I’m not buying a dog! My new life makes me my own perfect customer.
Porthleven residents were treated to the unusual sight last month of a middle aged bald man cartwheeling round the harbour. I have two boys one school year apart and on A level results day we found out if the younger would be following the older to university leaving us home alone and free from the morning battle to extract ever larger and less fragrant bodies from their beds and off to school.
Now I am in trouble for ever having any doubts but given that Tolson junior is very much a version of me I have to confess that I was steeling myself for a repeat of my own inadequate results and maybe a repeat year of pain and lack of study.
I’m sure the euphoria will wear off soon but I still suddenly remember about three times a day that he really is going. sadly at least one of those prompts every day comes via a request for expenditure on some essential item but I’m still at the point where I am delighted to be getting out the credit card.
Now I appreciate that I’m kidding myself that they have left home as they will only be away for half the year and I’m under no illusion that the spending is over but it really feels like a new stage in our lives.
What is gradually dawning on me is that I am about to become a member of one of my own most sought after customer groups- sure the families arriving for the school holidays spend the most but the battle for a good year’s rental figures is won and lost in the shoulder periods. Filling up May, June, September & October at the best price is what makes the difference between a mediocre year and a great one and so it’s this market that we really need to concentrate on.
Whilst there are of course parties of ladies who lunch and blokes on surf trips in general this is a couples market and broadly speaking we can divide this group into 3 categories, pre children, with toddlers & kids left home.
The baby & toddler crew are perhaps the most straightforward to think about. Unfortunately some things that they look for you can’t control- parking, being close to a beach etc but you can make them feel as welcome as possible by supplying good quality cot, highchair & stairgates, making gardens safe and by making it clear that they are welcome. Doesn’t hurt to highlight the nearest ice cream shop and family friendly pub and a box of toys and plenty of dvds will provide lots of fun for very little cost.
With pre children couples you are competing against a hotel room as well as other cottages and this can make a cottage look expensive for a weekend. One of the key reasons a couple may choose to come to a cottage is that they have a dog. There are lots of ‘just for two’ properties that have been renovated to a very high standard but by definition many won’t take a dog. we see really high occupancy in places for two and a dog so do consider this if you have the opportunity- half a dozen extra bookings will pay for a lot of cleaning!
Finally we come to my own cohort of middle aged people with kids grown up or at least at uni or can be left behind. We like our space and will often look at larger properties for our own holidays and there’s fewer kids being taken out of school nowadays so we represent a good opportunity to sell some weeks in 3 or 4 bedroom places out of term time. Whilst I don’t have to worry about how good a hairdryer is supplied this group of customers will have a good standard of things in their own home and won’t want to compromise on holiday. Also lots of dog owners in this group as they fill the void left by the departed offspring.
In all of these cases the guest will often have plenty of choice as there will be availability everywhere so as usual you have to think hard about giving a reason to choose you. price is always the biggest factor but make sure you have the fastest internet you can get, a decent sized TV and chuck out your chintz!
Oh and by the way I am very much looking forward to the void in my life so I am not getting a dog (Caroline!)