Here’s your holiday cottage marketing plan in 5 simple steps

This 5-step guide shows holiday cottage owners, holiday park marketers, B&B owners and holiday lets how to unlock the benefits of an effective marketing plan with multi-channel strategies and tactics.

As the person responsible for getting bookings for your holiday property, you will need a well-structured marketing plan.

This will help you attract visitors to your website, calls and emails to your enquiries team (even if that’s just you) and bookings.

Without a detailed plan, you can say goodbye to loyalty, web traffic and revenue.

The below marketing plan is a 5-step process that focuses on acquiring new leads, building loyalty, converting enquiries and generating bookings.

5-step holiday cottage marketing plan
Click to download your Holiday Cottage Marketing Plan booklet

Biggest challenges for tourism

Whether you’re new to letting a holiday property or have been in the tourism sector for decades, you will know one of the biggest challenges is getting found online.

The giant online travel agents (OTAs) such as AirBnB,, and Sykes, can make your holiday properties seem invisible.

Their multi-million pound advertising budgets and high profile online campaigns make it near impossible to compete.

So most holiday cottage companies finally give in and list on third party sites. But with ever increasing costs, is it time to get more creative and take back control to generate your own bookings?

The time to act is now

The dream is: no more paying big commissions, no more restrictive contracts and no more losing control of your availability.

Instead, you put together a clear and effective marketing plan that connects with the right people at the right time.

This helps you connect directly with guests, answer their questions, and add value at every stage so they keep coming back. A good marketing plan that attracts guests is essential for holiday cottage owners who want to go it alone.

So why doesn’t everyone do it?

Because they’re scared. They’re scared of getting lost online, of missing out on bookings and of failing.

You dreamed of owning and managing your own holiday cottage business, but you aren’t a qualified marketer. You’re already wearing fifteen different hats including Human Resources, Housekeeping and Maintenance.

The thing is, you don’t need to be a qualified marketer to do it well.

Guests choose to come and stay with you because you make them feel special; you remember their names, you personalise the welcome pack for them, you share personal recommendations based on their interests and likes. You’re already doing great marketing, whether you know it or not.

You just need a template to follow that shows you what to do before they get in touch.

And that’s why you’re here.

So let’s get started with your 5-step holiday cottage marketing plan:

This plan is designed to make it easy for you to make changes today that will improve your marketing. It takes effort and may take a while to see results, but everything you do here will help build a strong foundation for your holiday business.

1. Know your audience

I know, I know. You hear this everywhere. But there’s a very good reason every marketer wants you to be specific about your target guest.

“When you speak to everyone, you speak to no-one.”

– Seth Godin

If you try to attract absolutely everyone to your holiday property, you will succeed in connecting with absolutely nobody.

Imagine you’re looking for somewhere to stay for your next short break. You browse online, check out a few websites.

Accommodation A describes their cottages with bland details: 3 bedroom, great views, well-equipped kitchen, parking, near to village amenities.

Accommodation B describes their cottage in words you can relate to: comfortable beds so you will sleep like a log after a day’s sea air and coast walking; stunning views across an area of outstanding natural beauty where you may spot hen harriers and buzzards; outdoor space includes a fully furnished decked area to enjoy dark sky star-gazing.

Which is more appealing?

By understanding what your guest are looking for when they visit, you can tailor the language used on your website, on social media and in other communications so it resonates at every stage.

Start by defining your target audience:

  • What age is the person booking the holiday? (eg. mid to late thirties)
  • Who will be in the party? (two adults plus two young children under the age of 5)
  • What are the guests’ hobbies and interests? (nature, good food, photography)
  • What level of disposable income do your guests have? (are they looking for high end restaurants and adrenalin experiences? Or prioritising free activities such as rock-pooling and hiking, taking their own picnic out for the day?)
  • Where do your guests live? (on the coast? Inner city?)

The more detail you can provide the better.

With a clear picture of your target audience, every part of your marketing becomes easier.

What photos will you feature on your homepage?

How about creating some exciting items to upsell at time of booking?

Are there any partnerships you could explore with local attractions to add value?

Use the right language and your guests will feel you are talking directly to them at every stage of their booking journey.

2. Set your goals

Yes you want more bookings.

But where will those bookings come from? How many bookings do you need? How much more web traffic will help you achieve those bookings?

Poorly defined goals might be:

  • get more bookings
  • get more web traffic
  • get more enquiries

The following example goals are much easier to focus on and to achieve:

  • generate five bookings for peak season from our current email list to achieve revenue of £5,000 by the end of the month
  • get 1,000 people to visit our website from our social media channels over the next month
  • generate 25 enquiries from families with young children looking to book a short break before the schools break up in July

The more specific goals are clear and help direct your actions in the next stage.

