Go to the top of the page
Call us +44 (0)208 123 5767      Email us info@holidirect.com
Private holiday homes to rent direct from owners
  • Beach holidays
  • Ski holidays
  • City Breaks
  • Countryside getaways

Advice for owners

Maximise your advert potential

Dealing with bookings yourself is easier than you think and can be very cost-effective, but here are a few pointers to help you on your way.

Upload the best possible photos. Photos are usually the first element of the advert seen by holidaymakers.

List your property's unique selling points. Look at the competition and note what differentiates your property from others in the eyes of holidaymakers and make sure you make those elements visible on your advert. Be concise in your descriptions to maintain the interest of the reader, and avoid typing in all uppercase - it's difficult to read and looks like you're shouting!

Be open to the possibility of renting for 10 nights or 5 nights rather than a full week or fortnight, especially in low season.

Try and accommodate guests' needs if they request something extra like a highchair, a stairgate or bath safety mat.

Offer to arrange a taxi/transfer from the airport for your guests.

Update your prices and availability regularly.


Your aim is to try and convert all enquiries into concrete bookings and gain some revenue on your holiday home. The enquiries you receive about your holiday home will vary considerably, but each enquirer is a potential guest, so be sure to treat them as such. Think about your own expectations as a holidaymaker and respond to them as you would expect to be replied to.

Guests may ask if they can bring their pets, or for details regarding wheelchair accessibility, distance to the beach, restaurants and shops etc. Think about how you are going to deal with these queries and have plenty of extra information to give about your property.

Respond quickly to enquiries in a professional and enthusiastic manner - check your email regularly. Holidaymakers often send enquiries to multiple owners so your chance of receiving a booking is greater if you are the first to respond.

Be as flexible and helpful as possible when dealing with enquiries. Have plenty of extra information to give about your property.

Keep your availability calendar up to date to avoid enquiries about weeks that are already booked, but if this should happen before you've had a chance to update your calendar accordingly, suggest alternative dates.

Confirmed Bookings

Once you have agreed on prices and dates you should send guests your booking contract immediately, either by email or post, and request that they return the signed contract (with their booking deposit if not already received) to secure the booking. This outlines clearly the methods involved in the booking process, from confirmation through to the return of the keys. Owners should also make their cancellation policy clear.

Inform your guests when balance payment and security deposit is due. Be precise on the payment amounts and deadline dates that you set. You should give your guests a breakdown of the payment required and a list of payment methods that you can accept, along with your account details or address to send cheques to, etc.
Normal procedure is to ask for the balance between 6 and 10 weeks prior to guest arrival. Security deposit amount depends on your property and the contents, is generally between £100 - £500. This refundable deposit will cover you for any damages that occur during your guests visit. Ensure that you send them the money on the date specified in the contract. Accept that small breakages of glasses or plates can occur during your guests stay and there is no need to charge for these.

Once you receive full payment you can send instructions on how and when to collect the key, and the address and directions to your property to the guests.


Bank transfers are the easiest method to take payments. You will need to give your name, account number, sort code, IBAN and SWIFTBIC numbers. Tell your guests that they will have to cover the bank charges for a foreign transfer.

Another option is using PayPal which is an online system allowing transfers between two online accounts. Your guest doesn't need to have a PayPal account, they can pay by credit card online using the PayPal system. This is an instant method of money transfer, however, you will be charged for these transactions.
Once you receive the payment and it is fully cleared, it is advisable and polite to send your guests a receipt.


You should set out your cancellation policy when it comes to cancellations and refunds clearly, in the booking contract.
Most people have a legitimate reason for cancelling their holiday such as a sickness or family issue. It is therefore wise to handle this with consideration and perhaps offer them alternative dates. If they have no choice but to cancel the booking then try and refund them as much as you can afford. Try and refund as quickly as possible and ask for verification that the money has being received.
Most homeowners have a time scale for refunds set out in the contract, e.g. a cancellation made up to 21 days before rental period the guests are responsible for paying 60% of the rental price. Remember to free up the cancelled dates on your calendar to try and re-book for that week and you can always refund more of the payment if you manage to get another client.

Handing Over the Keys

If you are living in the area, you may wish to meet guests to hand over the keys yourself. If you have employed a property management service, they will generally offer a key holding/meet and greet service.
If you are not available, ask the maid or a local contact that you trust to welcome your guests on arrival and hand over the keys. It is generally wise to leave a set of keys with a local in the area in case a guest gets locked out.
Key safes are also a workable option. Remember: Do not hand over your keys until full payment has been made for the property and all funds have been cleared.

Dealing with complaints

Dealing with complaints is an area that many property owners find difficult. In our experience, the majority of complaints made relate to poor communication or misleading information in the property advert.

To minimise the chance of complaints:

Have a concise booking contract in place
Ensure your advert information and images are up to date and reflect the property accurately
Include details of any 'house rules' in your property advert
Ensure that your property is fully cleaned before guests' arrival

Good communication with guests will ensure that expectations are fulfilled. Give your guests a contact number if they have any problems while on holiday. If you can deal with a complaint and resolve any problems while a guest is still on holiday in your property, they are more likely to be satisfied.

If you DO receive a complaint from a guest:

Deal with the complaint as quickly and efficiently as possible
Do not take the complaint personally, try to look at it from the guest's point of view
Deal with the complaint calmly, and as fairly as possible

If you get recurring complaints about the same issue, ensure that your make the necessary changes to your property, or to your advert.