Top tips to prepare your small property for peak season

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It’s time to talk about how you can make the most of busy holiday periods, especially if your property operates mostly on a seasonal basis. Sorry, we should have said hi first but we’re eager to give you the good stuff!

Holiday periods are a busy time for everyone, and for a lot of people a mid-year break or festive period is the perfect opportunity to travel. They may be visiting friends or family, taking a group trip, taking off on an adventure, or enjoying a romantic getaway. This is exciting for your business because it presents an opportunity to push the limits of your occupancy and cash-in on increased revenue.

Let’s see how you can prepare for peak seasons at your property.

Table of contents

Hitting your property’s occupancy target during peak season

Your desired occupancy rate will depend on your strategy – not everyone wants 100% occupancy due to the increased operating costs – but you’ll certainly want to increase it during your peak seasons. Here are the best tips:

  • Connect to a diverse selection of booking channels

When you connect to online travel agents, it’s important to do some research. Travellers typically (in COVID-free world) come from all over the world so it’s very valuable to look beyond the four or five biggest channels and use different OTAs target fresh markets. These might include some on a more local level or any that are specific to a demographic or type of holiday.

  • Create season-themed campaigns

Whether your property is located on a snow-covered ski slope, or a pristine, white sandy beach, determine what would attract potential guests to your property (skiing, sunbathing, scuba diving, etc.) and use that to appeal to your customers’ senses and desire for that fabulous holiday experience.

  • Make sure your packages make sense

Seasonal holidays are the perfect time to mix up the packages that you offer, rather than sticking with standard or ‘always on’ offers. It’s likely your guests will be super busy during their trip and wanting to experience as much as they can so build room packages that include activities.

  • Don’t ignore the locals

Properties can often see an influx of guests who want a shorter break and opt for a ‘staycation’ in their own city or region. This will be especially prevalent in the COVID era. Consider offering a locals’ discount and/or a package option, offering a reservation to a hard-to-get-into restaurant or a sold-out concert or play (if you are able to secure them). If not, just try to find ways to make locals feel special.

  • Use technology to help manage your bookings

Technology is the best way to ensure that your property has the most online visibility, and not all of it is as expensive or complicated as you might think! There are even providers who structure offers to suit seasonal properties just like you. This will allow you to manage all your rooms, rates, promos and payments in one place.

For a complete list of the tips in this blog, download our holiday season cheat sheet

Setting the right rates at your small property during peak season

There’s a lot to consider when setting your rates during peak season. It takes more than simply raising your standard rates across the board to get it right, and make sure you’re getting all the bookings you need. Here are some points to focus on:

Seasonal promotions

Obviously guests will normally expect some kind of deal to be offered when booking a trip. Promotions are a good way of assuring higher occupancy but are also a way to get more out of each individual guest. For example, they’re great to offer to guests who have stayed with you before to ensure you get a direct, commission-free, booking.

Mobile bookings

An important note about mobile bookings is that while they are becoming increasingly common they are also often for last-minute stays or next-day stays. This means you can sell rooms you previously thought you wouldn’t by running promotions that focus on this group. Make sure your website is also equipped to give visitors a mobile-optimised experience.

Track competitors

You can gain valuable insight from watching your closest competitors and capitalise on any opportunities. For instance, a change in their rates might be an indication of changing demand that you can also react to or if they are close to maximising occupancy you can then raise your rates as supply in the area decreases. Ultimately, you can always be sure that you’re putting your most attractive rates forward. 

Online travel agents channel mix

Having a diverse range of channel connections will give you a lot more options in terms where you want to drive revenue from and also how much revenue you CAN drive. Even though you pay a commission for OTA bookings, cutting them out of your distribution doesn’t mean you’ll increase your profit. Some third party businesses may prove more attractive than direct depending on the cost of guest acquisition.

Don’t forget it’s important to give your guests a perfect experience during their stay. This will help you gain more positive reviews, and the more you have the higher you can set your base rates. Our holiday season cheat sheet will give you some great tips on this too.

Quick checklist: Peak season business reviews to do at your property

  • Review your length of stay restrictions

Length of stay strategies can boost your revenue when you expect a high volume of bookings coming your way.

  • Minimum length of stay

You apply a minimum length of stay when you anticipate a period of high demand followed by low demand. You accept longer duration stays and reject shorter duration stays for arrival. It helps you to increase occupancy during the slow period that follows (so that stays in the high demand period ‘spill over’ into the less demanding period).

  • Maximum length of stay

You apply a maximum length of stay when you expect to be able to sell out rooms at higher rates. You don’t accept reservations at specific discounted rates for multiple night stays extending into the sold out period. Guests who want to stay beyond the maximum length of stay period can be charged rack rate for subsequent nights.

  • Closed to arrival

You can apply closed-to-arrival dates when you have very high demand, so you expect to reach maximum occupancy through stayovers as opposed to new arrivals. You don’t accept reservations for arrivals on the day in question, and only allow guests staying through from previous nights.

Remember that with all of the above, you need to be careful. If there isn’t sufficient demand, or if these tactics are poorly executed, it could have a negative effect on your bottom line.

  • Don’t overbook as a strategy

Some accommodation providers deliberately overbook their rooms to anticipate cancellations. However, overbooking means that you risk double booking, which is not worth the risk. You’ll appear unprofessional and have to deal with upset customers (plus you lose time trying to rectify the situation). Instead of overbooking, look to your cancellation policies to make sure you don’t operate at a loss. A standard hotel booking system will allow you to process credit card payments securely at the time of booking. Not only do you get paid directly to your bank account at the time of booking, but having these details on hand will allow you to charge your cancellation and amendment fees if your guest changes their booking or backs out.

Happy holidays and we hope this has been helpful!

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