Leave everything to open a rural cottage
1 Aug, 2019
Changing your life, earning an additional source of income, optimising a property… These are the main reasons that motivate owners to open a rural gîte. Considered as a furnished tourist accommodation, the gîte is a fully furnished and equipped dwelling and is reserved for the exclusive use of the tenant. This ambitious project requires both financial and personal investment by the owner. Just like opening a guest house, opening a rural gîte requires the respect of precise conditions. If you want to get started in this project, we give you all the tips to succeed.
Step 1: Choose the location
Before opening a gîte, it is essential to study the market and compare the available offers in order to choose the ideal location. The region’s tourism potential, its attractiveness and the infrastructure in the surrounding area need to be addressed. Ease of access also plays an important role. The owner must take into account the accessibility of the gîte via roads or transport networks.
When a traveller books a gîte, he is looking for a quiet and peaceful place, but he does not want to find himself exiled in the countryside. During his stay, the traveller wishes to be close to places of interest. Thus, areas with high potential are those located near tourist sites (monuments, amusement parks…), mountains and the sea.
Step 2 fitting out the gîte
A landlord who decides to rent out a gîte undertakes to provide decent accommodation for travellers. This implies the implementation of the following arrangements:
A common room
A fully equipped kitchen or kitchenette with at least a sink, refrigerator, table, chairs, stove, cupboard and necessary utensils.
A bathroom with a shower and a washbasin
Toilets inside the gîte
Rooms with bed, wardrobe…
Equipment for washing, drying and ironing clothes
In addition to these facilities, the owner undertakes to provide water (drinking and running), electricity and a heating system.
When providing accommodation, the operator must take into account the new requirements of passengers in terms of equipment. In an ultra-connected world, Wi-Fi has become the essential element to integrate into a rental. Therefore, it is advisable to plan an annual budget for the refreshment of the gîte. In order to help the owners, a grant may be awarded for the renovation of the heritage. This aid can be granted by the departmental or regional council, but also by the State and the European Union.
Step 3 : comply with the law
Concerning the administrative procedures to be carried out to open a gîte, the owner only has to declare his rental to the town hall of the commune. It is not mandatory to take out insurance. However, it is advisable to take out “seasonal rental” insurance to be covered in case of damage.
Unlike guesthouses, the capacity is not limited. The group lodgings are specialized in the reception of large groups. If the gîte can accommodate more than 15 travellers, the accommodation is considered an ERP (Etablissement Recevant du Public). In this case, the owner must comply with the accessibility standards in force.
In order to carry out his activity legally, the owner is required to draw up a written contract (description of the accommodation, cancellation conditions, method of payment, etc.) for each rental of the property.
Step 4 : Set up a marketing strategy
Once the gîte is open, the owner must think about a communication strategy to develop the visibility of his establishment among travellers. Nearly 85% of gîte bookings are made via the Internet according to the Clévacances association. That is why it is highly recommended to have your own website with a booking engine. Travellers will be able to easily find you on the Internet and book online.
Labelling your gîte is not a compulsory step but it can help you to gain credibility while benefiting from the reputation of the label. Gîtes de France is the best known, with more than 40,000 owners. In addition, there are other labels specific to a theme (the environment, disability, hiking…).
One last piece of advice to set yourself apart from your competitors: offer themed weekends. When a traveller books a gîte, he is looking for experiences, he wants to discover the region and its surroundings through activities. As an owner, you can offer them special offers to encourage them to select your holiday home. Detox stay, oenology weekend or culinary stay, the ideas are numerous, you just have to find the one that suits your project.
Opening a gîte is a project that is attracting more and more French people. Although this activity provides an escape from the daily routine, it requires a daily investment on the part of the owner. On average, running a gîte brings in 10 740€ per year according to a study carried out by Gîtes de France. Living through the operation of a gîte can be complicated, which is why it should be considered in addition to a professional activity.
1 Aug, 2019
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