November is nearly here. Time for fireworks, bonfires and cold, crisp woodland walks. Whilst it is bang in the middle of the shoulder season, and therefore traditionally a quiet time for guests staying in your properties; remember that people are still booking their holidays. Do you know what to expect in the weeks ahead? What are your guests booking habits during the coming month, and are you all set and ready to accommodate them? Take a look at your website from a guests perspective and ask yourself the following questions.
Can people book the dates they want to?
Bookings for properties in the UK and IE placed in November 2012 and 2013 maintained a static lead time, the most popular being 181 – 365 days (6-12 months). For properties in the rest of the world (ROW), the lead time from 121 days (4 months) onwards made up 63% of bookings placed in November 2013, an increase of 10% from the same month in 2012.
So you need make sure you’re ready for 2015. Hopefully you will have already set your prices, durations and start dates but can your guests see them? To check that guests can book the dates they want to, login to your SuperControl account, go to Properties > Chart display and select the date to show your availability charts until (you might even want to display them further into 2016).
Can they book short breaks?
If your property is in the UK or IE and you don’t allow short breaks, it’s worth reconsidering. Even if you only enable this as an option during the quieter months. Our statistics consistently show that 1-3 nights is the most popular duration booked, followed by 7 nights.
For properties in the rest of the world 7 nights is the most popular duration booked in November, followed by 14+. These are the bookings that come in early, perfect to fill your availability calendar nicely in advance. You could encourage more by offering an Early Booking Discount (see next section to find out how to set this up).
To enable short breaks, login to your SuperControl account, go to Properties > Edit and complete the Short breaks section; and select which weeks or months of the year you want to enable short breaks in the price planner. You can follow your own pattern and only enable this choice at the times you want to.
Do you appeal to parties without children as well as the family market?
The most popular sized property booked in the UK and IE in November 2012 and 2013 was accommodation that sleeps 4; yet over a third of the bookings made in those months were for just 2 people, and 3/4 of all the bookings did not include children¹.
Although the balance is more even, it is a similar situation for properties in the rest of the world. This time properties that sleep 6 were the most popular, making up almost a third of bookings in both years; whilst about a quarter of bookings were for 2 guests and a quarter were for 4 guests in 2012 and 2013. Almost 1/2 of the bookings for properties outside of the UK and IE included children. So in November families are mostly booking to go abroad whereas UK and Ireland destinations are within easy reach for adults booking short-breaks.
This illustrates how important it is to have a flexible approach outside of the peak season if you can, to help you appeal to people travelling without children as well as to families.
With SuperControl there are a number of offers you might be tempted to offer during these times, including Low Occupancy, Early Booking and Seasonal Discounts. You can be very selective with the dates and time frame that you make these available – even just for one or two nights if you choose. It can help if you have a house that is usually marketed to family groups during the peak season to make it more attractive to couples during quiet times.
Have you got any other tips to help those bookings come rolling in? We’d love to hear your ideas.