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Listen to your guests, but make sure there are enough of them!

Written by Simon Tolson on

What do you do if your bookings are slow?

We are now a month into the peak booking season and all the data is showing a significant increase on last year.  As always there are winners and losers with some properties already booked up for all the main weeks but also a small number which are mostly empty.  Sometimes it can be that you’ve pushed the price right to the limit and bookings will come later but if you only have a few weeks at this point then it’s time to take action.

Listening to customers is a religion amongst modern businesses and there’s an industry built around getting feedback.  There’s plenty of choice for guests booking at this time of year and small things can nudge them to try somewhere else this time. Look for consistent comments in the guest book- heating, logs even seating or kitchen equipment as many things can be provided at little cost or effort.  If your guest numbers are simply dwindling or have never been good enough, however, you do need to exercise some caution:

Beware The Self fulfilling Market

I remember watching Heston Blumenthal taking up the challenge of reviving the fortunes of Little Chef.  His team questioned customers who all said don’t change anything but it was obvious that most people were giving it a wide berth and of course weren’t there to give their opinion.  Not long after I went to visit an owner who had a property next door to one of ours.  It actually had a better view and a bigger garden but was doing half the business.  A quick walk around and the problem was obvious- it was organised to sleep up to 9 in a 3 bed house using bunk beds,extra beds and a sofa bed.  When I said that the way forward was to reduce capacity to a quality 5 the owner said she couldn’t possibly consider that as everybody who booked was a larger party that used the capacity.

Of course they were just as a horror themed cottage decorated with skulls and painted black would only get bookings from guests who liked that sort of thing but the problem is there wouldn’t be enough of them and income would suffer.

So, listen to your guests but think about those that are not coming because you are missing something.

Top 5 ways to boost bookings:
  1. Price- compare with similar properties, sometimes a small adjustment can make a big difference
  2. Pets- about half of all people looking to come to Cornwall bring a dog and an extra £3-4,000 of turnover pays for a lot of cleaning!
  3. WiFi- if you don’t have WiFi then stop reading this right now and order it immediately.  probably the biggest gain for the least investment.
  4. Photos- make sure they are good and up to date, don’t be afraid to omit those showing something weak about your cottage.
  5. TV- if it’s smaller than 32” and not a flat screen then it will definitely affect your bookings.

And finally hustle your agent- do they realise bookings are slow? How many page views have you had?  How does that compare with other cottages? What can you do to make the property more visible and attractive?

You’ll probably need 100 people to look at your details for every booking and a big agent can only deal with so many people so make yourself as high profile as possible.

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Making great holidays happen in Cornwall