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Got an odd week free or a few dates that you’re struggling to shift? Then why not just give them away for free... you can significantly increase your exposure, gain new followers and generate sales for the future.

The odds are good

Everyone likes a competition and sure, we’d all like to win big, but when the odds are at 1 in 139,838,160 for the lottery, it’s a bit of a long shot... A draw with fewer competitors however can sound a lot more appealing, especially when there is a realistic chance of winning. So a small business offering up a good prize is a lot more enticing and worthwhile entering. Plus without the cost of a ticket, why wouldn’t someone want to enter?

The prize

What you offer for the winner is your choice entirely, just factor in that if what is up for grabs isn’t deemed worthy enough, then you may struggle to attract participants. So try to make it as appealing as possible, by adding in as many extra touches (even list what you’d include as standard) to wrap up a top draw prize that can’t be missed. Think along the lines of:

“Win a 5 star luxury break in the lake district for 2, includes the use of hot tub, bubbly and welcome hamper”

“Free weekend under the stars, simply like and share for your chance to stay in our lovely en-suite family cottage”

“Competition closes XX/XX/XX, enter now for your chance to win a weeks holiday for 8, complete with a private chef!”

Include a series of images to help advertise what it is your promoting. Just make sure that these are of a high quality, and illustrates something desirable and worth winning. Or if you have good video footage, this may be an opportunity to show off any aerial shots or a property walkthrough. Essentially, your prize has a much higher chance of going viral if it looks good and is able to draw in someone’s attention.


But how do you get participants to enter in the first place? Well, there happens to be a few billion users on platforms that have been built, almost specifically, upon the interactions of people and businesses. Social media can provide you with a very cost effective means of putting yourself in front of others, where you can be easily found by familiar faces, as well as those who have never come across you before.

One of the benefits of using Facebook, Instagram or Twitter is that people casually browse for leisure, to relax and simply out of habit. This presents you with an opportunity to appear in front of these audiences whilst they are switched off from their everyday lives and are ‘just looking’ as opposed to being in work mode. In this frame of mind they are more inclined to want to look at something appealing - like a holiday.

Using these channels as an introductory service, allows you to gently place yourself in front of prospective guests. There are of course higher chances of catching someone's attention if they were to stumble across a competition. Even if they don’t proceed to enter, you might spark their curiosity and investigate who you are. If they like what they see, you may have a new visitor exploring your website, or even gain yourself a new social follower. 

Hints & Tips

Together, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter boast 45 million unique users in the UK. So it makes sense to promote yourself across all three. Just makes sure you’re implementing the following for your competition:

  • Use the community feature on Facebook to invite your friends to like your page.

  • Pin your Facebook post to the top of your profile so it’s in a prominent position.

  • Add Hashtags to appear in searches, such as #yourlocation, #freeholiday & #win.

  • Post at the right time for your customers (make sure it’s not the middle of the night!)

  • Make the most of Instagram & Facebook stories, to appear first and near the top

  • Similarly, both Insta & FB have a live feature, where you can broadcast in real time​

Why not also consider paid advertising to boost your post. You might be surprised at how little it costs and you can choose to spend as much or as little as you like. The above platforms all allow you to set the likes of a max daily spend or budget caps so you stay in control.

How do I profit?

Before you simply give away something for free, it’s worth considering what you can get in return. Whilst not having an empty bed is in itself a good thing, your goal or goals should be of equivalent value, if not provide more than what your average booking would normally generate for you. Whether that is just one of or a combination of the following: 

  • To drive additional traffic to your website and spread awareness of your brand

  • Increase your social media presence with more followers, likes and interactions

  • Catching the attention of your existing customers family, friends and connections

  • Get new subscribers to sign up to your marketing emails and newsletter

  • Entice new potential customers and secure bookings for the future

  • Collect comments from the Guest for use as a testimonial that can be published

  • Or to ask the Guest for constructive criticism and feedback regarding their stay

Small Print

As with any competition - you’ll require a closing date. Make sure it’s long enough to attract as many entrants as possible, but not open for too long that people forget or lose interest. It could start on a significant date or even end on one. We’d suggest a minimum of 2 weeks, but too much longer than a month, as it may lose momentum.

You should also include some sort of Terms & Conditions that refer to your booking conditions. These do not have to differ from a normal booking, however they can so if you wish. For instance if you don’t normally require a guest to pay a security deposit, it might make sense to do so upon a unique occasion such as this. A line could read "Please note that the winner will be required to pay a security deposit before arrival." etc. 

Further information and any other specifics that you’d like to include don’t have to be visible or attached to the social post itself. It may work best if you have a “Terms & Conditions apply” type statement, that then links out to a dedicated page on your website. This may help to keep the competition post exciting and interesting, and then have the less interesting small print separate. You’ll also increase the chances of traffic arriving to your site, which is always a bonus.

Why not?

At the end of the day, if you are struggling to fill dates, is there anything to lose? There becomes a point where it is too much of a risk to just expect someone to book, especially when you've only got a few weeks left for it to happen. Whilst late availability bookings do happen, don't depend on it. Instead be proactive and flip this into an opportunity that can pay dividends.

Plus, this is also a great strategy for those starting up and a way of introducing yourself to holiday makers. All of the benefits listed above can be a serious boost to any business, let alone one a brand new one. A competition might just be what it takes to get your name out there and build up a reputation. 

Here at SCRUMPY we live and breath self catering, working alongside Property Owners and Agencies, providing solutions to make their lives easier. Our website platform and software includes a series of tools designed to help you run your business and get direct bookings.

If you would like to run a competition, or would just like some general advice - then feel free to get in touch. We’re a friendly team with lots of experience, ready and on hand to help.