Top 5 tips for securing shoulder season bookings

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Top 5 tips for securing shoulder season bookings

Everyone is different and while some holidaymakers prefer to travel peak season, many find that travelling out of season can be quieter, cost effective and there is a wider choice available.

So when you're thinking of attracting shoulder season bookings your advert really needs to stand our from the others and appeal to the more selective holidaymaker. We've put together our top tips to help you secure shoulder season bookings.

  1. Go the extra mile. As some features of your property may not be available to guests at certain times of the year - such as a pool garden or patio area - keep your advert appealing by offering alternatives. Is your pool out of bounds? Maybe you know of a local indoor pool that you could recommend. If the weather doesn't allow for the use of the garden and the barbecue, dress the house with some vases of colourful flowers and focus on your indoor unique selling points such as jacuzzi or wood burner. Think about supplying indoor pursuits such as books and games. Plenty of holidaymakers are happy to while away the evenings rounds the dining table.

  2. Photos. Focus your gallery to attract off season bookings. If autumn is around the corner then add some photos of local woodland waiting for the fall of leaves or the property during a foggy sunrise. Snowy scenes of local hills, sledging and Christmas markets can look really attractive. Spring sunsets and fields of bluebells encourage walkers who can't wait to get out and about. If the weather is not favourable at the time of year your trying to encourage bookings for, make sure you have some great picutres of the dining area set up ready for dinner and cosy lighting in all the rooms.

  3. Think outside the box. If you're finding that you only seem to fill your peak weeks, you might need to adjust what you're offering to suit various target audiences. If you normally only accept large groups of six or eight for instance, why not consider offering a discount for smaller groups. Couples in particular enjoy travelling outside the peak season as they have that flexibility that larger groups may not. You can add up to three rental rates tables on your advert and offer a discount to smaller groups. Some couples will be happy to stay in a larger property if they are getting a discounted rate.

  4. Give an incentive. If you normally charge extra for pets, cleaning, logs for the fire etc. consider dropping those charges and highlighting that on your advert: "FREE logs and coal for all bookings Oct-Feb". Given that the weather will play a large part in what activities your guest decides to do on holiday, why not organise some discount vouchers for the local museums/theme park/theatre or offer gift vouchers for a 'pamper day' at the nearest spa. Your guests will be encouraged to make a booking and will probably want to come back next year!

  5. Be flexible. Guests travelling off-season have more choice so they can afford to be picky about when they travel. We always recommend trying to be as flexible as possible with your changeover days at any time of the year but it is doubly important during the shoulder seasons. Some holidaymakers find that accommodation and travel cost more economical at this time. Flights, ferries and train fares tend to be cheaper mid-week than at weekends. This may mean having a few odd days vacant but it may help you secure a booking. You could negotiate with your guests to see if they would be willing to start their holiday a few days after or before their chosen day so you can juggle your bookings and keep your property full. You could offer them a small discount for being flexible.

Changes to make in your Home Management page:

  • Keep your availability calendar up to date and mark all available periods 'green'. You'll find this in 'Stage 6'. Watch our 'How to' guide for help.

  • Add some more rental rates tables to attract smaller groups. Find out how.

  • Keep your photos seasonal. You can rearrange and add more photos in 'Stage 5' of your Home Management page.

  • Update your descriptions regularly and highlight any special offers or incentives to encourage bookings.

  • Go to 'Stage 6' to alter your changeover day and be flexible with your minimum stay.

Author: Kate, Advert Performance Advisor

Date: July 2011