As the owner or manager of a vacation rental, you’ve likely already experienced the rise and fall of your business with the changing of the seasons. Every destination has its peak seasons and no matter how spectacular your property, it can be a challenge to generate enough traffic to maintain high occupancy rates throughout the year.
Luckily, you don’t have to depend solely on the tourist season to keep the property income flowing! Here are a few tips to help you creatively boost your vacation rental bookings during your low season:
Identify your off-season guest
Your target off-season guest may not be the same as your peak season guest. While you may prefer to host families at your property, families might be in low supply during the off-season. Budget travellers, young singles and larger groups celebrating milestones may be a better target audience for your off-season listings. Identify the off-season travellers coming to your area and pitch your property accordingly. You may want to keep a peak season listing description and an off-season listing description, switching them out according to the season. If families are your target, you can reference the fun attractions in the vicinity. If your guests are young singles, you can tailor your description to include nearby restaurants and bars.
Only you know your rental home and location. So think about what fits best for your property, and how that changes during the off-season. Not sure how to start identifying your target? Read on!
Trust your data. Look back at your previous season. Who booked your rental property in the off-season? Compile a list of renters and organize them by traveller type. Find the connecting factors and create a profile for your target low-season guest. You may find that this person is completely different than your usual guest. From there, consider the following tips:
• Widen your audience. Create a listing that will appeal to a wider audience. If your property is listed with too a narrow focus, step out of your comfort zone and expand the description to appeal to different demographics and traveller types.
• Refurbish. You don’t have to refurbish your vacation rental, although that never hurts either! We’re taking about refurbishing your listing. Are your photos up-to-date and do they do your rental justice for the upcoming season? Your audience wants to book a property that looks great, no matter the time of year. What makes your property and location exciting in the low season? Demonstrate how your rental home fits your traveller’s needs. For example, you can add local attractions that are specific to the season.
• Allow people to book early… really, really early. Winter travel is booked 100+ days in advance. Make your bookings and pricing available several months before the start of the next season, so you’re ready to accept those early bird bookings.
Lower your price
Lowering your price for the off-season is inevitable. After all, many people travel in the off-season just to take advantage of lower rates. But which rates should you change and how much should you lower your rates? Below are a few easy things you can do to help you make that decision:
• Watch the competition. What is your competition charging in the off-season? Check several different listings in your area and put together a list of properties similar to yours. Make sure you’re comparing properties that are similar in size and have booked calendars.
• Check hotel prices. How are hotels in your area adjusting their prices for the off-season? You do want to stay competitive with the hotels, but you can also pick up helpful price tips as hotels have years of travel data and professionals dedicated to pricing strategies.
Now that you know what your competition is priced at, you can make sure any price adjustments you make are competitive for the area, or offer an even better price to drive bookings.
A few other things you can also consider:
• Remove charges. Can you afford to remove the cleaning fee or extra person charge? These things may only make a small difference for you, but they can definitely tip the scales in your favour when people are looking to book at the best price.
• Change your rules. Remove the minimum stay requirements to pick up a few extra customers, or allow children. You can even consider loosening the party restrictions. Any concessions you can make in the off-season can help you book more customers.
If lowering your rates isn’t an option, go the other route and raise your value! If you can offer a better deal at the same price, you’ll still have the chance to snag vacationers who are searching for a great off-season deal. Fun extras can give you the edge over your competitors, and they will certainly catch the eye of anyone browsing through listings.
There are many ways you can do this. Here are a few ideas:
• Offer a late check out option
• Provide a free meal for a week’s stay
• Include basic groceries with the rental
• Greet guests with a bucket of champagne on the counter
• Include tickets to a nearby attraction
• Leave a gift of some kind – a basket of local treats or a piece of art could be a nice touch
Create A Travel Deal
Another way to add value is to create a travel deal. You can run special offers for travellers who book more than a day or two. Making weekdays less expensive than weekends can also encourage people to book the slowest of days. If you need help with creating a travel deal, click here.
As you can see, it’s not impossible to keep bookings steady in the off-season. While it may take a little extra effort to set up in the on-set, and you may not get as large a return as in the peak season, keeping the bookings flowing means you can worry less about income gaps throughout the year. If you can invest a little bit of extra time and effort, you’ll be sure to reap the rewards!