Making the Most of the Peak Summer Season as a Gite Owner



Making the Most of the Peak Summer Season as a Gite Owner

Summer is fast approaching, so here are some top tips on how to make the most of your gite business.

Gite owners seem to be reporting a mixed bag this year. Many are fully booked; others are down from last year, and some are struggling to fill up those remaining dates. So, what can you do to make the most of the peak summer season?

Tips for Bookings

The summer period often books up quickly, but what can be done if you have remaining gaps?

Firstly, if you advertise with online booking/travel agencies, make sure your pictures are ‘selling’ your property. Try to stand out from the crowd. If the competition all has images of their swimming pools as their main photo, why not opt for one of your other selling points to be a bit different?

Be flexible. If it’s getting late in the day, maybe it is time to think about a reduction in price or your number of bookable nights. For example, some gites have bookings set to a seven-night minimum stay in peak season. But perhaps a five-night booking is better than no booking at all?

Make the most of your friends and family. These are your biggest supporters, so ask them to share your remaining slots with their own contacts, family and friends.

Time efficiency

Over the years, we have learnt that being well-organised saves time – especially on changeover day. Here are just a few of the time-saving tips that we use here at La Grue Gites:

Bedding: Clearly labelled shelves according to sheet size has been a lifesaver for us. There is nothing worse than beginning to make a bed and realising that you have the wrong-sized sheet!

Cleaning equipment: We began with a ready-stocked trug to lug around each gite with a powerful vacuum cleaner and lots of other paraphernalia. Now, what works best for us is to have all the necessary equipment in each individual gite. Each property has a hoover, eco-friendly cleaning products, mops, etc. All that remains is for us to wash and replace things like mop heads, dusters and the like.

Clear expectations: By communicating our expectations clearly with guests and by carefully managing our client’s expectations, we save time and reduce the likelihood of potential problems arising.

Finally, a controversial one-stop ironing bedding! Not only does it save an enormous amount of time, but it is better for the planet as it saves on electricity. We introduced this as an eco-measure. Line dry your bedding and fold carefully. We trialled it for three months and have never received one complaint to date.

How to maximise profits

This is a tough one! It is a real balancing act, and each business is different. Due to having three gites here at La Grue, we try to do as much of the work ourselves as possible. There is no need to pay to outsource cleaners, gardeners, pool maintenance or laundry services, for example. However, if we had six gites, that may well be a different story!

Keep records: Keep track of your outgoings and expenses. This will help you to see where costs lie and what could be done to cut back in certain areas. For example, we saved over 3,000 euros per year by implementing energy-saving measures. Consider replacing every lightbulb with energy-saving bulbs. We removed dated chandelier-style lighting for single-bulb, more modern alternatives (reducing bulbs from 15 x 60-watt bulbs to just four low-energy bulbs in one gite alone!) Think about aerators on taps to save water, reduced capacity toilet flushes, installing shutters, insulation and double glazing to save energy, etc. Also, communicate this to guests – ask them to save water and electricity and pop subtle reminders inside your property.

Commission: When you use online travel agencies, consider passing on their commission. For example, if you pay 18% with one well-known platform, then it makes sense to elevate your prices by 18% so that you do not lose out on their platform.

When you issue your client with their receipt, why not highlight the commission they have paid to that online travel agent and point out that booking directly with the owner saves them money and reduces their cost?

With a little built-in annual reflection time for business planning, it’s possible to grow your business year-on-year with an effective action plan.

Enjoy the summer season

Above all, make the most of your property for yourselves during peak season and when the opportunity arises. We make sure to take the time out to have a late-night swim in our pool when the guests are in bed, to savour a glass of fine, local wine whilst marvelling at the Milky Way above, or to have an impromptu picnic in the beautiful Cognac vines. You might even close your calendar for a well-deserved week break!

Wishing you all a great 2024 season!

Bon continuation!

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Carol, a teacher from Hurworth in Darlington, lives in Charente in South-West France, where she runs La Grue Gites with her family.

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