Late Life Crisis Marketing and other Winter Fillers
My current stage in life makes me my own perfect customer.
I had one of those moments this week when you realise that you are part of an older generation. Scrolling through the Sky box I came across ‘20 greatest floor fillers’ and to be honest I was surprised there was a programme in that? I mean I’ve had many a debate with builders about self levelling compound versus concrete screed but it wasn’t that entertaining. The techno beat that greeted me when I chose the programme just made me want to shout ‘Get off my lawn’ out of the window to complete my journey from newly wed to nearly dead.
Somehow the time has flashed past and both my sons are in their final year at uni and even more incredibly neither looks like moving back home afterwards so like a number of my friends I’m creeping into a late life crisis. There was consternation in the office recently when one of the ladies opened a package that turned out to be a pair of extra large lycra pants- yes I have become a MAMIL (middle aged man in lycra) as I finally get round to trying to undo what running a business and bringing up a family has done to my body.
What is clear is that I am now 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.
The fall in the value of the pound gives us the opportunity to pick up bookings from those who might have nipped across to Spain or France in the spring and autumn and the key here is to paint a picture of a great week in Cornwall for the slightly energetic and affluent: Enjoy a well earned pint in The Ship after a vigorous walk on the coastal path then sit down for superb meal before walking back to your cottage. Get the log burner going then pick a classic DVD to watch as the smell of the casserole in the Aga wafts out.
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!