We hope you’ve been riding the crest of the bookings wave that has been keeping us on our toes this month (11 January was a record-breaking day for us with 24% more bookings placed in a single day than ever before). In order to help you plan as much as possible for 2016 and make it your most successful year yet, we’ve reviewed the bookings placed through SuperControl during the first quarter (Q1) of 2012, 2013, 2014 and 2015 to see if there are any trends to look out for¹.
Full weeks or short breaks?
We’re well aware that guests’ propensity for short breaks is rising. This is especially true for properties in the United Kingdom and Ireland (UKIE). The proportion of 7-night bookings placed during Q1 in each of the past four years have declined steadily from 41.9% in 2012 to 36.7% last year. At the same time, bookings of up to six nights increased from 51.4% to 57.6%.
However, for properties in the rest of the world (ROW), week-long stays remain the most popular. Stays of 7+ nights are also more popular than short breaks. The vast majority of week-long and 7+ night stays for ROW properties were placed by guests from the UK and Ireland – and increasingly so. UKIE guests placed 88.4% of 7-night stays and 86.0% of 7+ night stays in Q1 last year, compared with 80.7% of 7-night stays and 74.9% of 7+ night stays in Q1 2012. An increasing number of UKIE guests are also booking short breaks at ROW properties (64.1% of 1-6 night stays were booked by UKIE guests in Q1 last year compared with just 52% in Q1 2012).
Top tip: In SuperControl, you can load the price for shorter stays to ensure any length of stay is profitable. Just log in to your account and go to the Price planner to set your prices.
Bookings by start day
More than half of all week-long bookings placed during Q1 of each of the past four years for properties in UKIE have had a Saturday start day. However, Saturday’s popularity has dropped by 7% between 2012 and 2015 and almost as many guests booked stays that didn’t start on a Saturday. More than one-third of bookings each year have been for 7-night stays that begin on a Friday – and Friday bookings are becoming increasingly popular. Sunday is the third most popular start day, accounting for a small but consistent 4% of Q1 full-week bookings each year.
Top tip: You’re able to vary your chosen start days for full week bookings throughout the year in SuperControl. Just log in to your account and go to Properties > Edit, then scroll to Start day for full week bookings and set your start days month-by-month.
More than half of all week-long stays booked at ROW properties in Q1 2013, 2014 and 2015 did not have a Saturday start day. The popularity of Saturday as a start day has fallen from 50% of bookings in Q1 2012 to 46% of bookings in Q1 last year. Meanwhile, bookings placed with a Sunday start day have increased by 5% in the same period. Friday is the third most popular start day, and holidays that started on a Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday comprised between 26% and 28% of bookings placed during Q1 each year.
Top tip: If being fully flexible and enabling every day as a start day doesn’t work for you, you could limit it to when you have last-minute availability (eg within the next 14 or 21 days). In SuperControl, you can open up your last-minute availability to accept bookings on a fully flexible basis, in order to boost your bookings. This doesn’t have to be a permanent change – you can log in to SuperControl and amend these settings any time you like.
Booking lead time
Our stats consistently show that more and more guests leave it late when it comes to booking holiday accommodation – perhaps in the hope of snapping up a bargain – at least for UKIE properties. The highest proportion of bookings placed during Q1 every year for properties in UKIE had a lead time of 0-60 days. For ROW properties, however, the highest proportion of bookings had a lead time of 121-180 days. The vast majority of these advanced bookings (82.9%) were from UKIE guests, which perhaps isn’t that surprising as we’d expect guests to book their “big, overseas holiday” further in advance.
Top tip: Can your guests book the dates they want to? Log in to your SuperControl account and go to Properties > Chart display to make sure your availability charts are showing as far in the future as you want them to (we’d recommend at least 12 months).
Properties in UKIE have been quite consistent when selling at a discount – discounted bookings accounted for 12% of bookings placed during Q1 last year and 13% in each of the previous years. However, ROW properties are taking more discounted bookings – if we compare Q1 2012 and Q1 2015, 10% more bookings were sold at a discount price last year.
If we break these Q1 bookings down by whether they were owner or agency bookings, there are a couple of interesting and opposing trends. For UKIE properties, owners sell more discounted bookings than agents selling on their behalf while agents sell far more discounted bookings for ROW properties.
Top tip: Discounting is useful for filling otherwise difficult-to-sell dates and, in SuperControl, you can set many different kinds of discounts (eg late availability, low occupancy or X nights for the price of Y). However, there are simple steps you can take to limit having to discount at all: as described in the tip above, always make sure your calendars are loaded at least 12 months in advance, so that guests can book the dates they want; do canny email marketing in the sweet spot for attracting bookings at full price; and reward the loyalty of past guests with a special voucher, for instance.
How can SuperControl boost your business?
All the top tips described above are designed to make our customers’ lives as easy as possible, while generating more bookings for them. If you’d like to know how SuperControl can help you, simply sign up for a free trial with one of our team.
¹ Q1 bookings are all bookings placed between 1 January and 31 March each year. For consistency, we only included data from customers who have been with SuperControl since at least 1 January 2012.