As the summer vacations have come to an end and kids have returned to school, it doesn’t imply there isn’t anything left for you to do in your vacation rental business. You may think the demand of going on vacation has gone down and assume that you won’t receive as many reservations. Nevertheless, you just need to adapt to this ‘quieter’ time.
Every vacation rental has a different low season due to local seasonal demand. While a ski cabin in the mountains may recognize the warm summer months as off-peak, a beach vacation rental is likely to be less popular in the 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.
Check out these eight important tips and see how you can boost those all-important bonus bookings in the low-season.
1. ADJUST OFF-SEASON PRICES
Airline tickets decline in price during the off-season, and so do hotels, therefore your vacation rental ought to do the same. By adapting to the current circumstances, your vacation rental will blend in when guests are looking to go on vacation.
Make sure to get your pricing level right for off-peak bookings. You don’t want to cut prices for weekends if you already have plenty of interest, but a price too high could deter guests from even browsing.
So how do you set out-of-season rates? Remember that you don’t have to rely solely on your own judgment when setting prices; start by looking at the competition. Check out what your competitors are offering by looking at 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 at online travel agencies to compare the cost per night of staying in a nearby hotel for that time of year.
2. LOWER YOUR MINIMUM NIGHTS
Not only will you need to adjust the price, but also you need to lower the minimum night stays during off-season travel. For example, if your vacation rental has seven minimum nights stay, change it to two or even allow guests to stay for just one night.
Making your booking terms more flexible can also boost your inquiries. Perhaps some travelers would like to go on a weekend getaway? Or a last-minute trip?
3. OFFER PROMOTIONS
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. You can also include a percentage in a discounted deal such “as 30% off”. This way it will be more appealing for travelers as they know they are getting a better deal. Moreover, it’s a great way to market your vacation rental.
Special deals are a great excuse to contact past guests or follow up inquiries that did not turn into bookings. After all, everybody loves a bargain!
4. IDENTIFY POTENTIAL GUESTS
Look at your past 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. Be Aware of Public Holidays
Bear in mind that there are actually vacation days during the low-season. In Europe, although each country differs, they do have public holidays and many utilize this time to get away.
In the UK for example, schoolchildren have two weeks off from October through till November. This year in 2019, it runs from 18th October until 3rd November. This is a time period when families like to take a break with their kids and go abroad. Therefore, you actually have a high-season during your low-season.
In the US, Thanksgiving is also a time when families reunite and celebrate. Last year, over 50 million US citizens traveled to celebrate Thanksgiving. If you have a spacious property with a full kitchen and living area to suit a large family, your rental will be at the top of travelers’ lists. Additionally, according to data revealed by HomeAway, the best time to book a vacation rental for Thanksgiving is before 2nd October. Be sure to have your vacation rental ready for this holiday before.
6. Give reasons for guests to stay at your property
Give guests a reason to go on vacation, and more importantly, to stay in your vacation rental home. Include activities travelers can do nearby, such as hiking, mountain biking, or fun activities such as pumpkin picking – suitable for all ages! If you are situated in a city or an area where they aren’t as many things to do, offer your guests great restaurants, bars, cinemas, bowling alleys, etc.
Research local events and festivals going on in your area, think outside the box with this one! Does your town hold an Oktoberfest celebration? Whatever you come up with, you can bet there’s someone out there looking for the perfect place to stay. Be sure to include these in your listing when advertising during the low-season.
Let potential guests know about 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.
7. UPDATE YOUR VACATION RENTAL HOME AND WEBSITE
Take this time to reflect on your business and analyze how you are doing. Did you get as many reservations as expected? If not, why not? How can you improve in general and for the next peak-season? Carry out an end of year review of your vacation rental. Take advantage of this time by updating your vacation rental property, whether you need to do a renovation, buy new furniture, or simply add some new decorations.
Promote 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.
8. START PLANNING FOR THE NEXT SEASON
Use the low-season to prepare for the peak season. If your vacation rental has a high demand in the winter, such as a cabin or ski chalet in the mountains, guests will start looking in autumn for their vacation rental. Remember that some guests may want a snowy and festive location to spend Christmas. Use this occasion to get everything ready and market your property.
In contrast, some guests may want to escape to a warmer location for Christmas, as it may be cold in their home country. 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. Perhaps they would like a Christmas by the beach, or in general, spend time in a sunny and hot place.
Preparation is key when it comes to managing your vacation rental’s peak season. Any task you can complete in advance will minimize the inevitable workload you will have to manage when the time arrives.
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!