Taking action using the lessons learnt over the last year to professionalize our services, connect to our audience, convert them into guests who give us rave reviews – Episode 41
The Business of Glamping And Unique Holiday Rentals, with Sarah Riley
In this episode, I share a whole list of things that I’ve received back from my club members and the communities that I support. These are really valuable lessons and things that people have learned that will change the way they do business in the future.
Today’s episode is brought to you by The Start Up And Grow Club, which offers an accelerator program and support group for those who want to set up their unique holiday rental or glamping businesses quickly.
The Glamping Business Podcast Shownotes
Additional Resources And Links Mentioned
- PERFECTLY PLANNED AND PROFITABLE RETREATS MASTERCLASS
Fill your events and grow your business, even without a large email list or social media following. This masterclass with myself and industry experts will give you everything you need to confidently set up and publicise successful retreats and generate loyal fans, launch a new business, jump ahead of the competition and grow your business
DATE: THURSDAY 10 JUNE 2021 TIME: 12PM-4PM BST / GMT+1
- POWERFUL PUBLICITY MEDIA MASTERCLASS
A step-by-step guide to attracting more media attention to boost your guest bookings even if you are not comfortable being in the spotlight.
This live and intimate Masterclass with myself and guest experts will help build your confidence and skills to know exactly how and when to pitch to the media to boost your reputation and attract more guests, even if you don’t like being in the spotlight.
DATE: THURSDAY 24 JUNE 2021 TIME: 12PM-4PM BST / GMT+1
- GET FULLY BOOKED USING THE POWER OF FACEBOOK AND INSTAGRAM ADS
Demystifying the process used to attract new customers for your short-stay vacation rental, glamping business, eco-resort, boutique hotel, bed and breakfast or holiday cottage using Facebook® and Instagram adverts.
- FREE Facebook and Instagram Ads Inspirational Training (3-part series)
- Full Training for Facebook And Instagram Ads that work within the glamping and unique hospitality industry.
- Contact Sarah Riley through Inspired Courses
- The Ultimate Glamping Business Guide
- Guest Booking Success Marketing Masterclass
- The Glamping Business Facebook Group (+ Unique Holiday Rentals)
- Tools and resources in the Inspired Courses VIP Lounge
- How To Start A Glamping Business
Listen to the podcast here:
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- Spotify (Smart Player)
- Soundcloud (Smart Player)
Want To Feature On The Business Of Glamping And Unique Holiday Rentals Podcast?
If you have something inspiring to offer the world of Glamping and Unique Holiday Rentals then get in touch with Sarah Riley and share it on the Podcast. For more information contact Sarah here.
Listen to previous episodes here:
Sarah Riley: What lessons have we learned over the last year that will help us with our future and how we run our businesses in this industry Well, I have a whole list of things here that I’ve received back from my club members and memberships and the communities that I support lessons, really valuable lessons and things that people have learned that will change the way they do business in the future. Welcome to episode 41,
Sarah Riley: Glamping and unique holiday rentals are surging in popularity with the growing desire of customers to book holidays that deliver an experience. They are also the new business of choice for those wanting to improve their work-life balance.
Sarah Riley: So how do you build a strong business like this that gives you the life you need and a great investment. I’m Sarah Riley. And I want to share what I’ve discovered after being immersed in this industry for over 20 years, to inspire you to find out more about what’s going on. Welcome. This is the business of glamping and unique holiday rentals. Hello, and welcome to the show. Fantastic that you are joining
Sarah Riley: Me yet. Again, it’s really nice to have you here. So things have been a bit crazy in the UK, in the industry, in Europe, and in the world. As we all know, things have been balmy, not just with the pandemic and everything going on associated with that, but also with the Weber. I know I’m a Brit, I always talk about the weather, but it’s really interesting how you can take things from the past and apply it to today.
So looking at what’s happened in the past and applying it to today. So my grandmother, who was an amazing farmer during the war second world war, had all of these old wives’ tales that she would always share with me. And one of them was that if the Ash tree came out in leaf before the Oaktree, then it could tell us what we would have in terms of weather for the year.
