Residents (www.hmrc.gov.uk/cnr/nr_landlords.htm). Once we are notified by the IR that you are eligible for self-assessment we will then stop deducting tax and will refund as necessary.
Owners’ Web site
We have developed a Web site for our Owners so that you may view booking notifications, party details, financial information and returned questionnaires amongst other things at any time of day or night. You can also amend availability and contact your personal Property Manager or another member of our team via these pages.
On the 10th of each month, we pay the Deposits collected in the previous month and the Balances – which represent the remaining two-thirds of the rent – for all the holidays started in that previous month. When a holiday home joins our portfolio payments are held until a satisfactory Final Inspection has taken place.
On joining our portfolio you will receive a personal service from your local Property Manager, with whom we hope you will develop a good working relationship. Your Property Manager will visit you at least once a year and will always be contactable.
Effective PR and a good reputation with the national and regional press and consumer magazines is essential. We are confident of the quality of the holiday homes we offer and our service, and operate a co-ordinated PR programme that regularly achieves significant coverage in key national publications such as The Sunday Times and The Daily Telegraph.
£75 plus VAT. This is a one-time charge deducted from our first payment to you. We do not ask you to pay any monies up front. Any additional holiday homes under the same ownership will not be charged a registration fee.
Anyone who has tried to decide where to pitch their rent to maximise their income will know how difficult it is. Each holiday home has its individual characteristics and each client their own set of preferences and priorities, making it impossible to use the same formula in every case. However, with thousands of bookings a year, ranging across hundreds of holiday homes, we have built up a wealth of experience upon which to base our calculation of the most profitable rent for any given property. Our income is tied to your own, so you can rest assured that our only incentive is to maximise your return.
Carrying out a risk assessment is an important step in protecting your guests and your staff, as well as complying with the law. It helps you focus on the risks that really matter in your holiday cottage – the ones with the potential to cause real harm. In many instances, straightforward measures can readily control risks, and for most, that means simple, cheap and effective measures to ensure the safety of your guests. Carrying out a risk assessment may seem a daunting task, and you may wish to use a company to do this on your behalf. The VisitEngland Pink Booklet on Legislation for Tourist Accommodation will also give you further guidance, and this can be found at www.accommodationknowhow.co.uk.
You can offer short breaks to your guests for three nights at 70%, four nights at 75%, five nights at 80% or six nights at 90% of the weekly rent. In busy periods you could receive 145% for two short breaks back to back. Short breaks are really flexible and can be booked at any time during the year plus you can specify when (or if) you wish to accept them. Winter short breaks (including Christmas and New Year), Spring, Autumn and Summer short breaks can be booked immediately or you can specify that you do not wish to accept them until a specific time span before the date of the holiday. The decision is yours and you can amend your choices on the owners’ website at any time.
If you let your property for holidays, rather than on a longer term basis, then the Inland Revenue regard this as a business. This has considerable tax advantages, including significant reductions on your potential Capital Gains Tax liability, more favourable allowances on your capital expenditure and the ability to avoid Income Tax on a proportion of your income by investing in a pension plan.
VAT registration is normally not advisable because you have to pay VAT on your income. VAT registered Owners are treated in the same way as non-registered Owners.