If you manage ski chalets or apartments close to popular ski resorts, your peak booking season may be just around the corner.
No matter what your revenue goals are for this year, being prepared for peak ski trip booking season is a must. So what can you do to take the stress out of the rush and maximise your picked up revenue over the next few months?
In this article, we take a look at three ways to ready your business for when your main booking window opens. To get some expert insight, we spoke with representatives of three booking sites that offer listings in in-demand ski destinations around the world.
When does ski trip booking season start?
When your guests start booking their ski trips depends on your local market. In general, most European and North American ski destinations will start to see an uptick in bookings in the early autumn.
According to Scott Prestin, CEO at Golfhōm, guests “begin booking reliably for ski season in September/October.” Golfhōm has listings in iconic ski destinations like Park City, Utah in the US and Whistler, British Columbia in Canada. They are launching a sister website called Skihōm later this year which will focus exclusively on ski properties.
When it comes to large luxury properties in popular destinations, avid skiers may start planning their trips even more in advance.
“Booking season has already started before the summer… and it’s getting stronger and stronger by the day,” says Ira Rockman, CEO at Smiling House. “A lot of our ski properties are already booked for Christmas and the New Year,” he adds. Smiling House offers ultra-luxury homes around the world, including spectacular ski chalets in the Gstaad ski resort of the Swiss Alps.
On the other hand, in some destinations, peak booking season coincides with the ski season itself due to the large number of last-minute bookings.
“Our clients start to book their ski holidays from December to mid-April,” says Amparo Díaz, Marketing Manager at Muchosol. “We have maybe 20% (or less) of bookings during November, but the big volume starts in December,” she adds.
Amparo also mentions that in Southern European ski destinations where Muchosol has a strong presence, the first snowfalls are unpredictable and tend to come later each year. As a result, guests prefer to wait until the last minute to book their ski trips, and the main ski months are January and February.
How to prepare for peak booking season
If you want to make the most of this year’s ski season and close the winter months with record revenue numbers, you need to prepare for the peak booking season in advance. So what can you do to set yourself up for success?
1. Diversify your distribution
The first thing you need to do is take a look at your distribution and ask yourself if you’ve covered all your bases. Optimising your listings on the big OTAs (Airbnb, Booking.com, Vrbo, Tripadvisor) is crucial, but have you also looked into alternative channels that could help you reach your target audience and drive bookings?
To start, consider getting listed on fast-growing vacation rental metasearch platforms like Holidu and HomeToGo. These websites attract increasingly high volumes of traffic from travellers around the world who want to compare deals and choose the best possible option.
Next, think about listing your vacation rentals on Google Travel. As the world’s biggest search engine, Google processes millions of travel-related queries each day – and more and more travellers book their flights and accommodations directly on Google. As of now, the only way to get listed is to work with a Google-approved software partner like Rentals United. And the reward is commission-free direct bookings straight from Google!
Last but not least, you should look into regional and specialist websites that target the exact niche audience you’re trying to attract. For example, Smiling House is an expert in ultra-luxury homes for high-income individuals travelling with their families or in larger groups.
“Demand is high and we’re looking forward to receiving more ski properties through Rentals United, focusing on the Alps: Switzerland, France, Austria and Italy,” says Ira. “Of course, we are also open to ski destinations in other parts of the globe like the USA and Japan,” he adds.
Depending on the location of your properties, you should also consider Muchosol (available via the Rentals United channel manager), Sportihome (worldwide), Inntopia (US) and Interchalet (Europe). And keep an eye out for Skihōm launching later this year.
Rentals United can help you identify the top-performing channels in your market and advise you on which channels to add to your marketing mix based on your unique business needs. Talk to us now.
2. Keep your pricing and availability up-to-date
Distibution doesn’t end with putting together the perfect marketing mix. You also need to make sure that you optimise your presence on your sales channels and always display your latest pricing and availability. Otherwise, you risk getting double bookings and losing out on bookings and revenue.
“Keep your pricing and availability 100% up-to-date and be flexible in the low and mid season of the winter. Allow guests to book less than a week and arrive mid-week. This will allow you to fill up your calendar even more,” says Ira from Smiling House.
Amparo from Muchosol echoes Ira’s thoughts: “It’s very important to check the availability especially, because we get loads of queries. So we need that our PMs check rates and availability some months in advance in order to be ready to receive bookings,” she says.
If you work with homeowners who occasionally use the property for themselves, have a conversation with them about blocked nights and the timing of those dates. Sometimes, homeowners can be flexible with their travel plans, you just need to let them know when your most in-demand dates are so you can preserve the property’s availability and revenue potential.
And, of course, it goes without saying that to keep your pricing and availability up-to-date at all times, you need to work with a channel manager like Rentals United which has robust API connections and a reliable two-way sync. This way, you’ll never run into synchronisation problems that could be detrimental to your bottom line in a crucial time like peak ski trip booking season.
3. Make your listings irresistable
The best way to stand out from the competition and get more bookings is to make your listings more attractive by highlighting the ski-related amenities, services and upsells you offer.
“Skiers love easy slope access, so brag about location vis-a-vis the lifts, and any bus/shuttle access from your address,” says Scott from Golfhōm.
At Muchosol, Amparo has also noticed that guests “want to be the closest possible to the ski slopes” and often ask for car park service – so these are things you should definitely mention in your listings.
“Besides ski area shuttle service, convenient ski equipment storage and access are always a plus for the ski traveller. Any discounts that can be pre-negotiated with local ski areas/equipment rental houses for your guests will be an attractive selling point as well!” Scott says.
According to Ira, “Content and precise descriptions are a must, and especially mention the distances to the ski-lifts and restaurants and bars, and altitude of the property. More than that, don’t forget to emphasise on the facilities and amenities. Offer your guests an overview of the resort and its possibilities.”
“In Smiling House we have partnerships with ski-schools, so we can offer ski lessons to all ages and in most languages, snow shoeing, snow bikes, heli-skiing and other activities for the non-skiers. Another highlight in luxury resorts is providing the services of a private shopper that will make sure you glow on the slopes,” Ira adds.
And in the case of luxury properties, it doesn’t stop there. “The top amenities in ski destinations are hot tubs, jacuzzis, saunas, hammams, spas and indoor pools. Boot warmers are a big plus, and a ski-room is a must! As for services, offer chef meals, on demand or daily. Guests get lazy after a day of ski, and the last thing they want to do is cook and be busy in the kitchen. Last but not least, share your knowledge about après-skiing activities and parties,” Ira says.
Ski trip bookings season is an exciting time for all property managers who manage ski chalets or vacation rental properties in popular ski resorts. To save yourself the stress and hit your revenue goals this year, prepare in advance.
- Take a look at your distribution and see what opportunities you have for diversification.
- Review your listings and add all the amenities, services and upsells you offer to make them more attractive.
- And last but not least, use a channel manager to keep your pricing and availability up-to-date so you never miss a booking or leave money on the table because of a technical problem.
We wish you all the most lucrative ski season you’ve had to date!