I work with many gites out here in South West France and I’ve picked up a lot of tips on the way. If you’re thinking about running a gite or you’ve recently started, here are ten tips that will help you balance your vision with practicalities, just as I’ve had to do with Sophie’s Barn.
10 Things to Know About Your Gite
- If you register with a professional network of gites, you can get help and advertising. Most gite owners are registered with Gite de France.
- The Gite de France label informs potential guests of a gite’s comfort, surroundings, and services. Gites are assessed every 5 years and Gite de France will take into account health and safety, disabled access, and cleanliness.
- You need to ask the mayor if you can run your gite. They will help you get health and safety people in and, hopefully, give you permission to run the gite. Do this early on to avoid delays and disappointment.
- Some mairies (town halls) demand a “taxe de sejour” be added to each guest’s bill. It’s between €0.20 and €1.50 per day. The money is intended to boost tourist facilities in the area.
- Grants may be available, but expect red tape and conditions. For example, the conseil regional may offer you a grant, but might demand that the business runs for a specific duration.
- Don’t forget about changeovers. These typically happen on a Saturday. If you have one set of guests leaving and another arriving a few hours later, that might not give you long to clean, tidy, and rearrange the whole gite. You may need outside help to provide all your guests with the same experience you intend.
- You’ll want to consider cancellation insurance, employers’ liability, and insurance against food poisoning. In fact, just get “tous risques.” This won’t cover damage your guest does though, so you might want to insist that your guests have travel insurance.
- Invest in good furniture and quality equipment that will stand the test of time rather than cheap things that will get broken and be replaced. Better stuff offers your guests better value.
- Attention to details can elevate the experience for the guest. Many gite owners I work with take Sophie’s Barn soaps to add an extra touch of comfort and care to their gites. We have something to suit every scheme and every style. These soaps contain natural ingredients so they feel great and offer guilt-free instances of real pleasure throughout the day.
- Make sure you can offer wifi. Most places have internet, but some really rural areas may have slow connections. You may end up using satellite. It’s worth it, because visitors will want it. If digital detoxing is part of your USP, do your marketing and research carefully before committing to that long-term.
Many gites are aiming to attract holidaymakers, so go the extra mile to stand out and offer a great experience for word of mouth, referrals, repeat visits, and your own satisfaction. They say that people might not remember what you say, but they remember how you make them feel; make your guests feel pampered and relaxed by tailoring every part of your gite to their comfort and convenience.