Making Year-Round Income from Your Gite Business in France



Making Year-Round Income from Your Gite Business in France

The temperatures are dipping, the leaves are beginning to fall, bookings are waning. As a gite owner, you face that perennial question: to stay open year-round or close for the winter? Read on for some ideas.

The temperatures are dipping, the leaves are beginning to fall, bookings are waning. As a gite owner, you face that perennial question: to stay open year-round or close for the winter? Read on for some ideas.

Use the off-season to catch up on maintenance

If you’ve had a full-on season, now is the time to do some much-needed maintenance, updating and repairs, regardless of whether you remain open all year or not. Block out some time. Take a moment to reflect on guest feedback and to get your creative juices flowing. Ask yourself, which improvements MUST be made? Then, which improvements would I like to make, and will they increase our revenue?

Take time to really give your properties a deep clean. Check all the glasses, cutlery, plates, cooking equipment, etc, are all in order and make replacements where needed.

Wash all the curtains, nets, etc, and consider swapping for thicker winter drapes and blinds. If you’re staying open, swap your summer quilts for the thicker, snuggly winter ones, and maybe crack out those cosy throws, cushions, and twinkly lights.

Cut back the gardens and prepare them for winter. Keep an eye on the grass to gauge that ‘last cut’ of the season, and don’t forget to plant your winter pansies and other bulbs to keep the place attractive.

Remove the summer furniture, dismantle pergolas (or at least remove covers), and put those umbrellas away clean and dry. Wash down the garden furniture, sand and re-stain the wood, or repaint the metal furniture. And don’t forget to over-winter the pool once the temperature has dropped sufficiently.

Along with airing your properties every sunny day, all this upkeep is often plenty to keep us occupied over the winter months and into spring, and don’t forget – this IS a way to make money. A lovely, well-kept, attractive gite will gain more bookings and certainly more repeat bookings than once in need of a little tender-loving-care.

Longer-term winter rentals

If you are thinking of remaining open, ask yourself, is your gite up to the job? The main concerns for a customer are usually warmth and price point during those winter months. Your preoccupation as a gite owner who is keen to make even a slim profit is cost. How will the property be heated? And at whose cost? Think of electricity costs. Gas, water, and wear and tear need to be factored in, too. You may well need to redecorate or, at the very least, “touch up” throughout before your following season, not to mention consider any repairs or replacements. All this equals time, too. Remember, you will be unable to take bookings in spring if you are busy redecorating!

There is usually at least some demand for longer-term rentals during winter. Be aware, though, that as a furnished gite for tourists, the maximum rental period you can offer to one customer is 90 days.

Customers often expect a much lower tariff in the off-season. As a rough guide, and this very much depends on the area, the peak season weekly price is a guide to a monthly low-season price, although this is changing to account for the rising cost of living. And, it will, of course, be different if you are near a major tourist attraction, ski area, or large employer.

As gite owners, our costs are usually much higher during winter, so this is a very fine balancing act.

For an ever-increasing number of gite owners, it is simply not profitable at all to open (particularly for extended stays) during winter. Indeed, many have found themselves at a great loss once utility costs and wear and tear repairs have been deducted. So, do your sums carefully to avoid being caught out.

Toussaint half-term and Christmas bookings

Most of us are with the usual booking platforms. In our area, we are not alone in seeing a large increase in the number of gite and Chambre d’Hotes over recent years. Consequently, bookings are definitely becoming harder to come by, but not impossible, especially once your business is reputable and established.

Give thought to your ideal guest – who are you trying to attract, and what is your unique selling point?

Toussaint is a time for families in France. Maybe your properties are ideal for a family get-together if you can offer a large dining space? Food for thought…

Consider what the seasonal draw is for customers in your local area. Here, in the beautiful Charente, we have a fantastic Christmas market in our local town of Aigre, 16140. It was one of the first Christmas markets in the Charente area and welcomes almost 6000 visitors to Aigre each year. It is always held on the first Sunday in December. This is clearly a big draw for tourists and suppliers alike.

Market and promote accordingly. Some really good seasonal photographs help, too. Special offers can be attractive to customers – especially a lovely, seasonal welcome pack.

In short, how do you stand out from the crowd?

Make the most of the winter!

Good luck with your bookings and your annual maintenance, and keep warm this winter – my neighbours tell me it’s going to be a frosty one here!

Lead photo credit : Lazy days 3 bedroom gite with pool available all year round

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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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