How to Maximise Bookings in Winter
Summer is now over and the weather is turning cooler – making it the ideal time to think about how to maximise bookings in winter. Though the summer holidays are traditionally busy, the autumn/winter period doesn’t need to be quiet: in fact, lots of people like to take short breaks or trips once the schools have gone back, or during the Christmas holidays.
However, the quieter times of year present more choice for holiday makers, as there tends to be more on offer (with fewer big block bookings being taken) – so it pays to think about how to make your home as attractive as possible. To help you maximise your bookings in winter and show off your home to its full potential, we’ve consulted our expert UnderTheDoormat team. Here are a few of our top tips!
How to Maximise Your Bookings in Winter
Availability: make use of all possible dates. It sounds obvious, but the more dates you open up, the more likely you are to get bookings. If bookers are offered a wide range of dates, your home will be more appealing: you also open up the potential for repeat bookings or recommendations to friends and family from previous guests.
Offer long booking periods. If possible, try to offer longer periods of availability. Where short trips were once more common in the UK, longer staycations are now attractive to many holidaymakers; big groups often wish to stay for more than just a weekend, too. Opening up longer periods of availability will also offer potential bookers more flexibility. With consecutive periods of availability, you might even bag yourself a booking for several weeks!
Think about first impressions Enter your home and try to see it through new eyes. How does it look? Is it homely and inviting? How does it feel? Is it warm or cold? How does it smell? Are there any tell-tale odours that might need to be addressed? From the moment your guest sets foot through the door, you wish them to feel comfortable, happy, and right at home, so it’s worth considering what little tweaks you can make to get any visit off to a great start. First impressions have a lingering impact, which could affect the feedback you receive and whether the guest recommends you to others or makes a repeat booking.
Spruce up your décor The addition of a simple painting or pop of colour can have a huge impact: instantly filling the room with character and making the space feel more homely. You may wish to avoid any artwork or ornamentation that is very niche, though. In our experience, subtle pieces tend to be the most inviting. You could also consider giving walls, skirting, wooden window frames and doors a lick of paint – it can make a big difference and doesn’t cost much to do!
Make space – and signpost clearly. Though storage space isn’t an absolute must, it’s a real bonus for many potential bookers. As such, consider clearing out some bedroom cupboards and/or chest of drawers, and make space in your fridge, freezer and kitchen cabinets, too. That way, when guests come to stay they are able to treat your house as a real home. Equally, don’t be afraid to block off spaces that are private. It’s best to avoid uncertainty by signposting everything clearly.
Attention to detail. Is there a tap that drips? A window that doesn’t quite shut? Or perhaps a blind that doesn’t open properly? Now is the time to fix all those little niggles to ensure your guests get the best impression of your lovely home. It’s worth changing all the lightbulbs and batteries, too, and making a note to do this on a regular basis (there’s nothing more annoying than a smoke alarm that beeps constantly!). Put your hot water and heating on a timer for your guests so that the home remains at an optimum temperature - and consider buying fans for summer.
De-clutter. Over the course of a year, things accumulate, and before you know it there’s clutter on every available surface! It’s worth devoting a couple of days to de-cluttering thoroughly, being ruthless about what you’re going to keep, deciding what will be on display and what will be tidied away, and purchasing new storage solutions if necessary. Not only will this create the impression of increased space in your home, and allow guests more room in which to store their own belongings (albeit temporarily), but also it will make it easier for you to prepare your home for each new arrival.
Prioritise good Wi-Fi. This might sound like a small detail, but to many modern travellers it’s essential! Whilst some guests might wish to disconnect from the outside world entirely, the vast majority will expect strong WiFi, if only to stream television programmes or upload holiday pics to social media. In an ideal world, your WiFi will be fast enough to serve multiple devices at once.
Consider a child-friendly home. The family-friendly homestay market is a huge one, and if you have children yourself this could be an additional asset, so make sure to point out all the ways in which you accommodate families: from changing mats to safety (like having a stairgate). If you can offer bulky items like highchairs, you’ll be saving your guests the hassle of bringing them or having to hire them – which could be a huge bonus.
Offer little extras. Sometimes, the small touches can make all the difference. For example, providing a guest book of local, up-to-date information (nearest supermarkets and opening times, local restaurants, favourite take-out places, minicab firms) is a lovely thought. If you have books or board games, make them available to guests, too! Having a TV in each bedroom is also a really great way to make guests as comfortable as possible.
The great news in these uncertain times is that the UK homestay market is extremely buoyant: so, with a little effort and creativity, there’s no reason your home shouldn’t be fully booked. For more tips and tricks, be sure to keep an eye on the blog or follow us on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram; alternatively, feel free to get in touch with the UnderTheDoormat team if you have any questions.