At ACT Studios, we spend a lot of time speaking to many holiday accommodation owners. Both here in the UK and increasingly more in the USA. So we get to chat about how things are going, if booking trends are changing, the type of guests they attract, booking sources and more. As a self-caterer, maybe that’s not something you get to do very often. That’s why we decided to start hosting the virtual coffees and chats (via a Zoom call). It’s just a small group of fellow owners (max 10), the call isn’t recorded and there’s no hidden agenda. So you can share ideas and ask advice from like-minded people with the ultimate aim to get more bookings.
Lets talk about bookings
The subject of our first session. A selection of owners from all corners of the UK joined us on the call, all with varying numbers (and types) of properties. Here’s just some of what was discussed:
Pricing & incentives
Are guests more price sensitive due to the economic squeeze? Should you reduce your prices? Most people said no. Instead of dropping prices, think about offering other incentives – eg low occupancy rates for larger properties, earlier check-in or check-out times.
What can you do to boost mid-week stays if they’re down? Ideas included enabling one night stays (which are perfect for business travellers). There’s ways to make this work for you and your cleaning schedule. Eg. If you price it the same as a 3 night break, you can block out the next couple of days and you’re not out of pocket. Or if you do the cleaning yourself and are happy to do so, leave the next 2 nights available and maybe fill those too.
Changing types of guests
As international travel has opened back up, most participants said they are getting fewer ‘silver surfers’. But some had noticed an increase in guests with young babies. So the chat evolved into ways to target these guests. Tweaks to make to your website, OTA listings and social media posts to include images and info to appeal to a younger audience. Providing high chairs, stair gates and travel cots if you didn’t have them already. Guests with pre-school children (or none) aren’t tied to school holiday dates either.
Airbnb has added pets as a search criteria on their platform. If you have a listing and welcome dogs, make sure you pop on and tick that box. Here’s some more ideas to market your dog-friendly accommodation.
There is a huge opportunity to get more bookings from local people. Those who have friends and family coming to stay but don’t have space for everyone at home. So talk to local pubs, activity centres and shops etc. Link to them from your own website (and ask them to link to yours); comment on, like and share their social media posts; tag local businesses in your own posts. Not only will guests that don’t know the area get some good ideas of places to visit, but you’ll be more visible to local people as well. Plus if any travellers are passing through, they might decide to stay over on the way back if they see your poster or chat to the restaurant manager etc.
You could also chat to other business owners about joint marketing opportunities. If you don’t accept dogs, is there another holiday cottage nearby that does? That way if someone enquires and you can’t accommodate them, by passing it on that is still helping your local community. Similarly if another holiday rental is full – they can pass enquiries on to you.
Can you knock heads with the local restaurant, taxi company or beauty therapist to create vouchers for each other’s customers (or guests)? Again – in addition to adding to the guest experience you offer, this type of networking is beneficial to everyone involved.
Resources & support
Finally, a really good tip from one owner who had made the most of the support available from Business Gateway in Scotland. There is lots of information and support available to help you boost your business – at each different stage you are at. Whether you’re just starting out or have been running your self-catering business for a while. From advice to webinars, events and more. Covering topics including marketing, social media, SEO, finance and more. If you’re not in Scotland, check out Visit Britain which offers similar support.
The next topic
We received some fantastic feedback from those that joined us on the call. Including suggestions for the topics of future calls. So in the next one we’ll be covering Tips to tweak your OTA listings. Watch this space!