last minute guests

How to Prepare Your Vacation Rental for Last-Minute Bookings

Last-minute bookings can be a great way to fill vacancies and maximize the profitability of your vacation rental property. However, to attract and accommodate guests on short notice, it’s crucial to be prepared.

Since 2020, the number of travelers who book last-minute accommodation has been increasing year after year. In fact, according to Lodgify data, 44% of all bookings in 2022 were made less than 21 days before the date of arrival.

Impulsive decisions leading to a last-minute booking of a vacation rental property are down to a number of factors; cheaper nightly rates for last-minute deals, special offers and discounts, and the increasing ease with which guests can book last-minute through their mobile phones.

In this article, we will explore the most effective steps to take to prepare your vacation rental for last-minute bookings, allowing you to provide a positive experience for guests while maximizing your rental income.

10 ways to drive last-minute bookings

1.  Identify last-minute bookers

Explore the demographics and needs of last-minute bookers. Analyze factors such as age, occupation, income level, and travel preferences. Examine their motivations, including the desire for flexibility, impulsive travel decisions, and the pursuit of a good deal.

Also, research what influences last-minute booking decisions, such as price fluctuations, limited availability, proximity to travel dates, and spontaneous travel opportunities. Once you have this information, you can use social media, email marketing, and online reviews to target these guests and influence their decision-making process.

last minute bookings

2. Optimize online listings

To capture the attention of potential guests searching for last-minute accommodations, optimize your online listings. Use high-quality photos that showcase your property’s best features and make sure your descriptions are accurate and engaging, and highlight any unique selling points.

3. Set competitive and dynamic pricing

In the competitive vacation rental market, attractive pricing plays a significant role in securing last-minute bookings. Research comparable listings in your area to determine competitive rates. Consider offering discounted rates or promotional deals for last-minute bookings to entice potential guests.

You should also keep your rates up-to-date daily because this will maximize your chances of securing a last-minute booking. Try using Dynamic Pricing to help you, as this will ensure your prices have been optimized for the current market.

4. Keep your calendars updated

The same goes for your availability calendar. Make sure it’s accurate and up-to-date, not only on your own website but also on all the other listing sites you use. Use a channel manager to make sure that, if you get a last-minute cancellation in one of the platforms you’re listed on, those dates become available in all of your calendars. This will make it easier for potential guests to see the opening in your calendar.

booking calendar

5. Streamline check-in and check-out processes

An improvised trip means guests may have to travel at unearthly hours,  so they’ll be looking for a 24-hour check-in. Simplify this process to accommodate guests with little notice. Create a comprehensive guide with detailed instructions on how to access the property, where to find essential amenities and include any specific rules or regulations they need to be aware of.

Additionally, invest in a keyless entry system or a smart lock to facilitate hassle-free check-ins for last-minute guests. Keyless entry systems allow guests to access the property using a unique code or smartphone app, eliminating the need for physical keys. Providing a smooth and seamless experience will leave a positive impression on your guests.

6. Automate communication

Effective communication is key when it comes to last-minute bookings. Ensure that you have a reliable and user-friendly communication system in place, such as a dedicated email address or phone number. Respond promptly to inquiries, provide the necessary information, and be flexible with check-in and check-out times to accommodate spontaneous bookings.

Implement automated messaging in your PMS or integrate with apps like Touch Stay to enhance communication efficiency.

7. Ensure efficient and flexible cleaning

Prepare your vacation rental for last-minute bookings by ensuring it is clean and well-maintained. Use the PMS and task management features that allow you to send quick requests to your cleaning team, or use cleaning apps, like Doinn, that allow you to hire cleaning teams easily—and on the spot.

On the other hand, you can arrange regular professional cleaning services to keep the property fresh and inviting.

Fresh, clean linens and towels are a must for every guest, so make sure to replace them regularly, ensuring that each guest arrives to find crisp sheets, fluffy pillows, and soft, absorbent towels. Check for any signs of wear and tear, and replace them promptly to maintain a high standard of comfort.

vacation rental cleaning

8. Offer flexible cancellation policies

Last-minute travelers may have uncertain plans, so offering flexible cancellation policies can attract more bookings. Consider implementing policies that provide guests with a certain window for cancellation without incurring hefty penalties. This flexibility can give potential guests the confidence to make a booking, even on short notice.

9. Create a welcome book

Last-minute guests may not have had the time to think about what they’d like to do and see or which restaurants they’d like to visit. Make it clear on your vacation rental listing that you can provide the best local recommendations for tourist attractions, gastronomy, and things to do.

Create a welcome book or a digital welcome package highlighting this information for an easy-to-use guide. Alternatively, you can leave any maps or leaflets on attractions and activities somewhere in the rental for your guests to use. Try partnering with a local business to offer your guests exclusive and personalized offers.

By providing valuable insights and recommendations, you can enhance your guests’ experience and help them make the most of their last-minute trips.

10. Fully stock your vacation rental

If your guests are booking last minute, perhaps they can only pack some of what they need; make sure your property meets their requirements and offers all the necessary amenities to make their stay memorable.

Start by stocking your vacation rental’s bathroom with a generous supply of toiletries to cater to your guests’ needs. Replace items such as soap, shampoo, conditioner, and body wash regularly, even if they haven’t been fully used.

A well-equipped kitchen is essential for guests who prefer to cook their meals during their stay. Replace common kitchen supplies such as pots, pans, utensils, cutting boards, and knives to ensure they are in good condition.

Furthermore, consider stocking your rental with a few essential pantry items such as coffee, tea, sugar, salt, pepper, and cooking oil. These small gestures can go a long way in making your guests feel at home and saving them a trip to the grocery store upon arrival.

replenishing stock

With these 10 tips, you will be more ready than ever to receive last-minute bookings and to give spontaneous guests the same excellent experience as advance bookers. So, go ahead and start increasing your bookings today!

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