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Whilst many holiday cottages across the country are busy with bookings for the peak season, most will also have at some time had to deal with a late cancellation. These are often completely unavoidable. Even if a sizeable deposit has been taken, they can still leave you out of pocket. The other issue is you only have a short space of time to fill them.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some top tips to help you maximise the chances of getting new guests into that prime summer slot.
Don’t rush to discount
The obvious temptation is to drop your price and discount the week. Depending on how quickly you need to fill the vacancy this won’t always be the best way to go; you’ve got a quality cottage, it’s been in demand, so why not test the water and offer it at full (or near to full) price?
This can be particularly pertinent if you’re focussed on the family market; during school term time prices are obviously artificially higher than at other times of the year. If you have the time, try offering your week at the same price before offering any potential hefty discounts. Should it not work, you can then adopt some sort of discounting offer.
Build your database on an ongoing basis
It pays to have a Facebook page full of likes or an email database brimming with past and potential customers. Otherwise the cost of filling your cancelled week will be higher than if you put the ground work in well in advance.
For that reason, you should be constantly taking emails from past and present guests (make sure you offer them the chance to opt-in to your emails), as well as having a clearly visible signup form on your website.
These people are going to be the first port of call when it comes to getting the news of a cancelled week (as they’ve either stayed or showed an active interest in your cottage), and will be a cost effective way of filling your vacancy.
When it comes to Facebook, always encourage people to like your page. This can apply during the booking process, right through to their stay and once they’ve returned home. If they’ve already experienced how great your holiday cottage is then you’ll want to be able to tell them about the latest availability through your page, and as mentioned above, by email too.
Use Facebook effectively
When you post onto Facebook you will organically reach around 20% of your page likes (if the post doesn’t receive interaction such as likes, comments and shares).
This means that when your post about availability goes on, you’re potentially only reaching 20% of your target audience and the other 80%, who are likely to be interested as they like your page, are none the wiser.
For this reason don’t be tempted to just hit the big blue button that says ‘boost’ on it; go to the advert manager and run a campaign to the people that like your page already. This will hit those 80% who like your page and are therefore the best bet to fill a vacancy.
If that doesn’t work then you can then focus on reaching their friends, who are likely to have similar lifestyle traits and tastes.
For more information on how to do this please take a look here: Facebook advertising | 3 ways to target more bookings
Ensure you’re employing email marketing
With Facebook becoming more and more prevalent in filling bookings, email can sometimes be the forgotten marketing ingredient. For every £1 spent on email marketing in the UK, £28 in revenue is generated. Send an email to your database letting them know about the availability, as well as posting it on Facebook.
For more information on how to do this please take a look here: 10 tips for holiday let email marketing success
Boshers offer specialist holiday home insurance to owners across the UK. For information on how we can help and support your holiday home business call us on 01237 429444.