MarketingProperty Management 12 mins read

16 Actionable Ways to Increase Bookings During Off Season

By August 14, 2022 September 23rd, 2022 No Comments
Technology in the Hospitality Industry: What it means for VRMCs

During the tourist season, your vacation-rental properties are booming. Your prices are higher and your properties are effortlessly booked throughout the season.

But the vacation rental offseason is a different story. Your properties are no longer full of guests during this time of the year. It might even get to the point where you’re just letting friends use it for free, as long as they agree to clean it afterward.

While it’s always good to help out your friends, an under-booked listing in the offseason doesn’t have to be your reality. You just need to change your approach. Finding guests in the offseason is much different from finding them during the busy season.

To fill your listings year-round, you need to use effective rental marketing techniques before the offseason begins. You’ll need to improve every facet of your listing, marketing strategy, and price to boost your income throughout the slower months.

Optimize pricing using a dynamic pricing tool

What is the simplest method for an Airbnb host to enhance their profits? With optimal pricing.

But how can you tell if your pricing is reasonable? And how can you be certain that it isn’t costing you a business? It’s almost impossible.

Sure, extensive competition information can be used to create a pricing model that is accurate for the upcoming 365 days, but what if those prices change? And they do, almost daily, because many events are unpredictable. Then what? As you can see, accurately pricing your Airbnb listing may be a major pain. And, regrettably, it is impossible to ignore it when pricing is so crucial to your annual revenues.

Fortunately, there are dynamic pricing tools to address this specific issue and help you with your pricing strategy. These tools use powerful algorithms to tap into big data and optimize your nightly rates in real time, so you can squeeze every dollar possible out of your investments. Dynamic pricing tools will help you: 

  • Automatically adjust prices nightly, based on trends, competition, seasonal fluctuations, etc.
  • Save you a lot of time from having to do the research and editing yourself
  • Fill up your calendar and maximize revenue

Using these dynamic tools for pricing optimization automation will also help you capture last-minute bookings without putting much effort.

Check out: PriceLabs, Wheelhouse, DPGO, Beyond Pricing &/or Nightpricer.

Work on your Airbnb SEO 

Even though there isn’t one Airbnb SEO technique that is effective for all property listings, you may find the way that works best for you by putting various tried-and-true strategies to use. Here are some tips for maximizing the effectiveness of your Airbnb SEO.

1)  Pick appropriate images and arrange them in a good order

The appropriate images may make or break a property listing; how can potential customers be persuaded to reserve a stay without clear, pertinent pictures?

Updated images that are sufficiently sized, clearly rendered, and show the finest angles of the property plus amenities, will instantly improve your listing. Think about pictures that might appeal to you as a possible visitor. In the first 3-5 pictures, show the most important rooms (bedroom, bathroom, kitchen, living room) and any important amenities (swimming pool, hot tub, etc.). The close-ups should come after. This is because most people get lazy, and will not look at all the pictures so you want to convey the most important pictures first.

2)  Make a headline that engages the reader.

Your title is likely the most significant component of any Airbnb listing; it will give guests their first impression of your listing, so make it clear, appealing, and welcoming. If they do not click it, they will not see the rest of your listing. Make sure to stuff your title with relevant keywords such as unique amenities, great location, etc. It also might be wise to add a discount to your title or a snappy statement that informs potential visitors of “new cheap pricing” if it is off-season. Some words you may want to add to your title: “pool”, “hot tub”, “amazing view” (mountain, lake, etc.), “BBQ,” etc. These are sure to increase your Airbnb bookings.

3)  Preset settings with care.

The options you choose to put up on your Airbnb listing account can have a significant impact on how well your listing performs in search engine results. In a database like Airbnb, little factors that you may never think about, like additional person fees, security deposits, minimum stays, and percentage discounts for stays of a week or more, actually make a large impact.

4)  Write a thorough description.

Make sure you add all the relevant keywords to your Airbnb listing in the various sections. This signals the Airbnb search algorithm to push your listing up in the relevant search results. Don’t bore the reader though – make sure your words are short and concise, and add a little bit of fun!

Add the word “discount” to your title

Adding the word discount to your Airbnb listing is another efficient method to keep your listing occupied in the off-season.

If there isn’t a distinct busy and quiet season in your location, you can think about giving discounts for stays during the week or stays that are a day or two longer than usual. For example, the fourth night is free if you stay for three. These are incentives for your guest to book for longer stays.

You can also think of other promotions such as allowing a free night next time if the guest chooses to book again with you. 

Reduce minimum night requirement

Even if it is only for weekdays, the Airbnb slow season might be a fantastic opportunity to test out a single-night minimum. The majority of cleaners would be happy to take the extra job.

Going hand in hand with reducing the minimum night requirement it would also be advisable to lower your nightly rate. That may seem like a no-brainer but you might be surprised at how low you can go. Hotels are experts with various marketing channels and staff dedicated to getting the pricing correct, and they decrease prices by up to 40% for low-season bookings.

To determine what your genuine minimum price should be, you must understand your fixed costs (expenses paid regardless of whether a visitor is using your areas, such as rent or mortgage) and variable costs (expenses paid only when a guest is in your space, such as electricity, cleaning, etc.).

Use a flexible cancellation policy

Airbnb has 5 main cancellation policies: flexible, moderate, firm, strict, and non-refundable. Besides non-refundable, the most severe is ‘strict’. During the high season, even if you have a ‘strict’ policy it should have little to no effect on your booking or cancellation rate. It will surely not stop anyone from booking your listing. The offseason is a different story entirely, though. Changing your cancellation policy to flexible could boost your listings greatly.