Sarah Riley: So she would say the Oak before the Ash and you’ll have a splash, which means you’ll be splashing around in the sea and having fun in the sun. But if the Ash came out before the Oak, then you would have a soak, meaning that you would be drenched from torrential, downpours and rain. Interestingly, that’s exactly what’s happened recently. And yes, if you look at the trees, they’re telling the story that my grandmother said to account for.
So we do have a lot to notice from things that have happened in the past, pay attention to those things, and it can really tell us how we can prepare for the future. And so that’s one of the things I wanted to share with you today. It’s the theme of this podcast episode. I’m going to take a few things that people have been saying to me that I’ve learned myself during the past year and to talk to you about how I’m actually adapting things myself and how others are dumped, adapting to deal with those issues and to change the way we’re working for the future.
Sarah Riley: So I hope you benefit from this content. It would be really amazing if you would leave a review. I always love to hear what you think about the episodes. Please leave a review on any of the platforms that you are listening through, whether that’s iTunes, Spotify, or all the other podcast, listening platforms. Well, the first one kind of goes without saying, and that’s because of all the hassles that business owners experienced during the pandemic, actually hitting the crisis.
When it started all of those cancellations and holidays having to be rearranged and everything else that was happening at the time. Now that that’s passed and people are looking back, they’re realizing they need to make those standard operating procedures a little bit more robust. We call them SOPs in the trade. And this includes everything from your deposit policies, to your cancellation policies, your terms, and conditions, your operating procedures, all of this kind of stuff.
Sarah Riley: So this is now a time to look at all of those elements and just to say, what have we learned from what’s happened over the last year How can we change what we’re doing What do we need to put in place to make sure that staff understands what they’re supposed to be doing, with all of these changes when they’re in place So that’s one of the things that I’ve been speaking to people about, and actually your SOPs are really important and they can really help you thrive during difficult times because everybody knows exactly what they should be doing, what they should be following.
They know exactly where to find the information they need. And that’s, what’s so important when there’s a crisis going on because that is how you protect your business and you help other people protect your business with you too. But there were also the ideas that came out of everything that was happening around that and the cancellations and things being rearranged and everything else.
Sarah Riley: So when guests are told, sorry, you can’t come to stay as planned for your holiday with us because we have been shut down by the government because of the pandemic. There was, alternative ways to encourage people, to keep their holiday, not seek a refund, but actually to do other things. And also alternative ways to say to people, you can still buy your holidays.
You can still have things to look forward to, but you can do it through a gift certificate. So this gift certificate will give you a priority booking experience above other people in the future when we’re open up again for holidays and fall bookings. So it was a really good way of encouraging people to not walk away and get distracted by other things, but actually to remain connected with your business as we moved forward. But also, you know, they needed to trust you to be able to do that.
Sarah Riley: So the trust and the relationship between the business and the consumer was super important, especially as if you think about it, many people were stung by the fact that they lost holidays, they lost bookings, they lost, you know, all kinds of things because of the pandemic and this kind of eroded the trust relationship between the business and consumer.
And it might be that you didn’t have any of those problems with any of your guests or your customers or anything like that. But remember that those people have had those experiences with other businesses. So they may not have lost trust with you directly, but they’ve lost trust don’t, you know, in general with the market. And so it’s really important to show that you can be trusted and to demonstrate that, and there are lots of different ways you can do that. Certainly as a gum paint business, unique holiday rental, that’s really important.
Sarah Riley: And so it’s, there are lots of techniques. And one of the techniques that really help at the moment is to build your reviews. This is obviously social proofing. It helps people to demonstrate through other people’s words and what they’re saying about you, that you’re a trustworthy business, but it also helps in another way, because at the moment, Google is about to introduce another change to how it manages the listings in its search engine.
As we know, Google is the biggest search engine in the world. And so it’s really important to pay attention to what Google’s doing. And one of the things that it’s doing is to enhance the user’s experience on the internet, but also its relationship with businesses and the links that the person is actually clicking on. It’s a search engine. And so it’s trying to build an algorithm to help boost the experience people are having online and that they’re having with your business.
