After an unprecedented leap in profitability over the last couple of years, the short-term rental game is a great one to be playing at the moment. Projected to generate upwards of 160 billion dollars by the end of next year, even the Hiltons and Marriots of the world have been forced to concede: the vacation rental ain’t going nowhere.
That said, it would be foolish to overlook the vulnerabilities of the industry, one of the most prominent of which is the inherent seasonality of the travel sector in general. In other words, there are times that people travel and there are times they don’t. Unfortunately, months of vacant rentals can do a lot of harm to property management companies, even if those same properties have guests lining up down the block during high season.
But property managers, worry not. There are always ways to beat the system. If people eat ice cream in the winter and sip hot cocoa in the summer, then surely they can be persuaded to vacation in February.
Here’s how to score year-round profitability for your listings:
Play the Pricing Game
There is one simple reason people buy snow boots in the spring, and it’s not because they’re praying for a white Easter. Someone who may not be particularly keen to travel during the colder months can likely be swayed by a bargain. Property managers need to recognize that the demand for vacation accommodation sees significant shrinkage between November and March, and they need to adjust their prices accordingly. On the flip side, you can increase prices during peak periods. There are auto pricing features out there that make this process easy and stress-free.
‘Tis The Season
It may not be bikini season, but it’s always something season. Edit your listing descriptions to convey what your properties and the surrounding areas have to offer during that specific time of year. Is Taylor Swift touring your town? Is March Madness in the air? Oh, and you may not have known this, but updating your descriptions to keep them relevant will not only help to demonstrate the appeal of your listings, but will also give them higher ranking in the Airbnb results.
There is one type of traveler who’s tripping all year round. Whether in the palm-sweating heat or finger-numbing cold, when it comes to business, the show (or in this case, meeting) must go on. All you have to do is make sure your listings appeal to individuals traveling for work. How? Aside from investing in convenient amenities, like a coffee maker, basic office supplies, and a comfortable work area, you’re definitely going to want to try to earn your listing a spot in Airbnb’s ‘Business Travel Ready’ category, so that when users filter their searches for accommodations suitable for business travelers, your property won’t be shuffled out of the mix.
The site’s requirements in order to qualify for this status include basic things, like WiFi access and a clothing iron, as well as some less basic things, like a strict no-smoking policy and a minimum of a three-star rating. It’s important to remember that as the pool of customers shrinks, the competition intensifies, so putting in sincere effort to make your lodgings as comfortable as possible for this type of clientele will pay off.
It’s What’s on the Inside
Dreary weather may be keeping people from exploring the great outdoors, but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t appreciate some new (well-heated) surroundings. Professional photos that highlight the features of your rental, be it an inviting jacuzzi, modern kitchen, or cozy fireplace, might be all you need to pique the interest of those looking to get away and hole up for a couple of days.
An Offer They Can’t Refuse
We’ve already gone over the pricing game, but the truth is, low season means people usually aren’t even browsing booking sites long enough to notice your great deals. That’s why in addition to stamping your listings with appealing price tags, you should also be taking more active measures to garner interest. Send recent guests family and friends discounts after they stay. Maybe they know some people who’d appreciate a discounted experience. Send old guests promotions exclusive to returning visitors. If they enjoyed themselves before, they might be inclined to double dip. Make sure to specify the dates these offers are valid so you don’t run into trouble when someone wants to cash in during high season.
Forget The Rules
Every listing comes with its own set of rules: minimum number of nights, maximum number of guests, smoking, pets, the list goes on. But as the old saying goes, beggars can’t be choosers, and when bookings are low, it may be in your best interest to forget the rules, just for a while. Lower your minimums, increase your maximums and maybe even consider allowing some four-legged travelers into your properties. If you’re dealing with homeowners who are more stringent about their terms and regulations, sit them down and explain that exercising a little flexibility is a great way of staying profitable at times when other vacation rentals are sitting empty. People tend to be a wee bit more amenable to change when they see dollar signs at the end of the road.
Lots of businesses are at the mercy of weather changes and holiday dates, but with the right plan of action, you can fill your vacation rentals with happy travelers up to 365 days of the year.
If you’re interested in learning more about property management and discovering the many ways Guesty's platform can help your business, we invite you to a free one-on-one session with one of our experts.