Fast-growing holiday home rentals business StayCotswold is toasting its best-ever month of trading as three bank holiday weekends swelled the number of visitors to the region.
StayCotswold welcomed a record number of guests to its properties in May and achieved its highest letting income for a single month.
Its directors are now forecasting record delivered gross booking value of £8.5m for the year to March 2024, up 38 per cent on the previous 12 months.
The company’s portfolio of properties has increased from 140 at the start of 2023 to almost 200, putting it ahead of schedule towards its target of reaching 250 by the end of 2024.
Properties in its portfolio include cottages, houses, luxury converted barns, manor houses and farmhouses as well as a growing collection of shepherd’s huts and lodges. The properties can cater for two people all the way to groups of up to 28.
Director Tracy Archer said a flourishing market for UK breaks which bring people closer to nature has fuelled an increase in demand for huts and lodges.
She said: “They are usually in isolated locations, with magnificent views of the beautiful Cotswolds countryside. They all have Wi-Fi and all the mod cons, which means people can stay in touch but can also step outside into the open countryside and enjoy the feeling of being closer to nature.
“Huts and lodges are also attractive to landowners, because they require less investment than a cottage or barn-style property and they are quick to erect, which means they can be up and running fairly swiftly.
“It’s a growing market, and we have recognised this by expanding this segment of our portfolio.”
Tracy said StayCotswold has increased its overall market share as its portfolio has grown, with its agile pricing strategy helping to attract property owners and guests alike.
“We are extremely pleased with our trading performance. During May, we saw a 92 per cent year-on-year increase in arrivals value and an 81 per cent increase in bookings,” she added.
“We look forward to building on these strong results, delivering benefits for property owners and the region’s tourist industry as a whole, and responding to the wishes of visitors to the wonderful Cotswolds, many of whom come from the London area for a short break or holiday.”
StayCotswold was founded in 2009 by Fergus Mitchell and, in 2021, a team of professionals with vast experience in the holiday cottages sector acquired the business. Fergus has remained a director and shareholder.
The buyout team comprised Tracy, Tom Burdett and Mat Faraday. Mat co-founded Character Cottages, which was sold to Pure Cottages Group in 2018. Tom is a former managing director of Character Cottages and Tracy was previously sales and marketing director at Pure Cottages Group.
StayCotswold had just three staff when the trio acquired the business. Its team has since increased to 13. Further recruitment is under way for a marketing specialist, an office manager and customer service staff.
In the year to March 2023, StayCotswold secured over 6,000 bookings – more than double the figure for the previous 12 months. The number of delivered bookings per property increased by 24 per cent and letting income per property was up nine per cent.
The business has in recent months forged partnerships across the region with as Hawkstone Brewery, Cotswolds Distillery, Visit The Cotswolds and the Royal International Air Tattoo.
Tracy said: “Collaborating with and supporting local independent businesses, attractions and events is very important to us, as it helps to reinforce our position as a business which is also independent and totally committed to the Cotswolds region.”