How to set your holiday cottage marketing goals:

  • Consider revenue goals

What figure do you want to earn in bookings (realistically) in your chosen time frame? How is that revenue made up (i.e. short breaks, long weekends)?

  • How many of each type of break do you need in order to achieve that target revenue?

Break down your target into the different types of break so you can see how many two-night, three-night and seven-night holidays you need enquirers to book to hit your target

  • How many enquiries do you need?

If you know you normally convert 20% of all enquiries into bookings, you need five times as many enquiries to reach your goal.

  • How much web traffic do you need to generate those enquiries?

Using the data in your Google Analytics, write down how many enquiries you receive per thousand web visitors. If you get ten enquiries for every 1,000 users, you can determine the number of visitors you need to hit target.

Don’t stress too much about getting everything just right; wasting hours tweaking the numbers won’t help you reach those revenue goals. Jot down some rough figures and use those as a goal for the next step.

3. Choose strategies

A marketing strategy is a plan of action designed to promote and sell a product or service.

Examples of marketing strategies include:

Link back to the goals you set in Step 2 to get clarity.

Before you decide on your strategy, let’s look at the samples above in more detail.

Social media marketing for holiday cottage businesses

If social media is part of your strategy (which I’m guessing it is), consider the latest trends shaping how people are consuming social media.

Biggest social media trends in 2023 include:
  • the popularity of short videos – as seen in the rapid growth of TikTok
  • authenticity – keep it real, not too polished and perfect
  • content marketing – educate and entertain your audience to keep them engaged
  • shining a light on your guests by highlighting guest feedback, sharing guest stories and thanking guests for their support (all with permission, of course!)

Email media marketing for holiday cottage businesses

Email marketing is still one of the most effective tools for generating revenue. It’s up to 40 times more effective than social media at converting, making it a hidden gem in your marketing toolkit.

You can get started with a free email marketing tool such as Mailchimp, Constant Contact and AWeber.

READ MORE: See our comprehensive guide to getting started with your first email marketing campaign.

Search engine optimisation for holiday cottage businesses

Getting found online is one of the biggest challenges for most holiday businesses we talk to. But there are ways you can improve the visibility of your website:

  • speed up your website with a caching plugin
  • set-up your Google Business profile
  • fix the title tags on your website
  • update your FAQs to capture searches for the biggest queries
  • add internal links to your most viewed web pages – this encourages people to stick around for longer, clicking through to more relevant content they’ll love
  • guest post on other relevant websites – you may already know of some local businesses or attractions that your guests visit. Contact them and offer to create some great new content for their website (or join Visit Britain’s Content Producer Network)
  • Content marketing for holiday cottage businesses

Content marketing is all about the law of attraction – create content that you audience want to read and they will find you and stick around.

It helps if you write headlines that grab their attention, but a well-planned content marketing plan is the cornerstone of many holiday companies’ excellent SEO.

4. Implement

So now you know:

  • what you’re trying to achieve in the coming months
  • who you’re targeting in your marketing communications
  • what strategies you’re going to use

All you need to do now is exactly what you’ve outlined.

For each strategy, there will be a list of to-dos.

Maybe you need to create a content calendar for your social media.

Perhaps you need to draft an email marketing plan for the next few months.

Or maybe you will begin working on creating some attractive packages that your target audience will instantly love.

Whatever has to be done, you are now in a great place to do it. Take some time to jot down the individual actions relevant to each strategy, then timetable in who will do what and when.

5. Measure

As with all marketing activity, it’s essential that you track what’s working.

The joy of online marketing is that you’re able to see where your traffic and bookings are coming from through online tools such as Google Analytics.

Google Analytics set-up

If you haven’t already please set this up on your site as a matter of urgency – by adding a small piece of code to your website, you will be able to see:

  • where your web visitors are coming from (Google search, social media, referral sites, paid ads, etc.)
  • what they’re reading (the top content on your website)
  • where they’re leaving your website (the pages where most people drop off your site)
  • what search terms they’re using to find you
  • how long they’re spending on each page
  • and so much more

If you’re not sure whether Google Analytics is installed on your site, Monster Insights have created a handy guide, or if you don’t know where to start, check out this quick guide from Google.

Measure everything

If you’ve got this far, you’re way ahead of your competition. Well done!

By keeping an eye on the data, you will be able to continuously improve your digital marketing, bringing more website visitors, generating more enquiries and securing more bookings.

Keep in mind those key goals you set in Step 2 – you may find it helpful to write them out or print them and stick them to a noticeboard in your office. That way, all your online activity is focused and deliberate – no more lost hours scrolling through Pinterest or watching funny videos on TikTok…

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