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Painting Holiday Business


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This thread is mainly aimed at people doing a similar activity.

We moved to Burgundy over 18 months ago to set up painting and leisure breaks. We have renovated most of the house ourselves which took longer, cost more than anticipated and delayed our lauching date. We have settled our 14 year old into college, are now having to settle our 17 year old into lycee as she remained in the UK last year to finish GCSEs. We are and have been  promoting our hols via ourown website and links to others for almost 12 months.

We chose this area as there were no other competitors for similar hols. However, at present we do not seem to be attracting trade. Are other people out there doing similar specialised breaks suffering the same problem? Having gone through a great deal of hard physical work and major decision making we do not wish to give up at this stage. We have made several really good French friends, get on with the neighbours and have generally been accepted as the local Brits.We now have a beautiful house, are offering competitive rates and a slightly diferent holiday! Even compared to most other painting breaks we are a little different. We also offer bed and breakfast and we've advertised Friday night free via Visit France to try and encourage people who just want a break as opposed to a painting holiday. 

We've had a few enquiries but why aren't people booking? What more can we do?

Any advice welcome.Thanks,



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Where have you been advertising?  I tried a new site featured in the Times. It's just starting up and it's free at the moment. I haven't had any takers yet but I advertised my house and the 'project' has had 800 'hits' so far. Why not advertise (e.g. Help with landscape painting/ produce your own masterpiece with our help) as a project? It won't cost a penny and even if you get no sales you will be able to measure the respose to different approaches and improve your other ads.
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I can't speak from experience, not knowing one end of a paint brush from the other!  However, I do feel, from looking at your website and comparing it with other websites, that one of your problems may be that the overall cost of the packages offered is just too high. My hobby is woodturning and there is a combined woodturning/painting package offered in SW France which works out at about two-thirds of the price of your holidays and includes evening meals with wine.  I know that price is not everything but it is a consideration.

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Having had a go at offering Painting Holidays ourselves, I would say you need to look at some better targeted advertising which will reach firstly, the people who are specifically interested in painting and secondly, are likely to have the money to spend on such a holiday which is unlikely to be the main family holiday.

I'm afraid I can't remember the name of it now, but there is a magazine for amateur artists which is sold in UK newsagents. When I last looked at a copy there were a number of people advertising Painting Holidays in France, Italy and other countries. A one off add is not going to be much use, you'll need, at least, to go for alternate month insertions which, if you book six  insertions at a time is likely to cost at least around £1000. Other publications that might be worth trying are things like The Lady or Country Life but none will be cheap.

I don't think your prices are unreasonable, knowing how much work is involved with what you are offering. I'm not sure that making it cheaper will help much.

One point worth mentioning is that I see you are offering "full board". We were advised by our accountant that we were unable to offer more than half board under our B&B inclusive Table d'Hote license otherwise we would legally be considered a hotel and have to apply for all sorts of additional licensing requirements and be subject to unspeakable regulation. Why not consider reducing your "board" to "half board" but give guests the choice of lunch or dinner ?  This would release more of your budget to spend on advertising.

We've actually given up on the Painting Holidays for now as we can make more money for much less work just renting the house out !   We might give it a go again in the future though. Good luck with your venture.

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Difficult one i think this for 2 reasons

1/ If you are a couple only one may want to paint, but both may not want to pay the full wack for a painting holiday.

2/ If you are a painter you can paint anywhere...from a gite, caravan or tent, hence considerably cheaper. I think you need to be more specific in your classes, for example a week on different forms of perspective lessons...to be honest something i would gladly pay for as i was never taught this. Or life drawing, again an interesting skill to learn, if you are an amateur artist and have never attended life classes.....you dont have to have a nude model to run a life class Or maybe lessons on French artists techniques, put into practice in the field. How about portrait lessons or how to paint animals?

Sorry I know this may not be helpfull but just a few ideas.

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Nope I do not have a similar business. But...

.....I do know of a lady who organises 'painting tours' but uses hotels alas (as our gite / apartment has such cracking views it would be an excellent base, but we are self catering.).

Some comments about your pricing and web site.

Your B&B prices set the level. I assume they are correct for your area. You then have to 'sell' the uplift beyond that. I don't think you do, a lot is left to assumption. Its a bit muddled really. 

 And as another poster said, not everybody in the party is a painter anyway.

Do you know how many 'visits' you get to your web-site? I would not feel confident that your meta-tags are well chosen.

Re: your web-site. I must tread carefully here as your style is similar to ours. However I think you are selling a package and should be more enthusiastic/emphatic about your specialism


Good luck, I hope that I have not lead you astray.





