How to Get Last-Minute Bookings for Your Vacation Rental
It may seem like the norm for guests to book well in advance when planning a vacation, and ideally, you’d prefer to have your vacation rental booked for the season. If you still have openings on your listing, you can always find ways to fill bookings last-minute. From offering attractive last-minute travel deals to marketing to locals within driving distance, these tricks can go a long way to land bookings for last-minute vacation rentals.
Charge Competitive Rates
Establishing competitive nightly rates on your vacation rental will ensure consistent bookings all throughout the year and avoid having to fill openings last-minute. You can do this automatically by using revenue management tools like Beyond Pricing, PriceLabs, or Outswitch. This type of vacation rental software relies on real-time market data to recommend nightly rates based on current supply and demand. In this way, you can automatically charge competitive rates while still maximizing profits.
You can also find out if your vacation rental property is priced just right, or too high, by researching how your listing compared to hotel rooms and other vacation homes. You’ll want to consider other listings that share the same amenities, amount of space, etc to get a true idea of how your rates compare.
Offer Last-Minute Travel Deals
As the date for an open booking fast approaches, you’re better off with a discounted booking than nothing at all. Offering bargain rates will certainly catch the eye of a last-minute traveler looking for travel deals. At the same time, you’ll get some cash flow rather than going without any booking.
Include Outstanding Rental Amenities
Ideally, you’ll want your vacation home fully booked throughout the year. If you find empty bookings occurring regularly, perhaps it’s time to invest in some upgrades on your vacation rental. You can consider adding features that will make your vacation rental too hard to pass up even during the low season.
Try to come up with creative ways to keep your property attractive all throughout the year. For example, if you offer a beach vacation home, chances are many travelers won’t want to book with you when temperatures go down. Incorporating amenities like a heated pool could attract travelers to book during the colder months. Let’s say you own a string of mountain properties ideal for skiers and snowboarders. You can upgrade your rental with hot tubs so guests can relax after a long day out on the slopes.
Marketing to the Last-Minute Vacationer
Most vacationers will plan their trip at least three months or more in advance to get the best rates on flights and have more options. Still, some travelers prefer booking last-minute in hopes of finding amazing deals or just to enjoy the freedom of going away on a whim. In fact, many avid travelers will purposefully sign up for updates at travel sites to find the best travel deals on last-minute bookings.
In order to stay in touch with potential last-minute bookings, you’ll want to include a place for users to sign up for updates. You can do so through a number of ways:
Invite users to sign up for email updates
Make sure to set up a place on your vacation rental listing site so that guests can sign up for updates. You should include a call to action like “Sign Up for Offers” or “Join Our Mailing List” to invite visitors to leave their email address. In this way, you can alert subscribers and promote deals on last-minute bookings to those interested.
Share Last-Minute Deals on Social Media
Creating social media pages on Facebook and other channels provides another outlet to engage with previous guests and potential new ones. Once anyone “likes” or follows you, they will receive updates in their news feed from your page. So if you have any last-minute bookings available, make sure to get the word out to your followers. Previous guests might get the idea of making a reservation on a whim. Otherwise, you can convince travelers looking for a discount to book last-minute.
Consider Marketing to Locals
Targeting internationals to book your vacation rental property might not make sense for many. The cost of flights can rise dramatically when booking just a week or two before. You’ll have a higher chance of attracting last-minute guests living within driving distance of your vacation home.
There are a few tricks for property managers to increase visibility to internet users within the region. With online marketing, make sure your listing appears in local searches and listings. For example, you can implement local SEO tactics on your website so people in your area will find your property more easily when searching for staycation ideas. You can also advertise your listing through local channels like your city’s Facebook marketplace to reach locals who are more likely to come to stay with you last-minute without having to plan for flights and other expenses.
What Makes Your Vacation Home Stand Out?
If you find yourself having a hard time keeping booking filled, maybe it’s time to take a second look at your approach. Marketing, whether online or offline, gives an opportunity to present your vacation rental to turn potential guests into happy customers.
To start, make sure that you clearly express what your property has to offer through branding and messaging. You’ll want to clearly define your brand experience when promoting your listing. Consider the following:
– The price point of your vacation home (luxury, mid-range, budget)
– What makes your property stand out? (plenty of room, free wifi, heated pool)
– What experience does your property offer? (family friendly, historic charm, modern)
When reaching out to potential guests through all channels, whether via email, social media, or on vacation listing sites, make sure you clearly and consistently communicate all of these experience avenues. In this way, your bookings will stay full throughout the year, and you’ll have no trouble filling last-minute vacation rentals.
About the author: Originally from Pennsylvania, Allison Dienstman lives as a digital nomad working as a freelance writer. Her travels over the past decade have taken her through China, Israel, India, and Europe. Allison also enjoys yoga, paddleboarding, cooking, and having a laugh with friends.