With the summer season almost over for another year, what’s September likely to have in store for self-catering accommodation providers? We took a look at the previous years’ booking statistics¹ to try to predict what might happen next month – are there any obvious trends you should plan and prepare for?
The majority of bookings placed in September are likely to be for holidays in September and October. Of the bookings placed for properties in the UK and Ireland in September 2012, 53.1% were for that month or the next (55.1% in 2013; 51.1% in 2014). The proportion of September bookings for properties in the rest of the world (ROW) in September and October each year was also high, although slightly less so (40.6% in 2012; 41.2% in 2013; and 39.9% in 2014).
This trend for booking at the last minute is well established and will no doubt be reflected in September’s booking figures this year too. So, be prepared. Make sure your availability and pricing are accurate, up-to-date and clearly shown on your website. Make it as easy as possible for guests to choose to book your property.
For properties in the UK and Ireland, the highest proportion of bookings have been for just two people in September each year – and this number is increasing (38% of bookings in 2012; 40% in 2013; 41% in 2014. Please click on images to enlarge). For properties in ROW, the largest segment of bookings placed in September was also for just two people (27% in 2012 and 2014 and 28% in 2013). There are a few things you can try to get a bigger slice of this couples market:
- Have a dedicated page to appeal to couples on your website – include things that might appeal more to couples (meals out, spas, romantic packages etc).
- If you are a SuperControl PLUS or AGENCY customer, you can also filter your database by number of guests and send couples who have previously booked with you a targeted mailshot with a tempting offer (Database > Filter).
- You can also pay for a targeted ad on the likes of Facebook to reach couples (or any group of guests) that you’re hoping to attract.
Despite the fact that parties of two account for the largest proportion of September bookings, this does not reflect the bookings made by property capacity. Properties that sleep two made up just 17% of bookings in September each year (19% of bookings in September 2012), whereas more than 60% of bookings each year were placed for properties with a capacity of 4-6.
Some tips for tactical pricing…
So, although couples might be booking more than other groups in September, they’re generally booking larger properties than they need. How can you turn that to your advantage? Well, as a SuperControl user, it’s easy to tempt smaller groups to book a larger property by offering a Low occupancy discount, for instance (go to Properties > Edit and select Discounts from the dropdown menu next to the relevant property):
Simply put in a figure against each number of guests that you want to offer a discount for and this is the percentage that will be taken off the usual fully occupied price. You can select a start and end date for which the discount will apply, as well as a minimum and maximum number of nights. Obviously, if you have a 4-bed property and your discount is for two people, you don’t have to knock 50% off the price – even a small 5-10% discount will appeal to guests and make your property more attractive than others not offering a discount. If you don’t like discounting your property, you can in fact set up pricing that scales up as the number of guests increases.
The long and short of it
An increasing majority of guests booking properties in the UK and Ireland in September favour short breaks of less than 7 nights (they accounted for 60% of bookings in 2012, 61% in 2013 and 62% 2014). Whereas, bookings for stays of 7 nights dropped 2% between 2012 and 2014. Disappointed? Well, you shouldn’t be.
Certainly, week-long bookings make your life easier with set changeover days and steady 7-night bookings, but shorter stays are not to be sniffed at. And they can be far more profitable. After 7 nights, the graphs above show that 3-night stays have perennially been the most popular with guests booking in September. So, even if you charge just 60% of your weekly rate price for a 3-night stay, two 3-night stays are worth 20% more than a set 7-night stay.
For properties in the ROW, this is less relevant as the September booking figures from the past three years show that the vast majority of guests have booked stays of at least seven nights (79% in 2012 and 78% in 2013 and 2014).
However, it’s worth being as flexible as possible with your short breaks in order to boost your overall bookings and there are also many ways you can do this in SuperControl.