Who is Halcyon Leisure?
Halcyon Leisure was started in the mid 1980s by an expatriate couple, Jill and Bernie Nicholls, who at that time lived near Tournon d’Agenais. They moved back to England in about 2010, and left the business in the care of other family members until 2015 when it was taken over by Divona Ltd.
The sole director of Divona Ltd is Sue Eaves, and the office is based in West Dorset from where all operations are run. Halcyon Leisure is maintained as the Trading Style.
Sue has a long association with holiday letting, running her own holiday properties in Dorset and East Devon for over 25 years before she became involved with Halcyon Leisure.
Do Halcyon Leisure own the houses?
No – All the houses are contracted to Halcyon Leisure by the Owners of the individual properties for the purposes of administration, marketing and booking for holiday and short term lets. The current Owners include English, French, Dutch, Belgian, German and American owners, many of whom have had their properties with Halcyon Leisure for a number of years now.
Are Halcyon Leisure managers of the properties?
Again, no. Although Halcyon Leisure maintain direct communication with all the property management teams and also with the Owners, their input on the management of the property is on a ‘by request’ basis only. The Owners in conjunction with a wide collection of managers, caretakers and companies are responsible for all aspects of care and maintenance of the properties: We do however maintain a list of property managers which new Owners requesting management of the property as well as booking can have access to.
So who am I booking the property with?
All holiday let contracts are between the Guest and the Property Owner, with Halcyon Leisure as the appointed agent authorised to enter into agreements on the Owner’s behalf, and to receive rentals and adminster Security Deposits.
So you are just another agency then?
We like to think not…. In these times of the faceless keyboard warrior mentality with minimal personal contact we try to offer a strongly personal service to all clients, be they Guests or Owners with quick responses to questions, and a proactive approach in resolving the occasional matters that may arise between the Owners and the Guests, unlike many of our near competitors who blindly grab their commission and leave you at the mercy of everything else.
We aim to remove as much of the marketing and guest administration from Owners as they wish so they can concentrate on maintaining the property to the highest standards, and not worry about answering the sometimes endless questions that guests will ask before booking.
Do you actually know your properties?
Yes, we most certainly do! We try to visit all properties at least once a year, and when a new property is taken on, all members of Sue’s staff will visit it as soon as possible: We hold a database of information about each property and also have local contacts who we may use on an ad hoc basis to help out when a presence is needed on the ground and there doesn’t happen to be a space on the Southampton/Bergerac route!
We regularly advise potential guests on the suitability of properties for their particular needs such as mobility impairement, safety of young children etc, and also advise existing and new Owners on facilities to add or include with their properties.
Do people book with you regularly?
Over 60% of Our bookings for the season 2018 were from returning customers, many of whom have been booking with Halcyon Leisure for several years, and several who returned to Halcyon Leisure after a break of several years.
How do you maintain standards?
The Halcyon Leisure team make at least two long visits during which properties are inspected each year, one usually in April or early May, and the other after the season in October during which we visit properties and meet Owners and managers to review the season and see what has changed at the properties and what may need attention.
An important part of our ethos on these visits is that we actually stay in a different property from the Halcyon Leisure portfolio on every visit which gives us a unique insight into how the house works.
All guests are invited to send feedback on their stay, and this is communicated back to the Owners and discussed with them.
What are your office hours?
Sue’s team are generally available from 09h00 until 21h00 between May and mid September, seven days a week.
Between October and the end of April, the office will be manned from 09h00 until 17h30 Monday to Friday, and there is usually one of the team on hand outside these hours and at weekends that will respond to enquiries as quickly as possible.
Where do you advertise?
Halcyon Leisure use a selection of third party websites that give global coverage for all properties as well as having active Facebook and Twitter accounts that are regularly posted to.
Press advertising is now of less importance, but a proportion of the advertising budget is channelled towards a few targeted magazines which are regularly reviewed and changed.