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10 tips for running a gite business in France

Man walking along a cobbled street lined with pretty houses where roses grow up the wall in the Loire Valley

The last few years have seen unprecedented numbers of buyers seeking homes in France and particularly homes that can be run as a gite business.

It seems that TV shows like Place in the Sun and Escape to the Chateau have fuelled the desires of many Brits to give up the rat race and escape to the sun, run their own gite business and live the good life. Here are some top tips for how to run a gite successfully.

Location, location, location

It’s probably the number one thing to consider when you’re thinking about running a gite business. Are you somewhere people want to visit and can they reach you easily? Think about transport – are you near enough to a ferry or airport that guests can comfortably get to where you are. How far is it to amenities, shops and restaurants? Most guests will want to be able to at least have access to restaurants within walking or easy cycling distance.

Be objective when you’re searching

You need to think of your property as a product, not just as a home. It’s so easy to fall in love with a huge property, romantic ruins and sprawling outbuildings you just know will make fabulous gites. But, if they’re going to take years to do up and cost a small fortune to renovate to a good enough standard, is this really the right property? You might be better off finding something that’s less work, less expensive to do up and ready to market sooner, especially if you’re dependent on an income generating gite.

Make sure there’s a market for your gite

Make sure the location you’re looking at isn’t already saturated with gites, you’ll be making life harder for yourself right from the off. If you’re moving to a little village and there are already a high number of holiday homes for hire, you might be better off looking elsewhere.

Check the competition

Pretty courtyard garden with lots of flowers and bushes and a table and chairs - so enticing

If there are already holiday homes in the area you’re considering, try to find out which are the most successful – and why. Book a stay at successful gites so you can experience what makes guests so positive about them and see if you can apply what you discover to your own gite.

Know your client

What are you offering? Family friendly accommodation? Close to the seaside, sports facilities, nature parks, fishing lakes? Will any one type of guest be more lucrative than another? Can any type of guest be out of season which means you may have more chance of renting out weeks all year round? These are all things to consider to ensure you’re buying the right property, in the right location.

Start your business plan as soon as possible

Don’t wait until every T is crossed and every I is dotted. Start your business plan as soon as you can. Register your gite, start a list of to do’s for how to market your gite, you don’t have to wait until open door day, as soon as you have an idea for when you’ll be ready for business – it’s time to get the ball rolling.

Marketing is critical

When it comes to getting people to find you so that they can book your gite, there’s work to be done. Register with a good agency (like French Connections!), get a website, create a social media presence. Facebook, Twitter and Instagram are the big 3 and if you’re going to do all three – beware it can take time because the most important thing is to be consistent, post every day or every other day. You might be better picking just one platform and working at it. Advertise online with websites that have an audience that matches the one you seek.

Hobbit style wooden house with a round wooden door

Take feedback seriously

Lots of people invite friends and family to stay when they first open. This is fine if you think they will be comfortable being honest instead of what normally happens, they love everything because they love you! Why not run a contest to offer a free weekend to strangers in return for honest feedback – it creates a buzz and you’ll get the truth.

Network

Link up with your local tourist office to see if you can be on their list of recommendations. If you’re in a small village, make sure the neighbours know about you, they might have family and friends who want to stay in the area. Join Facebook groups that might be able to help you market your gite.

Stand out from the crowd

Work out what you’re offering that differentiates you from the rest. What have you got to offer guests that other gites don’t? Swimming pool? Near a chateau that’s a popular visit? Why not link up with them to offer guests a favourable rate?  Hot tub in the garden? Near a restaurant of renown – would they be up for offering your guests a free aperitif. Not everyone will be open to doing something different to work with you to make you stand out from the crowd – but it’s worth trying.

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