What comes to mind when you think of Thanksgiving? Family, comfort, and food are among some of the most important things we associate with this special holiday. That said, it’s a wonderful opportunity for marketing your vacation rental and creating lifelong relationships with your guests.
In 2021, over 53 million US citizens traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving. As there is a high demand for travel and accommodation during this time, hotels may be fully booked, overpriced, and not necessarily offer the best option for visitors.
Remember: the key to success in the hospitality industry is adaptability and innovation. Highlight your strong points, whatever they may be, and ensure a memorable and thematic getaway. If your vacation rental has an abundance of space to offer, you should emphasize and advertise this in your listing. Having plenty of room for a larger number of guests is one of the biggest advantages you hold over hotels and smaller rentals and you should fully exploit that.
Why is Thanksgiving important for vacation rentals?
For some owners, November marks the official beginning of the off-season. Maybe you scraped a couple of September and October reservations as we stretched through an Indian summer, but on the whole, November is where reservations start to taper off for those whose major profits come from the hotter months.
Thanksgiving is a great time for vacation rental owners to rack up their off-season earnings or kick off the beginning of their peak months if your property is winter-oriented. Regardless of your property type, Thanksgiving is the perfect time to show off your property and book high-value reservations, but the advantages don’t end there. Here are some other reasons why Thanksgiving is an important time for vacation owners.
Extra guests mean extra earnings
Thanksgiving is all about spending time with your loved ones, be it friends or family, this holiday is typically a time for large gatherings. If you have the space to accommodate or squeeze in a couple more guests for a cozy family get-together, Thanksgiving is your golden opportunity!
Offering extra cots, cribs, and sleeping space is not only a great way to keep the whole family vacationing at your property but also an opportunity to earn some extra money. Utilizing your extra guest fee (while also doing so in a welcoming, gracious manner) can earn you more than a regular weekend reservation will.
Thanksgiving is famously a time to get all dressed up and hang out in the kitchen. Nevertheless, your guests are going to want to show off their holiday outfits and cousins’ selfies! Thanksgiving is a busy time for social media users, as the amount of people online and time spent using social media rises during the holiday season.
This is a great chance for your vacation rental business to partake in the fun! Make sure your guests are including your property in their posts by informing them of your branded hashtags, account handles, and location tags. User-generated content is the best way to bring in new guests and Thanksgiving is the opportunity to do so.
Recognize repeat guests
It’s all about gratitude this time of year, so why shouldn’t you give some recognition to your guests? We’re always looking for a reason to tell our repeat guests just how much we appreciate them so they keep coming back and that’s really what Thanksgiving is all about.
This is the time of year where a humble brag on your guests is more than enough. Consider too that you can use Thanksgiving as a time to share coupons, discounts, and deals for guests that you want to say thanks to.
How to market your vacation rental for Thanksgiving
Ready to give thanks and get bookings? Thanksgiving is a great time to market your vacation rental, but remember that your guests are probably being hit with a million other advertisements and promotions right now. Not to mention, the vacation rental competition is high this time of year as owners compete for the chance to host family gatherings.
So, how can you get your property noticed for Thanksgiving? We’ve got 11 ways to promote your rental property during this special time:
1. Promote your kitchen
If you have a spacious property with a full kitchen to suit a large family, your rental will be at the top of travelers’ lists. Guests are looking for a large and open-plan place where they can cook and enjoy a delicious meal, so the kitchen may well be your selling point. Include high-quality and professional photos of your kitchen, showcasing your home as warm and inviting. Make the guest envisage cooking a Thanksgiving meal in your rental.
Even if your property doesn’t include a giant kitchen, you can still prepare it so that your guests find everything that they need for a hassle-free holiday. Advertise all the appliances included in your kitchen that would facilitate cooking a Thanksgiving meal – not just for the turkey but all the side dishes too! Highlight your large oven and all the kitchen utensils.
Don’t forget to include the little tools needed to cook a Thanksgiving meal, such as a carving set, gravy jug, and a meat thermometer. Be sure to add all these appliances and kitchen tools to your listing. Guests will feel at ease knowing they don’t have to buy or bring the little things with them.
