Bookings for 2012

2012 will be our first "proper" season as we purchased our gites in June 2011 and inherited our bookings from the previous owner. He advertised with HomeAway which seems to be where all of his bookngs came from, no repeat business. We renewed the advert with HA just before Christmas - we have had 3 enquiries since then, one of which has turned into an actual booking. I thought we would at least have had more enquiries. We only have 3 bookings so far for 2012 and two of them are from colleagues! I think our prices are reasonable though I suspect some people are put off by the two gites being attached to each other despite being entirely independant. Would be grateful for any feedback or suggestions on our website which you can find here:

How is everyone else doing with their bookings for 2012?


Thanks Brian, the comment about titles being quite important got me thinking and I've made some updates to the website titles.



You are absolutely right, we have had reasonable success with Chez Nous, but I know not everyone has. That's why it is a bit trial and error, plus if you have more than one property the costs do rack up. I have heard a few times that Owners Direct gets good results, so it might be better to try them out as a starter, if you do want to get more promotion under way.

Yes that is a problem, you can check what keywords are entered into a search engine using the free Google Ads Keyword Tool, then you will know what you should be including on your site to be found. SEO is relatively simple once you know what to do, its mostly about links to your site, but there are other factors such as including the search terms people are using in the correct places on your website; titles are quite important.

It is a science in its own right and can be time consuming, but if you get the basics right you are in with a chance at least.

Interestingly I just discovered that you can advertise on AngloInfo for free if you just go with a basic one line advert. That's where I found the place that we stayed in last year when we were looking for our property so I think it's worth giving it a go :-)

Hi Brian

Thanks for the invite to your FB site - I've applied to join your group.

I think you are right, we need to get ourselves on one of the better French holiday websites. I will investigate the ones you have mentioned - it will be good practice for my French too! Finding the right search terms is an interesting exercise - we like to promote our gites as a great base for walking, cycling and biking and if you enter any of those 3 words with "Finistere" we come out top on Google searches. Soon as you change the combination to be Brittany instead of Finistere, or accommodation or gites Finistere we get lost on the searches.

Thanks for the compliment on the website - I do appreciate the feedback. It has been a great way for us to learn about the area and I have enjoyed doing it.



If anyone would like to add their holiday accommodation to my facebook group they are more than welcome. It's called Holidays in France and was created for a bit of free promotion

With respect to the website for your gite, I am all for everyone having their own and you should. But websites and or blogs need to be promoted and that can take quite a lot of work. To stand a chance of increasing your bookings in the early days you really need to get on one or two of the better websites for French holidays, of which there are many. I am afraid trial and error will determine which ones work best for you and where you are, which does mean you will incur advertising costs but if it gets you booked up for the season then it will be worth it. Some of the better ones are:

Chez Nous

French Connections

Gites NL

I don't think you can afford to have all your eggs in one basket when first starting out. If budget is a problem then you may have to limit yourself to perhaps 2 sites and work on promoting your own website to get on the first page of the search results. That can be easier than you think sometimes, if you can find a term people search for that isn't competitive and set your website up properly.

I had a look at your website, and for an amateur attempt as you called it I think you have done an excellent job. Lots of information, photographs and the rates are very good value, plus it all seems to work OK. So nice job.

Hope that helps


i'd second the wordpress idea yvonne - i used for my website - easy to use and great one to one support

Hi Nancy, What would you ideally like to achieve from the gite in terms of income? Yvonne


Yes, we are just starting. I retired early from work and now am turning to trying to make the gite a more profitable. Not working full time as I did opens more opportunity to direct my attention to it. But, I am very "green"! :)



Hi Jennifer

That is very kind of you, I have shared a link to your FB page - I agree about supporting each other. You live in a lovely area which I believe is one of the most visited in France - fingers crossed for your second year!


Thanks so much, Maria! I know we have to give this a good effort. Your website is very attractive from the get go (and one of the reasons I wanted to have a look at Weebly.)


Hi Nancy, if you're starting from scratch, then may I suggest you go to - it's a very comprehensive platform and very easy to use.

If you're thinking about marketing, then you need to ask yourself, am I serious about turning this gite into an income stream, or do I just want to have it as place for us and run it more like a hobby. The answer will dictate how much investment you make, in terms of both time and money.

Hope that helps you :-)

Hi Nancy

Our website is the first website that either of us have ever done. It was extremely easy and it's free on Weebly. There are lots of people who will tell you have to do your website "properly" i.e. know about code etc or use a professional but we have had very good feedback on our site and we are complete amateurs. So I would say give it a go, start simply and build it up. There is a lot of good advice around on the net. I used to get ideas on what the content should be from Happy to give you feedback if you do give it a go.

