I only rent my home a few months of the year. What should I do during off-season periods?

BNB STORIES #14

Welcome to a new episode of the BnB stories!

Last time, we talked about the most common problems that guests face during their stays, and how to solve them. But this time, we’re talking about ways to utilize your time and property to the maximum during the off-season .

Every vacation rental has a low season. And as the peak season comes to an end, it’s always tempting to be a little lazy and cut back on your vacation rental efforts. But even though peak season is over, you can still invest the same amount of effort into promoting your property. In fact, most property managers spend the most time upping their efficiency during the off-season periods.

All the magic happens during these months. That’s why we’ve included some practical tips in this article: to help you create a simplified checklist in your mind of the things you need to do during the off-season periods.

Run an audit on your house while you’re checking last year’s data.

Before beginning the new peak season, the first thing you need to do is audit everything related to your vacation rental. Start with a bigger overview, then delve deeper into the little details.

Spend some time studying your main competitors, analyze your historical occupancy rates, check your revenue, and update your pricing strategy. Plan how much you plan to spend on marketing and promotion budgets, and start making a list of items you need to improve.

Identify new potential guests.

Go through all of your past bookings, and take your time studying your guests. What types of guests book during peak-season months? Have any of your guests previously rented out your property during off-season months? If so, start identifying their demographics.

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This way, you’ll get a better understanding of the guest who wants to book your property during the off-season, and you’ll be able to tweak your copy, pictures, and other marketing to cater to them.

Manage your finances.

Spend that time managing the financial aspects of your property. Here are some aspects to analyze:

  • What’s your cash flow?
  • What major expenses have you incurred?
  • What are your fixed vs variable costs?
  • Do you need to pay any vendors or suppliers soon?
  • Have you accounted for future renovations and marketing?

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Fix your existing issues.

It’s no secret that guests have become more and more demanding. Even a minor inconvenience can incur a bad review. Since it’s getting harder to manage your guests’ expectations, we recommend spending your free time troubleshooting any issues in the house. You probably won’t have as much time during the peak season.

Some of the most frequent complaints involve:

  • The cleanliness of the house
  • The expectations
  • Were they better than reality?
  • The amenities available
  • Were they working?
  • Damaged or missing amenities

Find new reasons for new guests to stay at your property.

Rather than just waiting for guests to book your property, give them a strong reason to. Create a demand for them that wasn’t initially there. Include all types of activities nearby that they can indulge in while at your property, offer them great recommendations, research local events and festivals, and make sure you include those aspects in your listing when you’re marketing your property.

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You can easily accomplish this goal by making carefully composed copies of your vacation rental agreement, and if you’re listed on multiple channels, you need to make sure you update your copies across all of them.

Update your property.

Take your time off to really reflect on your property, as well as all the things that need to be improved. First, hold an end-of-year review. Go through your guests’ reviews and comments, and assess your property to figure out what you need to improve.

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Here are some ideas:

  • Cleaning the house before each arrival is not enough. We recommend committing to a more thorough deep-cleaning after the peak season, especially if your property has housed multiple guests.
  • Refresh your linens and towels.
  • To give your property a fresh look, repaint it.
  • Add new amenities to your properties that cater to your types of guests. (Are they millennials? If so, could you add improved WiFi. Are they romantic couples? If so, could you add a hot tub?
  • Restock your kitchen, and update your old tools.

Retarget and intensify your marketing campaign.

We know how tempting it is to decrease the time and money you spend on marketing during the off-season months. However, most peak season decisions are made during the off-season. And this is when you need to be ramping up. Create a strong brand for your property, have a strong presence on social media, frequently post pictures, and update your target audience.

Retargeting is another way to boost your marketing. This practice ensures that you keep your property top-of-mind in the people who have already shown interest in it.

Simply put, you reengage anyone who has visited your property website before. There are multiple methods:

  • Through Google
  • Through your social media pages (Facebook, Twitter, …).
  • Through display advertising networks

By applying all of the steps above, you can ensure that your listings get clicked, even in the off-season days.

Start automating your processes by using a channel manager.

Make a checklist of the tasks that take up the most amount of time, and start automating them. Maybe you start syncing rentals across platforms, facilitating check-in processes with smart locks, or working with a virtual assistant. There are plenty of things you can do to take your property to the next level.

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Using a channel manager like Syncbnb will also make your life easier by synchronizing all your different channels and automatically updating changes across your calendar. Using an Airbnb calendar sync or booking sync will save you a lot of time, and it will even help you avoid double-bookings. When your calendars are always up to date, you’ll rank more highly on all your channels. So you’ll increase your chances of getting bookings in the future.

The best thing about using a channel manager like Syncbnb is the fact that you have the option to go to the off-season pricing plan anytime you feel like it. In other words, you can spend this time updating and optimizing your property and finances without worrying about paying extra fees.

Using a channel manager will also save you the time it takes to manually update your listings.

Work on creating the best guest experience possible.

Ask yourself this: “Have you really been going the extra mile for your guests and your property?”. Think of ways you can perfect your property. Then provide your guests with an experience, rather than just a property. This tactic will ensure that you always get rave reviews from your guests. And thanks to the built-up loyalty from your guests who will remember your property through the experience and atmosphere you’ve provided, you’ll have a competitive advantage over other property owners.

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You can include the following extras and upgrades:

  • Do you get a recurring type of guest? For example, if your property attracts a lot of pedestrians during rainy seasons, place an umbrella in your house for them to use.
  • Make sure you have high-speed WiFi, especially for millennials and business travelers.
  • Provide them with free airport transportation.
  • Add free sim cards or free transportation cards.
  • Will your guest have a pet with them? Surprise them with pet treats.
  • Provide them with discounts at local businesses.

Take new photos and update your seasonal photos.

Consider hiring a professional photographer to take new and updated pictures of your house after you’ve cleaned up and added new amenities. If you’re trying to get guests during the off-season, then some season-specific pictures work wonders as far as setting the mood.

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For example, if you’re off-season is during the winter months, here are some photo ideas that can really resonate with your guests and tickle their wanderlust:

  • Add pictures of nearby snow-capped mountains.
  • Make your home look cozy by adding some pictures of the fireplace pictures/hot chocolate/cozy blankets.
  • Set the color tone of your photos for a more wintery feel.

If you change your photos based on the season, you’ll probably see an increase in demand.

Reconnect with your regulars.

The off-season is one of the best times you can actually reconnect with your previous guests, and welcome them back.

To summarize, every vacation rental has its own low season. This time period is the perfect time to manage your reputation, finances, marketing, and property. During this time, you’ll be able to reap the desired benefits of the upcoming peak season.

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