The government policy of fining parents for taking their children out of school during term time is having a serious effect on our business.
We have eight holiday cottages converted from a Victorian dairy farm in North Norfolk and this policy is forcing us to reevaluate our strategy. Our cottages were developed for, and are targeted at, young families.
Despite popular belief, we don’t ‘hike’ up our prices during school holidays and we don’t exploit families. We look carefully at the figures for the year and work out our prices so we can sustain our business during the rest of the year. We offer discounts on off-peak periods which often bring us down to break-even costs.
Previously our guests have been able to take advantage of these discounted rates by taking their children out of school for one day and taking a long weekend. Or if there was a school inset day they might have added a day to make up a mid-week break. It’s this business which is being damaged by the government policy.
The feedback we’re getting is that guests are looking for a two night break rather than the traditional three night break. The cost to us of a two night break is much the same as a three night break but we can’t expect guests to pay that extra cost. We have had to make the decision to offer a cheaper two night break with people leaving on Sunday afternoon rather than Monday morning, but it means restructuring the business – we don’t normally have staff on site on Sunday and it is important to us that we send our guests off with the same friendly service we offer on a Monday.
It has been suggested that the government staggers school holiday dates. This would benefit businesses and families as accommodation providers would be able to flatten their prices more if they felt that there was more than 20 weeks’ guaranteed business.