If you have a large backyard garden and it’s warm and sunny in your state, include a barbeque and grill in the listing description. This will make your vacation rental stand out significantly, especially for families with children.
2. Decorate your property
It’s not just the kitchen that needs to stand out, but the dining room too, that’s where the guests are going to spend hours eating after all! Depending on the aesthetic of your property, decorate the place accordingly. If you’ve gone for a minimal and modern design, buy some spiced pumpkin scented candles (I know it’s tempting but try to steer clear of the “Turkey and Stuffing” scented candles), decorative pumpkins, and a moody floral centerpiece. If you’re going for a cozy and very homey feeling, do all the above and more. Accessorize the entrance, set the table beautifully, get playful with fairy lights, or even make a gratitude tree.
It may be a good idea to have a dining table setting displayed, all ready for the guests, and that way, they can avoid setting it up themselves.
3. Offer grocery services
Thanksgiving Day is a nationwide, traditional holiday that gives thanks for the food collected from the harvest. If guests have traveled in from out of town, they need to buy all the groceries required for the meal. If your visitors arrive late the night before Thanksgiving, they may not have time to go out and buy everything. Therefore, you can offer to pre-order some groceries for them, and add it to their payment at the end. Likewise, you can also arrange a turkey for them if needed.
If your guests prefer to do their shopping themselves, provide a list of local vendors where they can buy supplies for their cooking and include the best places to get a turkey! If your guests have booked ahead of time, you can offer services like food catering from local restaurants or hiring a private chef. This is something you can discuss with your guests in advance through email.
You can even go above and beyond and leave some pre-frozen meals for them, such as a homemade pumpkin pie.
4. Include fun activities
Thanksgiving is a time when families and close friends reunite and celebrate. Many guests may want to do some fun activities whereas some just want to relax on their day off, especially after such a big meal.
Include fun activities suited for the whole family such as pumpkin or apple picking. For more physical activities, guests may want to play football in the backyard, so you could provide a ball and even some jerseys so they can split up and differentiate the teams easier.
For quieter activities, provide a selection of board games, such as Scrabble and Monopoly, something the whole family can do. Arts and crafts are a great idea for children! There are also televised events going on that day, such as the Thanksgiving parade and a football game.
5. Surprise your guests with personalized details
If you’ve ever rented a property that focused on customizing your stay, you’ll remember the warm and fuzzy feeling you got while reading a handwritten welcome letter or finding a bottle of wine with your name on it waiting to be opened. A little goes a long way when it comes to these details and it’s even more appreciated during the holiday season. Not only does it set you apart from most hotels and other large-scale accommodations, but it can actually be the most important factor when it comes to someone deciding whether to rent from you again in the future.
Keep in mind that the experience of your guests begins way before they arrive at the rental home. To start off with a positive impression, contact your guests through email once the reservation has been confirmed to introduce yourself and ask whether they will be needing anything specific during their Thanksgiving trip. The holidays can get pretty hectic so offering a helping hand is extremely comforting.
Write a lovely welcome letter that your guests will find in their first few minutes in the rental. Welcome letters are a simple and effective way of making your guests feel special. If you don’t have time to write a new letter for every stay, use a template and personalize it depending on the guest. In this case, wish them a happy Thanksgiving and many blessings.
Want to take it a few steps further? Prepare a welcome basket filled with Thanksgiving goodies. We’re talking apple cider, candy corn, homemade cranberry jelly (this one is a showstopper), pumpkin cookies, you name it. It doesn’t have to be big but it should feel like it was put together by the sweetest grandmother around. People generally don’t expect gifts when renting out a place so even just some seasonal drinks or sweets will leave them head over heels.
The list of possibilities is endless! Be creative, avoid generalizations, and brainstorm what would make you feel touched if you were the guest.
6. Highlight points of interest
What’s the next biggest event that follows Thanksgiving? The day after; Black Friday.
Black Friday is when all commercial businesses and retailers have sales and discounts, and your guests may want to get involved in the latest deals and lower price items.
If you’re near a key shopping mall, travelers will love being able to make the most of Black Friday sales the day after. It would be a great idea to link them to all the nearby shopping centers, provide opening hours, and directions on how to get there.
Be sure to have a reliable internet and WIFI connection, as your guests may want to shop online.
