Gitesearch has been up and running for over a year now, so I thought it was about time to catch up with SFN member Sarah Patterson for an update. Sarah says, “2014 was a great year for GiteSearch, we launched at the start of the year started and were thrilled with the tremendous reaction. In a market place dominated by ‘big players’ our philosophy of being friendly, approachable, transparent and providing an easy to use website seems to have struck a chord with owners.
We've received some great feedback along the way and as we promised, we've listened and then reacted. We've recently made big changes to GiteSearch and we have really improved our offering for both owners and holidaymakers.
Throughout 2014 we saw a steady rise in the number of visitors to GiteSearch. We realise that building up a website of this nature and getting our name known in the market place requires a significant investment in time and money. We want to get it right. We're committed to this investment and will continue to listen to your feedback.
We believe our work in 2014 has produced a website that meets the needs of gite owners and our aim in 2015 is to concentrate on establishing GiteSearch as a key player in the marketplace. With this in mind, we've extended our free trial period until February 2016. This represents a major financial commitment on our part that we believe will be well worth the investment in the long run.
This means that adding your property on GiteSearch as a Featured listing is entirely free until February 2016!
GiteSearch exceeded our expectations last year and this year we want to do even better - more properties, more attractions, more visitors, more enquiries and more bookings!"
Renting out a gîte or two can be a great way to fund your French lifestyle or simply make your property pay its way. Running a gîte sounds simple and conjures up images of lazy days spent by the pool, chatting to your guests over a chilled glass of wine. But gîte owners will tell you that the reality is somewhat different; long days spent cleaning and bed-making, guests arriving late, extra guests, unexpected guests, endless maintenance and perhaps, trickiest of all, anxiously waiting for the bookings to come in!
Getting bookings is a key part of your business strategy and you need to be proactive. This means getting the word out and advertising. And, this can mean putting your hand in your pocket at a point when cash-flow is tight.
The ideal advertising option would be a sort of ‘try before you buy’ deal so when SFN member Sarah Patterson got in touch to tell me about a new site for gîte owners I was keen to find out more.
As a French property owner herself, Sarah knows about the problems that owners face as she explains, “I found that using some of the bigger and better known rental sites meant that whilst I was getting bookings, the charges kept creeping up. I also felt that I was just a statistic and that the overall customer service experience was not great. I wanted a more personal approach so I was delighted to take on the role of Marketing Manager for GîteSearch and be in a position to provide my customers with a tailor made approach.
GîteSearch is totally independent and we are proud of that. We’re very keen to work with the gîte owners and take on board their feedback and insight. Our aim is to create a product that works for them which is why we don’t just have a database of gîtes. We know holiday makers would rather visit recommended places and attractions so we include these in our site. This means people can book their holiday secure in the knowledge that there are tried and tested attractions in the area.”
"Sarah and her team also understand the issues faced by both sides, “We’re a small team and although based in the UK, many of us own property in France. We have all spent many holidays in self catering gîtes across the many regions of France. We’ve stayed in stunning gîtes that we didn’t want to leave, gîtes where we were made to feel like part of the family and in gîtes that were not quite as described! We’ve experienced both the good and the bad sides of running gîtes. We can relate to the daily problems that owners face and the minefield involved in marketing. We understand what’s important: excellent customer service, complete honesty and a simple, easy-to-use website.”
To prove that they can achieve results and whilst they continue to build a reputation in the market place they are offering property owners the fantastic opportunity to list their gîte/s entirely free of charge until February 2016.
Sarah explains, “After February 2016 we hope that we will have made a good enough impression for owners to continue with a (paid for) ‘Featured’ listing and any owners who choose not to do this, can continue to list their property on the site with a free 'Basic' listing.”
This is a fabulous opportunity for members to list their properties so I suggest you pop over to GîteSearch and get those bookings coming in!"