It's Staycations UK Boom Time!
Tips To Help, (Lockdown’s Permitting) Bookings Blossom in 2021
In 2021, people in the UK will have more holidays to take, as so many have accumulated, or been able, to transfer unused holiday dates as a result of Lockdowns in 2020. One of the impacts of the Lockdowns has been that more people are planning only to take one main holiday in 2021. However, lingering COVID19 fears and concerns about travelling abroad now that we have completely left the EU, mean that more and more people are looking to take that holiday in the UK.
Better still, self-catering accommodation, where there is no need to mix with people outside your family group or bubble, is proving to be more popular than hotels, B&Bs and holiday parks where social mixing is the order of the day. The beauty of holiday cottages, especially those with gardens, is that they give you your own, private space.
For that reason, the chief UK Staycation beneficiaries are likely to be rural rather than urban holiday cottages – the more remote or isolated, the better.
So if your property meets any or all of these criteria, make this clear on your website. It will reassure potential bookers.
Take a look at other trends owners have noticed creeping in as a result of COVID19:
1. Late bookings: Because of the uncertainty as to whether an area may be locked down by the date of arrival, the time gap between booking and arrival date is growing ever shorter. This results in more and more properties being advertised with late booking discounts. If last-minute trends continue, you should factor this into your pricing structure, and advertise on sites that offer free Late Availability adverts.
If you want to encourage long-term bookings, reassure them with your new ‘full refund cancellation policy’ and offer them a discount for bookings more than a specified number of months in advance. Deposits from bookings made well in advance provide reassurance and feed your cashflow for you too.
2. Eco-Friendly: It’s not just because we rank highly on Page One of Google that we’ve noticed an increase in interest for Eco Cottages, it’s because more and more people are seeking environmentally friendly holidays. If you can adopt sustainable living amenities into your holiday property, you’ll be widening your appeal to the market – as well as being kind to the earth. Eco-Features include things such as: installing electric car chargers, solar panels, ground-source heating, non-synthetic natural fibres from towels to dishcloths, low-energy lighting etc.
3. Technology: We’ve moved on from Digital TV’s – people want smart TVs that allow them to log in to their Netflix or Amazon Prime accounts, connect to the internet and hold Zoom meetings. Having a smart TV will also appeal to families if it means they can continue with any home-schooling online.
4. Be Pet-Friendly: Now that taking a dog on holiday in Europe requires jumping through a plethora of hoops, people with pets will be more inclined to holiday in the UK instead. So, make sure your garden is secure and think about how else you can make it pet-friendly to reach a massive market. As a pet owner myself, I instinctively look for properties that feature wooden or stone floors on the ground floor - with perhaps the occasional rug. If you have got one, mention an external hosepipe for washing off muddy paws. And if there is a promise of some canine ‘treats’ in the welcome pack, well, what’s not to like?
5. Cleanliness: Most owners tell us that the most common question they get these days is ‘How clean is your cottage?’ Get your cleaning regime accredited. Visit England and the AA offer useful and influential self-accreditation schemes each with eye-catching logos that you can upload to your website and adverts. Publish your cleaning regime or policy on your website too.
Show suitably attired cleaning staff at work in a photo. Upload details about your cleaning regime to reassure otherwise tentative enquirers. More and more properties now include 2-3 masks and a small but new bottle of sanitiser in their welcome packs to as people often forget to pack them. This makes your home safer as well.
6. Cancellation Concerns: For a while at least, the days of non-refundable deposits or full amounts are long gone for now – not unless you only want bookings to occur about a week before the arrival date.
Ensure that people know that you will offer a full refund upon cancellation – (adding a small charge such as £25 to cover administration costs is acceptable).
Make sure your cancellation policy is easily found on your website and include it in responses to enquiries.
7. Welcome Packs: In line with the trend towards eco-cottages, make your welcome packs plastic-free and organic. It might take a little research, but once you have got a list that you know how to source, this won’t take any longer to collate than a non-organic welcome pack. It’s a great way to impress guests and encourage repeat bookings.
8. Virtual Guest Directories. Rather than expecting guests to read an increasingly dog-eared and unhygienic guest directory after they have arrived, email it to them about a week before they appear. It’s much more likely to be read in advance than while guests are in residence, and it gives reassurance that they are expected. Include:
a. Details of cleaning materials provided for guest use
b. Details of things to do, places to go etc. These days, with the seating capacity of pubs and restaurants limited, they are often fully booked in advance. Help them by including contact details of places you would recommend so that they can book well before they arrive. Let the places you recommend know and see if they will:
i. Add a link to your website from their website.
ii. Offer your guests an advance booking discount.
iii. Do both.
c. As well as the popular places, include details of secret places – picnic spots, wild swimming, less-trodden footpaths etc., for guests who want a holiday away from the crowds. Don’t forget to mention this in your advertising.
9. Markets to chase: Right now there’s a considerable number of couples who have been booking cruise holidays as their main holiday. If you’ve got a 1-bedroom cottage, you should go after this market and convert them into staycationers!
10. Home Workers: The other new staycation UK market to appeal to is people who now work from home. They can work equally well away from home too, so can be tempted to take a working-break if your property is set up to allow it. This is especially good for mid-week bookings (4 nights for the price of 3?)) outside the school holidays. Decent broadband, a monitor screen, multi-plug socket, a quiet space with a desk or table, even a small stationery drawer will appeal to those who want a mid-week break without having to take time off from work completely, such as the self-employed.
11. Advertising: Choose sites that allow you to get the contact details of every booker and enquirer. Being able to communicate directly with your guests before and after their holiday is the best way to build a relationship that encourages more repeat bookings – as well as avoiding booking fee or commission charges that some sites will apply.
NB: At My Favourite Holiday Cottages, we allow you to include online booking within your advert, but don’t apply any charge to you or your guest with payments made by the latter going directly from them to your account. We are only too happy knowing that you’ve got a booking!
What else are you looking for in a holiday cottage that will convince you to book home from home holidays in the UK rather than travel abroad? Share your thoughts with us and well do our best to persuade holiday cottage owners to implement them!