For any holiday home owner or property manager who racks their brains trying to fill off season and last minute availability, Louise Brace, Spain-Holiday.com, wrote a great article, 10 Ways to improve your Christmas and low- season bookings. In it she shares some great points, tips and ideas. One of our favorite bits of advice she points out is to donate time to charity, specifically, Geronimo. So read on and be inspired! Please let us know if you have tried any of these or have other ideas to add to the list.
Low-season doesn’t have to be no-booking-season. There are plenty of guests looking for autumn, winter and spring sunshine, you just need to get their attention. Don’t give in to the low-season blues. Follow our 10 tips to improve your Christmas and low-season bookings and you’ll be as happy as Santa!
Presenting seasonal photos of a roaring log fire in the winter, Christmas lunch on the beach, the local King’s Day Parade in the New Year, snow on the ground – if you are in a cooler region, or autumn pine cones if you’re not; even the Easter Parade in your local village. These images will create an all-year-round appeal for your holiday home.
2. What’s On
Remember guests searching for out-of-season accommodation will also be looking for ideas on how to spend their holiday. If you want to appeal to Christmas renters, then it’s a good idea to update your property description after the summer with information on Christmas events – fayres, New Year’s Eve activities, the local King’s Day parade, even the church midnight mass. And, as above, include some photos, to get them into the local spirit.
3. Accelerate your marketing
At Spain-holiday.com we use email marketing, social media and PR to deliver hard-hitting seasonal messages and promotions. If you’ve had a good summer, then it’s sometimes easy to sit back and rely on fate to bring in the low-season business, but you should never leave your business to chance.
If you have your own website or social media channels then use them to promote low-season offers and reasons to visit. Create a seasonal board on Pinterest, really focus down on what you and your local region have to offer through each season. You could also use Animoto, to create a presentation video and share this on Facebook, Twitter, Google+. Animoto is a super way to present your holiday rental in a simple, but effective video format.
Email past guests and remind them that your holiday home is there all-year-round. Get them in the ‘Christmas in Spain’ mood early. Perhaps offer them a loyalty incentive for having previously booked with you.
4. Special offers and promotions
And talking of special promotions, sales incentives are a great way to drive more low-season bookings:
- Seasonal discounts: offer a discount off your daily, weekly or two weekly rates and share it – with Spain-holiday.com, on your social networks, on your own website and via email to previous guests
- Buy-one-get-one-free: well not quite, but offering longer stays for less often does the trick, 10 nights for the price of 7 or 14 nights for the price of 11 is a good way to make people feel like they are getting better value for money
5. Off-season guest reviews
We have already written about the importance of guest reviews for your holiday rental and guest reviews out of high season will give your holiday home some serious off-season credential. Tailor your guest review email with questions, such as what activities or events they enjoyed, where they ate Christmas lunch, if they felt your home had a festive feel, etc. If you haven’t done this before, make sure you start now!
6. Focus on the audience
Consider adapting seasonal messages to different target audiences. Develop half-term messages for families and out-of-season messages for retired holidaymakers. Develop special promotions for each audience. Half-term discounts, 14 days for the price of 11 out of season, etc.
Another option, if you don’t already, is to offer special Winter Month Stays. These really appeal to an older audience, who want to escape the cold winter months and it’s a great way of filling up your booking calendar. Offer special month rates for November, January and February, you should be pleasantly surprised at the response.
7. Tell us about your low-season special offers
Spain-holiday.com has all the tools you need to get your offers out there and be seen. With over 40,000Facebook fans, 5000 twitter followers and 5500 Google+ followers, our social media platforms are designed to deliver for our clients. What’s more our PR team work hard to get homes featured in national and travel press titles across Europe. If you have a special offer to promote, tell us about, let us help you get the message out to the masses.
8. Christmas welcome pack
Guests love to arrive to a welcome pack. A bottle of wine, tea bags, pint of milk, these might be the norm during high season, but why not leave a seasonal pack next time? Be creative. If it’s Christmas, make up a festive welcome pack of mince pies, panettone, turron and polvorones, and of course a bottle of wine or a mulled wine spice mix. Your guests will love the gesture.
9. Low-season flight routes and prices
Due to demand, major airlines have extended and included new flight routes to Spain this autumn/winter season. If your local region is benefitting from increased flight schedules, then make sure you include information in your property description and on your own website. Where possible add links to airlines that serve your region. Shout about them on your social networks!
10. Spare weeks? Give them to charity!
Finally, it’s inevitable that you are going to have some unfilled weeks during the year, especially during low-season. Rather than leave it empty, why don’t you consider donating a week to charity? Consider the benefits:
- You are helping a good cause
- You can fill spare weeks and cancellation dates, earning money at the same time
- If you promote your participation through your bookings system, other clients will look on this favourably. It might be the tipping point between choosing your holiday home and the one next door.
How to get involved:
You may have already been asked to donate weeks to a charity and if you have already done so, you will know that it can take up quite a bit of management time and be a pain blacking out calendar dates. However, there are organisations that you can sign-up to that will manage your charity donation weeks for you.
www.geronimo.com is a US-based organisation connecting holiday rental owners and property managers with charity auctions. They do promote holidays in Europe. You post your spare weeks or cancellation dates free of charge, choose your rental price and keep 50% of the rental booking. It’s a great opportunity to recuperate some of your lost booking money on cancellations.
www.homeswithheart.co.uk is a UK-based charity which gives free holidays to families that need a respite from their daily lives, whether they are living with disability, illness or poverty. With this system you actually donate the week free of charge, but you will be reimbursed for your cleaning and laundry costs.