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Read our hints and tips of what to consider when setting up and making amendments to your holiday lets calendar and pricing

Pricing your self catering business

Whether you are a new business, who is looking to assign pricing to their holiday property for the first time, or are established and accustomed to how much you charge your guests, we hope this guide helps you.

Please note that the following advice is specifically tailored to the holiday letting industry, based upon our own independent research and the self catering businesses who use the SCRUMPY website & software platform.

Your competition - As a starting point, you should always look to others who provide accommodation and how much they charge. If a holiday maker has chosen a particular location to stay, you will inadvertently be compared to those in your local area, so make sure you are priced accordingly:

  • Look at hostels, B&B’s, Pubs and Hotels - where do you sit? (Remember, unlike these options, your guests do not share facilities!) 

  • How do your fixtures and furnishings compare? Be honest, does the cottage down the road charge more because of their hot tub, or because their overall standards are higher?

  • Try to periodically check up on your neighbours/rivals, compare your prices with theirs and see how successful this is by how full their calendars may or may not be.

Standard Rate - Whilst we wouldn’t recommend that you have this published on your website, you should have a rough idea of your standard weekly rate. From this you can then assign pricing throughout the year, charging more during busier times and less when its quieter:

  • Look at the expenses for each booking (costs of the welcome hamper, cleaning, laundry, staffing etc.) and make sure that you are making a profit.

  • Factor in enough turnover so you can continually reinvest into the property and have money aside for ongoing maintenance or emergency repairs etc.

Cost per person - Once you’ve assigned pricing to a particular duration, you can then work out how much you are charging for each member of the guest party. For example, a Sleeps 6 property that charges £1,000 for a week, is equivalent to £142.85 per night, or £23.80 per person per night…! (Are you cheaper than a hostel?)

  • How many does the property sleep? What would the guests have to pay for the equivalent number of hotel rooms?

  • Surprised at how little it works out per person? Use this as a sales tool, think along the lines of a social post “A week's stay away only £X per person for a group of X…”

  • Or create a mailshot, focusing around your great value and email it to your previously stayed guests and subscribers.

Future Availability - As an absolute minimum, you should always have at least 12 months of your pricing visible to your guests (aim for up to 36 months). This removes the barrier of ‘having to ask’ and prevents potential customers leaving your site simply because they couldn’t see how much their dates would cost next year.

  • Whilst behaviours change, a large proportion of guests will book holiday accommodation in advance, especially when planning the likes of a celebration etc. 

  • By allowing guests to see your calendar’s availability further in the future, you won’t have to rely as much on last minute bookings.

  • If you don’t want to commit to displaying prices too far ahead in the future, you can set up your calendar so it is ‘Enquiry only’ and just show what dates are available.

Stay Types - The types of booking duration that you offer will vary depending on the nature of your business. Typically, holiday lets are booked on a weekly basis, however there is also a market for weekend stays and midweek breaks. Tips:

  • If a weeklong is offered at £1,000 (Friday to Friday, 7 nights), then alternatives of a Midweek £750 (Monday to Thursday, 4 nights) & Weekend £650 (Friday to Sunday, 3 nights) should cost more, to encourage the weekly booking as the best value.

  • If you find that over time that a particular type of booking is being requested regularly, you should do some research (it may be a set of dates that fall upon a local event) and promote this as well as your normal staytypes.

Changeovers - Your changeover process will potentially limit when bookings can take place, depending on who does the cleaning and gets the property turned over for the next guests. Is this something you will be doing, or are you employing a property manager/cleaner? What are your standardised check in and check out times?

  • Just consider that if you are not based on site and are dependant upon staff, that your employee’s flexible or timetable will be crucial to what you can actually offer to guests.

Flexibility - Whilst it is important to meet your guests requirements and make their experience as good as possible, you should be aware of the potential cost restrictions that this may impose.

  • Create a dedicated content page that explains what you offer and why. Be honest to avoid misleading expectations and to be clear from the start.

  • Why not include a section that states you can offer bespoke packages? Or that shorter breaks available upon request etc.

Peak Season - If you are not aware, the peak season is essentially made up of the summer months and school/university holidays. The times during the year when a majority of people are out of education and want to spend time with their friends and families away. 

  • Predominantly offering week long stays will allow you to make the most whilst there is a high demand and allow you to completely book out your summer.

  • You can charge a premium compared to your 'standard rate' as not only do guests expect to pay more during the likes of August, but so are your competing businesses.

  • Check both when your local schools are off, as well as those in neighbouring counties; as your customers may very well be travelling from across the UK.

Holidays & Events - The likes of the Christmas period, New years Eve and other festivities present opportunities to charge a premium for times when guests want to celebrate somewhere special. Equally you should keep an eye on upcoming events in your area, so you are aware of the demand for particular dates and can assign pricing appropriately.

  • Remember that the way each holiday falls will likely be different every year, so you will have to position your pricing to span across the best suited dates for your guests and into a more appealing booking duration.

Low Season - There are certain times of the year when a majority are less inclined to go on a break in the UK (possibly because it's cold!) These are also sometimes referred to as the shoulder months and roughly run from October to February.  

  • If you are struggling to fill these dates, consider dropping your prices accordingly to entice with better value holiday accommodation.

  • Guests may be more inclined to go on shorter breaks during the low season, so offer more flexible range of stays, such as 2/3/4 night breaks.

Special Offers - If time is running out and you have availability for the next 4 to 6 weeks, maybe consider creating a special offer. Instead of just changing your prices, this will show a 'Was' and a 'Now' price, highlighting the discount and encouraging an online visitor to make the most of this limited time opportunity. 

  • Important! Don't overuse this tactic, as it may devalue what you offer. If frequently used, guests may put off booking and just wait for it to be cheaper.

Late Availability - A SCRUMPY website automatically creates a page that intelligently shows upcoming availability in the next few weeks. So instead of reducing what you charge, it just highlights any last minute stays and presents them as an easy way to book.

  • By promoting and marketing as ‘Late Availability’ guests are more inclined to pay full price, as they see it as you doing them a favour at such late notice.

Max Occupancy - Everyone's end goal is to fill as many dates on their calendar, if not all of them! Please bear in mind though, that true maximum occupancy (filling every date on your calendar) is only technically possible if you get weeklong bookings or combinations of midweek and weekend stays. If you have lots of shorter bookings, it will become very difficult to then fill those remaining dates of that week.

Taking the above into consideration will allow you to find the right pricing your for holiday property. Feel free to get in touch if you would like any other advice related to the self catering industry, or see how you can apply all of the above with SCRUMPY.

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