Glynis Shaw explains how you can market your mountain holiday let to maximise its potential all year round
Why have a ski property that lies empty outside the winter sports season? Whether you already own or are looking to buy a place for letting in a ski area, be sure to consider its year-round potential for holidays.
Some people only equate the French mountains with skiing, but when most of the snow has melted, this landscape is wonderful for a holiday without the crowds. Since Victorian times, visitors have appreciated the delights of a spring or summer break in such a location. The air is clean, with a pleasant, cooling breeze, and the stunning views of mountains, lakes and rivers refresh the soul.
If you pick the right location, such as a smaller resort or village that has retained its character and traditions, you can enjoy the added delights of local culture, delicious regional food and drink and a whole range of activities that are not available during the snowy season.
Holidaymakers to France are increasingly searching for fresh experiences and unusual things to do – so if you want to increase business during the summer and ‘shoulder’ seasons, then market your property as an opportunity to explore something new.
Outside the ski season, mountain areas offer walking, trekking and climbing opportunities, mountain biking, paragliding, pony riding, karting, golf and other outdoor activities. Lakes and rivers provide boating, white-water rafting and swimming, such as in Chamonix and Combloux.
In general, do your homework on every type of attraction. Is there a local spa with pampering treatments on offer, a local cheesemaker for the ‘Heidi’ experience, or a local hide for keen twitchers, for example?
In most ski regions, transport and communications are good, so opportunities for day trips are exciting. From the Alps, visitors could take an outing to Italy or Switzerland and from the Pyrénées they could cross into Spain to explore. Tell them about this extra dimension to their potential holiday with you.
Those who like the great outdoors would enjoy this type of holiday, so add to your green credentials by emphasising rail travel. Most resorts have a railway station with links through Paris.
Others who might like your region are people with asthma or other health considerations who want clean air, and those who need a relaxing health boost and want to sit and enjoy the views or take a gentle stroll. Others might enjoy the inspiring environment for yoga, tai chi and meditation.
Not just for winter…
I would also suggest that you create a separate summer listing to accompany your ski property online details, with links between the two listings. Use it to show plenty of stunning photographs of the property, views and resort in spring, summer and autumn and to elaborate on all the activities and attractions. You could also put a printout of this information inside your property during the skiing season in a folder entitled ‘Why not come back in summer?’
Your main income is in winter, so to build up your summer trade you might start by setting keen prices or making special offers that will make your property stand out. Think in terms of your potential overall annual return.
Finally, consider your property’s advantages and extra needs for the summer market. You might need to add extra outdoor furniture and a barbecue for the balcony or garden, and perhaps decorate with plants in pots or window boxes. Also consider providing binoculars, bikes, picnic gear or other outdoor equipment for your guests to use.
Ski accommodation is usually equipped to a high standard so capitalise on such features as a dishwasher, DVD player, computer or games console. If you’re in a ski village, then point out proximity to restaurants, bars and other facilities. Put yourself in the place of your summer visitors, make the effort to go that extra mile in the service you offer and soon your property could be providing a year-round income.
Glynis Shaw is a managing director of French Connections online holiday rentals and property sales
Tel: 01580 819303