8 Tips for Boosting Your Vacation Rental Bookings During Low Season

Jul 02 2024

Get tips on how to use Hostfully to optimize your vacation rental business and make more profit.

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What’s in this article?

Any vacation rental business knows that while high season brings in a steady stream of guests, the low season can be far more challenging. However, with a strategic approach, you can optimize your occupancy during an off-peak time of the year.

In this article, we will discuss some effective tips to boost your vacation rental‘s occupancy during the low season and ensure an even more desirable property for the coming peak season.

Identifying your off-season

There are three ways to identify the off-season for your target market, ranging from DIY to sophisticated analysis with software.

The DIY approach

You likely have a gut feeling about your off season based on factors like weather, events, and tourism patterns. To pinpoint the exact dates, you might want to do three things:

  1. Analyze competitor listings: Check out your competitors’ listings in the area during this time of the year. If there are several large operators with 100+ listings in your area, they will likely have the off season well-defined and adjust their pricing accordingly. Use their data to inform your own strategies.
  2. Observe hotel pricing: Big chain hotels often have access to advanced analytics tools, and their pricing will reflect those insights. Monitoring hotel prices can provide you with valuable, free research on seasonal trends.
  3. Check google business profiles: Look at the Google Business profiles of local businesses. Changes in hours of operation can indicate busy and quiet seasons, giving you another clue about your off season.

By taking these steps, you can gain a better understanding of your off season and make informed decisions to optimize your rental strategy.

Using your own historical data

Your own historical data can provide invaluable insights into your properties’ performance during the off season. If you have a Property Management System (PMS) like Hostfully, accessing and analyzing your historical data becomes a straightforward task. Hostfully’s advanced reporting features allow you to pull all your reservation data into a spreadsheet effortlessly.

AirDNA and KeyData for deeper insights

This one might cost you a few dollars in software spend, but it’s worth looking into as there are many benefits. Software like AirDNA and KeyData can be instrumental in optimizing your vacation rental strategy.

AirDNA and KeyData offer overlaping but also distinct features, so you’ll have to do a bit research to see which is best for your situation. But in a nutshell, you’ll get comprehensive data on vacation rental markets worldwide, historical data, occupancy rates, and rental prices. They give you insights into competitor pricing as well.

Benefits of using data analysis tools

  1. Accurate forecasting: You can forecast demand more accurately and prepare for the off season with targeted promotions and pricing adjustments.
  2. Competitive analysis: Tools like AirDNA and KeyData enable you to benchmark your performance against competitors. Understanding how similar properties fare during the off season can help you identify opportunities and threats.
  3. Optimized pricing strategies: Dynamic pricing models supported by these tools can help you adjust your rates based on real-time market conditions, maximizing occupancy and revenue even during slower periods.
  4. Informed marketing decisions: Data insights can guide your marketing efforts, allowing you to focus on the most effective channels and messages to attract guests during the off season.

How to optimize occupancy during low season

Now that you’ve identified your off season, let’s explore some effective strategies to boost your vacation rental‘s occupancy during this period.

1. Consider adjusting your minimum stay requirements

Low season is the time to reach those you potential guests who are seeking getaways for just one or two nights — so now may be the time to shorten your minimum stay requirement.

Always make sure to check your RevPar first and make decisions based from there. The benefit? Sometimes by accommodating these requests, you can attract more bookings and a wider audience. Offering flexibility in terms of stay duration can significantly increase your chances of securing guests.

2. Offer discounts with an off-season pricing strategy

Another effective strategy is to utilize a low season pricing strategy. By lowering your rates during slower seasons, you can offer competitive pricing that attracts budget-conscious travelers. You can also offer reduced rates for longer stays to potentially cover larger occupancy gaps.

Be sure to analyze market data and competitor prices to ensure your rates during the low season are enticing and competitive. And if you use a trusted dynamic pricing software, you can configure it for the low season — seamlessly streamlining the process for you and hopefully helping to secure unexpected bookings.

3. Add seasonal photos and keywords in your listing

Though time-consuming, updating your vacation rental‘s listing can make a significant impact on occupancy. During the low season, showcase seasonal photos that highlight the unique appeal of your property during this time. Additionally, optimize your listing with relevant keywords related to your off-season offerings. With visual and keyword prompts, you can increase your visibility and attract travelers searching for experiences that may fall outside of your peak season.

4. Secure direct booking stays with low season promotions

If you have a direct booking site, you can incentivize bookings during the low season by offering promotions and special discounts—most notably by collecting past guest contact info and reaching out. Whether it’s a discounted rate for longer stays or added perks like complimentary activities, promotions can entice guests to choose your rental over competitors.

Promote these offers through targeted emails, your direct booking website, social media channels, and relevant travel platforms. (And of course, with a direct bookings, you also save yourself from paying requisite Airbnb, Vrbo, and other OTA fees.)

5. Allow instant bookings

Many travelers prefer the convenience of instant bookings. By allowing instant bookings during the low season, you remove any unnecessary barriers and increase the likelihood of securing reservations. You can always add guest screening software or per night insurance for proper vetting and peace of mind. This streamlined booking process can be a significant differentiator and attract guests who value efficiency and simplicity — and may even secure some last minute bookings.

6. Partner with local businesses

Another effective strategy to optimize occupancy during the low season is to partner with local businesses or organizations. Collaborate with nearby restaurants, tour operators, or event organizers to create exclusive packages or discounts for your guests. This cross-promotion can attract more visitors to your vacation rental and provide additional value to your guests.

7. Invest in your vacation rental (and a better guest experience)

During the low season, take advantage of the downtime to make improvements to your vacation rental. This could involve annual maintenance, renovations, upgrades, or anything that might enhance the overall guest experience. By continually investing in your property, you create a positive reputation and more desirable property, ultimately enticing guests to choose your rental, even during the slow season.

Furthermore, consider adding unique amenities that cater to the interests of travelers during the low season. For example, if your vacation rental is located near a ski resort, provide ski equipment storage. If your vacation rental is near an ocean, consider adding an outdoor shower. Conversely, consider amenities that might attract off-season guests. For example, if your beach rental gets minimal winter month bookings, look into adding a fireplace or hot tub to attract potential guests looking for a cozy winter getaway with new views of the ocean.

By tailoring your offerings to the specific needs and desires of your target market during the low season, you can differentiate your rental from others and attract more bookings.

8. Enlist a marketing strategy to target new potential guests

In addition to physical improvements, property managers can always focus on enhancing their online and social media presence with thoughtful marketing strategies. Especially in the off season, consider investing in pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns to capture new demographics and direct them to your listings. With online campaigns and enticing social content, you can expand your reach for potential off-season bookings.

Conclusion

Boosting your occupancy during the vacation rental low season requires a comprehensive and strategic approach. By identifying your off season, implementing appropriate pricing strategies and booking policies, optimizing your listing, offering promotions, and continuously improving your property, you can maximize your bookings and generate more revenue throughout the year. Embrace the opportunities that the low season brings and make your vacation rental a sought-after destination year-round!