Securing bookings throughout the low season – Luxury Coastal’s Expert Guide

With over 50 years’ experience in the self-catering industry, the Luxury Coastal team are experts in securing bookings for holiday homes all year round.  

We wanted to share our top tips on ensuring you see bookings throughout the off season, so you’re making the most of your property’s potential across the entire year. 

Let’s get started 

Successful letting is generally defined by the ability to secure a good, consistent level of bookings throughout the year. It’s no one thing that drives performance. It’s the combination of the right property, pricing and marketing that bring guests to your door.  

When looking at the performance of a property, there are many factors to consider when assessing whether it’s best placed to secure bookings and revenue across the year. This applies to summer weeks just as much as it does for the off season. 

Here’s the Luxury Coastal top tips on maximizing the potential income all year round. 

Setting your pricing 

Pricing a property can be a tricky business. Balancing a price point which offers value to guests, whilst ensuring that the property is delivering a return that makes sense for your income can be the challenge.  

The first thing to do is work out what your motivations are for your property. Are you looking to maximise all earning opportunities by securing as many dates as possible or looking to supplement your income when you’re not using your property. Somewhere between is usually the preferred option, balancing the number of guests coming through the door and associated wear and tear and changeover costs with the income that they’re generating. 

An income projection will show whether it stacks up for you, whereby you can work out your overheads and measuring that up against the value of a very busy calendar at lower rates vs less more value weeks  

Once you’re happy with your desired approach, you can begin looking at the ins and outs of how to price the dates in your calendar. 

Here are a few tips: 

  1. Understand what your motivations are. Know what your base level is and what you want or need to see as a return.  
  1. The pricing curve; match your prices to demand – the days of a flat pricing structure are long gone in the industry. Pricing for each week will be dictated by the amount of guests looking for those dates. If you’re fully booked a year in advance, you may be selling the weeks too cheap.  
  1. Benchmarking – take a look at how comparable properties are priced, particularly those with the same features such as location, number of bedrooms, sea views, accept pets, hot tub and so on. Look at more than one property to find an average that feels about right, and you’ll have a basis for what feels fair, pricing-wise. 
  1. Know your audience – think about who you’re targeting and where you’re marketing your property, so you can determine which end of the market your property sits and how you’ll attract the right guests for your property. 
  1. Be transparent – be open with your pricing and provide guests with one cost. Try to avoid adding big extras for service fees, heating, cleaning and so on as this can be off putting. 
  1. Value for money – Setting fair and realistic prices that take into account seasonality and demand ensures that you offer guests value. You may still see bookings even by overstating pricing, though there is more chance of negative feedback or deterring repeat guests, where they feel there wasn’t value for money. 
  1. Be flexible and ready to adapt! Pricing shouldn’t be a static element in your approach to marketing your holiday let – be prepared to make changes to pricing in line with demand and performance. It’s not just about making reductions either; where you are performing well, you can always make small increments in pricing to maximise your return. If things slow down, bring it back down a touch. You’ll soon find the sweet spot. 

Remember, a one size fits all approach rarely fits all in self-catering, as every property is slightly different – your pricing should be based on your own property’s unique selling features.

Dynamic pricing 

Dynamic pricing is a tool which many holiday home owners and agencies use to automatically adjust pricing based on both historic and current booking patterns. 

It is a potentially powerful tool, which can offer an effective way of making adjustments to pricing on a frequent basis, with little manual intervention required.  

Like every tool, there are benefits and drawbacks of using a system such as this. It has the potential to increase revenue across the year, though is generally only as good as its execution and management. With good management of the tool to offset these things, it can work well for some owners. 

By automatically looking at historic and current bookings, dynamic pricing can at times vastly hike pricing to seem very expensive, which may deter guests from booking or repeat guests from returning. Equally, it can drop the pricing to be very low where bookings have been slower, meaning the variances of your pricing from season to season can differ greatly.   

For some owners, the vast peaks and troughs, the lack of certainty and potential loss of control make it less appealing to carefully monitoring and managing performance more personally.  

Be flexible by allowing short breaks & weekday changeovers 

Outside of the school holiday periods, many guests will be looking for short breaks, often leaving it until just weeks or days before the arrival date before going away. There are plenty of reports out there stating that UK short breaks are increasing year on year quite dramatically. 

By offering the flexibility of 3+ night stays, you’re opening up to money rich-time poor guests who’re looking for that short break away. If you get two in a week, it can be more profitable too. 

With cleaners needing to coordinate their calendars, flexible changeovers aren’t always easy, though flexibility is becoming increasingly more important. Guests looking for last minute, short breaks arriving on any day of the week are becoming much more prevalent, fitting around their busy lives and work commitments.  

Be ready for last minute guests 

There will of course be super organised guests who book well in advance to ensure their plans are made for their family, though there has been a marked increase in the number of people who are keen to leave it late and take a last minute break.  

Pets 

Allowing pets in properties is not for everyone, however, there are many virtues of doing so. As beaches lift restrictions and with more guests looking to bring dogs away with them, offering the option to bring pets along will definitely help in extending your season. 

The extra touches 

Making your property feel cosy, homely, and ready for winter will help attract guests looking to get away in the colder months.  

Features such as hot tubs and wood burners are a great way to attract guests all year round and extend your seasons. Of course, adding these isn’t viable for everyone, however there are little extras that may make the colder months more appealing. By adding a Christmas tree during the festive period or patio heaters / fire pit in the garden can make for a much warmer break.  

Where you have these things, showcase them by adding autumnal and winter images to your gallery. 

Taking a property-centric approach to property performance 

At Luxury Coastal, we know a one size fits all approach doesn’t always work, and the pricing pitch and performance management of a property should be tailored to the individual to get the best out of it.  

We’ll visit your property and take time to appraise its earning potential, understanding the unique selling features that will attract guests to your property. We’ll also work with you on your motivations and what you need from the property for it to be deemed a success for you. 

By benchmarking against the industry and assessing the peaks and troughs in demand that come with local and seasonal events, we’ll provide you with a forecast which is achievable and aligned with your goals. 

We constantly monitor performance using a variety of metrics including bookings, revenue, pace of sale, lead time, occupancy, and competitor analysis to ensure we’re always working to deliver the best results, regularly adjusting prices to maximise the number of bookings and revenue achieved. 

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