Holiday homes bookings are down as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic?
Just the uncertainty of what is or isn’t about to happen in the short term, medium term and long term, as we know all too well, impacts the hospitality industry.
Despite your assurances that you will move their holiday date if a national lockdown means the holiday can’t taken place; guests are nervous and don’t book. It’s frustrating, but you can understand that.
Here are 8 things to do, for the future good of your business, if your holiday homes bookings are down at the moment.
1. Be proactive
It’s all about your mindset. Sitting back, doing nothing, accepting it, just waiting for virus to pass won’t help you or your finances. So no more “this is how it is”, “it’s a pandemic”. Instead make a decision and a commitment to yourself to be proactive. Yes, this will mean putting more time and effort into your marketing to chase the bookings. But commit to this extra push. Continue to talk about you area, share snippets behind the scenes and keep your social media posts and monthly e-newsletters coming!
2. Acknowledge, Address and Reassure
The temptation is to not talk about it. “Sshh, don’t mention Coronavirus”.
Best policy is to acknowledge that it’s here. Then address peoples’ concerns about issues such as tourism hot spot closures and turn any negatives you can into positives. Reassurance is a key card to play and guests will need more reassurance than normal. For example, what better way to keep yourself socially distanced than a walk on the nearby isolated cliff top path or out on the moors. Take photos of the local landscape, the unpopulated areas and use these to your advantage. (If of course you follow government travel advice.)
If you can’t travel to the moors to take pictures, explain that. Guests will appreciate your honesty. Explain how desperate you are to visit this beautiful place again, they will be too. And your honesty will resonate.
3. Contact your regular guests personally
You already have a good relationship with these people. Now is the time to continue to nurture that.
Try to personalise your emails to them. Empathise, explain the situation, but importantly remind them that you are still there; whether you can open for business right now or in a few months time. Know what dates they stayed with you last year and tell them that these dates are still free, would they like to rebook? The tone mustn’t be too salesy but at the same time you don’t want to miss this opportunity of getting a rebooking if you can.
4. Use email marketing
Use email marketing to contact other past guests and all your contacts too. This group doesn’t need personal contact from you but an email offering reassurance that you’re waiting to take their bookings. It’s important to keep this email up-beat and positive with a nod to the summer ahead, rather than what’s happening right now.
You should be regularly emailing these people anyway, via email marketing tools such as Madmimi or Mailchimp. If you’re not doing this, then start now (but that’s the subject of an entirely different blog)!
5.Write a seasonal things to do guide
You have the time right now, when bookings are quieter to do this.
A “things to do in your area in winter/spring/summer/autumn guide”, can really help drive interest in your holiday rental, can help with your bookings and your future marketing. Write the guide, then save it as a pdf file that can be downloaded from your website in return for an email address. This email address will then be used in your future marketing . Along with permission to keep hold of their email of course.
The guide must be promoted on your social media too.
Some ideas for your guide would be – the 5 best tea rooms to visit nearby, the 5 best Sunday lunches in your area, the 3 best local spas. Or how about the best 5 local gins (they then can stay inside and enjoy this activity). These can also be added to blogs on your website.
6. Talk about the warmer months
Take guest’s minds away from the current news stories and remind them, that by booking with you ; look what they could be enjoying in the summer. Encourage them to book now with enticing images of garden flowers, lambs frolicking in the fields. You know the type of images I mean. Images that just want to make you get out and about and explore. And to feel the sunshine on your face for the first time in months!
7. Don’t do it alone
Other local businesses will also be wanting to promote future bookings. Work with your local contacts on how best to promote this. The larger tourism agencies may have their own campaign. See how they are doing it and join in with them and retweet their tweets.
The more local business that participate the louder and stronger and more far reaching the message will be. If on Twitter, they are using certain hashtags, then make sure you use them too. Likewise on Facebook and Instagram share, comment on and like all the beautiful images that show your area at its best.
8. Get you camera out
Last but certainly not least, get your camera out and snap, snap, snap away.
At any time of the year, come rain, sleet, snow or shine, images are one of your key marketing tools. You should have files on your computer of various seasonal images you have taken over the years. Images you can call on and rely on whenever you need them. You can use these seasonal images to your advantage. Take snowy images to show how pretty your garden looks covered in the white stuff. Post pictures of your cosy lounge with the log fire lit. Get snapping!
We’re all in this together. It’s a scary, uncertain time for holiday home owners and guests. Importantly stay positive and do what you can to get your message heard.
This involves regularly updating your website and blogs and involves more time spent posting on social media. This is the most effective way to get to more people interested in you, in the quickest amount of time.
Let’s hope we can open fully soon and the bookings will start to flow again. But in the meantime follow this advice and work your socks off to educate potential guests and counteract this downturn in business.
PS if you’d like more holiday home marketing tips, check out more of my blogs right here >> Marketing Tips