Sarah Riley: So this is really important, the things that they’re introducing, how somebody experiences your website, how someone experiences your business, one of the ways that people can show how, what they think of your businesses through the reviews, they leave online. So a great way of both boosting your trust and your relationship with your potential customer. And also boosting your relationship with Google.
When it’s trying to improve the experience of the internet user is to promote your reviews and what do they have in common Well, Google, of course. So the central piece, there is the Google business page. So if you have a business, you will be able to claim your Google business page. And on that page, you can get lots and lots of lovely reviews from your guests, your previous guests, and your customers. And those reviews will not only tell your future customers what a great business you are, but it will also tell Google that you provide a good experience, which is what they are also seeking.
Sarah Riley: So it’s a great way to double up on that social proof and also helping Google to rate you highly in terms of customer experience. So there are lots of other things as well that have been realized by businesses, from targeting ads, using Facebook and Google ads using YouTube ads. Oh my goodness, man, hotel ads.
There are so many things to do, but also there’s moving away from the reliance on online travel agents. So this is the likes of Airbnb and in the glamping industry, there are all kinds of things such as glamping, hub, canopy, and stars, classic lamping, and all kinds of other, online travel agents that they charge a commission per booking. Usually, there are obviously listing sites as well, but they charge differently. They charge for the listing. And so there were all kinds of struggles between the business owner and the online travel agents during the last year.
Sarah Riley: Certainly some that I will not name, created a terrible situation where they destroyed relations between the guest and the actual service that would be delivering the service on the ground because they refuse to refund the guest. Even though the business owner was happy to issue a refund because the OTA was the middleman was the third party.
They held the booking fees and they refuse to release them. And there were all kinds of other things as well, such as, you know, complications over changing dates that holidays would be taken and, and issues and disputes that just were endless. And it created all kinds of problems for the business owner, for the guest, and even the OTA. And actually, no one was happy. So a lot of things are now under investigation because some of the OTs refuse to actually fund the guest and that erodes all kinds of trust, for everyone, nobody wins.
Sarah Riley: So what was done well, many of the owners are talking about, okay, how can I move away from relying upon these online travel agents How can I start getting more bookings myself directly So I have that direct relationship with my guest. They come to my website, they book their holiday and I can speak directly with them.
It’s quite hard if you’re going, taking your bookings to OTA is to actually carry on the relationship, the conversation, the trust relationship, in a very direct way, because the online travel agent, often have barriers in the way to stop that from happening because their whole business model is on the fact that someone will go to their platform to make the booking. So they get the commission. That means that the owner of the business can’t have those really good conversations with the guest. And, you know, that does erode the relationship a little bit.
Sarah Riley: And it does mean that the guest won’t enjoy their stay as well as they might have. If they’d had those direct conversations with the hospitality owner who could tell them how to arrive, where to go, what they could do while they’re there, and have that really nice two-way conversation going instead, there was a third party, the middle person who was actually, you know, taking that, place and putting barriers up to make that harder to happen.
So many people that I’m speaking to are asking me, how can they move away from the reliance on OTAs And I’m really pleased to be involved in a number of events over the next year, which are going to be promoting activities to help that happen. And I’ll talk to you about that near the time and give you some more information about those events, but there’s lots, lots and lots to learn, which is great.
Sarah Riley: Marketing is key though. And again, this is what a lot of people come to me and say, Sarah, I’m ready to launch, but I haven’t had many bookings. What do I need to do about this And when I talked to them about, well, what’s your marketing strategies, what have you put in place to make sure that you’re grabbing people’s attention.
When you have their attention, you’ve got conversion tactics in place to convert them into a guest, a paying guest, you know, what are you using And more often than not people don’t actually know that there are techniques to help that happen. So a lot of people are now focusing on their marketing. It’s not just about building the business from scratch. It’s not about building the structures because if you do just build the structures and focus on that, well, yes, you’ll have fantastic, fantastic accommodation business at the end of it.
Sarah Riley: Something that people will want to talk about if they know exists, but you might become the greatest secret of all because people just don’t know you’re there. So this is why marketing, marketing, marketing. It’s all about marketing. How can you get in front of your potential guests and encourage them to book with you Lots of techniques with that? And you can get help with that.
