How House Parties Started
Established since 1991 and formerly Holiday Homes (Yorkshire) Limited, House Parties was born approximately 15 years ago. Having a portfolio of small cottages ranging in size from one to four bedrooms all over Yorkshire, we received an invitation to view a large property close to Castle Howard. The owners had brought this large property, split it into two and developed one half to live in and wanted to convert the other half for holiday lets.
It was evident that the property was going to be much larger and far grander than anything we had taken on before. The owners had no previous experience in the hospitality industry. They wanted advice on all aspects of renovating and decorating the property, even down to suggestions for linen, towels and even toiletries. They had approached other, national agents only to receive advice to call for an appointment when the property was ready for letting; the agencies were not offering advice when it was most needed; at the start of the project.
The result was a stunning property sleeping 12 guests with plenty of entertaining space a games room with snooker table and enclosed patio garden with views over the Vale of York. The property went on to achieve excellent occupancy and rental rates and after our suggestion to enter, won the “Best Newcomer Award” from the Yorkshire Tourist Board.
How to Market?
While the project was underway, we began to think about how to market the property. We would add Ashwall House to our website and brochure, but realised that we needed to reach a far greater audience as the size of the house was not what many of our past database of customers required and we need to reach new audiences.
So we did what many property owners do, we created a website just for Ashwall House and marketed it as an individual property through national press and on listing sites (many of which are now OTA’s). We quickly learned that a large house brought in a whole new set of clients and their requirements were very different.
A Different Audience
Firstly, we realised the demand for a large house out of season; potential guests wanted weekends even in January and February, which was almost unheard of in the self-catering industry at that time. The result was we needed to create a more profitable rate structure. Originally, rates were calculated at a percentage of the weekly cost and generally no more than about 50 or 60%. This calculation was not going to work, the house was costing so much more to run, and the owners needed two and three-night weekend breaks to be profitable.
We, therefore, stopped working out rates the old-fashioned way and turned the process on its head. We started with the two-night weekend break and ensured that it was profitable and worked the other rates out from this starting point.
While some costs vary, laundry and cleaning expenses do not change whether guests stay two nights or seven. At certain times of the year, January and February, the only requests we were getting was for two and three-night weekend breaks. The guests weren’t asking about the weekly rate, because it was irrelevant to them and this was the turning point when we realised that at certain times of the year, it does not matter that the weekly rate is only 10 or 20% more than the weekend rate.
Why did we take this approach?
Because we realise that “one size does not fit all”. On the strength of Ashwall houses’ success we created www.house-parties.co.uk now www.house-parties.com
We helped the owners build the brand name of Ashwall House, as we still do for property owners today. Every property on our website displays its real name, so together we help you build your brand.
What we offer now has not changed since we first began:-
- Large holiday houses with a minimum of five bedrooms for at least ten people.
- All houses must reach a minimum of a 4-star standard, but many of our homes are 5-star.
- Houses must have a fully fitted kitchen and therefore qualify as self-catering.
We do not offer:-
- Groups of small cottages, caravans or yurts
- University Accommodation
- Youth Hostels
- Hotels or B&B’s without kitchen facilities, only available staffed.
- Small apartments in the same building.
We are a truly niche website, dedicated to large self-catering houses in the U.K.
After over 15 years in this specific area of the self-catering industry, we know what guests want, and that is a personal service from us and our property owners. Our guests often choose our properties for a special occasion, to make memories, and you cannot return or refund a lost experience.
The Vacation Rental industry has seen an influx of new start-ups offering a variety of tech solutions, some good and some unnecessary. Many created because OTA’s would have us believe everyone wants 100% automation from the beginning of the booking process to the end, and that simply isn’t the case. Our reviews regularly mention the warm welcome guests have had from an owner or caretaker; something keyless entry cannot deliver.
If you would like to work with House Parties, then we have various packages to offer. We offer a bespoke Privé Package, our original agency package and also our new listing option (available currently in England & Wales) We also provide consultancy packages to suit individual property owners requirements. Alternatively please fill out the form below, and someone will contact you shortly.