Let Your Property

How to increase Holiday Cottage bookings in the low season

The months of November through to February are traditionally slow for holiday cottage reservations in the UK. The occupancy calendar can look depressingly empty at this time of year. Although the travel industry’s intrinsic seasonality means fewer people are shopping for holidays and short breaks during this time, with a bit of imagination, there are still lots of ways to boost reservations during the off-season.

Identify your off-season

Examine your occupancy rate over the past few years to figure out when your low season is. If you’re a new owner without this information, check the availability of other vacation rentals in your region or ask a local letting agency. Consider why your bookings are so low. Is it because of the school year or because of the cold/wet weather? It’s time to turn this around once you’ve determined when and why.

Adjust your price… but only if it’s profitable!

Make your off-season pricing appealing and accessible. Low enough to appeal at slow periods of the year (for example, right after Christmas), yet high enough to cover your expenditures and earn a profit. Examine how your immediate competitors (including hotels) set their low-season prices if they perform well with bookings during the quiet season.

Avoid underpricing popular dates, such as Valentine’s Day. When demand falls, you merely need to lower your prices.

Your price needs to be competitive, but it should also cover your expenses in order for your company to be profitable.

Make exclusive deals and packages

Most vacationers will be looking for a bargain during off-peak seasons. Offering an incentive is the best approach to get customers to book your property.

Rather than reducing your rental prices, an alternate technique for increasing the desirability of your vacation cottage is to provide greater value for the same price.

Consider the market you’re aiming to reach and what interests them. You might, for example, entice couples searching for a peaceful vacation with a spa visit. Why not give them a special discount at a beautiful spa close to your rental? What about giving them a coupon for lunch at one of your favourite restaurants?

Weekends may still be in high demand, but finding people to stay throughout the week may become more complex. Consider advertising special discounts on weekdays, such as four nights for the price of three.

You can even mention a percentage discount, such as “save 30%,” so that travellers know that they are getting a good price.

In the off-season, if there are any local events, you can construct a package that includes two complimentary (or cheap) tickets to the event.

Create special offers and discounts for your guests by forming agreements with local businesses. You might be able to fill much more of your schedule by offering added-value offerings to your guests. After all, who doesn’t like a good deal?

Don’t ask for a damage deposit because it distorts the final price. In any case, most cottage owners do not deduct any damage deposits.

Upgrade your property’s facilities to make it more enticing.

What elements can you add to your house to make it more inviting to winter visitors?

There’s nothing like escaping the cold outside and snuggling up next to a log burner during the winter months.

The inclusion of underfloor heating and a huge drier for wet walking gear is a lovely touch.

Include a hot tub, particularly if you’re catering to families and couples. There are few things more calming than soaking in a hot tub under the stars.

Provide trekkers with a spare pair of boots or wellies, as well as walking guides.

Winterise your welcome package as well. Some hot cocoa sachets/chocolate bombs, comfortable blankets and fleecy wraps, a hot water bottle, and toasty dressing gowns could be a great touch.

Staying at your vacation cottage during the off-season is a genuine delight.

These minor details could be game-changers during the booking process, providing you with the competitive edge you require.

Be adaptable

During the quieter winter months, being flexible with arrival/departure days, check-in/out hours, and lowering your minimum stay may result in more reservations.

Refresh your seasonal images

One of your most important marketing tools is images. Take photos that set the tone for out-of-season visitors. Outdoor images of golden fall leaves on a clear winter morning, mountains crowned with a light dusting of snow, or local Christmas markets, for example. Spring flowers in blossom in your garden, or leaping lambs on a nearby field

Guests may be unable to enjoy the great outdoors due to inclement weather, so show them what they can appreciate if forced to stay indoors. Photos of various board games and novels, a delicious winter warming stew on the stove, mugs of hot chocolate, and baked cookies that guests may enjoy while sitting in front of a roaring fire.

Do you have a hot tub? Then, with a glass of something special, demonstrate how it may be a relaxing getaway after a long day.

Update your website, listing site advertisements, and social media profiles after you have a collection of photographs to show just how wonderful your home is during the off-season. Making your vacation home seem like a welcoming, warm, and inviting location to visit will be a great draw.

Make changes to your listings and website

If you want to attract tourists searching for a low-season holiday, whether it’s a post-Christmas getaway or a Valentine’s Day treat, make sure your property stands out from the crowd.

What do visitors expect from a vacation? What issues can you help them with?

Make changes to your listing ad descriptions to emphasise why the off-season is a great time to visit. Those searching for a winter getaway in the Lake District will not be interested in a description that says “enjoy a nap in the wonderful sunshine.”

Create a series of blog posts about how to spend the perfect day, the greatest places to go for afternoon tea or Sunday lunch, the best local spas, or a list of ten activities to do in the winter. In the winter, there are a surprising amount of events to keep visitors occupied. There are Christmas markets, pumpkin picking, Oktoberfest celebrations, sporting events, concerts, and cuisine festivals, to name but a few.

