The difference between a highly profitable vacation rental and one that just scrapes by is usually determined by the number of off-season bookings a property can attract. Even an average vacation rental website can fill the high-season weeks, but the icing on the cake comes from a calendar full of vacation rental bookings throughout the “shoulder” or off-peak seasons.
Check out these seven important tips and see how you can boost those all-important bonus bookings in the low season.
1. Define your low season
Every vacation rental has a different low season, due to local seasonal demand. So while a ski chalet in the Alps may consider the warm summer months as off peak, a beach vacation rental is likely to be less popular in cooler winter months.
As a vacation rental owner, it’s your job to define exactly what time of year your low season takes place, and implement your off-peak marketing strategy accordingly.
2. Adjust off-season prices
According to a study by GfK Public Affairs and Corporate Communications, 41% of Americans did not plan to take their full entitlement of paid vacation days, with many citing the reason that they could not afford to enjoy their time off. If the price is right, there is an untapped market of people wanting a vacation.
Getting your pricing level right for off-peak bookings can be tricky. You don’t want to cut prices for weekends if you already have plenty of interest, but too high a price can deter guests even from browsing.
So how do you set out-of-season rates? Remember that you don’t have to rely solely on your own judgement when setting prices; start by looking at the competition.
Check out what your competitors are offering by surfing vacation rental websites and listing sites for properties in your area, or perform a quick Google search to find other vacation rentals nearby. You could also look on OTAs to compare the cost per night of staying in a nearby hotel for that time of year.
3. Lower your minimum nights
Making your booking terms more attractive in the shoulder season can also boost your inquiries, so it’s a good idea to lower the minimum number of nights guests have to book at your property.
Additionally, by offering your guests added-value deals such as three nights for the price of two, or a whole week for the price of four nights, you might find you’re able to fill much more of your calendar than you originally thought. Special deals are a great excuse to contact past guests or follow up inquiries that did not materialize into a booking. After all, everybody loves a bargain!
4. Identify potential guests
Look at past shoulder season bookings and define the demographics of guests who prefer an off-season break. You might find it’s seniors who want to escape the crowds of high-season tourists, romantic couples looking for a cozy autumnal weekend or active groups of adults wanting to enjoy outdoor pursuits without the summer heat (or winter snow!).
Once you know who your off-peak target market is, how can you make your property appeal to these guests? Think about it: if you have a six-bedroom family vacation home, couples are unlikely to book it, fearing they are paying too much for all that unused space. So consider closing off most bedrooms, then re-advertise your vacation rental as a one or two-bedroom home at a more appropriate price.
5. Find an alternative reason for guests to stay at your property in the low-season
If your vacation rental is a beach house and high season is during the summer months, find other incentives to help guests choose your place in winter.
Try researching local events, festivals and activities – think outside the box with this one! Does your town hold the best Oktoberfest celebrations outside of mainland Germany? Whatever you come up with, you can bet there’s someone out there looking for the perfect place to stay.
Let potential guests know about the cool things happening near your vacation rental through a series of carefully composed emails, and gauge interest with your existing network using posts on social media sites.
6. Update your vacation rental website with some seasonal photos
Promote the features that would appeal to your out-of-season guest. Think of outdoor images that show fall leaves or a light dusting of snow, and interiors that highlight a cozy log fire, spice-scented candles, 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 comforting duvets in the bedrooms and scarves and hats by the front door.
7. Add a Book Now button to your vacation rental website with Lodgify and making a reservation will be as simple as clicking a button
Once you have someone interested in making a low-season booking on your vacation rental website, you need to make it super easy for them to book! All too often, initial interest wanes if a potential guest has to enquire about availability or go to another site to make a payment.
Lodgify’s vacation rental software is a proven way to close a deal and secure a booking with our integrated SSL payment system. Easily embed Lodgify’s booking widget on any existing vacation rental website – no matter who the website provider is – and start to take direct bookings for your vacation rental today.
Final thoughts: be creative and flexible
By following our top tips you’ll soon be on your way to securing more low-season bookings. Don’t forget that the key to attracting out of season guests is creativity and flexibility – what can you provide that your competitors can’t? You can always update your listing descriptions depending on the season to reflect just what your guests can expect to do, see and experience!
Do you have any other tactics for securing off-peak bookings? Let us know in the comments below!