If you’re a holiday cottage owner, you’ll know how hectic the festive period can be. It’s one of the most lucrative of the year, but a cancelled booking can be a nightmare as you struggle to secure a new booking in time. Thankfully there are often holiday-makers looking for a last minute bargain, perhaps having decide to go away on whim.
Enticing these customers is important as last minute holiday-makers may have specific needs that need addressing if they are to make a booking with you rather than with another cottage in the area.
These five tips will help you attract last-minute custom and ensure your holiday cottage is in use throughout the whole festive period.
Provide the little extras – families or couples going away over Christmas are often looking for a special experience that they can’t receive at home. If you have an open fire at your cottage, make sure this is advertised on any promotional material, and provide a set amount of firewood to make getting started as easy as possible. If your property is regularly rented by couples, include a bottle of champagne or chocolates on arrival. Or break out the Egyptian cotton towels. Go the extra mile and you’ll be rewarded.
Make the decision for them – consider what worries people may have when booking a last minute cottage stay over the festive period. They may be worried about public transport around the region if not driving, so post timetables and local taxi/bus information on your website as reassurance. They may also be concerned about ordering in food, so provide lists of local supermarkets that will deliver over Christmas or New Year. Perhaps they are staying for a New Year to remember – why not provide details of local parties and events?
Optimise for late availability bookings – if you are listed on general holiday cottage booking websites, that’s fantastic, but last minute holiday-makers will generally type different search terms into Google, or visit different sites, than those booking in advance. Make sure you cater for your audience, by optimising your site with keywords around last minute bookings, and also by listing yourself on late availability sites to ensure the maximum exposure to your target audience.
Offer a discount – late availability bookings generally involve a discount on the standard price. Bear in mind that other cottages are likely to offer discounts on last minute bookings to appear competitive, and you may be losing out if you choose not to cut your rates. The discount does not have to be considerable; just enough to mark your offer out as special. If you really can’t offer a discount, try throwing in an extra – such as food or wine – for free.
Be flexible – if your cottage sleeps 10, your price will reflect that, and you’ll be unlikely to get bookings for couples as it will be uneconomical for both parties. But consider relaxing your terms and conditions during the festive period to increase the chances of getting a booking. You could offer a discount for short breaks, for large families, or for single occupancy. Be creative and set yourself apart from the competition.
We hope these tips help you to make the most of your holiday cottage during the festive period – good luck getting your bookings.