Off-Season: 9 ways to make the most of vacation rental downtime

Aug 20, 2018 | Listing 101

Peak and off-seasons present vacation rental owners and property managers with unique challenges. During peak, chances are you’ll be rushed off your feet dealing with the never-ending day-to-day demands. And in the off-season, you might find yourself clock-watching while the bookings trickle in at a snail’s pace…

However, there is one clear advantage to working in an industry with such obvious seasonality – it means you can prepare! Continue reading for 9 ways to make the most of your vacation rental downtime.

During peak season, vacation rental owners and managers don’t have to try too hard to keep busy. But what about when the tourists disappear, off-season begins and the calendar is looking a little sparse? You’ve tried an off-season marketing push, but it looks like you won’t get many (if any) more bookings.

How can you make the most of this downtime? Rather than just keeping your business ticking over, you can use it to grow, improve, develop – and set yourself up for an even better year. From detailed booking and rate analysis to renovations and refits, here are 9 ways to make the most of off-season.

1. Keep in touch with guests

Why not use your downtime during off-season to take your customer service up a notch and send a keep in touch email? For upcoming bookings, checking in with guests before their stay makes such a great impression and will likely lead to more reviews (and we have the stats to prove that means more bookings!).

Don’t forget about previous guests, either. Not only does a “Thanks for staying with us” email remind them what a great time they had, it’s a personal touch that could just give them the nudge they need to rebook (or recommend you to friends and family).

* Just one review on your listing could double traveler interest in your listing, compared to listings with zero reviews.

2. Start planning for next year’s peak season

Peak season passes by in a blur and every day you’ll probably learn something about what you can do better. While it’s all still fresh in your memory, start making plans to improve your set-up for the next uptick in bookings. This could be optimizing your check-in process or setting up your Welcome Pack to make communication with guests just before their stay even easier.

3. Plan and begin renovations, repairs or updates

Off-season is the perfect time to make improvements or running repairs to your vacation home. To minimize disruption, it’s best to do these jobs while business is quieter and you have more time without guests. Remember, if you’re planning any large-scale construction or redecorating projects where you won’t be able to accept guests, be sure to block the dates on your calendar so travelers can’t book last-minute stays.

4. Analyze your bookings

It’s impossible to underestimate how important it is to look closely at your booking data. It can help you identify trends in your customers – are you appealing to one particular type of traveler? Is your demographic changing? How long are travelers staying on average? How many of your guests are leaving reviews?

Having the time to analyze your bookings is a luxury that’s often just not possible during peak season. So make the most of your downtime and hit the spreadsheets! You might be surprised at what insights you discover and the impact they’ll have in the coming year.

5. Reply to reviews

Hopefully, you’ll have received some great reviews from recent guests. But have you replied to them? Replying to reviews is an effective way to demonstrate to potential guests that you’re a great communicator. However, finding the time can be challenging. Off-season—when you’re generally less busy day-to-day—is the perfect time to post some replies. And if you’ve received any negative feedback, replying is even more important. Take a look at our guide to replying to negative reviews.

6. Reassess your rates

The less hectic weeks during off-season present a great time to evaluate your rates. What’s your revenue looking like? Are you making a comfortable profit? Could you be charging more in peak times? Did you have to reduce your rates in certain weeks to fill your calendar?

Whether you’re simply adding a few dollars to cover an annual rise in your rates or your updates are part of a more sophisticated seasonal pricing strategy, off-season is the perfect time to make these changes. Don’t forget to check what the competition is doing to make sure your rates are attractive to browsing travelers year-round.

7. Update your listing

Adding new photos, changing your lead image, updating your description… All these modifications will help give your listing a fresh look and feel.

If you’ve analyzed recent bookings, now’s the time to action any insights you gained. You might want to update your listing to appeal to your most popular traveler profile. Maybe you’ve seen an uplift in the number of guests traveling for business purposes. If so, make sure your listing highlights the amenities they’ll be looking for: Wi-Fi and ample desk space, for example.

8. Do a year-end review

Many businesses tend to conduct a year-end review at the end of the calendar year. But this doesn’t make sense for all industries – and it certainly doesn’t for vacation rentals. The end of peak season is often when you can get most out of a business health-check.

Property managers can take advantage by working with their teams to identify strengths and areas for development. Are your processes as efficient as they can be? How are your customer satisfaction levels? Can you deploy your resources to better cover key touchpoints with customers? Ask yourselves these questions while you have the headspace to consider them properly, and you’ll notice the positive effects the following year.

9. Take a vacation yourself!

Last—but not least—use your vacation rental downtime to give yourself a break. You spend so much of your time and energy on giving guests a fabulous vacation, it’s easy to forget that you deserve one, too! Taking an off-season trip will mean you come back re-energized and ready for what lies ahead – an even better year.

Want to maximize your off-season bookings?
Take a look at our advice on off-season vacation rental marketing.

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