Perhaps the new normal is turbulence? Never has a three-year period thrown as many challenges in the way of UK businesses. From surviving the boom and bust of a worldwide pandemic, to political uncertainty, war and a cost-of-living crisis, self-catering agencies and property owners have been through the mill of late.
The next few months however are likely to be a tough trade-off between getting the right value for a booking and what guests are able to pay. There is no denying that there is still good demand in the marketplace and that there is a certain demographic of guests who will take their breaks regardless. Many though will be tightening household budgets and holidays over the winter may well be a tough expenditure to justify whilst so many other elements of uncertainty remain. This compromise and the middle ground where bookings are generated is likely to be the backdrop of our winter trading.
Our view is that the market is very sensitive to the ongoing narrative in the news with stories, good and bad, quickly reflecting in booking patterns. The appointment of a new Prime Minister last week saw an immediate increase in search and bookings, a good demonstration of just how elastic the situation is.
After the post covid booking surge, the prospect of a return to quieter off peak periods seems a harder reality to reconcile but November and December 2021 gave us a brief glimpse of what we could expect. Just like the pre covid years, a realistic view of where bookings will fall over the calendar year is going to be important and expectations about a slower end to year should be balanced with optimism about 2023, as the signs are positive.
Our income projections always account for a minimal level of bookings during the true off-peak periods, meaning we are more than able to achieve the numbers we have committed to even with this slower period ahead. Any surplus bookings in these months are usually an extra boost to income and a nice additional to the revenue pot.
We are however pushing harder than ever to get traffic to our properties and to generate bookings, with our properties never being as widely distributed as they are at this time. The trend of discounts and special offers in the medium to long term that are becoming prevalent in the wider marketplace are, in my opinion, not necessary and our focus is on the near-term performance of our portfolio.
The important take away is that the 2023 outlook is positive, there is a tough off-peak season in between now and the new year booking period and we are working hard to get guests to our listings and ultimately secure bookings. We have a dedicated team of local experts on hand to support our owners and discuss any concerns, and we will continue to contact as many owners as possible to check in and chat performance over the coming weeks.
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