No matter where a vacation rental is located, or what amenities it offers, there will always be some kind of low season for bookings. Maybe the weather becomes too hot or cold, local attractions close for the season, or the usual visitors just can't get time off work or school to come visit. How can vacation rental owners survive the low season? Vanessa de Souza Lage from vacation rental channel management service Rentals United explains three common mistakes owners should watch out for.

As much as the high season in hospitality is often associated with stress, the low season can also be a very stressful time but for a completely different reason: the lack of occupancy. Vacation rental owners ask the same question every year - how can I keep my occupancy rate high even though we’re in low season? So at Rentals United we started to research the topic in great length (we even created a great read as low season looms!) and found out the main mistakes that the property managers and owners we come across make.

Mistake Number 1: “My current marketing will work in low season too”

You’ve had a great high season: your advertisements churned in clients and reviews, nothing can go wrong, you will keep filling up every room in low season. Think again. Fewer people are looking to go on vacation in your region means the competition is that much higher as everything is available. Adjust your advertising now by tuning up your rental's presentation. How to do that?

  • Hire a professional photographer or study how to take great VR pictures.
  • Get some more high-demand amenities like high speed internet, cable TV, or safety amenities like fire extinguisher or first aid kit and highlight them in your postings
  • Rewrite your copy (or hire a professional VR copywriter) and translate your postings into Spanish, German, French, or Italian.
  • Focus on the activities that can be done in low season, particularly if there are weather variations. What can you do in your area when it rains?
  • You can also look into using a rental channel manager (like Rentals United) to broaden your property's reach to potential new clients.

  • Mistake Number 2: “I’m keeping the same pricing and minimum stays as last year”

    Welcome to 2015. This is the year of super intelligent algorithms and big data made easy for vacation rental owners. First stop: pricing. There are plenty of companies looking to help vacation rental owners with their pricing by understanding last years trends, the competition, and the peaks in demand in your area. Hiring one of these firms is a great option, but you will want to do a little research yourself, too.

  • Regularly check the competition in your immediate vicinity - are they altering their prices?
  • Find more niche events in your area where you could bring the price up a bit.
  • Study the prices you gave last year’s low season customers and try reducing those by a certain percentage.
  • Consider modifying your minimum stay requirements during the low season

  • Mistake Number 3: "I don't have a loyalty program"

    Well, apart from keeping them up-­to­-date with occasional emails that include events in low season and giving them incredible discounts because they and their friends are your forever VIP guests, there’s another trick that I learned while working for the Mercedes ­Benz CRM department. It’s called a “Random Act of Kindness”.

    That “RAC” can take many forms - for example, we used to send out books with fantastic driving routes or CDs for car trips. It wasn’t so much the content that mattered, it was the pleasant surprise of getting an unexpected present through the mail.

    So voilà, I would send a little thing once a year. For rentals, this could even be just a nice postcard of an event in your event during low season, of course! Simple, but effective.

    Watch out for these three mistakes and you'll be well on your way to having the best low season yet!