How to Survive the Vacation Rental Off Season
The off season for a STR owner can be brutal. In high season you are sweating every day making sure your guest and listing needs are all met- splitting your time between communication, bookings, bed making, and the many other hats you where as a host.
When off season comes along at first it feels like a breath of fresh air. You have time to drink your coffee in the morning, have dinner with the fam, and indulge in the self care you have been neglecting. While it is important to use that time to recenter yourself, if you rely on your rentals for a steady flow of income you will soon need to refocus on how to creatively keep this stream moving.
Here are our top 10 methods for surviving the off season.
Chances are your property has something unique to offer (if it doesn't, let's focus on figuring out what that could be). Whether it is amazing natural light, a beautiful feature wall, a garden or lanai with a dreamy backdrop - all of these spaces can be utilized for a photoshoot.
Make it clear on your website and your social media platforms that your space is available as an hourly rental for photographers and creatives. Your hourly rentals should be priced in a such a way that it encourages those who are interested to consider booking overnight. (ie if your nightly rate is $400, offer a 2 hour option at $200).
Consider hosting a styled shoot. Partner with a local photographer and other creatives (florists, boutiques, stylists, etc) and host a mutually beneficial shoot. Make sure that the theme of the shoot will resonate with your target guest audience. Use those photos to promote the photoshoot option, as well as to create a cohesive vibe on your socials. Always remember to tag any business involved in the shoot for credit and cross promotion.
2) Discount Rates
Do you adjust your rates based on the season? If you are struggling to get bookings in your slow season consider discounting your standard rate. Getting 3 new bookings at a lower nightly rate is better than getting 1 at your standard rate.
Consider decreasing your weekday rates, your rates for your slowest month, or offering a discount through a coupon code. Don't assume everyone will notice this decrease. Make sure it is clear during the booking process as well as on social media how amazing these discounts are and also that they are only temporary.
"Book this week and receive 20% off all September Bookings. Hurry, you don't want to miss this deal!"
3) Small Boutique Events
Weddings - Elopements - Showers - Birthdays - Bachelorette Parties - Reunions
Intimate gatherings are all the rage. Let your audience know that your space is available for these options. If you really want to dive into the Boutique Event world you can partner with other businesses in the area to create a package deal.
Elopement Escape - 3 night stay, bouquet from a local florist, mini cake from a local bakery, photoshoot with a local photographer, champagne to toast
Shower & Stay - 2 night stay, balloon arch, gourmet cupcakes from a local bakery, gift basket from local boutiques
Bachelorette Bash - 3 night stay, drink through town (tickets to beverages at multiple hot spots), morning brunch and mimosa bar from a local restaurant
Those things you have been putting off... now is the time!
Paint the scuffs, trade out the dated furniture, refresh the linens, create a new insta-worthy photo spot.
Whether you have big renovations in mind or simple changes that you have been putting off. The slow season is your friend. Block a week on your calendar to deep clean and revamp your listing.
Had your space for 10+ years and never changed the decor style? Puh-Leez use this time to do that.
5) Add-on Incentives
Everyone loves a freebie! Consider adding some incentives for your guest during this slow time, and be sure to post about it on your website and social media platforms. They don't need to be expensive to have a big impact. What could these freebies be?
Gift Card to a local coffee shop
Breakfast (local pastries & fruit)
Branded Merch (koozie, coffee cup, stickers)
6) Single Night Stays
Definitely look at your profit margins to see if this option is a good one for you. While it can be annoying to have to clean or manage new check-ins day after day this can be a great way to fill your calendar. Whether someone has been eyeing your space for a while and can't afford a multi-night stay, or they are just passing through the area for the night offering a single night option can fill in your calendar during those pesky slow times.
7) Focus on the Locals
Many AirBnB owners neglect the locals, and this is very short sited. Now more than ever Staycations are giving people life! Make sure that locals know about your listing and think about focusing on reaching and pleasing them. Not only will they come and stay, they will tell their friends. If they have a positive experience the next time they have family coming to town they might send them your way as well.
Yoga teachers, coaches, writers and more are always looking for a new retreat space. Think your space is too small? Many retreats offer space for as few as 3-5 people. Make your space available to retreat planners during your off season, or curate your own retreat package.
9) Reach out to Prior Guests
Do you have an email list? You should! If you have been capturing the emails of your guests (make sure they opt in) reach out to them. Send a beautiful email campaign that reminds them of how wonderful their stay with you was. If you're feeling generous offer a discount code to them to book again.
Remember your best customer is the one you already have. Sometimes they just need a little reminding.
10) Spoil Yourself!
Take advantage of that amazing little property that is your pride and joy! Block out a week during your slow season and Treat-Yo-Self!
Not only does this give you a chance to relax and unwind, you will also be able to experience your property as a guest. This will help highlight the areas that you can focus on improving in the future.