We put our all into marketing your holiday cottage, but we are a people company, not just a property company.
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 West Country 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 Web site, 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 Web to promote our business. Our Web site is designed to make the most of the two major advantages of operating on-line; 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 and the ability to register for email alerts about special offers and new properties entering the portfolio. We have scooped a few awards for the Web site but, more importantly, the majority of bookings are now taken on-line, so we do seem to be getting it right.
The search engines are the heart of our on-line 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 (often called ‘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 Web site.
Previous customers are our best source of bookings; they provide us with half our bookings each 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.
We take great pride in our brochure and hope you will find that to be well founded – it was also flattering that The Guardian Observer recognised our designers with their Best Brochure award in 2007. It is designed to describe our portfolio of over 700 properties in the most alluring, informative way whilst also enticing the reader to take a break with us. 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 we employ a PR agency. They run a co-ordinated campaign on our behalf that regularly achieves significant column inches 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.