As many of you already know, Canadians love to travel! According to Expedia Media Solutions’ 2017 North American Travel & Tourism Trend Report, Canadians take an average of 2.8 trips per year, and travel a little more internationally (59%) than domestically (41%). And when it comes to Canadian travel, there’s more than one ‘peak’ season for getaways as there are only a few short lulls throughout the year. In addition to the busy summer season, tropical sun and ski destinations are in high demand during the cold fall and winter months, making the Canadian traveller an ideal target for all-season rentals.
Another recent white paper published by Expedia Media Solutions showed travel costs and accommodation options were two of the most important factors that influenced Canadians’ choice of travel destination. This means there’s a significant opportunity for you, as a vacation rental owner, to impact travel choices through your listings during the traveller’s path to purchase. With this in mind, here are some of our top tips for optimizing your listings to attract more Canadian travellers to your properties:
1. Update your listings seasonally
Our 2017 booking data showed Canadians booked winter travel an average of 80-100 days in advance, while summer was booked closer to the date of travel, only 40-60 days in advance.
That’s a lead time that’s significantly longer than many owners might think. From a traveller’s perspective, it’s tough for them 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 those dates, or has the incorrect rates for that time period.
To maximize listing appeal and booking opportunities, we always encourage owners to think ahead to have their 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 6 months in advance of the next season.
2. Ensure your pricing is competitive
Weaker Canadian buying power plays a significant role in vacation rental decisions, from the choice of destination to the accommodation selection. If your property is located outside of Canada, here are a few things to ask yourself:
- Is your Canadian dollar pricing competitive against the exchange rate?
- Can you offer a discount for longer stays?
- Are you offering deals for Canadian customers to help offset the exchange rate?
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
At CanadaStays, we’ve noticed a fast-growing trend of travellers using the Instant Book filter in their property search (over 50% of searches!). This means Canadian travellers are 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. Maximize capacity
Canadian vacation rental travellers on CanadaStays tend to book stays for larger groups, with an average of five guests per booking. Whether they’re travelling domestically or south of the border, they often travel with another family or a large group of friends. 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 making small investments to increase the property’s max capacity, such as a pull-out sofa or another smaller bed that can accommodate more travellers and increase the property’s value.
5. Offer late check-out
Canadians love to take advantage of the last day of their trip (or lazy Sundays!). Consider offering deals for longer stays, or a late check-out option. It works well as an added perk (for great reviews) but it’s also a feature you could 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.
6. List ALL relevant features & amenities
Canadian vacation rental traveller are looking for a place they can temporarily call home, so including bigger things like a hot tub or BBQ, along with smaller nice-to-have features like a popcorn maker, or family board games, can make your listing stand out from the competition. Consider your target demographic – is it families, young professionals or maybe retirees? Highlight the amenities that would be important to them when looking for their perfect rental.
Here are just some of the types of features and amenities you might want to mention in your listing:
- BBQ, hot tub, pool, fire pit, private dock
- Recreational equipment available for use (e.g. bikes, canoes, fishing poles, etc)
- Energy-efficient property features
- Smart home electronics
7. Highlight proximity to outdoor activities
Canadians travellers love being outdoors. Regardless of the season, outdoor activities are a big draw and play a key role in vacation rental selection. Consider the location of your property and its proximity to outdoor activities. Is it minutes away from great hikes, lakes or 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 that are popular with Canadian travellers include golf, fishing, hiking, biking, skiing, canoeing, snowshoeing, etc
8. Spotlight top nearby food & drink ppots
Canadians are big foodies and really embrace food tourism trend. 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 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.
9. Curate a local experience
Canadians are known for being more eager to seek out local experiences that are different from their own. When thinking about how to appeal to this type of traveller, this is really where a personal touch can come into play and elevate their 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 a surfing lesson. You can also easily curate a local experience by leaving little gifts, like local craft beer/wine from the region, or treats from the local bakery, as a welcome package for your travellers.
10. Optimize your listing headlines and feature image
Consider the type of traveller your property or area attracts, and who your ideal guests are. With this in mind, craft a listing headline and select a feature image that would be most compelling for this audience. Your headline should be short and to the point while communicating your key property features – you don’t need to repeat information 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.
Did you find this article helpful? For a more comprehensive overview of Canadian traveller profiles and listing optimization tips, download the full eBook here.