2022 review and trends

29th August 2022

As we approach the end of August, it’s time to pause and reflect on some of the key trends and the return to ‘normality’ for the self-catering sector in Cornwall.

Demand is still there despite oversupply

The number of properties listed on AirBnB has surged in the past two years as opportunistic operators have capitalised on unprecedented demand. There are now 14,201 listings on the platform, up from 8,000 in 2018.

Anecdotally, the less appealing listings have struggled in 2022, and some are returning to the long-let market. This rebalancing of supply and demand will continue through 2023.

Our view

As we stand at the end of August, September is over 80% full and taking last minute bookings, while October is booking well towards the same levels. But 2022 has been a year of choice for holidaymakers as supply and demand rebalances to a ‘normal’ year.  The right pricing at different points of the calendar year is paramount with sensible rates matched to demand and the competition to deliver strong occupancy.

3D tours and floor plans help to sell holidays in larger properties where prospective guests can answer their unique questions and choose the perfect property for their perfect stay.  And doing the basics well is more important than ever: understanding booking lead times, consumer behaviour and needs from a holiday, and broadening the appeal of a holiday let through being pet-friendly, offering pay as you go electric car charging and reviewing short break policies.

Customer service is more important than ever 

The past two years have taught us not take everyday freedoms and conveniences for granted. But we’ve returned to the new normal with many new challenges. The ability to enjoy a holiday, precious time spent with friends and family, has an ever more important, heightened sense of importance in our psyche. So looking after guests, before, during and after their stay is above all the sectors number one challenge. The ability to help guests make the most of their time in Cornwall, react to maintenance issues when they happen and minimise disruption to a stay goes a long way.

Our view

Over the past year, Cornwall continues to report negative PR stories around visitors behaviour and tensions with the local population.  Reports of bad parking and rude guests in restaurants hit the media regularly, and all accommodation providers have a heightened challenge to provide a warm welcome, and rise to meet the demands of guests whilst giving their team the tools and support to deliver world-class customer service.

The challenges of recruitment haven’t gone away

Completing a changeover clean at 130+ holiday lets by the sea every weekend can be daunting. That’s everything from one bed apartments to seven and eight bedroom houses complete with pools, hot tubs and grounds spread across the county from Falmouth and Carbis Bay in the west up to Widemouth Bay near the Devon border.

How we do it

It’s all about first impressions. We have a team of housekeepers, all employed by Beach Retreats with a good hourly rate of pay, training, holidays and benefits. They are supported by a team of managers who know the properties intimately, have a flexible and reactive approach to rotas and a rigorous standard operating procedure which ensure all properties are ready on time and sparkling for the next arrival.  That’s not to forget all the checks we do before every stay; smoke and CO2 alarms, the key is in the key safe, batteries and bulbs, WiFi, windows, outdoor areas, first aid kits are present and the guest directory is present and up to date.

Costs need to be managed

But compromises will need to be made – simply passing on increased energy or operating costs to the guest will not protect income for owners.  Consider:

  • Is the property fully insulated?
  • Are the instructions for controlling the heating clear and easy to understand?  Are timers set correctly for guests on arrival?  Arriving to a warm holiday let will reduce the need for guests to adjust the settings.
  • Is installing solar panels possible at the holiday let? Installation costs have fallen while the efficiency of panels has improved.
  • Is it possible to provide pay as you go electric car charging available at the property or nearby? Ensuring the guest has clarity on booking terms and car charging will avoid difficult situations during their stay. 

The future is (fairly) bright

Cornwall remains a go-to destination. Stunning beaches and towering cliffs interspersed with picture-postcard bays, world-class food and drink, wild-swimming, surfing, walking, coasteering, cycling and yoga on the beach, wind-swept walks on the moor and pretty fishing villages to explore…the county has it all.

We’re all working harder to deliver memorable holiday experiences and the reward is strong occupancy and repeat business. Our advanced next-year bookings for 2023 are more than double that of 2020. The domestic holiday is still very much alive and thriving!

Written by Andrew Easton, Managing Director.