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How to increase holiday let bookings in winter

Once upon a time, the holiday letting season in the South West was restricted to a few sunny summer months. There might have been a little flurry of bookings around Christmas and New Year as well, but the window of opportunity for winter holiday lets was fairly small. That’s no longer the case. So, in this blog article we’ll show you how to increase holiday let bookings in winter.

Winter in Salcombe - view from Snape's Point

The winter holiday lets opportunity

The UK holiday letting season has been gradually extending over the years, and has been supercharged by the pandemic. Those who have discovered South Devon and East Cornwall for the first time are wondering why they didn’t visit sooner. The impact of this surge is that it’s extending the season well outside the school holidays. 

Domestic travel is no longer just about summer holidays and wishful thinking for a great British summer beside the sea. Britons are travelling more and they’re travelling all year round too. According to data from Statista, Brits take on average… 

  • Nearly four trips per year
  • They opt mostly for beach holidays and city breaks
  • The number of Brits travelling in the UK is nearly 70% and climbing, even without the pandemic

There’s also a growing trend for choosing holiday lets over hotels, for myriad reasons:

  • Greater privacy
  • Fewer multi-use touch points (hygiene and cleanliness)
  • Multi-generational groups can stay together
  • It’s cheaper per person for larger groups 
It’s good news for holiday home owners, but how do you make the most of the opportunity and attract winter guests too?

Dartmouth in winter

Benefits of holiday let bookings in winter

The reason for letting in the winter months is twofold. Firstly, it’s an opportunity to maximise profits from your holiday home by extending the season. Secondly, if someone enjoys a winter break at your holiday home, it may encourage them to book or recommend your property in the pricier summer months. The more people who see your holiday home and love it, the easier (and more cost effective) it becomes to generate bookings moving forward. Not only that, but it’s better for the house not to leave it empty for prolonged periods - prevent those pipes from freezing, reduce damp and it keeps it more secure as well. 

Top benefits for letting in winter include:

  • Keeps the property in use
  • Keeps the heating on
  • Supports the local economy
  • Tops up your rental income

Salcombe in winter

How to prepare your holiday home for winter guests

Naturally, in many ways, preparing a holiday let for guests in the winter months is much the same as any other time of the year. However, there are additional considerations that can both help attract guests at this time of the year, as well as ensure they have a wonderful time (and hopefully book again!). From tweaks to your online listing to improve winter marketing to small additions within the property to make guests feel welcome, here are some of our top tips on how to prepare your holiday home for winter guests.

Tailor the guest experience to winter holidaymakers

The chances are that the guests you’re looking to attract in the winter months are not the same as the ones you’re trying to attract in the height of summer. Depending on your property, the school holidays may lend themselves more to families and groups, whereas the winter might be more about couples, empty nesters, solo travellers, those heading on walking holidays (possibly with the dog), or a couple of friends travelling without children. 

While these are generalisations, it’s worth thinking about how you present your property for the different audiences. 

  • Could you tweak your listing in the winter to emphasise different features or add appealing different photos? 
  • Could you introduce different amenities to better tailor the property to a different clientele? 
  • Could you highlight seasonally relevant events, activities, attractions, or sites that may well attract these guests to the area
  • You might even be able to negotiate preferable rates with local companies on relevant activities and entertainment.

Offer short stays 

Often in the winter, people are not looking to go on holiday for a full week. While some agents are rigid about pricing for full weeks only, having the flexibility to offer shorter stays could be the difference between some occupancy and no occupancy at all. 

To make this work for you, you obviously need to ensure that short stays are priced at a level that you still profit from - this is something we are able to help with at HolidayHost. 

Don’t forget, winter bookings can turn into repeat and/or summer bookings as well as recommendations!

Ask us about short break pricing.

