The Secret Of Making Guests Like Your Self Catering Home

How To Find The “Secret” To Making Guests Like Your Self Catering Home

Let me start by asking four questions. If you can answer yes to at least two of these questions then I will be wasting your time – you have the secret and can teach me a few tricks. If not, then let’s start….

  • Is your self catering home generating maximum positive attention?

  • Is your home running at 65% and higher occupancy throughout the year?

  • Are you banking regular good amounts of money from happy guests?

Obviously, if you are NOT interested in maximising income then this quiz may not apply.

I believe The Secret is rather a secret recipe; a mix of various ingredients; that, when aligned will set you up for maximum success.

I don’t think it is easy to find the right ingredients. But it can be done. One step at a time.

I assume you’ll agree with me:

Managing/marketing more than 50 homes, in around Cape Town, the Horak Clan should have some insight into which home’s secret ingredients yield the best results.

Today I would like to discuss examples of such self catering homes; homes where we have found the secret mix along with the owner.

When done discussing these homes I’ll move on to the “ingredients” you can use to try and measure or quantify your potential success with your self catering home.


The owner of the first lovely home came to us after a year of making no money.

They used a self catering agency that were more interested in maintaining the lawn, cleaning the pool and nothing else. They banked zero money – while the agents collected maintenance money – useless.

Because they are French speaking their local friend started searching and read all our training material for self-catering owners. He recommended us.

This house has most of the important – secret ingredients. No wonder we made gross sales of nearly R300 000 within 3 months of marketing this home. Have a look at the photos of this home and read the reviews at Airbnb (they are not all 100% but you’ll get the idea)..

To further prove my point:

Just today we received another instant booking on this lovely home. And this is some of what the guest had to say:

Hello! My wife and I will be travelling to your country from Chicago with our two best friends. Your home is easily one of the most beautiful and would love to stay. Thank you very much!

And then another left this home a day or two ago:

“It was like walking into our dream home! An exceptionally warm welcome! Beautifully decorated, stylish and spotlessly clean. A great view and the kids loved the trampoline and jacuzzi! Best few nights sleep I’ve had in months. Will definitely be back.” Adella

Have a look at one photo of French Breeze:

You’ll agree that it’s very attractive. The view, the modern minimalistic interior, the features, the spacious main bedroom with romantic bath, the jacuzzi. The location and exterior are nice – nothing more. There’s even a flat on this plot with a long-term tenant – and it has no negative impact on the occupancy – however, the tenant has been given notice and it will become a 4 bedroom home – sleeping ten.

Newlands Villa:

A similar home with similar ingredients is this 4 bedroom in Newlands (check the features and read the reviews on Airbnb):

Observations on these homes:

  • Both run on occupancy above 65%.
  • Both are making the owner extreme amounts of money.
  • Although we had no idea how to maintain high occupancy, at French Breeze, during winter – we reduced rates – but are slowly tweaking them higher as demand continues to improve. We did this by leaving the rate as initially set and only increase the rate for each extra person after 4. This assists us to cater for smaller parties but if more they pay more. And winter is filling up nicely. If the trend continues we will increase the rates even more.
  • Not only are occupancy and rates much higher on this 3 bedroom home than other nice 4 bedroom homes in the similar area, with similar great views. Some 4 bedrooms, even with pools or that are on the water, runs at much lower occupancy even if some have lower daily rates.
  • We never recommended a jacuzzi – and I would not like to suggest that a jacuzzi is a magic ingredient – I have always proposed a woodfired hot tub but I have had no takers. A jacuzzi (and hot tub) – however, add a fun element or if you want a romantic angle. And during winter you need hot water to attract cold holiday makers.
  • French Breeze is an excellent example where we were going in with very conservative daily rates, hit high occupancy and from this feedback, we can now confidently tweak rates higher. This is in contrast with many owners who expect high daily rates because Europeans can afford to pay more – and then they fail miserably with no money to bank other than high peak when a 3 year old child could rent most Cape Town homes.
  • Newlands Villa: One of our home owners with a similarly beautiful home in Newlands had most of the ingredients for success but, initially, had unrealistic daily rates expectations that pushed her home into the Hazard Zone. Today this home also runs on extremely competitive rates and high occupancy.
  • Aesthetically these homes are extremely photogenic.
  • You’ll agree with me, looking at the above images, that these homes are minimalistic (more on how to create a minimalistic setting).
  • Differentiate (to make it more attractive to a particular target market): You’ll agree that these homes are unique. Even if it’s not to your liking we know that these kinds of homes make a lot more money than any other who cannot differentiate.
  • Both these homes have found the sweet spot or the operating zone instead of the hazard zone.
  • To summarise: If your rules on rates, minimum stay are not competitive you are in the hazard zone. I can add that any rules that restrict guests on age will limit your slice of the pie.

If it’s your intention to maximise your self catering rental income I believe you have two options. You either find ways to differentiate or you don’t. Airbnb and others are leveling the playing field. In the past you may catch ill informed holiday makers but today they can easily compare.

Because of the even playing field you either differentiate – and it brings you high occupancy and higher rates giving you lots of money to bank or you don’t and you compete on rate. If your only differentiation is a competitive rate you are doomed to fail.

Invest in Differentiation today. Relax your rules. Your home is in good hands. The payback will exceed any investment.

Would you like to rank your home?

I have designed a quiz where you can get an idea of how well your self catering setup ranks when it comes to generating proper income. As soon as I get your results I’ll send you the verdict.

Do The Quick Quiz Here

April 14, 2017


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