Just because high season summer reservations are coming to an end doesn't mean your vacation rental business cant thrive in the winter rentals market. Unless you don't have heat or property access during the winter, it is possible to capture the elusive out of season guest to help pay on-going fixed expenses!
Summer guests, in general, are looking for lazy days on the beach and a boat. They want sunshine and family interaction. You probably market your property as such through captivating photos, property descriptions and offered activities.
Fall and winter guests, on the other hand, might have dramatically different desires for their out of season getaway. Understanding your guest and how their needs shift throughout the year is the most effective way to attract out of season business.
Top Tips for Winter Rentals
1. Market Your Rental For The Off Season
Your listing ad, website and home itself probably already promote summer festivities. This is great for the high season, but won't necessarily attract guests looking for winter rentals. Update your photos, property descriptions and amenities to up-sell your winter welcome.
Ensure the beds have really warm duvets, throws and unforgettable sheets (LL Bean Flannel sheets are my personal choice). Provide extra wood for the fireplace (with usage directions and fire extinguisher!). Warm colors and soft lighting will take the cozy factor up a notch and pictures of said ambiance work wonders for your 'winter retreat' section on your website, if you have one.
2. Loosen Your Booking Requirements
Travel decisions become impulsive (often booked only days in advance) with shorter stays. If you typically require weekly reservations, offer nightly rates to promote last minute weekend getaways. The goal is to become attractive to a larger audience, with less flexible schedules.
3. Make Sure Your Pricing is Competitive
It's really easy to price too high in fall and winter. Resist the temptation! With so many vacation rentals vying for the dwindling market, potential guests won't give your home a second glance if your rates aren't accurate reflections of the season.
4. Offer Compelling Events & Activities for Guests
Research festivals, concerts, tours and events in your area so you have plenty of attractions for your potential guests. Is there a local University? Understand their events calendar and how your home rental can fill a market need.
Develop promotions with these organizations, inclusive of your vacation rental. I love working with the Park City Chamber of Commerce (which also acts as the Tourist Bureau) to develop marketing packages for press visits and other planned promotions during the off season.
Also, don't overlook the importance of seasonal activities offered at your home. A hot tub, snowshoes and sleds are really fun and great additions for winter rentals. They will quickly pay for themselves.
5. Pay Attention to Economic & Travel Trends
According to the U.S. Travel Association, 41% of American workers do not plan to use all of their paid time off (PTO) in 2014. Although 96% of those interviewed agreed on the importance of vacation, 33% say they “cannot afford" it.
By keeping a pulse on larger trends, you will be able to identify new opportunities to attract business. If more travelers feel inclined, for one reason or another, to forfeit extended Bahamian winter trips for a weekend getaway closer to home, how can you capture their attention?
Be creative, flexible and have fun creating options to attract out of season guests. They will appreciate the effort and they will return.
This guest post was written by Kris Getzie, Founder & Principal Consultant at Volo. She is a vacation rental expert and author of the recently published Vacation Rentals For Newbies.