So what are the key areas identified by the letting agency Classic Cottages in its quarterly review of the tourism industry?
Their analysis of 2014’s tourism business has identified, for example, a 16% increase in dog owners visiting holiday accommodation, and a 5% increase in foreign visitors, including more speakers of German. There was an increase, too, in short breaks of less than one week, with that figure rising by 6%, as well as something of a rush for February half-term bookings, with a 12% rise for that precious slice of holiday time.
Figures also revealed that their New Year bookings rose 37% on last year, advance bookings for 2015 climbed by 15% compared to last year, and five of the six holiday weeks were filling up faster than in 2014, all of which bodes well for holiday letting owners across the board. These numbers are corroborated by holiday home booking management software provider, Bookalet.co.uk, who has seen an increase approaching 20% in like for like bookings from the same period12 months ago.
Being aware of changes in guest preferences and monitoring industry trends will help owners and agencies to modify their propositions to gain an advantage over the competition with the aim of maximising both their occupancy rates and profitability.
Another highly encouraging sign for anyone in the holiday letting industry in the West Country is the news that one of Devon’s leading independent holiday parks is reporting a massive increase in bookings of 46% and 52% in the first two weeks of January respectively. Ladram Bay Holiday Park, on Devon’s stunning Jurassic Coast is having to recruit extra staff in a variety of positions as they prepare for an exciting 2015.
For the smaller agencies, automating the booking process with booking management software can also have a significant impact on conversion rates and profitability. Bookalet is one such system that provides simple to implement availability calendars, booking forms and back end management of the entire booking process.
So it would appear to be a very positive start to 2015 with the recent staycation trend seen over the last few years continuing to hold true. Those owners that adapt their offerings to take their properties upmarket, make them pet friendly and offer more flexible options such as short breaks, will no doubt be the winners. Booking systems that accommodate these requirements will help provide agencies with the tools needed to meet these emerging requirements. In any competitive business, those who adapt best will ultimately be the ones who benefit the most.