You probably keep an eye on your own bookings, looking for peaks and troughs to help identify patterns in your guests’ booking behaviour at different times of the year. So it’s incredibly useful to find out what is happening with self-caterers elsewhere and to take a look at the wider picture for comparison.
At SuperControl we have access to the very stats that you need to do this (1). Here is an overview of what has happened in August in the last two years. If everything continues as previous trends indicate this is what we would expect to see in the next few weeks; giving you the heads up in preparation for the opportunities that lie ahead to help you get more bookings.
1. Most of the bookings you get will be for August and September
The highest number of bookings made in August 2012 and 2013 were for holidays starting in August (28% in both years) and September (29% and 27% respectively). This pattern is repeated in all months of the year; indicating the continuing trend for late bookings.
- Make sure your availability and pricing is bang up to date. Don’t miss out on potential last minute bookings because visitors to your website don’t know you can accommodate them.
- Make the website journey you provide easy and straightforward. Don’t put people off with an unclear or uninformative website. Is availability easy to find on your website, and is it clear how the guest then proceeds to place a booking?
- Keep in touch. Once you’ve got your guests details stay in contact with them, it’s inexpensive and effective. Send them regular emails or newletters so they can stay up-to-date with all your news and developments. This will help you remain fresh in their minds so that when they do think about booking their next holiday it is your site they visit first.
- Reward loyalty. If you don’t like the uncertainty that comes with holding out for late bookings, you could encourage guests to book in advance by offering an incentive (more long lead bookings = less late availability). Consider offering a discount for bookings made e.g. more than 10 months in advance; a multiple booking discount when guests book more than one break in the same year; or a loyalty discount if a guest places a return booking within a month of their departure date. A discount for loyalty is better for business than providing discounts for late bookings. If guests hold out because they know you will drop the prices for late availability it only exacerbates the situation; reward more stable booking behaviour instead.
2. The majority of bookings will be short breaks
Even in August nearly 60% of the holidays booked are for short breaks:
Don’t miss out:
- Over a third of the bookings are for 1-3 nights. This is a popular duration. One of the fears self-catering providers have about enabling short breaks is that they fill up availability without providing the maximum return. But this isn’t necessarily true. SuperControl is flexible, so you can choose how much to charge to ensure the best return on your bookings. So if you charge e.g. 60% of your weekly rate for a 3 night stay, and you then secure 2 x 3 night stays in one week you actually increase your margins; and 120% of the weekly price will likely cover the extra cleaning and laundry costs that short breaks incur.
- Because you stay in control, you can set your pricing strategically to avoid creating gaps in your availability calendar. By loading the price of a 3 night stay over the weekend (at e.g. 75% of the weekly cost), in comparison to the price of a 3 night stay mid-week (at e.g. 60% of the weekly cost) you will provide an incentive for guests that can book mid-week availability to do so. It is likely there will always be more demand for weekend short breaks for those attending weddings or family parties, and those that don’t have any time off work but just want to get away for a few nights.
3. Half of the bookings you take in August will be for 2 people
Nearly half (48%) of the bookings placed in both August 2012 and August 2013 were for 2 people, and this is not reflective of the property capacity in the sample (2). This suggests it is predominantly couples who are more comfortable leaving it later to book, and it’s couples who are booking short stays.
What about the families?
An average of 33% of the bookings placed in August for properties in the UK and Republic of Ireland included children; so are there any parents willing to wait until last minute to book their family holiday, and if there are where are they going?
The majority of families that are hunting those last minute deals are going abroad. 52% of bookings for properties in Europe and 29% of bookings for properties in the rest of the world included children.
- Most of the bookings are for late availability, which means that people booking family holidays are more likely to plan in advance. So if you welcome families, September through to January is a good time to gear your website towards attracting the family market and to target them in your newsletters and marketing emails.
- During the summer months showcase what appeals to couples and travellers without children. Think about literary events and food festivals, shows or extreme sports that are happening in your area. Team up with other businesses close by to celebrate your local culture and attract more visitors. It may seem strange not to focus on families in August given that school holidays is when most parents take their families away, but you can emphasise how family friendly you are and recommend great days out for the kids on your social media pages at this time. Remember that this is when young families are actually taking their holidays, not when they are looking to book.
It will be interesting to see how August 2014 performs in comparison to the previous two years. We’ll keep an eye on the stats and let you know if anything out of the ordinary happens.
1. Sample information includes all of the bookings placed through SuperControl in August 2012 and August 2013.
2. Property capacity
August 2012: 4 people = 31%, 6 people = 23%, 2 people = 19%.
August 2013: 4 people = 31%, 6 people = 22%, 2 people = 18%.