Starting Out - Welcome + Getting Ready For Summer!

*Angie's Insights - our regular blogger Angie Roddick delivers candid insights on life as a Bachcare holiday home owner. As the proud owner of Maytime Cottage in Arrowtown, she has been an owner with Bachcare since June 2015. Please note all views in this blog are Angie's own and not necessarily reflective of those of Bachcare Holiday Homes.

Dear fellow Owner

I’m sure like many of you, this is the time of the year when you start getting excited about your own summer holidays and being able to spend some well-earned time off at your holiday home.  Of course, depending whereabouts in New Zealand your holiday home is located you may visit a number of times throughout the year but the Kiwi summer pilgrimage to holiday destinations is something I’m sure you’ll be part of.  I’ve kept these photos (in the gallery below) on my office wall all year to remind me of summer adventures soon to come, which include swimming in Lake Hayes, runs along the Arrow River and tandem hang-gliding off Coronet Peak (that’s my son nervously watching me make my way down towards the landing area!).

Of course heading in to Summer raises a bit of a ‘to-do’ list such as:

Owner Portal

Did we remember to block out our own holiday dates in the calendar on the Owner Portal?  (I can think of nothing worse as an Owner than missing out on the dates I wanted for myself because I’d forgotten to block them out.  We had a situation one year actually where we had blocked out the weekend around Waitangi Day to have 4 nights at our Arrowtown place and then a family wedding popped up in Hawkes Bay.  Tried to change the dates so we could have our 4 nights around Auckland Anniversary weekend in late January instead but alas a guest had beaten us to it! So no long summer weekend away in Arrowtown for us, sob sob).

Did we book a Spring Clean via the Owner Portal so that’s it’s lovely and clean when we arrive?

Do we need to do any DIY or book tradespeople whilst we are there on holiday? (I know my summer job is putting the shade-sail back up and putting a coat of lacquer on the wooden window frames – damn I hope that isn’t going to take up too much of my holiday!)

When we invested in our Arrowtown place, a big motivator for choosing to list it with Bachcare was that we wanted to make sure we got to use it when we wanted but also to share the house and the gorgeous Central Otago region with others.  So we are very careful to ensure that as soon as the advance booking calendars open, we get in and block out the proposed dates we want.  It’s absolutely worth doing this even if you then change your mind and then unblock the dates because the likelihood of someone else booking up that time will be pretty high I’m sure.

Summer holidays for me also provide a great opportunity to reflect on the year that has gone and part of that reflection usually includes a review of our financial situation.  As I mentioned above, one of my motivators for listing the house with Bachcare was to enable other people to enjoy it with very minimal or no risk at all to my investment.  Managing guest bookings, maintenance and everything else that goes with renting a holiday home neither appealed to me to do, nor were practical for me to do given that I live nowhere near the house.

I can’t deny though that another motivator was financial.  The idea of being able to have holidaymakers enjoy my house whilst contributing towards my mortgage and house running expenses such as rates, insurance etc was indeed incredibly appealing.  So over the summer holidays, I’ll be looking at how well the property has done this year financially and asking myself (and possibly the Bachcare Support Office team) some questions about its performance...

Was the guest revenue the same, better or not as good as last year?  What factors might have contributed to the revenue difference this year?  What could we do next year to improve this?  Did we get to use the house as much as we wanted?  Am I keeping the property up to the standard of other holiday rental properties in the region? What were the utilities expenses like this year compared to last and how could we better manage those?  And what about the rental rates – have we got those right?

I’m not sure about you, but I find the dashboard in the Owner Portal incredibly helpful and I really do put the Bachcare Support Office team to work to maximise our investment.  For example, we often talk about such things as:

·       what’s happening in the region from a Real Estate perspective?

·       what is Bachcare noticing with regard to bookings in that region?  Is the booking of our property keeping pace with others?

·       are the rental rates appropriate?  Have we captured all of the special events and hence lifted the rates accordingly for those dates?

Back in around April/May of this year I thought ski season bookings seemed slow and light.  The Bachcare team told me that this did seem to be the trend in the region and that the previous ski season hadn’t been a great one and was slow to start.  As a result they had a number of somewhat unhappy holidaymakers whom had booked to go to Queenstown to ski but arrived to a lack of snow which is pretty unfortunate and an expensive holiday to leave from without satisfying ones quest for skiing.  This was most certainly a factor influencing the bookings for the 2017 ski season.  So as an owner that piece of information made me feel a little more relaxed that it wasn’t just our house! 

It is a strange concept but you do have to think of your property as a competitor to other holiday home listings so thinking about ways to differentiate yourself and keeping an eye on the competition is a key part of succeeding in the competitive holiday home rental market.

Which brings me to an interesting topic – that of private holiday home rentals.  For me, as mentioned earlier, this was never an option as it wasn’t at all practical.  However, regardless of whether I was local or not, I’m very happy paying Bachcare a 20% commission to manage my listing, deal with all the guest bookings and money handling, the meet-and-greets, the easy and not-so-easy requests when guests are there (in fact I take my hat off to our local Property Manager Sara who has had some challenging requests at times), and dealing with tradespeople when needed. 

Do-It-Yourself Musings...

I do have friends though who manage their properties themselves (on the likes of AirBnB or bookabach websites).  I think every time I chat to them, there’s been some hassle to deal with in managing their holiday home.  Hopefully one day they’ll believe me when I say there’s an easier and better way – namely Bachcare!  Some of you may have seen the recent housefire tragedy at a private AirBnB rented property in Sumner, Christchurch.  Some offshore based guests had rented the property and weren’t familiar with dealing with fireplaces and incorrect disposal of fire ashes was the cause of the fire. When I read this in the news I thought to myself that this should never be possible at our place because the local Bachcare Property Manager would cover fireplace safety in the meet-and-greet as well as there being information left at the house for the guest’s reference throughout their stay.

The Health and Safety at Work Act 2015 is quite a complicated piece of legislation to navigate, but is entirely relevant to holiday home rentals.  I feel confident that the Bachcare team have done the legwork for me on this and have the steps in place to ensure that all guests will remain healthy and safe at our house – phew!

Well I hope you’ve found some good tips or reminders here of things to think of as you approach your summer holiday.  I mentioned above about differentiating your property and keeping up with the competition.  I’ll be back again next month to share with you my thoughts on those little things you can do to maximise the performance of your holiday home.

Until then, happy summer holiday planning!  May the sun shine! 

Angie Roddick.png

Author: Angie RoddickAs a marketer with global corporations for the last 12 years, I was buried in planning processes, product forecasting, budget management, execution plans and corporate jargon (or ‘corp-speak’ as I called it).  My aim now is to work a little less hard, spend more time with the family and contribute to a different part of life, that of one’s leisure time.  When I’m not chipping in with an Owner perspective for Bachcare, I’m still getting my dose of marketing in some other projects, spending lots of time being a ‘sports side-line Mum’ and escaping Auckland to enjoy the delights of the Central Otago region.