By advertising such events, you may take advantage of this. People are more likely to remember you and book your rental if they learn about these events via your blog.

Highlight how your rental can keep the youngsters entertained, such as family board games, a gaming console, a heated hot tub, cookery books, and baking supplies.

Some visitors simply want to get away without having to wait in lines, cram, or organise ahead of time (as in the summer). It’s all about catching up on some much-needed sleep and relaxation. Set the mood so that potential guests may imagine themselves relaxing in front of your log fire or unwinding in a cosy tavern nearby.

Your social media profiles are also ideal for offering content and images that will appeal to potential visitors. Include pictures of special winter menus at the local pub, scenic views, or a dog lounging by the fire.

Hiring a travel copywriter to generate intriguing copy could be a good investment if you struggle with creative writing.

Make it simple to book

A winter break is becoming more popular, so you’ll need to be prepared to make a speedy turnaround. Make it simple for travellers to buy last-minute flights. Your property should be bookable online with a credit card payment option – 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Make sure your availability calendar indicates 12 months or more in advance to attract early bookers to get the best price.

Make contact with former guests

Send emails to your prior guests and newsletter list when the low season approaches. Remind them of their loyalty discount and inform them of your special winter offers. Offer an additional discount to the first 5 guests who re-book, stating that this offer is only available to them as a valued prior guest.

A pre-Christmas ‘Black Friday’ offer could help those of us who are stuck for gift ideas – a winter weekend away in a cosy cottage sounds ideal.

Also, let them know about any changes you’ve made to your cottage and concentrate on the numerous local activities. Halloween, Bonfire Night, Christmas markets, and so on.

It’s simple to encourage repeat bookings by offering former guests a discount, incentive, or reward. Because these guests already know what to expect from their time with you, an exclusive, customised offer may be all that is required to secure the reservation.

This might be a discount or something for free, such as a luxury welcome pack, if they stay during the off-season. Sending a discount voucher on their birthday or the anniversary of their booking is another option.

Your loyalty programme and discounts apply not only to previous guests but also to their friends and family.

You may also contact those who inquired about your vacation home during the off-season but did not book because your rental was full but expressed an interest in booking in the future. A simple reminder about your fantastic vacation rental, along with a special deal, can be enough to persuade them to book.

Special offers are a terrific way to reconnect with previous guests or follow up on inquiries that did not result in bookings.

Increase your market share

Targeting niche markets and using numerous promotional channels to extend your target audience is one of the finest strategies to build interest.

If you don’t allow pets, consider modifying your policy for the winter and advertising on pet-friendly listing sites. Do you have an enclosed garden? Tell potential guests why your vacation let is the ideal dog-friendly place for them. They can go on walks with their dog around the neighbourhood, as well as visit dog-friendly pubs and beaches.

Is there a market for folks who want to stay for a long time?

Would your property be suitable for families with toddlers who may take advantage of lower pricing and fewer crowds during the shoulder months? For their children, make a list of everything you have in your cottage, so they don’t have to load up the car unnecessarily. Tell them where they can go and what they can do with their kids.

You should target walkers, hikers, and bikers if you have suitable cycling or walking paths near your holiday cottage. Include route information on your website (together with the best spots to stop for food and drink) and promote them on social media. Could you entice those who are preparing for a triathlon?

If you have a four-bedroom family vacation house and want to attract couples during the off-season, consider shutting off bedrooms and re-announcing it as a one- or two-bedroom home at a lower price.

Is it possible to market your property on specialty holiday rental sites that cater to a distinct demographic?

Show off your positive feedback

Bookings are aided by recommendations from previous visitors who stayed during the off-season. They demonstrate why your facility is a popular winter destination and what made their stay memorable. Did they like the local markets, your warm log fireplace, the welcome package upon arrival, crisp morning hikes from your doorstep, or the pub’s winter menu?

If you notice that some travellers ask the same questions before making a reservation, such as “How is the weather?” Is it possible to get there if it snows? Make sure to promote any reviews that answer these questions on your website. “We arrived during heavy snow but all the paths having been cleared for us, the kids had a day of sledging and creating a snowman,” for example, or “We arrived during heavy snow, but all the paths had been cleared for us, the kids enjoyed a day of sledging and building a snowman.”

Use winter testimonials on your website, emails, and social media to give guests a sense of what to expect in the winter.

Christmas and the New Year should be promoted

Even though your Christmas and New Year dates are likely to be fully booked, there are still plenty of individuals looking for a getaway before and after the holidays. Your rental rates in December and early January are likely a quarter of what they are during the holiday season, but your guests can still enjoy the festivities.

Finally, don’t be concerned about the off-season. Holiday rental is competitive, and you need to stand out from the crowd, especially if you’re seeking low-season visitors. Hopefully, these pointers will be helpful.

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