When it comes to Canadian travel, there’s more than one ‘peak’ season for getaways. While lakeside and waterfront getaways dominate the summer season, tropical sun and ski destinations are in high demand during the cold fall and winter months, leaving only a few short travel lulls in the year and making Canadian travellers the perfect target for vacation rentals year-round.
In a recent white paper published by Expedia Media Solutions, travel costs and accommodation options were two of the most important factors that influenced Canadians’ choice of travel destination. This means that as a vacation rental owner, you have the opportunity to impact travellers’ choices through your listings. With this in mind, here are some of our top tips to help you optimize your listings and attract more travellers to your properties:
1. Update listings to fit the booking season
In 2017, travellers booking on CanadaStays booked winter travel an average of 80-100 days out, while summer was booked closer to the date of travel, only 40-60 days in advance.
That’s a significantly longer lead time than you might expect. Travellers will find it tough to picture their perfect summer vacation at your property if your listing photos aren’t in line with the booking season, and still show a snow-covered patio or a frozen lake. There’s also nothing more frustrating for a traveller than attempting to book ahead and finding their rental of choice is not actually available for the selected dates or has the incorrect rates for that time period.
To maximize listing appeal and booking opportunities, always aim to stay one season ahead and have listings, rates and calendars optimized and up-to-date for the next booking season six months in advance.
Tip: If you work with property management software, keep your contracts up-to-date to be able to set your rates and availability six months in advance of the next season.
2. Set Competitive Pricing
Is your pricing competitive against other properties in the area with comparable capacity and amenities? If you don’t know the answer, this is the first place to start. Try searching for properties in your area over a few different dates and use the filters to more easily narrow down your search to comparable properties. Trends can change, so make it an ongoing habit to check in on competitor rates every few months for different seasons and lengths of stay.
Plus, you can also use these listing tools to make your pricing even more competitive:
- Offer deals to drive more traffic to your property through the deals page
- Offer a discount for longer stays
If you can make your listing stand out based on price point or perceived value, you’ll be at a significant advantage.
3. Turn on Instant Book
More than 50% of CanadaStays travellers are now using the Instant Book filter in their property search. This means they’re looking for the option to lock in their favourite property right away, without having to wait 24 hours for an approval and risk missing out on another rental. If you’re not on Instant Book, consider activating this feature to maximize your exposure and instantly turn every request into a confirmed booking.
4. Optimize your listings and images
Consider the type of traveller your property or area attracts, and who your ideal guests are. Keep this in mind when crafting your listing headline and selecting a feature image – they should be compelling for the audience you’re trying to attract. A short succinct headline communicating key property features is all you need, it doesn’t need to repeat key information (like capacity) that’s already reflected in the listing.
We usually recommend an outdoor shot of the whole property and its location as your feature photo, but the best rule of thumb is that your image should really highlight your property’s best features, whatever those may be. Your listing title and feature image should also align with the upcoming booking season. Winter copy and imagery should be replaced with summer before, or as soon as summer bookings start trickling in.
At the end of the day, people respond most to visuals. Take the time to photograph your property, or ask a photographer to help. Take your photos in the daytime (try for the golden hour) and stick to horizontal imagery as much as you can. Try to capture all the rooms and your property’s best traits in your photos. For more staging and photography tips, download the Photography & Staging ebook
Tip: The better your photos, the more likely your property will be featured in our marketing channels!
5. Maximize capacity
Vacation rental travellers tend to book stays for larger groups, with CanadaStays bookings averaging five guests per booking. With this in mind, capacity is an important factor in your listing info and should reflect your real maximum capacity. You may even want to consider small upgrades, such as a pull-out sofa or an additional single bed, to be able to accommodate more travellers and increase the property’s value.
6. Offer flexible check-out times
Travellers love to take advantage of the last day of their trip (or lazy Sundays). Consider offering a late check-out option, which works well as an added perk (for great reviews) but could also be a feature that you charge for. While it may seem like a small thing, a late check-out can have high perceived value for travellers, as it allows them to maximize their time away and feel like they’re getting the most out of their vacation dollars.
7. List ALL relevant property features
Vacation rental traveller are looking for a temporary place to call home, so including smaller nice-to-have features like a popcorn maker or board games, along with the bigger things like hot tubs, fire pits and BBQs, can really make your listing stand out from the competition. Consider your target demographic – is it families, young professionals or maybe retirees? Highlight the amenities that could be important to them when looking for their perfect rental.
Some features you might want to mention in your listing in addition to key property amenities include recreational equipment available for guest use, energy-efficient property features, entertainment systems, and smart home electronics.
8. Highlight nearby outdoor activities
Regardless of the season, outdoor activities play a key role in vacation rental selection. Consider the location of your property – is it minutes away from great hikes, lakes or other key outdoor attractions? Does your listing note all the nearby activities that are a short walk or car ride away? Examples of nearby activities you might want to highlight include golf, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing, snowshoeing, etc.
9. Spotlight great nearby food and drink spots
Canadians are big foodies and love to embrace food tourism. If you’re located in an area that has great restaurants, bars, markets or food trucks, this should be highlighted in your listing description. If your property is located near great local restaurants or breweries, or in the heart of wine country, consider striking a deal with some of the businesses in the area. They can get added exposure to travellers visiting the area, while you can add value for your guests.
10. Curate a local experience
Nowadays, travellers are known for being more eager to seek out local and unique experiences that are different from their own. This is really where a personal touch can come into play to elevate the vacation rental experience. If you’re open to being more involved, you can offer your travellers a local guided tour. If you’re short on time, why not help curate their experience instead by providing local recommendations to help them uncover the secret gems found off the beaten tourist path, like secluded beaches only the locals know about, or a secret room at the local cocktail bar? You can easily scale this for all your travellers by building a standardized guidebook for your property on Hostfully.
For a more elevated in-rental experience, consider offering private classes on the property, such as a cooking or yoga class, or surfing lessons. You can also easily create more of a local experience by leaving little gifts, like craft beer/wine from the region, or treats from the local bakery, as a welcome package for your travellers.
Most of these tips are simple changes you can make today to drive your requests. And if you can spend a little bit of time throughout the year optimizing your listing(s) for the upcoming booking season, you’ll be better positioned to fill your vacancies year-round.
For a more comprehensive overview of Canadian travellers and listing optimization tips, download the full eBook here.
Need help optimizing your listing? Schedule a call to speak with one of our Optimization Agents.