If you go over to inspired courses, I’ll be more than happy to help you with that. But then another thing as well, that, I got a lot of feedback on over last year, I ran a number of events and one of them was to help people understand how professional photos, graphics, logos, branding, all of that kind of thing can really help them stand out from the crowd. You may have noticed that this industry is booming since the pandemic kind of has eased or is easing and things are opening up more, but you may also realize that a lot of new operators are coming on board.
Sarah Riley: And that’s fine. It’s not about the number of operators in place. It’s about how you stand out from all of that competition. Whether you stand out head and shoulders above the competition. One thing you can do, of course, is professional photos, making sure as well that you have graphics in place to really make an impact.
A bit of a horror story from a client who did exactly that. And she paid a lot of money and worked very closely with a graphic designer to develop her logo. They have a wonderful business around the words, go and check them out. And they have this fantastic logo. They’ve got a lovely service they’ve even managed to get on television, got a lot of attention for their business by doing it the right way. But very recently they found out that their logo and a lot of their branding had been duplicated and their copyright had been infringed.
Sarah Riley: So that is a very valuable lesson here about making sure that you have some things in place to protect you and your brand and your graphics. And one of those things is obviously trademarking. So get yourself trademarked because it would be a great shame for it to be too late. So if somebody else trademarked your logo or any of your names or graphics or anything like that, you can get it trademarked on a local level in, in the country that you are from, but also on an international level.
And I would urge you that if you feel very passionately about the professional graphics and the efforts, the sweat, and the tool that you put into developing your professional graphics and your logos and the name of your business and get it trademarked. So you’re protected. It’s really important. You do go through the right process and it would be a terrible shame to actually find out that someone had been using your graphics and had instead trademarked it and jumped basically in front of you because that would actually stop you from being able to continue to use it.
Sarah Riley: So that’s just one to be aware of. And, and to, you know, as this market gets more competitive, these are the kinds of things that we’re starting to see. So if you’re really passionate about what you’ve produced, protect it and protect it through, copyright and trademarking laws.
It’s really easy to do and it doesn’t cost very much money and you can find out all you need on the internet, on the steps you need to take to do that. So this kind of goes along the lines of what I’m going to say next, which is about a lot of people who may be entered this market as a hobby. So it was a bit of a hobby for them. It was something that they wanted to use as a business, a glamping business to boost their income, or they had a unique holiday rental that they didn’t want to make a full-time job.
Sarah Riley: They just wanted a bit of extra income as a side hustle and things like that. But a lot of those people are starting to say, hang on a minute. This is a really good income. This affords me a really good lifestyle. I actually want to boost my bookings. I want to boost the income potential that I have, and I want to professionalize my services. I want to professionalize what I do in the background, in my office services. So I’m seeing a lot more of this. People want to professionalize, and probably this is due to what’s happened over the last year. And a lot of people are going through post-traumatic growth. This is a real thing. You can have a look at it on the internet.
I experienced it after I suffered a major stroke back in 2009. What happens to you when you go through major trauma and collectively as a world, we have gone through significant trauma because of the virus, and because of everything else that’s happened after that period of time, you start to go through a period of growth at a time when you are motivated to do things that you wouldn’t normally have done because of what’s happened to you and because of your experiences.
Sarah Riley: And so this post-traumatic growth I’m starting to see it happening to a lot of people. So a lot of people are saying, I need to professionalize. I realized that people only get what they pay for, and I want to increase what they’re getting so I can charge more. I can make more as a business owner, I can maximize my occupancy. I can improve my office systems. So they’re automated. I don’t have to spend so much time on them.
You know, these are all things that are possible and can be put in place. So it’s great to see this when people are starting to see that with a bit of time spent finding out the right information and putting it in place implementing is key. Of course, then they can really start to reap the rewards of that growth period. So I have so many things I could say, and it’s really difficult to pick out the most important bits.
Sarah Riley: But I think the other thing I might say is around marketing again, but more about targeted advertising. So especially if you’re thinking of moving away from OTA is a little bit more, not relying on them quite so much. I’m not saying stop it, but certainly maybe just putting things in place where you don’t have to rely on them so much. It’s looking at ways that you can do targeted ads on certain platforms.
