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What Are Blackout Dates?

Blackout dates are specific dates in which vacation rental homeowners don’t accept any reservations, as they want to use the property themselves or allow friends or family to stay at the property free of charge. Other reasons owners apply blackout dates might be for an extensive cleaning, repairs, or remodels of the home.

For hotels and airlines, blackout dates are specific dates in which discounts and promotions are put on hold due to the high demand for travel. This typically includes the holidays, special events, and peak travel seasons. While the term usually applies to airlines, it’s also relevant in the hospitality industry. 

Because there are more people traveling during these dates, discounted prices are no longer necessary to stand out from competitors. To avoid losing potential revenue, blackout dates are set and repeated every year. While these dates were previously most common in gateway cities such as New York or London, their popularity is now increasing all around the world.

Blackout Dates

What Are the Most Common Blackout Dates?

The period of time with the most blackout dates for hospitality businesses tends during the winter holiday season. Starting from Thanksgiving to after New Years Day, many travelers scramble to find accommodation on time. In the summer, special holidays like the Fourth of July, Labor Day, and Memorial Day are also considered blackout dates. 

Here are some examples of the most popular blackout dates for accommodations: 

  • New Year’s Eve 
  • New Year’s Day
  • Martin Luther King Weekend 
  • Valentine’s Day
  • Easter Weekend
  • Mother’s Day Weekend
  • Memorial Day Weekend
  • Father’s Day Weekend
  • 4th of July
  • Labor Day Weekend
  • Columbus Day Weekend
  • Thanksgiving Weekend
  • Christmas Week

What do blackout dates mean for business? Because demand is higher during those dates, hotels can charge more and not accept promotions, allowing them to bring in more revenue.

On the other hand, most homeowners find that the best time to blackout dates for personal activities is during the shoulder season. The early spring months and late fall months usually bring in fewer travelers than the summer and winter, making it the ideal time to blackout dates on your reservation calendar. 

Should I Apply Blackout Dates to My Vacation Rental?

Depending on the platform you use to promote your vacation rental home, blacking out dates can negatively affect your search ranking. So whether or not you black out your dates depends a lot on the flexibility of your schedule. 

For example, if you’re planning to host Thanksgiving dinner in your vacation rental and your family is relying on you for a place to stay for the holidays, then blacking out those dates would be the most logical option. However, if you need to do maintenance on your home, such as repainting the kitchen, you may plan the activity during the slow season mid-week and be reasonably sure no one will book for that day. 

Blackout dates are useful to ensure that your plans don’t overlap with the plans of potential guests. They give you complete control over when you’re a host and when you’d rather take off that hat and enjoy a vacation weekend with your family.