The secret to repeat guests in a holiday cottage

15th October 2019

54% of our 2019 guests have booked with us before.

There you go. A simple stat which we are very proud of. And while many agencies will share impressive reviews and ‘would you recommend us’ and ‘would you book again’ percentage scores, here is some tangible action rather than intent.

So what is the secret? What do we do differently in a massively competitive market, where the likes of AirBnB and have a significant presence?

The commoditisation of cottages

First a potted history of self-catering in Cornwall. Some 10 to 15 years ago, numerous holiday letting agencies operated across Cornwall, each with local areas, some county-wide with niches and specialisms; local knowledge and a great reputations. Then mergers and acquisitions have created agencies with 5,000 or 10,000 plus properties, and the rise of online travel agents (OTA’s), such as AirBnB, Holiday Lettings/TripAdvisor and HomeAway (acquired by Expedia) have turned the industry into a numbers game, at the expense of guests. Volume vs customer care; but that’s another article.

The reality is, unlike for hotels, letting holiday cottages is a local business. Local knowledge, local suppliers and an informed, working knowledge of each cottage.

Live like a Local

The AirBnB strapline has certainly resonated with the public. And with a reservations team, marketing and local portfolio managers, we have the network to help our guests enjoy their stay. The nearest petrol station or cash machine, mobile phone signal, roadworks and events which guests could be impacted by near the holiday cottage and so on. Our team visit the properties so can talk accurately and knowledgeably about Cornwall as they walk the coast path, chill out on the beaches and eat in the restaurants and beach cafes. That creates confidence and trust.


The moment of truth. When a guest walks into their cottage and has the reassurance that it is everything they hoped it would be. Over the summer I was in a property during a changeover when I was approached by a German couple staying in a similar property nearby. They explained they were looking for somewhere to stay next year after being disappointed by the standard of cleaning and customer service in their current stay.

How many guests that stay in a property, are disappointed by standards, and simply book elsewhere in the future? Or have their complaint drowned in the volume of an impersonal call centres?
Cleaning standards and property condition are key to our guest experience.

There when you need us

With approaching 200 houses and apartments, that’s a lot of boilers and heating, wi-fi, locks, ovens, electrical appliances and plumbing to potentially go wrong. So we become the sixth (or seventh or eighth?) emergency service for our guests during their stay. We have numerous anecdotes where, when something goes wrong, Beach Retreats will work to quickly resolve problems with the owner and a network of suppliers and property managers, minimising disruption to the guest. After all, this is the guest’s holiday – their precious time with family and friends – so it’s vital to be there to help during their stay.

So there it is; local expertise, trust and support. Speak to one of our portfolio managers about how we can generate high levels of occupancy and repeat guests for your holiday cottage in Cornwall.