So some of the platforms you could use are obviously Facebook and Instagram, which are the most popular, but one of the other platforms that are really, really surging is YouTube ads. And that’s a really interesting platform now for advertising, of course, Google ads too. And there are lots of other pay-per-click places where you can place an ad for your business. But I would say probably the two most important for this industry are Facebook and Instagram.
Sarah Riley: And why is that Well, that is because those two platforms have your potential guests already on them. If you are a business-to-consumer business, then that means that you want to find where your consumers are hanging out, where are they hanging out or hanging out with their family and friends. And they’re hanging out in a place where they like to be inspired by new things and where they like to kind of take part in conversations and enjoy the emotions of the joy, the sadness, whatever it is.
So Facebook and Instagram are two platforms where obviously people are emotionally engaged because they’re chatting with their friends and their family. That’s the time when they might purchase a holiday or find a holiday that they’re really interested in. This is because people buy when they are in an emotional state. So they are happily emotional for our industry.
Sarah Riley: Obviously, if they’re in a negative emotional state, they might buy products for those reasons. So if, for example, they’re scared of getting fat. They’re scared of losing hair or going bold, whatever it might be. And they might buy products for those reasons when they’re in that scared emotional state, but for our industry, which is all about happiness, thinking about relaxing and distressing, and reconnecting with our family, that’s when the emotional state needs to be more positive.
So a lot of success is being achieved by people who are looking at Facebook and Instagram as an advertising platform. So those two platforms are just brilliant for ads. And now Facebook has the most sophisticated ads platform of any platform in the whole world. And because obviously, Facebook owns Instagram. That means that you can advertise on both platforms from one business ad account. And if you’re not actually doing Facebook ads at the moment, and I would definitely suggest you investigate it further, I do provide some free Facebook ad training on my firstname.lastname@example.org forward slash Facebook dash ads.
Sarah Riley: So you can have a look at that training there, and it might encourage you to dive into those two platforms, Facebook and Instagram, and see where it can take you and what it can do for you in terms of Google ads that obviously is available too. I’ve used all of these platforms, and I can tell you that Google ads is much more expensive. And so if you don’t want to have that expense, or if you want to cheap aware of advertising, then Facebook and Instagram are definitely two ways to do it.
But I would urge you if you are thinking of doing the ads and you want to do it yourself, to make sure you do it through a Facebook business account, not from the normal Facebook page that you have your business page or your Facebook profile. They’re two very separate places. So where you run ads from professional ads, low-cost ads with lots and lots of segmentation, potential, and possibilities, that’s in the Facebook ads business platform.
Sarah Riley: And that is very different from where your Facebook business pages and your Facebook profile is. So you can find out more about that from Inspired Courses and the free training there. So go and enjoy that. if you are thinking about going into that. So I think the other thing that I need to share with you as well as the power of sharing a story.
So as you know, are, at the beginning of this episode, I shared with you a little story there about my grandmother and the trees and how they behave depending on the weather that we might be expecting for the year. And so that little story there told you a few things about me and that is that my grandmother was a farmer during the war and that we had a very special relationship and a bond, and she was very knowledgeable.
Sarah Riley: And why is it about things that I’m still using today It was also obviously my intro to this episode, but it was a story. And I hope that that story helped you connect with me and a little bit in a stronger way. So this is what it’s like. When you share your stories with your audience, through your platforms, it allows you to generate that bond, that connection with people so that they may remember you more, or they might share or use the techniques that you are sharing, in their own life.
And they might benefit from it or that they may find your website, be really interested in what you have to say, really connect with you through your story, and then become a paying guest in the future. There are so many benefits to sharing stories in every possible way. Whenever you are online, whether you’re even conversing with your customers through emails or interactions on the phone or whatever it might be.
Sarah Riley: So wherever possible, I would definitely recommend you think about your story and your why, and the reason that you are doing what you’re doing, and that you share that one of the best places to share that is in your about page. It’s the second most visited page, usually on a website.
