I distinctly remember worrying about the looming slow season when I began my career in the vacation rental business. I worried about it before peak season even began. Like most people, everything I have I worked really hard for and the thought of losing money on my investment, and possibly foregoing my new career, was scary.
The truth is that a well-positioned vacation rental home, with a thought out marketing plan, should reap rewards. Regardless of your situation, it is possible to increase your revenue substantially by extending your season into the shoulder months, or creating a new one completely.
How to extend your booking season
1. Have a game plan! Define your plan 3-6 months prior to start of your slow season so you have enough time to attract the right guest(s). I love this house in Rodanthe and they are already thinking ahead to fall!
2. Should you find a tenant? Retired couples are great candidates for 6-8 month leases. Ensure you are crystal clear about the lease duration when it is less than one year.
3. Is there a market to continue renting your home out nightly or weekly? If so, assess your rates and reduce your minimum stay requirements to 2 or 3 nights. Also provide reduced rates for weekly and monthly stays.
Many travelers are growing to appreciate less traveled times across the globe. Fall seasons, for example, see lower traffic and have milder, but equally beautiful, weather. Lower prices don't hurt, either.
4. Promote the advantages to staying at your home in the off season. What is there to do nearby? What is the weather like? Be generous with the attraction information and add photos of events, scenery and your home during those months.
5. Suggest off season getaways on your website. Mountain towns are known for their winter months, so I suggest that my local clients create summer and fall getaways packages. For example, guys mountain biking trips, girl spa weekends or even Olympic Park adventure trips.
Partner with local businesses for discounted gift certificates to create really unique and tasty (literally- include restaurants coupons!) experiences for your guests.
6. Understand life events. Graduation, both high school and college, can draw travelers in June. Wedding are booming in the fall, a shoulder season for most locations.
How can your home accommodate these groups? Vacation rentals can certainly be a more affordable housing option than a hotel, so be sure to suggest it as such. Provide groups with flexible check-in and departure days if you normally regulate them.
For one reason or another, you might be looking to extend your booking season. If you market your home appropriately, and price it well, you can certainly increase your revenue with a little extra effort.