A brand new website specialising in self-catering accommodation at highly competitive prices goes live just as families returning to work and school start planning ahead for next month’s half-term and other autumn breaks.
Visitors to www.letitbay.com can select and view holiday homes in the UK and overseas by location, type and size before bidding in an online auction to pay the rental they can afford for the dates they choose.
“Currently there are bargains to be snapped up in the UK, France, Spain, Portugal and the USA,” reports Ian Walker, the Somerset businessman who conceived the Letitbay idea.
“Demand will dictate the rentals paid,” says Ian who predicts that some property owners will be prepared to accept unusually low rentals in off-peak periods, rather than leave their properties standing idle.
With many of the 600,000 Britons who own second homes - including 260,000 abroad - renting them out to holidaymakers, Ian expects the choice of accommodation on his firm’s website to go global very quickly.
“It’s early days and we want more property owners to put their accommodation on the website so that we can offer wider choice,” he says. “Our aim is to have a massive selection of holiday destinations and types of accommodation available on-line.”
The easy-to-use website enables property owners to upload free of charge the details of the accommodation they have available.
Would-be bidders who search the website but are unable to find a property which suits them in the area they would like to visit can place a ‘Wanted’ advertisement on the website free of charge.
The website also can help them with late deals. Having selected the property and dates which appeal, they can secure the accommodation simply by outbidding earlier rivals.
Letitbay makes no charge to bidders when they buy holiday accommodation online. Rental payments are made through PayPal, the secure internet payment system which allows the bank details of users to be hidden. The commission payable to Letitbay - ten per cent of payments of up to £1,000, and nine per cent of higher sums, plus VAT - is deducted by PayPal before the balance is transferred to the property owner.
Having booked accommodation through Letitbay, clients can use the website’s links to those of other organisations offering services they might need.
They include flights, car hire, airport parking, foreign currency and travel insurance, as well as the tourist information offices serving the areas they plan to visit.
For property owners, one of the benefits of Letitbay is that, in off-peak or winter periods when a lot of self-catering holiday accommodation stands empty, they now have an opportunity to secure some income, explains Ian.
“Another is that the heating and other systems continue to tick over, rather than being closed down for long periods,” he says.
“During months when demand for holiday accommodation is strong, the online auction may help owners to achieve a rental income which is higher than the highest fixed peak week rental they normally quote.”
The service offered by Letitbay is expected to have a special appeal to owners of timeshare properties who, rather than simply swop their allotted week for one of comparable value elsewhere, now have a chance to achieve a better than average rental income by auctioning their week and then using the additional cash to enjoy a higher value holiday in another location.