As the daylight hours fall away from us, the summer peak season may soon seem like a distant memory. If you own a holiday home then this may mean a reduced income from your property over the coming months. I’ve taken a look at how you can defend the earnings from your holiday home (and maybe even grow them)!
Firstly, it is important to understand why people visit you in the peak season. Are you near miles of golden beaches? Is there a lake for water sports nearby? Do the rolling hills in the valley attract fair-weather hikers? Whatever the summer attraction is, there is likely to be a winter equivalent too. A quick way to get qualitative insight in to why people visit your area in the off-season is by searching on TripAdvisor. Enter the name of your local area/region/venues and scroll back to the October-March reviews. Take note of what people are saying, why they visited, what they liked and, as importantly, not liked. How can you cater to these people?
Once you have answered the question above, you need to start shouting about your offering. If, for example, you attract summer hikers and in the winter you can offer “guided winter walking tours” then the first port of call is to update your online content. Add it as an event on Facebook and promote to your previous customers who have liked your page and, through a lookalike audience, people who are just like them. They may not have thought about visiting in the winter months but you are triggering that consideration. You will soon learn what they are and aren’t looking for!
Your local tourist board and travel bloggers with content about your area are likely to be interested in the new offering. Email, call and message them on social media to let them know! To increase your reach you should try to find other local businesses who benefit from increased footfall and/or have a similar target market to you. What are they doing in the off-season? Are the pubs partnering up to run a beer festival? Can you be the accommodation partner they promote as part of the campaign? The quickest way to found out how you can get involved with what is going on locally is to ask – you may be surprised by what you find out, especially if the property isn’t local to your own home.
With the new-found attention and potential bookings, you need to make sure that those customers want to return next year. A key to this is making sure that your property is suitable to host guests in the winter. If you have outdoor space then you want to ensure that it doesn’t turn in to a mud bath! Laying artificial grass is a handy way to mitigate against this and works even better if you put up guided paths around the property. Also, make sure that the windows aren’t paper-thin and make your customers feel like they are in an igloo! Equipping the property with suitable bedding, blankets, firewood and other winter-themed homeware doesn’t have to be expensive but is critical to out-of-season success.
Applying the ideas and practices above should move your winter income much closer to that of the summer! Whatever you end up doing, I wish you the best of luck in this part of your adventure!