If you own or manage a vacation rental, you are by definition pursuing a seasonal business. As every professional in the industry is well aware, generating revenues for a whole year in just a few months of activity (at the maximum of its potential) is often really challenging.

But there are some ways to keep the cash flow coming all year round! The secret, after the key season has passed, is to think creatively, learn more about the needs of your customers, and test new ideas.

We listed 9 top-notch tips to increase bookings during your off-season.

Find the perfect profile of your Low-Season Guest

Imagine you are renting out a villa in Ibiza overlooking Playa d’en Bossa, the closest beach to the top clubs of the island and the cornerstone of its celebrated nightlife. Probably during the entire summer-season, the stereotypical guests you are getting bookings from are mainly groups of young people who come to enjoy their graduate trips, bachelor parties, or generally the night entertainment of the island. Consequently, the average age of your guests is between 18 and 35 and their average stay is between 3 and 7 days.
In this case, you’ll be addressing all your marketing efforts toward this target audience, listing your properties mainly on sales channels widely used by a younger audience (like Airbnb) and pitching in your listings’ description the ease of transfers to the clubs, or the informal atmosphere of your lodging.
Yes, small groups and party lovers may be your ideal guests for the high season, but are you sure that this category is the best fit for your rental in the low season as well?

Maybe outside of your high season you won’t get many of these usual guests and you should focus your attention, instead, on completely different targets: retired people looking for some off season calm atmosphere, families coming to enjoy the nature of the island and trying to avoid the summer crowd, or business travellers coming for events and conferences. But, how can you predict it?
Rely on your data. Do an accurate analysis of your latest low-season you had and try to see who really booked your rentals. Segment your results and build the profile of your perfect low season guest. If it ends up to be completely different from your usual customers, don’t’ panic! Expand your horizons and don’t be afraid to test new advertising strategies and marketing techniques.

1) Broaden your target audience. Advertise your properties on new sales channels which have a different target audience and will provide you longer stay bookings and customers with a higher budget (Find out which ones are the best fit for your business, take the Channelizer!)
2) Update your listings. Change your property description in a way that can emphasize off-season excitement. Tell your audience why your accommodation is top of the line even during low-season, highlighting the opportunities of the neighborhood, like events and social activities in that specific period.
Other than that, many channels work with a code which favors the listings that have been updated recently. It will help your property to be seen by more potential clients.
3) Stretch your calendar availability up to 12+ months ahead to encourage early bookers to cover your offseason in advance. Plan your availability and pricing ahead for your next off-season in order to incentivize cautious travellers to snatch the best deal.

Adjust your financials

When there is a drop in the demand, it is not always enough to create added value with the strategies discussed above, but price differentiation becomes unavoidable. And the recurring question is: how much should I lower the prices of my rentals? Should I lower just the nightly rate, or also the weekly and monthly ones?
Competitor intelligence is crucial. Take a look at how your direct competitors are setting their low-season prices. Go on different listing sites and build a set on your notebook with 5 properties that are very similar to yours which have very good reviews, but, above all, which have a busy calendar during low season. Investigate what they are doing. Make a booking test on their booking engines to see how their seasonal fares vary. Is the price lower only on weekdays or also during weekends?
Another appropriate resource to know the right price to apply might be to look at the hotels in your area. Usually, hotels have revenue managers or pricing teams in charge of setting the best season rates based on complex calculations. You can take into account their strategy and according to that decide how to position your offer.

3) Rely on a Dynamic Pricing software. Dynamic pricing/ Yield management tools are designed to help property owners and managers to leverage data and build a pricing strategy that reflects the unique aspects of their market, rentals and overall business goals. Mostly all of them could be easily integrated with a Property Management Software and a channel manager. Check out the ones that we listed in our past blog post here!
4) Remove extra person charge.
5) Lower minimum stay nights to one.

Create packages and special offers

If the last thing that you would like to do is to lower your standard rates, the only possible options left is to offer more at the same price.
For instance, you may have noticed that, in the fall, you are attracting more people looking for a relaxing holiday and willing to spend their time in a Spa. How about offering them a special discount for the nice spa salon next to your rental? Or what about offering them a free meal at your favorite restaurant in town? If you are thinking of attracting a younger clientele, instead, why not giving up two tickets for the concert scheduled for the weekend or an entry ticket for the most popular disco in the area?
These little things could really be game changers during the booking process of a potential client and could really give you the competitive advantage you need against your competitors.

7) Include a picture of the local activities you are promoting in your property slideshow
8) Add the word ‘Discount’ into the front of your title.
9) Make week-days more appealing. How about running special offers for weekdays, offering 4 days at the price of 3?

Do you know other tips to increase your vacation rental bookings during the low-season? Comment below!