How to prepare for peak season
It’s officially Spring, which means that peak season is just around the corner. 44% of travellers plan trips 3 to 6 months ahead, so they’re booking their Christmas holidays now. Are you ready? We asked our friends at Booking.com for some hints and tips to maximise bookings in our favourite time of the year. Here’s what they had to say.
1. Automate some messages
You can set up automated messaging to answer simple, frequently asked questions. Questions about parking, check-in and check-out times and bed types can all be answered automatically, which saves you time.
- Simply log in
- Click on ‘Property’
- Choose ‘Messaging Preferences’
- Click on ‘Settings’
- Adjust the automatic replies to suit your property.
- Read more about automatic replies here.
2. Create email templates
77% of guests won’t wait more than 6 hours for an email response, so it’s essential to have a streamlined method of communicating with potential guests. Email templates can help you send speedy, consistent responses that you can personalise with ease. From ‘Messaging Preferences’, scroll down to ‘Your Templates’ to create your own templates. Read more about message templates here.
3. Tag your photos
Make sure that you’ve uploaded your best photos and that they are tagged (tags can be as simple as describing what’s in the pic). The first 10 photos are the most important, and they should all be high resolution (1280 x 900 pixels). Align your photos to the season – even though it’s still cold now, guests booking for peak season want to see warm, summery photos with a highlight on swimming pools and outdoor spaces if you have them. Read more about adding, changing and updating photos here.
4. Review your minimum stay
A shorter minimum stay can make your property more attractive for guests – just be sure it’s still worth your while and you can turn rooms around in the necessary time. For example, if most of your rooms are booked over peak season and you have a few one or two night gaps, remove your minimum stay to allow guests to book, so that you can fill those gaps. Read more about setting up minimum stays here.
5. Analyse your rates
Booking.com offers the RateIntelligence tool that lets you compare your pricing with competitors. Find it under Marketplace – it’s a free tool. Now is a great time to compare pricing so that you know if you’re priced correctly or if you need to make adjustments for the upcoming season.
6. Take advantage of any Opportunities available
Booking.com outlines various Opportunities to improve your listing. Once you’ve signed in, go to ‘Opportunities’ and click on ‘Opportunity Centre’. This tool analyses your entire Booking.com profile – including the content, your pricing and your current availability. Once it’s analysed your profile, it lists personalised opportunities that you can choose to implement. When you’ve found one you’d like to work on, click ‘Take action’ to start improving your listing.
7. Improve your property page score
Similarly, improving your property page score can boost your sales and help to manage your guests’ expectations. Booking.com outlines various Opportunities to improve your listing in the “Opportunity Centre”. This tool analyses your entire Booking.com profile – including the content, your pricing and your current availability. Once it’s analysed your profile, it lists personalised opportunities that you can choose to implement. Below are the steps to view and action your opportunities:
- Simply log in
- Go to your extranet ‘Property’ tab
- Click on ‘Property Page Score’
- Booking.com will give you a list of actions you can choose to improve your page.
A better page score leads to more page visits, which leads to more bookings. Research has shown that a 100% content score results in 18% more bookings on average, so this is a valuable improvement to make.
8. Plan for events in your area
Have you searched for events happening in your area – big or small – and added them to your NightsBridge calendar? Whether it’s music concerts, Christmas fairs, shows or anything in between, peak season is a great time for events and you may be able to offer specials coinciding with those dates. Don’t forget to add an override rate over the most popular days – Christmas and New Year’s Eve particularly. Read more about how to set up an override rate here.
9. Consider an early bird promotion or package deal
Tailored packages that seem to offer great value to guests can kickstart the bookings for peak season – as can early bird promotions. An early bird promotion for the period just before the festive season starts (1st November to 14th December) is a great way to fill up beds for the period before the silly season. NightsBridge can give you a unique link to add to Facebook if you want guests to book the special there – don’t forget to promote any special offers on your website and Facebook page. Read more about adding a special rate here.
10. Check all feedback and make necessary changes
There’s nothing more helpful than a review or feedback directly from a guest. Of course, some of them focus on unnecessary details, but guest feedback is still the most reliable way to know how your guests feel about your property. Before the rush of peak season, check your reviews and feedback for any consistent themes or suggestions… If the same suggestion keeps coming up, it might be time to make some changes.
And finally… Prepare your staff
The last thing you want is a busy peak season without enough staff. Have you prepared your staff for the busy weeks ahead, and do you have back-up staff you can call on if necessary? Remember that peak season is when you’ll be getting the most reviews for your property, so you want your service to be at its best.
With these tips and a bit of planning, you can be ready for an excellent peak season. Happy Spring!