Bookings for Christmas and New Year

How are your bookings shaping up for the Christmas and New Year period? We’ve had a look at performance during the festive period over the last 3 years to identify booking trends that could help you achieve maximum occupancy this year.

When do guests book their Christmas and New Year breaks?

Where bookings are placed on the owners own website the most popular time that guests book their Christmas and New Year (XNY) breaks is between six months to a year in advance (with the exception of 2011); however bookings placed one to two months before consistently remains the second most popular lead time. For AGENCY customers most bookings for the festive period come through 31-60 days prior. So if you still have availability for that key week in December don’t panic! There is still time to achieve maximum occupancy.

Other interesting findings

  1. 50-55% of bookings for Christmas and New Year in 2010, 2011 and 2012 were for a full week or more.
  2. Of the short breaks booked in 2012 the percentage of 3 day bookings decreased by 11% from 2011, whilst the other short break durations all marginally increased.

Tactical festive positioning

  • Be more flexible by offering shorter stay durations at this time of year. Christmas Eve and New Years Eve both fall on a Tuesday in 2013. Arriving on the Tuesday for 3 or 4 days may appeal to guests who want to get away from it all but also need to visit friends and relatives; they will still have the weekend to do this.
  • Think about the optional extras you can supply. What do you provide to make staying at your property extra special during Christmas and New Year?
  • Perceived value will enable you to maintain revenue whilst facilitating short breaks. By providing everything needed for the perfect Christmas or New Year at your home from home, experience supersedes price. You can charge e.g. 80% of the price of a full week if the package provided fulfills the guests needs.

Marketing for Christmas and New Year

Let potential guests know exactly how you go that extra mile to make the season special. If possible feature a ‘Christmas and New Year’ banner on your homepage, leading to a page which is dedicated to showcasing your accommodation full of festive spirit, and you can provide links to that page in your marketing emails as well as on social media:

  • Post plenty of photos – a tree festooned with sparkling decorations glimmering in the firelight with some mulled wine and mince pies close by; a beautifully laid dining table filled with tantalising Christmas treats – roast turkey with all the trimmings, champagne, crackers and candles; have you got any photos of your property in the snow? Remember potential guests like to see lots of photos.
  • Provide contact details and a link to local suppliers that can deliver a Christmas hamper to your property. Guests might not want to bring a turkey or goose with them, so reassure them that everything they need can be delivered to the door. Remind your guests how easy their break can be if they arrange a grocery delivery for the day they arrive – are you able to unpack all of the items and fill the fridge for them?
  • Can you be available to take delivery of any parcels of presents that your guests may wish to send in advance or have arranged to be delivered from online shopping sites?
  • Can you find a local supplier of quality home-delivered food? A pre-Christmas buffet might entice potential guests who want to relax and start celebrating from the moment they arrive. Is there a local restaurant that has space available for Christmas Day bookings or a pub that is hosting a New Years Eve party?
  • What other events are happening close by? Is there a pantomime at the theatre? Does a Boxing Day swim take place at the local beach? Is Santa making any special appearances? Provide links to websites where your guests can easily book in advance to help them plan their festivities.
  • Do you provide free WiFi? Tell potential guests that when they stay at your accommodation they can Skype friends and family to share goodwill and happiness and wish them a happy new year.
  • Don’t forget your social media. Facebook is the perfect platform to encourage past guests to post photos and share experiences; there is no better incentive for future guests than seeing just how fantastic the festive season can be.

A little preparation now can go a long way to helping you maximise occupancy not only for Christmas and New Year 2013, it’s the perfect time to appeal to those looking to book for 2014 as well. The most popular lead time for Christmas bookings placed on owners websites is 181-365 days, so be ready a year ahead.