Will the staycation boom continue?
If you are the owner of a holiday home or Airbnb, whether you decided to take advantage of the recent surge in people holidaying in the UK or have a long established business, you may be wondering what lies ahead.
There is no doubt that the pandemic led to an increase in UK based holidays, largely due to foreign travel restrictions but it is perhaps a mistake to assume that the idea of the staycation is a new one.
According to Anya Chapman writing in The Conversation, “In fact, domestic tourism has always dominated British holiday making. British tourists took almost 123,000,000 domestic holidays in 2019, compared with 93 million international trips in the same year. The pandemic didn’t make British holidays popular –they were already popular. “
According to research undertaken on behalf of Hoseasons the top reasons why people enjoyed a staycation were
The comfortable and relaxing accommodation (34%)
A change of environment (32%)
Less stress than going abroad (30%)
Improved mental health (29%).
Another reason given was supporting local economies (27%).
So all the signs are encouraging for the months ahead.
Consider a Refresh
We are now in March with the holiday season opening up and with the Easter holidays looming not far off, as a holiday home owner it’s time to prepare your property.
If you had a busy season during 2021 then fantastic but there’s no time to rest on your laurels. Your property may be looking a little the worse for wear if you were busy last year.
Perhaps you are a long time holiday home owner and have been used to guests booking year after year so you perhaps haven’t changed much about the property assuming that guests like it as it is.
However, you might have become concerned by less favourable reviews, been shocked by the standard of the competition or decided that you want to increase your revenue.
So in this blog I wanted to share some tips for upgrading your holiday accommodation.
Check Out The Competition.
No matter what your aim is when refreshing your property, I always recommend checking out the competition. Why? You need to check out the competition in order to make the right changes. What works for one type of property or in one location won’t necessarily work in another it will give you an idea of what similar properties in your area offer and how much they are charging. If you understand your competition then you can identify how you can be better than them. This shouldn’t be difficult with all the resources available from the Internet to the local tourist office. You could even do some mystery shopping which will give you an insight into your competitions customer service, ease of booking etc
Make Your Changes Count.
With any project there is always a budget and, especially if your budget is limited, you need to make every penny count. having said that your holiday let is a business whatever scale you are operating on and, as with any business, you need to invest. This means that in order to achieve the right results you might need to consider increasing your budget even by borrowing. This is not to say that every refresh is going to involve a massive spend, that’s not the objective.
What I am talking about is the need to focus on what changes are going to have the biggest impact.
Just as with selling your home, kitchens and bathrooms are key. As far as kitchens are concerned, don’t assume that your guests will be eating out all the time especially if your property is rural. Your kitchen needs to be well equipped with all the equipment and gadgets that guests are likely to want. For bathrooms, guests will enjoy a spa like experience, so it might be worth considering sacrificing a small adjacent bedroom in order to create a bigger luxurious bathroom. Always buy the highest quality fittings and accessories that you can.
Create a Work Space.
The “workation”. Most of us go on holiday to escape work. However with many people now having the freedom to work from home there are an increasing number of people who will want to continue undertaking at least some work whilst they are away. The advantage of this from the perspective of you as the property owner is that if guests are able to work whilst away this may enable them to book longer breaks which translates to a higher number of bookings. Providing somewhere to work doesn’t have to mean a dedicated office although if there is a dedicated room this might be a bonus and something that will give you an edge over your competition. Having an area set up as a workstation can be quite sufficient. A desk in a quiet corner, suitable work chair, good lighting and, of course, a good Wi-Fi connection are your starting point. Don’t forget the coffee machine!
Extend The Season
One way of increasing your income, if this is your aim, is to be able to offer short breaks in what might be thought of as the off season. We are certainly seeing a rise in popularity of short breaks. Catering for this market may require you to rethink what you offer your guests so if you haven’t changed your accommodation much in recent years this may be a good reason for a refresh. Install a log burner or reinstate an open fire and have a good selection of reading material and games. Offer Netflix or other streaming service.
Your Home But Better
If you think about the experience that we want to have when we are away on holiday we want to feel comfortable and relaxed. We want to feel as if we are at home but our home taken to a new level. In most cases the objective of a holiday is to come back feeling refreshed particularly if it’s a short break, after all the saying goes “a change is as good as a rest”. One of the most important aspect of a refreshing break is to get a good night’s sleep so pay attention to your bedrooms. It is definitely worth paying extra for good quality mattresses even if the bed itself is was not so expensive. You can create the luxe factor by re-upholstering a headboard with a remnant of a designer fabric. Remnants can also be transformed in to cushions finished off with a fancy trim. Fit blackout blinds or blackout linings to curtains as this can make a big difference to the quality of sleep that guests experience. Investing in good quality bedlinen in natural materials such as linen. You could consider offering a choice of pillows with different levels of firmness.
