Part of your business plan when operating a holiday home is finding out which periods of the year are the most profitable, and adjusting your marketing, cleaning and utilities costs around them. For most people, the holidays (including bank holiday weekends and the summer and Easter holidays) are the busiest times, as these are typically when families want to get away for a while and spend some time together. Regular local events that attract large numbers of tourists (for instance, the Edinburgh Festival Fringe) are also well worth paying attention to, as you may be able to increase your rates in line with demand.
Some holiday lettings operators decide to cut their losses and stop accepting customers during the quieter seasons, with some shutting up shop entirely for the winter. This means a more predictable annual routine, as well as providing a time when they can be sure the property is empty so they can carry out cleaning, repairs and renovations. However, is this always the best way? Some people like to book out of season precisely because they can get cheaper deals, and if you want to maximise your profits it may be beneficial to offer a year-round service.
When deciding how to adjust your rates for different times of the year, it helps to calculate the average cost of a booking. Lower out-of-season rates can help to attract more business during the quieter times, but make sure you can still make a profit on the booking after factoring in things like the cost of administration, cleaning and utility bills – remember, heating and energy costs in general will be much higher in the winter as guests will use them more.
Should you choose to shut down for the winter, you’ll need to ensure that you make your property secure over these months, while also taking steps you would with your own home when it’s left alone for a long period – putting the heating on low, for example, to avoid the possibility of burst pipes.
If you’re undecided, you may choose to try running an all-year booking policy for a year to see how it goes: you will be able to see clearly by carrying out an end-of-year review of your accounts whether it worked for you.