In the vacation rental industry, there are typically three seasons: peak season, shoulder season, and low season. The shoulder season is the period between your peak and your low.
All property managers know what works best for closing reservations during their booking and off-seasons, but finding tactics that work for the in between periods is often harder, but can make your year.
If your vacation rental is located in a popular area, you have the potential to make a lot of money in this window if you don’t mind thinking outside the proverbial box.
How to update your listings for the shoulder season
Adjust your shoulder season rates—if it makes sense to do so. After you determine your shoulder season date range, it’s time to think about what you’ll charge during that time period. The simplest strategy is to look at comparable properties in your area, and price yourself accordingly.
Don’t just check vacation properties, also look at hotels prices, too. If other successful properties aren’t lowering their rates, don’t lower yours either. If you’re having trouble finding comparable pricing information, as a general rule of thumb, your shoulder season rate will be 60-75% of your high season rate.
Change minimum nights. During the height of your peak season, you should be able to get top dollar for your rentals and, quite possibly, you’ll be able to rent them out even with high minimum stay requirements.
In the shoulder season, however, you will likely need to reduce your required minimum nights in order to increase bookings. During the shoulder season, travelers are more apt to be making a quick weekend getaway, and you’ll get considered more if you are more flexible.
Post seasonal photographs. Have some seasonal photographs taken of your property, and update your listings to show what it’s like to enjoy your rental in the shoulder season. People need help visualizing what it will be like to stay with you, so help them by showing them how cozy it is during the quieter shoulder season.
Update your headings to reflect the season. Be sure to change the headings and content of your listings to reflect activities available in the shoulder season. And use your listings to provide tips and tricks to enjoying your property in the shoulder season, too.
How to update your property to boost shoulder season bookings
Reduce your number of rooms. If one of your rentals is a large home, you may want to consider closing off some of those bedrooms and renting it for less money during the shoulder season, when you’re more likely to attract business travelers or couples than families and large groups. For those guests, they’re probably searching for accommodations with a lower number of bedrooms, so it might make sense to adjust your listings accordingly.
Provide seasonal gear. If your shoulder season will allow guests to explore the area on snowshoes, consider making some available for them. Or, provide a canoe for an autumn paddle on the nearby lake. Help your guests make the most of their visit, even during the shoulder season. Not only will they likely book again, but you’ll be rewarded with positive reviews!
How to market your property to attract more shoulder season guests
Use email marketing. Harness the power of email marketing to contact past guests and people who have expressed interest in staying with you but never booked, and invite them to enjoy your property during the shoulder season. Be sure to advertise your adjusted nightly rate and include those seasonal photographs and tips about how to enjoy your area all year round.
Invite influencers to stay with you. The shoulder season is a great time to invite online influencers and bloggers to come and stay at your property in exchange for social media posts, and some photos shared on social media. If you choose very well-known bloggers, you’ll have to pay them, but others may just be happy with a free stay.
Host an event or retreat. Consider using your vacation rental as a site for a special event or retreat. Or, reach out to organizers of local events happening during the shoulder season and offer some ways to partner with them. This is an example of how you can be creative with repurposing your property to bring in some revenue during the shoulder season while getting some exposure from a different type of traveler.
Create packages. Another great way to market your property to shoulder season guests is to turn it into a package. For instance, offer a foodie experience by partnering with a local restaurant to provide dinner along with a stay. Or supply some wine and chocolate, and create a romance package. You’re limited only by your imagination when it comes to designing packaged vacations.