And why is this? Because people need to know, like, and trust you as a business owner before they can purchase from you? So they come to your home page, they like what they see. They need to know you more to be able to go to the next stage. And that’s why they go to your about page. So you really need to focus on your about page and what you have on it and how you are connecting to your audience through the power of stories. Now, this is something that I am going to focus on more in the future.
Sarah Riley: I’ve been working with my club members on this. We’ve been going through their stories. There’s a technique of how you can get your story, right It doesn’t need to be overwhelming. It can just be really simple and it can be ever so short. It could just be two sentences, or it could be a long, historic story of how you came to be in the position that you’re in.
So it’s a really interesting technique and a tool, particularly when you are getting to the point, wanting to connect to your audience, to get more bookings, to maybe get more signups for your email list, whatever it might be. And it works amazingly well. So I hope you found this episode of use. Certainly, there are so many other things I could share with you around all of this and everything that’s been happening over the last year, but, you know, I could just keep talking forever.
Sarah Riley: And I don’t think that’s wise, you are probably in the car, you’re multitasking, whatever you might be doing. And sometimes it’s really important to have a break and to think about what I’ve just said and how you can apply those things to your own business. So, as I said, I hope you found it useful. Do please leave a review.
I’d love to hear from you. We’ve got a number of different events coming up, and I’m really excited about them because I’m running them in partnership with a number of different experts who are kindly giving their time to help you improve the way you work and what you do with regards to building retreats that benefit your business and to improve your income to max out those midweeks and off-peak, low times when you struggle to get occupancy and also to help to build a following.
Sarah Riley: If you are in the process of thinking about launching a business in this space, but also helping you to understand how you can make an income that might go towards launching a business like this. If you’re not in the position to do that at the moment. And that is a perfectly planned and profitable retreats event, which is happening very, very soon in June, if you want to find out more about that and exactly what the dates are when it’s going to run and how you can get involved, go over to inspired courses.com forward slash retreats.
And the other event that I’m doing that I’m super excited about because I even have journalists who have helped give some amazing insights and inner circle secrets about the power of publicity and attracting the attention of the media, how to do it, how to pitch, how to do your media bio, how to get different elements of media from different places and what you need to consider for each one.
Sarah Riley: Also the timelines, the programs, how does it all work What do you need to know to make it happen And how can you get the contact details of anyone you need to contact who, you know, would be the perfect person to read your pitch All of these things I’m going to be sharing in the amazing powerful publicity event, a master class for anyone who wants to generate more media coverage for their business, even if they don’t like being in the spotlight. So that one is coming up too in June. Again, if you want to get your name on the list and reserve your seat, all you need to do is go over to inspired courses.com forward slash publicity. Now I’m super excited about that because I do think that using the power of publicity is really undervalued by a lot of people. And it can really reap rewards in terms of attracting future guests, but also opening up opportunities that have not been there before.
Sarah Riley: So a few of the examples that I share around somebody who got some fantastic publicity for their site and ended up being featured in a book, some other business who did exactly the same and then was invited by Kohl’s Berg to take part in that advertising campaign and another site that did exactly the same when they were setting up their business, they got in touch with the media and they ended up getting featured on a TV series, which has opened up multiple other business opportunities. And these experts are going to be at this master class, sharing their behind-the-scenes advice, answering your direct questions, and inspiring you to really try to get some powerful publicity for your own business.
And that’s really exciting, and I hope you can join us. So the retreats masterclass is inspired courses.com forward slash retreats. And the powerful publicity masterclass is inspired courses.com forward slash publicity. And I hope you can join us. Both events are intimate.
They’re face-to-face, they will be recorded if you can’t turn it live. But I think it’s really important for you to try to be there in person because it means that you can ask your questions and get inspired exactly when you’re there. And when those thoughts and questions are going through your mind, and that you have the time of those experts, which you would not normally have.
Speaker 2: We’re opening this up for you. And I hope you make the most of this opportunity. It would be great. See there, I hope you can join me in the meantime. Enjoy the weather. Enjoy the coming month. I’ve really looked forward to you joining me again here on the podcast and take care of yourself and stay safe.