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Bulgaria Property Owners: Rentals

It has recently been reported by Holiday Rentals that Bulgaria is the best destination in Europe for a self catering holiday. Apart from cheap property rentals, the cost of living is staggeringly low and won't make a dent in your visitors' holiday cash. More good news is that almost a quarter of all overseas holidays are taken in privately owned properties and more than 70% of these are booked online.

This is great news for owners of holiday property in the country. Nonetheless, those looking to rent their property need to consider today's economic climate and compete strongly in order to get rentals. The tourist business is certainly facing challenges this year.

We have heard from some owners blaming their lack of bookings on "no cheap flights". A lack of cheap flights has always been the case with Bulgaria, this hasn't changed and cannot be blamed for low rental bookings. What has changed this year is what people can afford and increasing demands for quality and value-for-money.

Property owners who have been active in the holiday rental market for some time are holding steadfast and taking creative pro-active measures to get more business. The fundamental need to obtain rentals to provide some return still remains.

Those looking at Bulgaria for their self catering holiday are not necessarily looking for the lowest price available but want a good deal and value for money. Property owners should make sure they are competitive and offer something that others do not. Quest Bulgaria discusses some positive steps which owners can take to attract more rentals.

Be creative

This year, to get more holiday rentals, it is all about creativity and being inventive with things which are relevant to potential holidaymakers. You need to stand out from thousands of others and offer more to visitors than your competitors.

Currency. If you are looking to attract mainly British tourists, then why not set your rates in sterling? This will make your property attractive to them as there will be no worries on exchange rates. You could set an all inclusive price too, including such things as electric. This creates confidence in the buyers' mind and lets them know that you are doing something to help them in the current crisis.

Discounts. These are much in evidence this season. Generally discounts are only offered for early bookings or for periods outside the peak weeks. However, there are some owners who are now offering discounts for July and August. Check to see which of your competitors are offering discounts and set your prices accordingly.

The Essentials. Don't miss the essentials at your property. English books, multi-language cd's, microwave, dishwasher, washing machine, tumble dryer, information packs, emergency phone numbers, secure parking.. these are all what people going on self catering holidays expect these days.

Unique Selling Points. These really need to be at the forefront to highlight what is different about a holiday at your property.

Special incentives such as free airport transfers or a case of good Bulgarian wine may sway guests to choose your property. If you offer freebies, such as a push chair to EU standards or bicycles, then say so. When offering a special deal which provides extra value for money to visitors, let them know it is 'free' or 'worth 50 euros'.

Owners can take the worry out of their holiday for visitors by joining forces with others to provide a complete package from the moment they land to the moment they go home. Hook up with other local businesses - airport pickup, restaurants, hotels, activities - to offer the complete package to your guests. Get those businesses to offer something to your visitors, perhaps a free glass of wine at the local restaurant with their meal.

Another example: make a deal with a local taxi company for your guests, to offer them one trip of a round distance of, say, 50km every day, either day time or evening. Include this in your pricing, then you can advertise free taxi included every day. But don't leave this as just a feature, tell them the benefit.. no worries about hiring a car, driving in a foreign country or drink driving.

Price. You don't want to undervalue your property but you do want the bookings. Owners often compare their own property with another similar local one. However, owners should be comparing not only within the Bulgarian market but with the European wide holiday market.

Look at your prices and don't be greedy. A quick search on the internet showed a property here in Bulgaria at 360 euros a week, compared with a similar property in Crete at only 240 euros.

Undercut your competitors prices if you need to. It is better to have the property full than empty as your costs remain nearly the same whether you have renters in or not. Additionally the property itself will benefit from being used and you may get good referrals.

Internet Site. If you have some great comments from visitors in your guest book, add them to your site. A recommendation from others could just tip the balance in your favour. Take a critical look at your internet site; better still get a friend to do this.

Do you sell on benefits or features? Visitors do not want features, they want what benefit a feature will give them. Re-read your site and see if you only give visitors features. If this is the case, rewrite with the benefits instead.

Emphasise how cheap their holiday will be when they get here as this is one of the major advantages to a Bulgarian holiday compared with elsewhere.

Advertising. It is no good having the most wonderful website in the world if people cannot find it or do now know about it.

It is time to think carefully about advertising and marketing this year. It is the one thing on which you cannot afford to cut costs. Those who are experienced in the game know the importance of continuing to be noticed, especially online. With 70% booking online advertising on the web is critical and these days is not expensive.

Owners can advertise on at least two rentals sites for less than one week's rent. You may get decent repeat business but you still need to advertise to maintain a supply of new business.

Target Market. Who are your clients? Can you target new markets? There is great potential outside of the British holidaymakers. Central European tourists are coming to Bulgaria in increasing numbers, so it may well be worth targeting this market.

Alternatively, why not attack the local Bulgarian market. You could benefit from the fact that many Bulgarians holiday in their own country. Owners could have their site translated into another language or do it for themselves if they speak a second language. A word of warning, avoid Google translate for languages as the translation leaves a great deal to be desired!

Set the scene for a year-round market to increase the number of letting weeks by informing potential guests about off-peak activities and things to see and do.

Booking Process. Be geared up to respond to enquiries - and quickly. Holidaymakers these days expect a fast response, at least within 24 hours. If you do not respond quickly and correctly, they will give up on you.

In today's market there is no excuse losing business because you failed to respond. Some people hate email, so make sure there is a phone contact too.

The Property. Take a good hard look at your property and assess it honestly. Then write up your blurb using catchy phrases without being untruthful. Whilst good images are always important, video is playing its part in attracting the customer this year.

The Keys. The first step to your visitors' holiday is how they pick up the keys. Think about holidays you have experienced when you've been worried sick about arriving. You need to make sure this part of their holiday experience is seamless. If this part fails, then the whole holiday could become a nightmare for them and you.

In today's economic climate, owners need to be prepared to be pro-active and put in the effort to please the holidaymaker at every stage through their holiday.

You may not be the cheapest but if you go for quality, service, attention to detail and offer something different, you'll be sure to have a successful season.