On the day itself, after eating so much, visitors may want to go for a walk. Include parks nearby where they can go. If your rental is situated in a tourist place, mention the best places to visit.
If you’re located in a city or an area where there aren’t as many things to do, offer your guests great restaurants, bars, cinemas, bowling alleys, etc. Maybe there is a particular dish that’s popular in the region? Or a style of cooking that’s unique to your area? You can include all the points of interest in your welcome book.
7. Offer extra sleeping arrangements
Thanksgiving gets the whole family together so make sure the whole family can fit! You might want to offer extra cots and beds so families can book together under one roof. Highlight this in any of your marketing material as well.
Posting something like, “Looking for a place the whole family can enjoy? The more, the merrier! Our vacation rental sleeps 10.” Let guests know that your property is ready to accommodate large families so they can enjoy Thanksgiving fully without having to break up the team.
8. Promote Thanksgiving weekend
Promote the holiday itself. Advertise a family-friendly and pet-friendly environment by making your vacation rental feel like home.
In 2022, Thanksgiving lands on Thursday November 24, but don’t just promote the day, promote the long weekend too! Encourage guests to book from Thursday to Sunday and advertize the entire experience. Think of outdoor images that show fall leaves or a light dusting of snow, and interiors that highlight a cozy log fire, a selection of board games and books, a fall wreath on the door, or some hot chocolate warming on the stove. Make sure you add comfortable duvets in the bedrooms and scarves and hats by the front door.
If your rental is a cabin, Thanksgiving is the perfect opportunity to promote your property. Preparing and marketing your vacation rental for Thanksgiving will actually give you a head start and give you ideas for Christmas.
9. Add in the right amenities
You’re going to want to offer amenities that everyone can enjoy. Beyond recommending activities outside of the home, as illustrated in the point above, consider what your audience would really like to see in your house.
Maybe the adults are hoping for a hot tub for when the kids go to bed. Maybe an unfortunate member of the family needs a quiet desk area in case they have to work on Friday. Or perhaps free additional parking would be a life-saver for all the far-traveling family members – ultimately it’s up to you! Consider what kind of audience you’re planning to host and adjust or highlight your amenities accordingly.
10. List your rental on multiple platforms
While many vacation rental platforms provide the option of booking single rooms in a shared house, most families will be looking for a whole rental for themselves. With that in mind, it’s important to be listed on the most appropriate sites such as Vrbo, which focuses on entire properties, making it the perfect choice along with Airbnb, Google Vacation Rentals, and your own website.
If you haven’t updated your listing for a while, how about adding new photos of your property so guests can see how it looks in winter, or revise your listing’s title to include the word ‘Thanksgiving’. These small adjustments can make your property stand out from the others.
11. Cleaning, maintenance checks, and emergencies
In the vacation rental industry, a lack of cleanliness is one of the main factors that can lead to negative reviews. Guests can be very unforgiving if cleanliness standards are not up to scratch, therefore, it’s important that your property is thoroughly cleaned before their arrival. Don’t be tempted to cut corners because guests are very likely to notice and will end up feeling let down by your service.
It’s likely that you’ll be hosting a big group during the holidays and therefore it’s important to be prepared for all situations. Save yourself the chaos of trying to fix a broken fridge over the weekend by doing detailed maintenance checks well in advance, making sure that everything works from light bulbs to kitchen appliances. You can always use a vacation rental inventory checklist to organize repairs if needed.
Last but not least, creating an emergency plan for possible worst-case scenarios will help to protect your guests and your property.
2022 has been the year of recovery with normality returning to most of our daily lives. Despite the many challenges we’ve faced, from inflation to extreme weather warnings, we still have plenty to be thankful for. Thanksgiving is the perfect time to share your home, and gratitude, with your guests. Many people will be looking to travel this year and will need the perfect place to host them, so why not let that be your vacation rental? If you properly market your property, you could be looking at big earnings this holiday season. Get ready to give thanks for the Thanksgiving bookings to come.
And there you have it! 11 great ideas to ramp up your marketing before Thanksgiving to make the most of that “weekend getaway” mindset. Use these suggestions to catch last-minute planners and remind them why your rental is the perfect spot to celebrate this U.S. holiday this year.
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