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Nice site, fab house but....you really must concentrate on selling your painting holiday by selling your resident artist and how the week will be spent!

Give,as far as possible, a detailed schedule of the week. It's no good just saying that such and such is available to advise and give tuition. Tuition in what?

Would be artists (and I'm one of them) want to know exactly what they are going to learn from the week and what they are going to get for their money! Doesn't mean it has to be 9 - 5 slog. You can schedule in free time for exploring or being left alone to paint or whatever.

You could have scheduled times for studio work, field work, trips out (to an art gallery/beautiful old town) but emphasise what tuition will be given and how folks will benefit from whatever is scheduled. I want to learn how to paint and from your website, it seems that I'll be having a wonderful full board week with painting as an optional extra.

Don't muddle up the painting/wine tasting link. When you click on the painting link it comes up with painting/wine tasting etc etc.

What qualifications or background has Colin got? You've got to make would-be pupils want to be taught by this man! Can you provide a link to Colin's work?

Have a look at other websites offering painting holidays, then sit down and rewrite your text. Sell your holiday to people like me!

And why "pictureburgundy" - why not "paintingholidaysinburgundy" or a title which will lead artists directly to your site?

Good luck. Hope this helps a little!

Edit: Sorry, just seen the link about Colin, but I still think this may be better included in the painting holiday page.
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You need to advertise in the Artist magazine.  There is another one as well which operates in the UKbut I forget the name (havent picked up my brushes is a while!) - you will get loads of responses.  The problem will be your costs, how many people and will they wish to share a room.  You need at least 8 people to make the costs worthwhile.  You also need to contact the FE colleges in the Uk and promote your weeks & weekends.   You will also need to offer a choice of guest artists every now and then to make yourself a little different.

What is popular is carnets - diares of peoples holidays and good french cuisine.  Also the French market is very popular and links with stores like Dalbe are very useful, but you obviously have to speak excellent french.

Good luck


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Hi Catherine,

I tried to find your website on google by typing in "painting holidays" to no avail. You do not have anywhere near enough  Meta tags on your web site. I suggest you change the background colour  and then write all the key words you can think of in text of the same colour. This should get you on Google page 1.

Good luck



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Hello Catherine,

I've visited your web site and found it extremely enticing!

I am not in the business but am about to be (well North of you and a very different set up!) so I have great interest in your venture and the comments so far.

My comments: I found the emphasis on the holiday makers setting the agenda very attractive, contrary to one of the other posters who felt it "vague"... given that you are letting  two rooms, you're aiming at having two couples which should leave a lot of room for freedom to choose. I personally feel that that is your selling point and you should stick to it. If it isn't, then do change the text!

I felt good and relaxed just reading your site.

DO get rid of the typos though... there are 2 or 3 just on the home page.

I think that the price is full board...? didn't seem excessive to me. A lot of Euros, but not ridiculous.

Good luck, I do hope it works out.

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Hi Catherine

Firstly let

me say, I think you are really courageous, to open up yourself and your work to

the opinions of others. I am glad that the comments of other folk have been

both useful and constructive. Bravo!

I also live

in Burgundy and am developing my own

business,  I am also suffering the same

problems as yourself. I think that although this area is perfect for our respective

enterprises, it lacks ‘holiday pulling power’ we have no beaches etc that holiday

makers generally want, which makes it difficult to attract Mr and Mrs Jo Public,

Coming from this perspective, I polled a lot of acquaintances in the same or

similar fields of work or hobby as myself and asked them which publication they

bought or read. This then gave me a top 2 publications in which to invest my

hard earned cash! Maybe you could try something similar, I noticed several

replies naming specialist publications, choose wisely and it could well be

worth the expense.

 I noticed payrac man was telling you how to raise

your ranking on Google, beware the advice he gave about text in the same

background colour. This is well known as Spamdexing in the search engine world,

It may well get you to no1 on Google but if it is discovered then your site

will be banned for life….um maybe not a wise decision. The only ‘Proper’ way is

to optimise your site, you can buy tools from the internet to do this or you

could go down the same road as myself and hire someone to optimise your site. The

chap I use is Fabdabby dozey he has taken my site from 7694 (un-findable

basically) in Goggle to page 2 number 20 in just less than a month and the

enquiries have started to come in. He also guarantees his work and you only pay

a very small deposit and the balance when you are in the top 20. As you said it

is your main form of advertising investing a little now could reap huge


 If you want

more info or I can help in any other way you can PM me or contact me through my

web page: http://www.self-sufficiency4u.org

 maybe we could meet up if your are not

too busy for further idea bouncing sessions or a good old moan over coffee!!

 All the

very best


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