In 2017 there were three key areas that stood out in the self-catering industry: guest experience, booking channels and smarter pricing.
To fill availability calendars, providing high quality and outstanding holiday accommodation is essential. But on it’s own that’s not enough. To really succeed today, you have to make the decision to book online really easy. Remove any effort on the guest’s part. Provide a solution to all their needs and wants, and tell them about it on your website, on social media and in all communication channels.
Holiday accommodation owners and managers have realised the importance of good data. It enables you to identify who stays in your property. Couples? Families? Business travellers? Large groups? Determine what their interests are. What is important to them? What do they want to do during their short breaks? Then you can provide all the information they need – liaise with local businesses and attractions to provide entry tickets or vouchers; share recommendations from previous guests; essentially put together an experience for them. And make it easy to book everything from one place.
Use the previous guest information in your property management system to really personalise the experience. You know what time of year guests have visited before, how long they stayed, how far in advance they booked. Get in touch with them at the right time with the right message. Be present when booking a holiday is on their mind. When you get it right, not only will you build relationships and make your guests feel valued (encouraging repeat bookings), there is also a massive opportunity to upsell. In just twelve months, one of our clients took an additional £120k on optional extras alone.
Whilst in 2016 the focus was on securing direct bookings, in 2017 we encouraged using the big booking websites to increase visibility.
Competing against the likes of Booking.com and Airbnb is futile, it’s a waste of resources. Last year was about embracing the big players and discovering how to get more bookings from your listings – what makes your vacation rental perform well and stand out from your competitors? The more complete your listing is, the more visible you will be. That means paying attention to details, adding your prices well in advance, responding quickly to enquiries and soliciting reviews.
When your guests have stayed at your holiday cottage, villa or apartment, you have the opportunity to build relationships. Provide incentives to book direct next time. Even though you might not have their contact details, you could leave information in your property to encourage them to follow you on Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, sign up to a newsletter, or even use your welcome pack to ask them to email or message you with any questions or if they need any help.
It’s no coincidence that the most popular article on our blog in 2017 was How to grow your self-catering business with smarter pricing. Last year yield management was the hot topic at the main conferences, AGMs and industry meetings.
Traditionally the holy grail for holiday rental businesses was to fill availability calendars. But achieving maximum occupancy creates a lot of work and makes it difficult to fit in property maintenance. Optimising pricing increases revenue without maximising occupancy. The strategy is to operate profitably by increasing prices instead of reducing them.
To achieve this you have to do your research. Find out what dates people are looking for, when. When is demand highest? In what months do your competitors fluctuate their prices? How far in advance do guests typically book?
Be flexible with your start days and length of stay and set your prices as far in advance as possible (you can always adjust them later on if the dates are still available).
With these strategies in place, self-catering business owners are entering 2018 in a strong place. Good online booking software streamlines processes to improve efficiency. If you use SuperControl take a look the Help Centre if you need some inspiration to make the most of your account.
If you are looking for an online booking system to help run your holiday rental business, please get in touch to arrange a demo to find out how SuperControl can work for you. Email email@example.com or call +44 (0)1556 506701.