The struggles of running a Seasonal Business

At this time of year, purse strings start to tighten a little for the business owners – of which there are many in the Algarve – who are reliant on the summer income that tourism provides.

WORDS Matt Deasy

It’s a conundrum that seasonal business owners have faced for generations. So, if this describes your business, what can be done to improve this situation? I have some suggestions for you. 

Firstly, can you shift your business model? If you, for instance, have a holiday property that you rent out to capacity during the summer months, can you use the property for something other than Airbnb during the winter? Many remote workers come to the Algarve during the winter and are looking for 2–3-month rentals. Likewise, many new expats struggle to find short-term accommodation as soon as they arrive and before they set up home for themselves. The concept of what your business does is the same, i.e accommodation,however, the particular type of accommodation you offer changes to attract a different market. 

Secondly, can you utilise the power of partnerships? Back to our example of a holiday home without much income during the winter months. Here’s an idea – there’s a distinct lack of accommodation options for hosts who want to run retreats or residential workshops in the Algarve. As a property owner, could you team up with a yoga teacher, a retreat leader, or a surf school to provide a retreat venue for them during the off-season? Maybe you could provide the cooking, cleaning, or ‘hosting’ for someone else’s retreat?

Finally you could incentivise your clientele to book and pay for their summer holidays early. I have had great success in the past whilst managing tourism businesses by offering early-booker discounts, payment-in-full discounts and even a monthly instalment payment option on holiday homes, all of which help hugely with cash flow during the quieter seasons. 

There’s little more important in business than cash flow, and you must keep the cash coming in during the winter, but with a little creativity and flexibility, winter can serve you as well as summer!

Matt Deasy is a small business consultant, coach, author and speaker. His book Fire your Boss and Change the World will be published in 2023.  +351 964 999 388


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