In low season it’s natural that your booking calendar looks leaner than it did in the summer. Don’t panic it’s to be expected but don’t sit on your laurels either.
Here’s what you can do to get more bookings for your holiday home in low season.
1. Talk it up
You have to be more proactive in your marketing in the low season as fewer guests are looking to take holidays. Ensure you sell the benefits of a stay with you during the off-peak season. What particularly does your holiday home offer? Why should they stay with you in the autumn and winter? Highlight features that are particularly special during the winter months (a log fire, a deep bath, woodland walks on the doorstep). But talk them up: “Imagine wrapping up and heading out into the nearby woods for a long walk then returning to put your feet up and relax in front of the cosy log burner” is a lot more enticing than “we have a log burner and are near the woods”. Also in your marketing talk about the area in general eg quieter roads, crisp winter walks, cosy pubs, wrapped-up strolls along deserted beaches.
2. Update your images
Ensure your website is showing seasonal images such as the log fire lit, rather than the sun lounger out in the garden. Get guests imagining themselves being there in low season. If necessary, amend the copy of your website too, to reflect the changing season. A real fire is a huge bonus to attract winter bookings.
Here’s more on >>How to shout about your real fire in your marketing<<
3. Contact previous low season guests
Contact past guests personally and remind them of what a fabulous holiday they had with you last year. Look at their visitor book comments. What did they say about their holiday? Remind them of this in your email to them. Offer them an extra special welcome hamper if you need to entice them back. But play on their emotions, how did their low season holiday make them feel eg relaxed, quality time spent with loved ones, an escape from the day to day, refreshed, something to get them through the winter? Use their words and get them wanting to re-book with you.
When you’re not as busy on the ground welcoming guests and doing changeovers, now’s the time to take stock and evaluate what has worked for you in your marketing in the past. Do you know where previous guests found you? Was it a word of mouth recommendation? Did they find you on Twitter? Do your research, find out what worked and repeat!
If you’ve been using social media do you know which of your posts get the most engagement? Look at your insights/analytics to tell you this and post more of these posts. Don’t reinvent the wheel if you don’t have to.
5. Seasonal events
Are there any important seasonal events taking place near you? A winter market? Star gazing events? Guests may book purely to take part in these events. So not only market the fact that your holiday home is located near this event, contact event organisers to do some cross-promotional work. That may be as simple as sharing each other’s content on Facebook or you may be able to join one of their promotions. A raffle prize for an event in January, may generate interest and bookings in March and early spring. Be careful before you give anything away, that the event is targeting the same people as you want to attract to your holiday rental. A smaller event that matches your target market is much more valuable to you than a larger event which appeals to a cross section of people. Quality over quantity every time.
Remember that the booking cycle is always shorter in low season than it is during the peak weeks. Guests have less urgency to book. Your job is to create that urgency, grab their attention and get them to book with you. Following these 5 steps will help you to get more bookings in low season but there’s no short cut; you have to put in the work.