As far as Facebook goes, I know some people use it as a marketing tool, how successful it is I can't say. I work on the basis that if my friends share it with their friends maybe someone who was thinking of visiting France may book our gites - you never know.

Bonne chance!


Hi Maria,

We have a gite in Burgundy near Autun (just inside the Morvan Natn'l Park and 40 minutes from Beaune) and also advertise on Home Away (the US site) and have had only a few bookings as well.

I hate to admit this but we don't have a website for our gite. I think the comment about needing one as an additional asset is a good one. I noticed that you used "Weebly" to build yours? Was it an easy process? We "kinda" feel we should have a website but, having little money right now was concerned about the expense. We clearly need to build one and do some of the marketing that has been indicated in this site.

Hate to sound really stupid but don't know the usage, but do people go on Facebook looking for accommodation in a foreign country


Hi Yvonne

Thank you so much for taking the time to look at our website and to give us your feeback.

1) I did start a blog but I thought it was quite boring really. I started of talking about our journey to finding and buying Ty Hir but we don't live onsite so it's difficult to talk about what is happening there and some of the works going on at the moment might scare some people off (though it is all supposed to be done before the start of the spring season I hasn't to add!). Maybe I will resurrect it.

2) I didn't want to make it too wordy as I'm aware that people switch off if there is too much information to wad through. That's why I've got quite a few pages with short paragraphs in the hope that people will choose what interests them - I was hoping that people would put the bbq and garden together and figure out what that means but I guess you are saying that I need to actually go a step further and paint the picture for people rather than hope they would put the puzzle pieces together themselves...

3) Our USP, well it's in a peaceful rural area which is ideal for walking and cycling - we do try to put that across. As I said we aren't onsite so we can't really sell ourselves - there is nothing really unique about us and our location to be honest. I have given this thought in the past especially when writing our home page, I think that sums us up and the people we would like to attract.

4) Hoping to do some video on our next trip in March - unfortunately when it was looking at it's best in summer we had guests (or fortunately you could say!) and everytime we have been out since we have been doing work to improve things.

5) Will look into the online booking system. A bit reluctant to throw even more money at the gites at the moment.

It's a bit difficult to tell averages for bookings per week at the moment but we have had around 1000 views in the last month - I think this may have been skewed as a friend is advertsing it on her website and sent a mailshot and I've pushed it on Facebook.

Thanks again Yvonne, it is very helpful, I wish you every success for 2012 too :-)

Hello Maria, your gites look gorgeous, well done, and good luck for 2012. I run a B&B in Champagne and so if I may I'd like to give you some feedback.

1) I couldn't see a link to a blog. A blog is the best way to get higher rankings in search engines via your keywords, plus it's fun to do.

2) Your text focusses on features, not benefits. When writing text, always ask yourself, "so what". For example: There's a barbeque and a lovely garden - which means that....... (paint a picture of how they'll feel when they're there, experiencing your lovely accommodation

3) Find your USP (Unique Selling Proposition) and emphasise that - it could be that you are English and speak fluent French - or that there's something unique about you and your location. Think about what you love to do/who you'd like to attract as an ideal client, build a picture of that client, and then tailor your words to their needs

4) Some video would be lovely on your site too, so that visitors can experience you before they book.

5) An online booking system is a must these days, in my opinion, and they're so inexpensive now. I recommend for starters

How many visitors are you getting per week?

Hope this helps you Maria, and I wish you every success in 2012!


Hi Danny

Thanks for the feedback, you are right, some people do actually seem to like there being two gites on the site, those tend to be families, personally it would put me off but then I don't have kids ;-)

Glad to hear that you are getting enquiries on your new website - fingers crossed some will come our way! It will be interesting when we are able to see how many viewings the properities are getting on your site. Will see how things go over the next couple of months and will get in touch for some advice if things don't start moving in the next few months :-)

Hi Maria

Shame the bookings aren't flooding in just yet. I think your gîtes look really good, your website is great & your rates are fine.

Some people may be put off by the gîtes being together, but then others may see this as a positive so my advice is don't worry about that as a negative...'accentuate the positive' or something like that so the song went?

We've actually sent several booking enquiries to a very similar place to yours in Brittany in the last week or so (shame we haven't got you any yet), and although Jan is traditionally a busy month for holiday bookings, there's a growing trend of people waiting until later. If you want further feedback or for me to point you in the direction of some rather tedious market research which may or may not help don't hesitate to drop me a line :)