Get in touch about letting your property
Building a trusted brand
Our care in building an exceptional portfolio is the foundation upon which we have built a brand that our regular guests trust as well as a reputation which extends to many first-time customers too. That, in turn, has given us a large client base who will only book their South and West holiday with Classic Cottages. We understand that a holiday is an important purchase and our job is to give the customer confidence that they will get what they expect. Full and accurate information is a basic essential, but the care and attention we put into every aspect of our communication with them – from the brochure to the website, and even the booking confirmations – reassures them that they will get value for money. Buying a holiday is an emotive experience and we want every customer to enjoy the experience from their first contact with us. The feedback and level of repeat bookings tell us that we do that well and your property will tap into that valuable band of loyal customers as soon as we start marketing it.
We were early adopters of the internet to promote our business. Our website is designed to make the most of the two major advantages of operating online; you can convey more information than on paper and it is interactive. We have therefore devoted a great deal of time to giving customers as much information about each property as possible and into developing a comprehensive search that allows the customer to select the things that are important to them when looking for a holiday home. Other features include additional information about the area surrounding the property, transparent and honest reviews from guests and a sign up to our marketing emails. We have scooped a few awards for the website over the years but, more importantly, the majority of bookings are now taken online, so we do seem to be getting it right.
The search engines are the heart of our online marketing activity which can be divided into two parts; the free listings (usually on the left in the search window) and the sponsored links (which are usually in the first few slots and on the right of the results windows). We have put a great deal of time and effort into engineering our site to be as well regarded by the search engines as possible and, as a result, we appear towards the top of the list of results returned for many of the most frequently used search terms. We were one of the first in our sector to use sponsored links (‘pay-per-click’ marketing) and we are now experienced operators with a comprehensive strategy for bidding on thousands of key phrases, each with variable timings, carefully chosen advertising copy and specific landing pages on our website.
We have a large database of previous customers who choose to return to either the same cottage, or us as a company, year after year. Their loyalty is a tribute to the high standard of the properties in our portfolio; however we are not complacent about that loyalty – it needs to be nurtured. It is no longer enough just to drop a brochure through the letterbox each year, so we have a carefully targeted schedule of direct mail and email timed to hit at key points in the year. We make each mailing as interesting and personal as possible to avoid it being dismissed as junk mail. Our approach to our marketing is creative and imaginative, but it is as much science as art and every penny spent is closely monitored to ensure that we get the maximum number of bookings from our marketing budget.
The majority of people who get in touch have an email address and so we have a credible database of guests we can contact to promote our portfolio. We’re careful not to be lost in the junk folders of cluttered inboxes by paying attention to carefully worded subject lines and relevance of content. We time them carefully according to the time of year, making sure we don’t spam people with too many emails, and have a clever way of targeting people with information that is relevant to them. By basing the content of each email on the previous or current booking and click history of a guest, we can deliver properties and offers that are most likely to be of interest, resulting in an engagement rate that is nicely above the industry standard.
We’ve taken great pride in our Directory of properties over the years – it was also flattering that The Guardian Observer recognised our designers with their Best Brochure award in 2007. However, we’re a forward looking bunch here at Classic and we’ve looked closely at how the Directory meets our customers’ needs. The vast majority of our bookings are now made online so it made sense to question how well a book containing hundreds of properties could perform. So, we ran a test and left a sample of customers out of the Directory mailshot. The result was marginal but surprising, the booking conversion rate was slightly higher for those left out of the mailshot.
We’re responding by producing a more emotional, holiday focused brochure for 2018, that gives a big nod to the quality visitors can expect, whichever property they choose.
For guests who wish to book offline we are developing a more bespoke, personal service to help them find the right property. We will work with them on the phone to narrow down their selection to a definitive list and send individually printed cottage details along with our new brochure, all wrapped up in a cleverly designed folder.
We are confident that this new approach not only reflects the shift in customer behaviour, but also ensures that we exceed the expectations of those guests who wish to book their holiday having discussed the details with one of our team.
Our aim is not to have to tell potential customers about our high standards, but to let them discern that from the quality of our brochure. We want them to trust us to put the same care and attention into our property selection process as we put into the brochure. Please send for it by clicking here to judge for yourself.
Inches in the editorial columns of newspapers and magazines lend us much more credibility than those we buy as advertisements, so to make sure we’re getting seen in all the right places we run the PR in house, building relationships with editors, bloggers and journalists as a people company, securing editorial coverage in a range of national press such as The Sunday Times, The Daily Telegraph and The Guardian.
Newspapers and magazines
Even in the internet age, there is a place for good advertising in the traditional media. The secret of our success in newspaper and magazine advertising is getting recognised in a crowded space whilst still conveying the ‘quality’ message. We use striking visuals and imaginative design to mark ourselves out from the crowd and to suggest that our portfolio is ‘a cut above the rest’. However, science runs alongside the creativity – every bit of our marketing expenditure has to pass the ‘cost per booking’ test. We monitor all our advertising and track bookings back to their source media. However well matched the readership of a particular publication may appear to be, if the cost per booking is too high, we will drop that publication and assign the budget to more effective media.