Insider tips on making money from your holiday let in the off-season
- Credit: Archant
You might be booked up for the peak seasons, but how can you make money from your gîte or B&B during the quieter out-of-season periods as well? By knowing your audience and effectively tailoring your marketing, you can turn your French property into a thriving holiday let all year round!
1. Work out who your potential out-of-season visitors are
‘Out of season’ can usually be defined as the period outside of the school holidays and your target market is likely to be very different during this time – it could include older people with grown-up children, families with very young pre-school children, couples without children or possibly a group of adults. House-hunters looking for a property to buy will need somewhere to stay during viewing trips too, and will probably prefer to arrange these outside of peak season as it will be quieter and less expensive.
2. Are there any other markets you could tap in to?
Think about any niche markets you could tap into to appeal to a wider audience. Could you join up with other businesses in the area to offer special interest breaks perhaps? You could also ask at the local tourist office if there are any gaps in the market so you can offer the type of accommodation your area needs most.
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3. Think about what might appeal to your off-season season visitors
Although the weather may be perceived as being colder or wetter during this time, you can still get some lovely sunshine in France during the spring and autumn (and some of winter!). Furthermore, beaches and other attractions are likely to be much less crowded than during the peak periods, which will appeal to a lot of people. Make a point of including photographs of any local beaches or places of interest with the sun shining, and let your guests know about any special events or festivals that may be taking place during their stay.
4. Adapt your marketing to appeal to your off-peak visitors
You will need to change your marketing during the off-peak period and tailor it to suit your target audience in order to secure the maximum number of bookings. For example, if you have a fire or wood-burning stove, be sure to feature photographs of this on your website or advertising portal so that potential guests will really be able to imagine themselves snuggled up by the fire. Post regular updates to your social media accounts so your audience will be able to get a feel for your property in all seasons. “It’s important to update your photographs according to the season,” say Julie and Eric Audigé who run Logis de Lussais in Deux-Sèvres. “There’s no point in showing a swimming pool for a promotion in April if you do not open it until July. Always use sunny photographs even in autumn or spring. According to statistics, customers will be booking with their eyes first, so make pictures a priority.”
5. Be more flexible during off-peak season
If you are able to, try to be more flexible during the off-peak season and offer short breaks or flexible changeover days to fit in with the needs of your customer, and to appeal to those who, for example, are looking for a long weekend in France. “If your customers come mostly by plane then it’s worth checking the arrival and departure days, say Julie and Eric Audigé. “Very few airports/airlines will offer Saturday to Saturday, so in the shoulder season we make sure that our accommodation is in sync with our local airline. Short breaks are more popular in the winter. Make sure your rates are updated to reflect this.”
6. Use special offers and promotions to encourage off-peak season bookings
Special offers and promotions are a quick and easy way to help your holiday accommodation stand out from the crowd. You could offer early booking discounts or incentives such as free airport transfers or free bike hire to attract couples and young families to your property. Remind people that travel is also a lot cheaper outside of the peak season.
7. Make sure you provide relevant information about attractions
If you offer a welcome/information pack at your property, this will also need to be tailored to the type of guest visiting your property and the time of year they are staying. This will ensure that the information provided to your guests is always relevant and that the details you give them are up to date. Also, make sure your website has up-to-date information. Include details of what your property offers in each season (swimming pool, wifi access, etc), and also of local attractions and activities, giving the distances involved.
8. Emphasise the appeal of different seasons in France
Autumn in France
During September and October, the landscape starts to change and becomes filled with the beautiful colours of autumn. There are still many hours of sunshine in France during this period, although temperatures start to become slightly cooler. This is the perfect time to wander along one of the many footpaths and look at the changing colours of the leaves, or to go hunting for chestnuts or mushrooms in the forests. Autumn also signals the start of the grape harvest in France, and the numerous wine festivals that take place are an ideal opportunity for your guests to sample and purchase the famous local tipple.
Winter in France
France’s Christmas markets are a big draw in winter, and those who are keen to experience the magic of a French marché de Noël will be looking for somewhere to stay, giving you another opportunity to make the most of your holiday let during the colder months. Markets are held across the country, and there are plenty of other wintertime celebrations too, such as the Fête des Lumières in Lyon. It’s a nice touch to decorate your property during this time for your guests, and you could even provide a tree for them so they really feel at home during their Christmas break.
Spring in France
The arrival of spring brings warmer weather and lots more festivals, in addition to the Easter break. It’s a good idea to promote any local events on your social media pages, and be sure to have information about these available at your property so that guests can get the most out of their stay.
Summer in France
During the summer months, your guests will be spoilt for choice for what to do. The climate during this period is usually warm and sunny, especially in the south of France, and it is the perfect time to explore the many miles of long sandy beaches and rugged coastal paths that France has to offer. Further inland, there are natural parks and open countryside to explore, not to mention fields of sunflowers and lavender that go on for miles on end.