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Selling Last Minute in Peak Season Agents and Owners are adjusting to a new experience this year.

Written by Simon Tolson on

As we enter the peak weeks of the season I find myself in the almost unprecedented position of having some peak summer holiday weeks left to sell.   Normally by June we are pretty much sold out and I am turning my attention to filling September but this year is different.  There are a couple of cancellations as normal and some new properties that have only been advertised for a short time but about 4% of weeks are still to sell.  There’s no pattern- maybe we were a little too ambitious on price, something in the location or presentation isn’t appealing, whatever the case it’s time to knuckle down and try to sell them all.

Filling vacancies in the summer holidays is different in several ways, first of all the market is there to buy them if you can promote them correctly at the right price and secondly the amount of money involved is larger so it may be worth taking a bigger percentage drop than usual as you’ll still be left with a decent amount of rent.

Cutting the price is the obvious strategy to use but there are a number of tactics to try to get everything sold- in short it’s time to hustle and show what you are made of as an agent or help yourself if you’re an independent owner.

Past Guests.

Simple and free- send an email to everyone who has stayed at the property before letting them know there’s a summer week available.

Before & After

Again simple and free- send an email to the guests staying before and after the empty week asking if they are interested in an extra week.  You’ll also save on a changeover so you can offer a little extra discount.

Consider chopping up the week.

This can be especially effective for smaller properties, instead of discounting split the week into two breaks at half price, ideally Fri-Mon & Mon-Fri.  If you get one out then offer the previous or next customer the extra days as above.  If you have a fortnight empty consider offering 10 nights/4 nights etc.


There are a few last minute directories you can use but consider a listing on one of the big international directories as getting a summer week out may well be worth the annual fee.  I can’t prove it but I have a strong suspicion that when you first list on owners Direct or Holiday Lettings they push the entry up the list to make sure you get some early enquiries.  Holiday Lettings also offer a commission only deal and again I’m convinced that if you have a high value week to sell the algorithm will push more traffic at your entry.

Pay per Click

It’s possible to run up a bill quickly using Googles adverts appearing in search but a sharply focused burst of adverts can be very effective.  The key is to give exact details in the advert so only genuinely interested people click on it and restrict the advert to highly relevant search terms- something like ‘Cancellation, Porthleven sea view cottage reavailable for week from 8th August at £1200’ and then only serve the advert for searches specifically for Porthleven Cottages or very similar phrases.  Time the advert to display for a short period- over a weekend is good or 8pm – midnight when the kids have gone to bed.


If you have an email list then nows the time to send a summer newsletter with details of what’s going on in the area and what weeks are still available.  My feeling is that emails are getting less and less effective as people just get too many but again it’s free and simple.

If you’re with a big agency they probably won’t be able to pay individual attention to your property but there’s a lot of money involved so although it’s painful you may still be better off doing a bit of pushing yourself and paying the commission anyway rather than suffering an empty week.

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