Offer advice on things to do 

There is also an opportunity to increase the appeal of short breaks by proposing suggested things to do, for example: 

  • How to spend 72 hours in Salcombe in November 
  • Midweek winter break itinerary ideas

If prospective guests are considering your location and your home as a place to stay in South Devon, make the decision even easier for them to commit to booking by giving them some upfront ideas of what they could do to make the most of their stay. 

The South West is very much known as a place for outdoor entertainment and activities, but this being the UK, you can’t guarantee the weather, especially in the autumn and winter. 

If guests don’t know the area, it can be tricky to know what to do when it’s pouring with rain. So including guidance on your favourite local winter activities and entertainment as part of your pre-arrival communications and in a digital welcome book can be a wonderful way of ensuring guests have a great time as well as showing that you care. 

Remember, if they have a good time, they’re more likely to come back, but having a good time is about more than how much they like the property itself.

Prepare your holiday let for winter guests 

Much like the advice on activities and entertainment, gearing the house up for the winter months will also enhance the experience. 

If you have a fireplace or log burner, make sure there’s a basket full of logs available for use. And provide easy to find information on where guests can top up on logs, kindling, eco-firelighters, and more.

You might pop extra blankets on the beds or in a basket in the bedrooms or wardrobe. Perhaps you’ll provide additional throws on the back of the sofas for guests to snuggle up under to watch a movie in the evenings.

For those particularly damp days that may arise, you could also include:

  • A selection of games (board games as well as video games)
  • A bountiful bookshelf of fiction and non-fiction reading material
  • Add a Netflix subscription 
  • Access to a health club membership or an entry discount if there’s a nearby spa, pool and gym 
  • Details of takeaway delivery services or restaurants that offer delivery nearby

Decorate for the season

Love or loathe seasonal celebrations, there’s a cheer that comes with opening the door on a winter holiday let and finding a few decorations that nod to current festivities. You don’t need to go overboard, but if guests are visiting during a particular holiday period, you can always add a little festive decoration to welcome them. 

We wouldn’t suggest going all out for Halloween, but you might make guests aware of any local Halloween celebrations and the likelihood of trick or treat happening on the nightYou could almost always place seasonal flowers on the table to welcome new guests or add a seasonally themed wreath on the front door. 

Christmas is the obvious one - very few people wouldn't be thrilled to be greeted by a stylishly decorated tree inside and elegant lights outside the front of the property. Decorating a holiday let for Christmas doesn’t have to be extravagant, expensive or arduous. A few simple touches will do the trick. You might consider:

  • An artificial tree lightly decorated
  • A small potted tree with fairy lights
  • A Christmas wreath on the door
  • A Christmas themed welcome hamper
  • A Christmas scented reed diffuser

Don’t forget those all important recommendations for where to see the best Christmas lights nearby.

If you have enlisted the support of a property manager, like Pebbles, then they will likely be able to arrange this for you. If you choose to work with HolidayHost to manage your bookings, you'll need to arrange for any decoration, but please let us know about your plans and provide any photographs of the property dressed for festivities, so we can maximise this in your OTA listings.

Promote last-minute availability

Last minute short breaks in South Devon in winter are all about playing to the spontaneity of people. It’s part price led and part experience led, but there’s also an opportunity to play the pain points of customers in the dark winter months.

Promoting last minute availability is where social media and partnerships with hosts and marketing platforms can be extremely empowering for holiday home owners. Share, talk, tell, tag and let people know that there’s space for a last-minute getaway. 

Proudly proclaim why right now is a prime time to visit the South West. Focus on the overall experience, not just the property although feel free to highlight how certain aspects of the property lend themselves perfectly to a short break now! If there’s a special offer involved, make it clear what saving is to be made.

Salcombe in winter - Whitestrand

Want more winter bookings for your holiday home?

Here at HolidayHost we know our locations inside out, which means we understand what appeals about these areas in the winter months and how to attract more guests to holiday lets in winter. 

If you’d like to find out more about maximising your holiday home’s letting potential this winter, drop us a line.