Every year I do this to myself as we head into September.  It happens the same time – every year!

It’s my annual panic week when I have a wobble.  A wobble that is “Pants! My booking calendar is almost empty”.

It happens when I go from the busy busyness of summer into the quieter period.  When I have time to step back and look forward. And that sinking feeling of not having many bookings coming up (when I’m used to being full).

If it’s happening to you – I’m with you. I get what you’re feeling.  Even me sat here as a holiday home coach; I know what you should be doing and I know what I should be doing, but it can still be scary, if I’m honest.

And do you know what, it’s OK to feel like that. It’s OK to have a wobble.

It’s OK because it happens to me ever year and every year I work through it and bookings turn out just fine.

Once I remind myself “do you know what, it’s bound to be less busy”, if like me you’re family focussed.  My target market over the summer months is families with school age children. And there are none of them about right now!

So, I have to refocus my attention and do things differently this time of year.

My approach to filling my calendar is two fold.  I need to think about:

  • different uses for my holiday cottage
  • who is likely to be coming on holiday this time and year. What’s the shift in demographic? And specifically what will they want to do on holiday, activity wise.

In terms of a different use for my holiday cottage I’m going to look at the corporate / business. Surely business folk would rather stay with me than in a hotel? I can even arrange a local caterer to come and cook them some meals or they can stroll to the village pub for supper.  To do this I need to network and put in the leg-work to visit the area’s employers.  My cottage’s dining room could double up as a meeting room (for 6) plus it has wifi.  I dabbled in this last year and plan to pursue it more this year.  Firstly I need to find the decision makers and give them a tour of my cottage.

So who is coming on holiday this time of year?  For me, I plan to target the over 50s, the new retirees.  This group still want to come on holiday to explore and be active but they choose to holiday outside of school holidays.

To help attract them even more, I’m going to contact the local golf course and spa to negotiate a discount for my guests.

Perhaps I’ll look to market my cottage to two couples, holidaying together. The girls can go on a spa day and the boys can play golf. In the evening they can enjoy a meal in the village pub.

I also refer to this time of year as “September is the new January”.

The time of year when I have more time; when I start to look forward and plan for the year ahead. Doing the job’s you’d normally associate with January!

It’s a good time to step away from the coal face. You can be more strategic in September than you can be over the busy summer, when it’s head down and little time to surface.

Now is also the time to set 2020 or even 2021 prices. You can’t plan what you’re going to offer guests over the quieter coming months if you don’t have your prices in place. Certainly, don’t wait any longer to get your 2020 prices sorted.  Find out when next year’s school holidays are, dates for Easter weeks etc so you can plan your marketing activity around those dates. So you don’t get caught on the hop.

Also look as last year’s occupancy rates and plan what you want to achieve in the coming year.  Now is the planning time to set your goals and re-evaluate them.

Or, if you need be take a break – then that’s fine, it’s 100% OK to do that. You’ve earned it over the summer. Don’t feel bad!

Just come back refreshed and ready to get you head back into your wonderful holiday rental business.