Allow instant book

During the off-season for Airbnb, Instant Book is going to be your best buddy. You eliminate one more barrier from your relationship with your future potential guest when you turn it on.

This enhances both the visitor experience and your position in the search results. Instant Book does exactly what it says on the tin: visitors may make reservations right away without the host’s consent.

On its website, Airbnb claims that hosts who use immediate booking can receive up to twice the number of reservations. In addition, you may subsequently cancel the reservation without incurring any fees from Airbnb if you thought the visitor appeared dubious. This needs to be one of your key strategies for the off-season.

Relax vacation rental house rules

Even if you’ve always had a rigorous no-animals rule, perhaps it’s time you let your visitors bring their furry best friend. Even though you’ve always said no parties, maybe a small family reunion or a board game night with friends should be allowed. Airbnb strictly doesn’t allow parties, so don’t worry. 

Before allowing a visitor to reserve their unit, some Airbnb hosts want them to formally agree to abide by all guidelines. If that describes you, consider doing away with that condition to see if you can increase your low-season occupancy rates. As a result, you can see more occupancy during the slow season for short-term rentals.

Remove extra person charges

A competitive pricing tactic is to charge for each additional guest and the majority of hosts do this during high season. It is better to save an ambitious pricing approach for peak season. During your sluggish months, eliminate the additional person fee. One extra person staying in the apartment doesn’t really add much extra work on your side. Sure, you maybe have to provide one extra towel. Is that really worth scaring off your guest with an extra charge?

Finding Long-Term Renters

Today, the digital nomad lifestyle is becoming more and more popular by the day. People are choosing to work and live where they want. Many of them also have a significant amount of disposable income because many of them have discovered that there are 100s of different ways to make money.

This makes digital nomads the perfect type of guest to target for the offseason. They have money and like experiencing new places for longer than a typical vacation, but don’t want to settle down in one place either.

An effective message to market to them is that you will offer them slightly cheaper rent, in a great location, as long as they are willing to stay for at least a month. It’s a win-win for both parties. Just make sure that your property has Wi-Fi because a digital nomad is going to need access to it to work.

Cater to business travelers

Business travelers are one traveler group that is not significantly impacted by low season. Essentially weekdays and off-peak times are when they are more likely to stay rather than weekends and holidays. In addition, guests who are traveling on business typically spend more money on items like meals, beverages, and other services.

We thus want to draw in more business travelers, but how do we go about doing that? We can get a fair picture of what these travelers want by looking at Airbnb’s “Business Travel Ready” specifications for its Work Collection:

  • Workstation or desk with wireless internet
  • Self-check-in necessities such as toilet paper, towels, linens, shampoo, soap, an iron, and a hairdryer
  • Detectors for smoke and carbon monoxide

Include a few business-travel-friendly homes in your inventory and you’ll get more of these travelers.

Make your listing pet & child friendly

Updating your listing to appeal to families and pet owners is another option to increase your Airbnb income in the off-season, much like optimizing your home for business visitors and digital nomads. Allowing both children and pets in your listing is a fantastic method to raise the possibility of getting a reservation at any time of year, so it’s not a season-specific item.

Retargeting Ads

Pixel-based retargeting ads are a great way to reach potential customers who have already shown an interest in your website and products. This can be a worthwhile strategy because you want to make sure you can convert people interested in your rental properties into guests.

Essentially, pixel-based retargeting ads work by utilizing a web browser’s cookies, which is essentially a tiny file stored on their computer that notes where on the web they’ve been. Thus, the ads you create for your offseason rental properties can target users who have recently viewed one of your rental property web pages.

The timeliness of these ads can be a real advantage, as a potential customer can be targeted by the ad almost immediately after leaving your site. The target of the ad can be specific to certain pain and even behavior-based.

That’s why this can be such a great strategy to start right before the offseason, while you’re still in the busy season because it’s when people are likely starting to make plans.

Email Outreach

By now, you likely have a long email list of previous guests and potential customers, so why not take advantage of this list by reaching out to them when you need their business the most.

A simple email outreach campaign can go a long way, especially when you’re sending it to the warm leads on your email list. Just be sure to structure your message in a way that will effectively engage your potential customers. On average, a business person receives over 90 emails per day, so you want to make sure that your message stands out from the rest.

You can do this writing the email in a personalized style that will appeal to the target audience (this is especially easy if you already know what your past guests are like). You also need to make sure that the email is sent during typical business hours (preferably in the morning), and is error-free.

Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is becoming a very viable and acceptable way to find customers. Many social media users.

All you need to do is find social media influencers who are already speaking to your target audience and negotiate how they will reach out to their audience on your behalf, as well as how much it will cost. There are several websites like Intellifluence, Upfluence, and others that are dedicated to helping businesses and influencers get in touch with one another.

Just be careful when reaching out to influencers. Make sure you read their reviews, check out their social media accounts and websites (as many tend to buy followers that are basically bots), and don’t spend more than you’re comfortable with.

If you follow each of the tips that are outlined in this post, you will be well on your way to having your rentals booked in the offseason, and well on your way to having an even more profitable vacation-rental business.

 

We hope by putting these tactics in place that you’re able to optimize your bookings and have as few vacancies as possible. Good luck!