Don’t Forget Your Outside Space.
If you have some outside space then don’t overlook this when contemplating your refresh. Outside space is incredibly important when people are on holiday even if it’s just a balcony or small patio that’s big enough to accommodate a bistro table and chairs. Refurbish or replace garden furniture that may have become a little tatty. A good quality barbecue and, these days a pizza oven, allow your guests to enjoy alfresco dining. If the space is big enough hot tubs are very popular especially if they are positioned so as to take advantage of a beautiful view.
It can be easy to overlook some very simple changes you can make that will make a big difference. Never underestimate the power of a fresh coat of paint. Guests will appreciate a property that has clearly been redecorated and it is a very cost-effective step. However it is worth investing in a good quality paint, one that will withstand a few scuffs and is easy to clean. When choosing colours take inspiration from your surroundings.
Flooring is another area that is subject to wear and tear. Opt for practical surfaces such as tiles and vinyl in areas such as kitchens and bathrooms. When choosing carpets again consider the amount of traffic that the room will get. Wool is very resilient – it’s natural, sustainable and is attractive. Although you can buy 100% wool carpet, a blend is probably the better option for a holiday let. Alternatively polypropylene is very hard wearing, stain resistant and represents good value for money. Don’t forget underlay. A good quality underlay will improve everything from how flooring feels underfoot, to how to it wears and maintains its looks over time.
Bedding and Towels
If you supply the bedding and towels for your holiday let rather than through any agency, then crisp new bedding and fluffy towels are an excellent way to refresh and improve the appearance of your holiday let. Plain white bedding always looks classy and is very easy to incorporate in a refresh. It also works if you want to change the look of the property according to the seasons via accessories. A satin stripe or a simple border gives interest. With towels, again white does you give that luxury look. I like to add a single accent towel to avoid the bathroom appearing too clinical and to tie in with a colour scheme, especially if your bathroom is mainly white.
Changing accessories such as artwork, lamps and soft furnishings is an extremely easy way to refresh the look of your holiday let. When dressing holiday lets, I wouldn’t advocate being a slavish follower of trends, but using a few accessories to do so gives the impression that the property is up to date. I think it’s nice to include pieces which have been purchased from local businesses as they will often reflect the location and are also a great way to showcase and support other local businesses.
The Welcome Pack
You probably have some sort of welcome pack already (if you don’t you need one!). This might be a simple box of teas and coffees with some biscuits or something more elaborate – a hamper filled with goodies. If you haven’t changed whatever you provide for a while then this could be an area that you can quite easily update. Go the extra mile. Using the above example, instead of providing a selection that looks as if it might have been assembled from a catering pack, make it individual. Small Kilner jars to contain the tea, coffee, biscuits etc presented in a small basket. Is it feasible to leave an offering of fresh homemade cake or scones so that your guests can enjoy a cup of tea and cake on their arrival? In this connection it can help to cast your mind back to places you’ve stayed where there has been some aspect that has really resonated with you. A good idea is to showcase local produce – toiletries, artwork, some chocolates or a bottle of wine. Building a relationship with local suppliers happens to be an excellent way of showcasing your own business.
Things To Do
In most holiday lets you will a selection of leaflets for local attractions, guide books, books, games even perhaps DVD’s. It’s worth giving these an overhaul. Leaflets, often left by guests, quickly become out of date so clear out last season’s and replace with current ones. Get rid of any books that seem tatty and pop in a few new ones – particularly those written by local authors or set in the locality (charity shops are a very good place to find these but make sure you pick ones in pristine condition). Again replace any games, kids toys that are looking worn and scruffy. In an area known for its walking add a couple of maps or books of walks.
And finally …
The message I wish to convey in this blog is that taking the time and trouble to invest in regular refreshes of your holiday let is a good way to ensure that you keep existing customers happy and also attract new ones. It helps build a thriving business providing a reliable source of income.
If you want to develop your existing holiday let business I’d love to help. Would you like to know more? Call me on 07745 876182. I cover the Wirral, Cheshire, North West and North Wales.