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PR for the self-catering / holiday letting industry

However many properties you have on your books, whether it is 1, 20, or 100, if you aren’t thinking about PR you are missing an opportunity to increase enquiries and bookings.

Hannah Rowe from Hannah Rowe Consulting explains what PR is, why it is important to the self-catering/holiday letting industry, and offers some simple tips for do-it-yourself PR.

What is PR?

PR is NOT ‘free publicity’, although sometimes PR efforts will result in newspaper coverage which you haven’t directly paid for. It is about managing your company’s image, engaging with your target audience, and making sure they receive the messages you want them to hear.

PR isn’t advertising either. Advertising says “we are good”; whereas PR says “I hear you are good”.

Why is PR important to the self-catering/holiday letting industry?

Good PR – be this through networking, newspaper coverage, or local events – will help your business to be ‘front of mind’ when people think about holiday lettings.

Raising your profile and communicating your messages to your target audience cannot be achieved purely by advertising (although this also has a place). Messages and awareness of a business are reinforced by what is known as the ‘drip, drip’ effect , which means, if the audience is continually seeing your business name and hearing your messages, they will begin to remember you and what you are saying. The more places they see and hear about you, the more likely they are to remember you. Then when they want to book a holiday let, you’ll be the person they call!

What does this mean for my business?

Importantly – it doesn’t need to cost a lot! You can generate PR in lots of ways. Ask yourself the following questions:

What do I want people to know about my holiday let(s)?

What makes your holiday lets different or special? Do they have a sea view (or excellent countryside views if they are inland!)? Are they centrally located between different tourist areas? Do they have quirky rooms?  Find two or three things which you’d really like to tell people about, and write them down as a reminder for when you communicate with people about your business.

Are there any special events in my area which I could tap into?

Local events need local support and, depending on their nature, could also mean more tourists looking for a place to stay. Keep an eye on your local tourism websites and newspapers to see what is coming up, then contact organisers to see how you could support them.  Support could take a number of forms: it could be advertising, or a raffle prize (this could be a free weekend, but could also be just a bottle of wine), or just promoting the event on your website/at your premises.  By supporting local events you are not only generating goodwill in your area (which could result in recommendations – word of mouth is powerful PR!) but are creating your business a powerful network. You’ll probably also get a mention in any resulting editorial.

 Are there any national events which I could tap into?

Depending on the location of your holiday lets, you may be able to tap into national PR/awareness events. This is a great way to generate PR, as you can ‘piggyback’ on the work of national organisations, whose PR teams have done most of the work for you, whilst supporting good causes! For example, Visit England is running an English Tourism Week from 29 March, and their website has lots of ideas and suggestions about how you can get involved. If your holiday let is near a wood or forest, for example, you could organise a walk. Local events are mentioned on the organiser’s website, and are usually welcomed by the local press.

Do I have anything specific which I could share with the press?

Have you done anything of note which the press may be interested in?  For example: have you completely rebuilt a property to turn it into holiday lets, is your property themed, has a guest just come back for their tenth visit?

If not, you can always invite local journalists/holiday writers to come and have a look around, as they may use your property as a feature in their publication or Blog.

How do I contact the press?

Local press details are usually available online, or in the first few pages of the local paper. Many can also be contacted on Twitter – it is worth following your local journalists and travel bloggers on Twitter, if they are there, and they will often follow you back. Social networking and its benefits to the self-catering/holiday letting industry are worthy of an article on their own!

What do I write?

Writing a press release is a skill – some key tips are:

  • Make the headline simple, giving the key detail – if the journalist wants to come up with a clever headline, s/he will
  • The first paragraph should give an overview of the story
  • Have a couple of paragraphs of detail
  • Include a quote
  • The final paragraph should give your details, such as ‘Holly Cottage is located in (road name) and is available for rent. Call (name) on (telephone number). The journalist may remove this section, but sometimes they print it!
  •  Include a photograph if relevant (but make sure anyone shown in the photo agrees to it). 

Making your story appealing to a journalist can be difficult and that’s where a PR professional can be useful, by helping you work out what you want to say and how to say it. We can also help you to plan your PR strategy for the year, as well as planning and promoting relevant events.

But however you decide to do it – shout about your business!





Hannah Rowe

Hannah Rowe Consulting provides Marketing, PR and Event Management services to SMEs in the South West.

She can be contacted on:

07711 068005