How to Improve Your Low Season Occupancy Rate
Peak travel season comes and goes. Not every month will be as busy as Venice in July or Aspen in December, and so it’s natural that occupancy rates fall during certain months of the year. However, there are ways for vacation rental owners to increase occupancy during off-season months. Here are seven tips and tricks to increase booking during the low season and keep your business rolling year-round.
Use Data to Optimize Bookings
Data can be incredibly helpful for your vacation rental business, and especially so during off-season months. First, analyze last year’s business performance to determine which months constituted your low season. This includes analyzing your properties’ previous occupancy periods, revenue flow, average length of stays, and which days of the week you tended to book. These indicators will help you determine which months out of the year yield the lowest returns and when to adjust your business model and approach.
So how do you track data? Luckily, there are numerous vacation rental apps and services that help property owners gather their business’ data. MyVR, for example, is a cloud-based software primarily designed to help vacation rental owners optimize occupancy through marketing and data analysis. Vacation rental owners can track bookings, contact, reservation data, synchronize all listings through a channel manager, and more. A unique database for your business is perfect for determining when your low season hits.
Aggregating data is a great way to stay on top of your business performance during peak and off-season months. For any tailormade data reports on specific markets and property types, AllTheRooms’ Analytics are experts for solutions in the accommodation industry.
Market to a Larger Audience
And that leads to the next tip: marketing. Use the data you’ve collected to know your peak season guests — as well as the audience you may be regularly missing out — to target a larger percentage of travelers. Perhaps you own a beachfront home in Miami and tend to attract relatively young groups of vacationers during the summer; travelers who are looking to use your home as a resting ground between beach and club outings. Target other travelers during the fall, winter, and spring. This includes business travelers, families, retirees, locals, foodies, and honeymooners.
Update your listings on booking engines to highlight your property’s attributes that work well for other kinds of travelers. For example, the same beachfront view that attracts group vacationers during the summer could also be the perfect secluded getaway for honeymooners. Perhaps your place’s proximity to all the city action could also be the perfect location for foodies looking to experience the city’s local eateries. Rethink your marketing strategy to target the guests you typically do not book.
Adjust Pricing Strategy & Scheduling
Peak season calls for peak pricing. During the off-season, consider lowering your prices to attract more guests. Offer special discounts or bundle deals. A lot of off-season travelers pick the off-season to travel in order to get more value out of their trip, book cheaper flights, and have more lodging options. Appeal to this kind of traveler by making your place a no-brainer money-saver.
Open your scheduling to a 12-month calendar year so these savvy travelers can plan their off-season trips in advance. Adjust your minimum stay rules to attract even those just passing through. The more people who book your place during off-season travel months makes for more potential (positive) reviews on your page for peak-season travelers to see. Plus, building an off-season clientele by lowering your prices and opening your availability will add to your status as a superhost. Adjust your pricing strategy with helpful services like Vayoo.com and Beyond Pricing.
Revamp Your Space
Updating your listings may also call for changing up your space’s look. A new design may attract the attention of those just scrolling through booking sites and landing on the rentals that look the nicest (who doesn’t do this?). A picture says a thousand words and the photos you choose to post on listing sites plays a huge role in attracting guests.
If interior design isn’t your thing, try out Houzz. Houzz is an online site full of inspirational interior and exterior decor pictures sure to spark your creative touch. In the age of social media, creating a picturesque backdrop for Instagrammers to get their perfect shot may land you some new guests during an otherwise slow time of the year. There are also many property management services that can help you maintain your vacation rentals year-round from home-cleaning to furniture assembly. Remember to keep your properties in peak shape even during the off-peak months.
Improve Your Guest Experience
A great way to secure guests during your low season is to earn positive online reviews. Let the fabulous reviews of peak season travelers bring in off-peak guests. A simple way to get more positive reviews is to provide rock-solid guest experience. This includes maintaining constant open communication with your guests, being an active host and recommending local hotspots and attractions, making sure your rental properties are routinely stocked with amenities, and taking care of the little things.
It may be beneficial to offer a rewards program in order to build relationships with former guests. This could include a points system based on stays; a certain number of stays grants a certain kind of discount. This is a great way to show your guests that you care about hosting them in the future and to book returning guests during off-peak months.
Host for Local Events
If you’ve noticed that it’s harder to book international guests during your low season, try targeting locals to increase domestic sales. You know your city better than anywhere, so try marketing your place for local and cultural events that occur all throughout the year. Keep a calendar handy and make note of all the holiday weekends, events, and school year breaks that happen during the off-peak months. These should include the four-day weekends, no-school-days, and work breaks that visitors may want to celebrate while in the city. Market your short-term rentals during these times to attract the domestic guests you don’t usually book. This strategy will help keep an eye on the local and cultural events in your city and target “staycationers” in the market for a weekend getaway.
Social Media Campaigns
Social media is a powerful tool to attract an online audience. Try setting up social media pages for your vacation rental business. This includes Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and a personal business website. Market your vacation rentals all year-round to attract the interests of both peak and off-peak travelers. With social media, you can launch your own promotional campaigns whenever you want. Offer special discounts to your followers for any month to increase your occupancy rate. Post a consistent stream of quality content to garner a strong and active following. An engaged following means more people have your rentals on their radar.
Take charge of your peak and off-peak seasons by directly advertising your amazing properties to your next potential guests across social media platforms.
About the author: Emily Russo is a writer based in New York. She loves traveling, meeting new people, reading, and being outdoors. She hopes to travel to Italy 500,000 more times in her lifetime.