Getting the optimum rate at peak times requires that you really understand your market and competition. You know what to charge, when to charge it, and how to market your vacation rental in ways that other owners are overlooking. It requires some data analysis and a lot of organization. Let’s see how your rental stacks up for the 5 busiest weeks of the year and what you can do to stay ahead of the game.

flipkey 2012 top5s

The Five Busiest Weeks of the Year

FlipKey recently blogged that, according to past data, the busiest weeks for vacation rentals are:

  1. Christmas week
  2. 4th of July week
  3. Week before Christmas
  4. Midsummer (end of July – beginning of August)
  5. Midsummer (second to last week of July)

To see if you’re ahead of the game or about to play catch up, go to HomeAway, VRBO and FlipKey to see how far in advance similar rentals are booked up for these periods. Are you happy with what you see?

5 Marketing Steps That Put Inquiries In Your Inbox

mailboxIf you still have availability during the peak season, or feel you’re not earning top dollar for your rental during those periods, make sure you’re following these steps to drive inquiries and bookings.

1. Follow up with your regulars. Send a friendly email after their visit and give them first dibs on “their week” for next year. If you plan to change your rates, offer them the opportunity to lock in at your current rate.

2. Create urgency. When you’ve got one week left for July 2014, let people know. Go on Twitter and Facebook; talk about it in your newsletter; even change part of your listing headline to something like, “One Week Left for July 2014!” Test this against your standard headline to see what performs better.

3. Get listed on Google Places, Yahoo! Local and Bing. It’s free and easy to sign up. Once you do, you may even pop up on the  first page of peoples’ searches. See how our CEO Jon did it.

4. Network with other owners and local businesses. Imagine the nearby B&B doesn’t accept pets, but you do and they know you by name. Maybe you’re booked up but your neighbor isn’t and the next time it’s the other way around. For tips on networking, see our resource article on Taking Your Marketing Offline.

5. Create a local guide for your website. Not only can it save time by answering common questions and keep people on your website longer, it can help improve search engine optimization. Learn how on my post Creating a Local Guide for Your Vacation Rental Website.

Should I Hold Out For A Better Deal?

Now that you’re getting more inquiries, how do know when it’s time to hold out for a better deal? Deciding this is a little bit like creating an investment portfolio:

  • What’s your personality type?
  • How much money do you need to make short term vs. long term?
  • Do you like high risk, high reward? Or fast-turnover returns?
  • Do you get nervous and need to be able to see the state of your rental weekly? Or is it enough that you or a property manager can get in once a month or less?
  • Are you open to European renters who may take longer vacations? Or do you prefer domestic renters who feel more predictable?

Once you know the answer to these questions and any others that will affect your decision-making process, take each inquiry case-by-case. If there’s a big event in town and you know everyone is going to book up for the week, maybe you should hold off on accepting the weekend stay. One owner I know accepted what he thought was a good booking, only to find out it was one of the biggest event weekends in his town. The week later he got 5 more inquiries for the same time period, all without a discount. He definitely won’t make that mistake again.

If you do decide to hold out and you don’t get a booking, you can always move to last-minute tactics a month or two out. Unfortunately, this process is somewhat of an art and a science.

Have you held out for a better booking? Tell us about it in the comments below.

photo credit: SumRando