By Josh Guerra, Bizcor – Vacation off-season can be one of the most frustrating times for rental owners, especially if their property isn’t in a year-long destination, such as somewhere tropical. Vacation rentals tend to sit vacant more than you’d think, actually: up to 85% of the year for most properties. When you include the nearly six million vacation homes throughout the country, that adds up to an incredible amount of vacancy. While this is completely normal throughout the vacation rental business, that doesn’t mean you have to accept it!
Every vacation rental owner and property manager knows to plan for the off-season, but often, this just consists of gritting their teeth and bearing the slow period. For those of you who are tired of staring at an empty booking schedule, it’s time for a new plan! Wherever there are people, there are bound to be attractions; it’s all in how you highlight them. Read on for a list of our top tips and tricks that can help you draw in customers to your property during the off-season!
Bring Back Previous Guests
The first and most lucrative pool for you to tap into to help improve your off-season rental rates are your previous guests. Because they have already seen (and most likely enjoyed) how nice your property and the surrounding area are, they don’t have to be convinced that they will have a good time; your goal here is to draw them in with a convincing deal. There are a few ways you can do this, such as:
- Personal Calls – If you have plenty of information collected from previous guests—put it to good use! A personalized call to ask how they enjoyed their stay is a great opportunity for you to ask them to come back—with an incentive, of course! Sweeten the deal with a limited time customer appreciation rate or added amenities.
- Email Specials – A monthly email newsletter is one of the best ways to get guests back to your property during the off-season. You can include and highlight the interesting activities available during these off-season months, as well as include special deals and packages that will draw anyone’s interest.
Highlight Off-Season Draws
Despite it being the off-season, there are still bound to be plenty of things to do and see nearby your vacation rental. After all, locals are there all year long, and they don’t want to be bored, either! Find those interesting things to do and places to visit, and then promote them to your potential guests relentlessly. Local museums, theaters, or concert venues make great highlights for indoor activities, while hiking trails, swimming pools, or skiing opportunities are good points to sell for outdoor enthusiasts.
No matter what you choose to promote, keep one thing in mind: Off-season is still the off-season. Even the most amazing marketing can’t completely counteract the fact that there’s a reason for a lull in business. Temper your expectations, but set yourself up for success anyway!
Utilizing Paid Search Ads to the Fullest
Online marketing through the use of paid search can be extremely effective at generating traffic for your property, especially if used correctly. Sure, there is something to be said for high saturation advertising, but in order to truly maximize the effectiveness of your ads, you’ll need to target the proper demographics—those who will convert on your site. For off-season vacations, you should target your ads towards people looking for special rates and cheap deals.
By letting people haggle and “name their price,” a popular method recently, you can attract deal hunters and other guests you may not have previously converted. Since the rooms you will be filling would have been empty otherwise, you aren’t really losing money by offering cheaper rates. The most important thing is to drum up new business and fill your rentals!
Charity Auction Demand – Geronimo
The final tip for filling your rentals during off-season involves something you may have never considered: charity auctions. In fact, charity auctions and fundraisers frequently raffle off vacations as prizes; they happen to be the most popular prize! This enormous market is just waiting for you to dip your toes into its waters, but how do you get started?
Services such as Geronimo.com are the perfect way for you to get into the charity auction game. You can promote your off-season properties to non-profits for both profit and visibility. Thousands of organizations will be able to see your property, including through slideshows and video footage promoting your property at these auctions, giving you significantly more chances to fill vacancies in your bookings calendar.
Through Geronimo’s vacation certificate platform, your property will be marketed to non-profits across the country, creating an entirely new market for your rentals. With easy setup and integration (you will receive calls from certificate holders to book your property) there’s nothing but upside to using this type of marketing system.