It seems 2014 is the year to visit Scotland. As part of the HomeComing 2014 celebration, this year sees our northern neighbours take to the world stage as host of the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, the Ryder Cup in Perthshire, and a plethora of festivals and activities across the land including the internationally famous Edinburgh Military Tattoo and Edinburgh Festival in August.
And so, this week as we continue our series on HomeAway’s holiday home owners – by introducing you to Andrew Hinds, owner of Marine Lodge in North Berwick. One of the most desirable Scottish seaside resorts and an area famed for its bird sanctuary on The Bass Rock, it’s just 250 yards away from West Links golf course, one of the world’s premier fairways where you might feel the spirit of old and young Tom Morris and share the golfing experience enjoyed by Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicklaus and Phil Mickleson.
Here Andrew shares his holiday home owner tips on how to provide your visitors with the very best experience on their holiday.
How did you decide to buy or own a holiday rental home?
Andrew Hinds: We were looking for the ideal property for over two years. My wife (Joanna) and I decided to buy this particular home as we fell in love with it the day we first saw it. Marine Lodge is a traditionally Scottish stone home, built in 1880 by a wealthy Scottish (grain) merchant. In 2012 we refurbished and upgraded parts of the home with contemporary furnishings and modern home comforts and facilities – including the fabulous wet room.
The key changes were replacing the old fire with a wood burner and changing the decor throughout the property. The furniture was all changed and the dank old utility room became the spacious wet room and we refitted the kitchen. In short, all the rooms have been changed and improved, though we aren’t finished yet!
North Berwick is a top Scottish tourist destination for customers from around the world. People like to return to holiday in North Berwick. It is renowned for its history, golf courses, beaches and beauty. Emotionally, we are personally attached to North Berwick. I have visited this area for over 45 years for my own holidays.
How and why did you choose the location?
AH: The location was absolutely key in our decision to buy. The town and the location within the town mattered. We wanted this property to appeal to all customers worldwide as being excellent.
We have been invited to join customers on their travels throughout the UK and they have invited us to their homes back in the USA.Andrew HindsNorth Berwick is a stunning Scottish destination for holidays and easily accessible from Edinburgh. Many clients travel throughout the whole of Scotland and use our property as a base as well as enjoying the local amenities.
North Berwick and the holiday home here enjoys clients throughout the whole year. It offers easy access on the ground floor and is very central for all activities and amenities – golf, shops and restaurants, beaches, sea and history, a world-famous seabird centre and Edinburgh. Private Parking is provided (and in this area, this matters).
What advice would you give to people thinking about owning a holiday home?
AH: Make sure that the location is ideal. It is equally important that the facilities and personal management service you provide are as good as possible. Present your home in the very best way you can. This makes a special experience for your guests. Be prepared to reinvest yearly to appeal to new custom and keep fresh for repeat clients. Make sure you have a great support team locally; we are blessed with incredible support locally so that extra help is on hand if ever needed. For instance we have great support with Karolina handling changeovers and Gordon doing personal greetings.
Think about the facilities and comforts you provide. If renting out all year, does your property have a real fire? If aimed at families, do you not only supply Wi-Fi , but games and books? Provide great and useful local information on all local amenities in the area. Make staying at your property a joy – a real home from home.
What’s the best part about renting out your holiday home?
AH: Obviously our interest initially lies in making sure the customers are booking a property they know will satisfy their needs. Upon arrival we aim to ensure their expectations are exceeded. The most enjoyable part is receiving feedback and reviews to indicate they have had a great time and want to return.
What’s the most challenging part of renting out your holiday home?
AH: We take time ensuring the customer feels confident with us as property owners. We need to ensure that communication before, during (if need be) and after their stay is efficient and easy. We provide great local service. There are always challenges when handling international customer bookings but we enjoy providing the service expected. Keep on top of all your admin – bookings, prices, and reviews.
How long have you advertised on HomeAway and why did you chose the website?
AH: We have used HomeAway for over seven years. We chose the website for its international reach and appeal.
How have you managed to maximise the performance of your listing?
AH: We update our site regularly. We invest into the property regularly so that we have new and additional facilities and furnishings to advertise. We have received regular superb reviews.
Have you any wonderful stories of renting out your holiday home?
AH: We have had some fantastic stories from customers from all over the world who have indicated they would return. We have been invited to join customers on their travels throughout the UK and they have invited us to their homes back in the USA. We have had surprise special birthday holidays based at our property, and nostalgic return visits to places enjoyed by families over 40 years ago.
Client families from Australia have re-united with their Scottish heritage for Christmas here. We also had a lovely family from Texas who re-united in the UK – and have now promised to return for not just re-union reasons, but so that they can enjoy a combination of golf and family holidays.
We have even had famous film directors from California stay, and enjoyed feedback from guests who – having seen and experienced our property – will look nowhere else again! Sometimes comments are left in the visitor book, not just by parents but also their children saying that they wish they lived here!