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5 Steps To Boost Your Vacation Rental Bookings During Off-season
The end of your high season is coming up and you might be already worried about the drastic drop-down of your bookings.
You are probably thinking of how you will fill in all of those empty properties that you have during the low season.
But do not panic! In this article, we will guide you so you can make the most of your vacation rental off-season to get reservations coming in.
➡️ Step 1: Figure Out Which is Your Off-Peak Period
When you start planning the year ahead, you must already have in mind those periods where you usually get fewer bookings.
The PMS that you use should be able to give you these metrics within their dashboard or otherwise, you can find a business intelligence software that is able to give you this information. As well as giving you data on which destination your guests are coming from.
➡️ Step 2: Find Out the Type of Guest Traveling During the Off-Season
Now that you know your lower seasons and also geolocation information of your reservations, you need to find out the type of guests that travel during those periods.
You might probably find an interesting niche, which you have never targeted beforehand and a new business opportunity.
For example, Eurostat shows that the age group +65 tends to travel during the shoulder season:
This is just an example, niche markets may vary according to the destination and you might find that your buyer persona is also different depending on the type of properties you offer (urban, traditional leisure etc.)
➡️ Step 3 Set Within Your Calendar Special Events & Public Holidays
But you can use more information to your advantage!
You may want to also consider special events that are taking place at your destination such as Trade Fairs, Music Festivals, Shows, Sports Events etc.
Probably you will have to do some research but it is worthwhile placing them on your calendar and target potential guests that are looking for accommodation when attending these events.
Besides these events, other dates to place on your calendar are public events. Consider those at your destination for local holiday travelers and those locations from where your guests are making reservations.
Here is a useful web where you can find all the special holidays around the world!
If you have a loyalty program in place, you can also use your customer base to send your special promotions.
➡️ Step 4 Create a Pricing Strategy for the Low Season
Before you start to create your seasonal pricing strategy, you should first have a rack rate (the actual price of your accommodation without any discounts). This rate remains the same during the high season, but it may vary in off-peak periods in order to reach higher occupancy rates.
Based on the rack rate you will be able to play with your prices and create your promotions.
These are the rates that you create based, as before mentioned on special events and holidays such as Valentine’s Day, Special Rates for Trade Fairs/Events in your area.
Last-minute deals can be used to fill those gaps that you see in your inventory availability.
But just a hint on these! Travelers have become very savvy, meaning that they look for the best deals. Don’t get them used to this type of discounted prices, otherwise when you offer your normal rack rates again, they will perceive the price as too high and will devalue your brand as well as affecting your profitability.
This type of promotional strategy should only be used when there is a real necessity for pushing bookings.
For this type of deal, you might want to place special conditions for your minimum stay or number of guests.
A good way of promoting your properties without affecting your net profits is by offering package deals.
You can negotiate with local partners that offer complementary value-added services to create demand while not falling back on discounts. Just make to ask them to give you their net rates so that the package is more appealing to your guests.
Packages can also be a useful promotional strategy to target niche markets that you have found when gathering all your data in steps 1 and 2 mentioned above.
Creating your pricing strategy can be quite daunting. Another solution that you can find out there is Revenue Management Softwares such as PriceLabs which actually help you calculate your rates, which use a data-driven approach to automate your pricing, according to supply and demand trends.
➡️ Step 5 Creating Your 360 Communication Strategy
Now that you have a clear picture of your guests through your data analysis and you have set up your pricing strategy for your off-peak months, you are ready to communicate your offers to your guests!
Tips for Your Communication Strategy
Tip #1 Your communication channels, as well as the message, will differ according to the low season guest profile that you have discovered beforehand.
Study well where your low season buyer persona searches for their information.
For example, if your buyer persona is senior travelers +65 you might want to make the following search for targeted communication channels:
This way you will be able to find niche communication channels that will drive better results for your promotional strategy.
Tip #2 If you are targeting a specific group of people attending an event, strike a deal with the event organizers to offer your accommodations to their participants and promote your special offers on their web.
Another interesting channel is the tourism offices in your location which tend to promote travel deals, here’s an example of the Visit Berlin Tourism Office
Tip #3 You can also use social media campaigns, which allow you to create specific segmentation such as age group, interests, country, etc.
If you want to promote offers for a specific public holiday where your guests are coming from you can use social media to target these potential clients. Here are some examples from Expedia.com ads on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram:
These are just some examples of promotional campaigns, but the key is to find the right communication channels for your target audience!
Now that you have all the five steps to boost your sales during the low season, you can start planning for next year’s promotional strategy!
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