As the summer season comes to an end for 2014, we look ahead to see what September could have in store. Based on the bookings received through SuperControl in September 2012 and September 2013¹ what can we expect for the weeks ahead and what strategies can you implement to make the most of these opportunities?
1. Set Your Prices for 2015
In 2013 on average over a third (39%) of bookings made in September for properties in the UK and IE, Europe and the Rest Of the World (ROW) had a lead-time of 121 days or more. If you haven’t updated your prices for 2015 you could miss out. (Click picture to enlarge).
2. Target couples
Properties in Europe and the Rest of the World saw an increase in the number of bookings received for couples in September 2013 (up 2% to 27%); and bookings for couples remained high for properties in the UK and IE, maintaining an average share of 38% of all bookings placed in September. This is not indicative of the size of property in the sample – in September 2013 only 18% of bookings for two people were for properties that slept 2, which means a staggering 82% of bookings made for couples were for larger, family-sized properties. (See more about property capacity in number 4 below).
Furthermore, over 50% of all bookings received in September 2013 were for holidays in September or October of that same year, and 60% of those bookings were for 6 nights or less indicating that people are still booking short breaks out of season, and are leaving it until last minute to book.
So can you tweak your website to appeal to different groups of people?
For couples you could promote grown up activities happening in your area in the next couple of months – be that festivals or fayres, trips to the theatre or a stately home, or a quiet meal at a cosy pub or quality restaurant.
3. But don’t forget the children
In September of both years over a third of bookings for properties in Europe and the ROW included children, as did more than a quarter of bookings for properties in the UK and IE. In a website section for children link to family friendly attractions in your area, from farm parks and woodland trails to leisure centres and ball pools, let guests know there is plenty to choose from for their pre-school youngsters out of season or school age children during the October half term holiday.
4. Maximise perceived value
So we know that the couples market is vital, but interestingly over half of the properties booked in September (both 2012 and 2013) had a capacity of 4-6.
You can entice couples to larger properties if the perceived value is recognised. You might want to offer a low occupancy discount to encourage couples to book outside school holidays / peak season to reduce the risk of your property standing empty.
Another way to add perceived value is to make sure you cater for all your guests’ needs, from logs and coal for winter fires, to beach towels for trips to the seaside in summer. To ensure it is not seen as an added expense or an extra, cost it into the overall price. Bundle in some options and extras that you usually charge for to put together an attractive shoulder-season package; you could partner up with other local businesses to include e.g. a free welcome meal at your local pub, or free transfers from the airport during October and November.
5. Find out where your bookings come from
With SuperControl you can set your own booking sources so not only can you see which marketing sites you list on work best for you, you can also find out if people are booking because of e.g. a link on your Facebook page, a recommendation from a previous guest or because they saw an advert you ran in a specialist magazine. If you don’t have this set up already, here’s how. You can also choose to show the source dropdown on all versions of the SuperControl enquiry form (and make it compulsory). After you have set up your Booking sources, Go to Admin > General details > Enquiry form options and tick Show source dropdown.
How do your own bookings taken in September over the last two years compare to our overall stats for those placed through SuperControl? We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions for filling up your availability calendar – please let us know in the comments below if you’ve got some to share.
¹ Statistics sample information: The total number of bookings taken through SuperControl in September 2012 (for properties using the system since at least 01/01/2012) and September 2013 (for properties using the system since at least 01/01/2013).