Running a Rental Business

Low Season Booking Strategies to Maximize Vacation Rental Occupancy and Boost Income

Ever wonder how savvy hosts navigate the choppy waters of low season to boost their bookings and maximize rental income, even in the quieter months? Let’s explore some off-peak season tips and go-to-market strategies to spur low season bookings and get the most from your property.

By The Turno Team

Last updated: October 02, 2023

Understanding Dynamics of Low Season Bookings

In order to optimize vacation rental occupancy, it’s important to recognize and adapt to the seasonal shifts and variations in guest behavior during off-peak times. With a targeted approach to seasonal dynamics, smart pricing adjustments, improved marketing, and going the extra mile in guest experience, vacation rental hosts can turn annual dips into consistent occupancy rates. 

1. Seasonal Shifts:

  • Example: A mountain cabin perceived as a winter wonderland can pivot to being a summer paradise. Promoting local trails for hiking and mountain biking and providing amenities like bike racks and outdoor fire features turn the property into a destination for warm-weather adventurers.
  • Example: Coastal properties can transition from summer staples to serene winter retreats by advertising tranquil days without crowded beaches and offering boating excursions or local restaurant tours for a different seaside experience.
  • Example: A temperate woodland cabin surrounded by trees bursting into autumn colors can be marketed as a photographer’s dream and an escape from urban hustle.

Why It Matters: Tapping into the potential of each season and adapting your listing’s marketing and occupancy strategies helps ensure a diversified guest base and sustained bookings year-round.

a winter beach

2. Event-Driven Demand:

  • Example: Aligning with community jazz festivals or outdoor music events and compiling packages with tickets and attendee perks can make a short-term rental property a prime choice for music aficionados.
  • Example: Offering culinary packages around local food and wine favorites attracts out-of-town enthusiasts seeking authentic community experiences and lesser-known restaurant options.
  • Example: Collaborating with local sporting events and venues to offer discounts and even a bit of hometown team swag caters to devoted college or professional sports die-hards and builds a sport-friendly image that attracts traveling fans.

Why It Matters: Leveraging local events, community activities, and business relationships not only fills the booking calendar but also enhances your property’s appeal to different interest groups, an invaluable off-peak season tip.

3. Market Research:

  • Example: Utilizing platforms like Airbnb Insights allows hosts to better understand guest preferences and vacation rental occupancy during low seasons, allowing you to tailor your marketing approach to meet what guests are searching for.
  • Example: Conducting small surveys of your past guests can yield valuable insights and direct feedback, paving the way for enhancing guest services, satisfaction, and ratings.
  • Example: Analyzing your competitors’ offerings during off-peak seasons can uncover areas for differentiation and improvement in your guest services.

Why It Matters: Vacation rental hosts who invest time in market research are empowered business operators. Knowledge helps you stay ahead of the curve, refine your offerings, and meet the evolving demands of guests – all with an eye toward maximizing rental income during each season. 

wooden cut outs of multiple sized homes with a growth arrow

Employing Off-Season Pricing Strategies 

Dynamic pricing and calculated rate adjustments are key to attracting and securing low season bookings. By balancing property affordability with business profitability, adept hosts can maximize rental income any time of the year.

1. Rate Adjustments:

  • Example: Employing dynamic pricing tools can help ensure your property remains both competitive and profitable, while still engaging budget-conscious travelers.
  • Example: Introducing mid-week discounts may attract flexible guests seeking tranquility away from the weekend bustle, helping to optimize low season bookings.
  • Example: Offering special rates for extended stays appeals to a variety of guests, including remote workers, project consultants, and traveling nurses, generating stable income and reduced turnover.

Why It Matters: Dynamic and adaptive pricing helps you strike a delicate balance between profitability and affordability. Well-researched pricing techniques support versatile occupancy strategies that drive a competitive edge in every season.

2. Last-Minute Deals:

  • Example: A 20% discount for last-minute low season bookings appeals to spontaneous travelers and helps ensure the property doesn’t remain vacant.
  • Example: Flash sales announced on social media platforms generate buzz and quick bookings, especially among followers who have expressed prior interest.
  • Example: Exclusive offers for email subscribers or past guests not only foster loyalty but also prompt quick action, securing bookings.

Why It Matters: Strategic last-minute deals can optimize your vacation rental occupancy rates, foster guest loyalty, and ensure your property stays top-of-mind. 

3. Length-of-Stay Discounts:

  • Example: Offering a 10% discount for week-long stays encourages guests to prolong their travels and promotes predictable turnover patterns and maximum rental income.
  • Example: Promotions like “book seven nights, get one free” are attractive for vacationers, encouraging extended stays and improving guest satisfaction.
  • Example: Discounts for month-long stays cater to digital nomads and traveling medical professionals, tapping into a flexible and growing market.

Why It Matters: Varying your length-of-stay discounts can appeal to diversified guest personas. Anticipating the interests and needs of your potential guests helps secure a more predictable flow of low season bookings and income. 

small town street in the fall season

Leveraging Seasonal Marketing and Local Partnerships

As a vacation rental operator, you already embrace the power of online platforms for your listings and bookings. Leveraging other digital tools like social media and email marketing not only amplifies the visibility of your property but significantly boosts its appeal. And let’s not forget the traditional route—forming local partnerships. Pairing digital with on-the-ground strategies creates a synergy that brings both your property and community to the forefront for potential guests. 

1. Social Media Engagement

  • Example: Crafting visually appealing Instagram posts showcasing your property’s charm in different seasons creates a year-round allure.
  • Example: Hosting Facebook giveaways with a free stay during the off-peak season generates excitement and bolsters the property’s low season bookings.
  • Example: Utilizing Pinterest to share eye-catching images and travel tips related to the local area and your vacation rental drives traffic, interest, and reservations.

Why It Matters: Cultivating an active and engaging social media presence not only amplifies your listing’s visibility but also establishes an emotional connection with potential guests, crucial for boosting vacation rental occupancy rates.

tablet and laptop on desktop with email notifications and a business report and pencil in the middle of both devices

2. Email Marketing:

  • Example: Sending regular newsletters highlighting seasonal attractions, upcoming events, and exclusive deals keeps your property on subscribers’ radar.
  • Example: Personalized emails to past guests, offering special rates for low season bookings and showcasing new amenities or improvements, entice them to rebook.
  • Example: Themed email campaigns, focusing on topics like “winter wellness retreat” or “summer adventures” pique interest and showcase the property’s versatility across seasons.

Why It Matters: Email marketing fosters direct, focused communication with potential and past guests, strengthening relationships. Offering tailored, seasonal content is an effective strategy to help you maximize rental income throughout the year.

3. Local Partnerships:

  • Example: Collaborating with local tour operators to offer packaged experiences broadens your property’s appeal to adventure seekers.
  • Example: Forming alliances with local restaurants and cafes to provide guests with discounts or exclusive offers enhances their overall stay and satisfaction.
  • Example: Partnering with nearby spas and wellness centers to offer relaxation packages attracts guests seeking rejuvenation.

Why It Matters: Tourist-supported businesses in your area all experience similar low season struggles. Sharing off-peak season tips and creating joint offerings can be a powerful win-win combination. Strategic local partnerships enrich the guest experience and strengthen community bonds, essential to long-term business success.

Enhancing Guest Experience

Thoughtful touches, personalized services, and a focus on local culture add value and set your property apart, encouraging positive reviews and repeat bookings regardless of season.

1. Local Culture Integration:

  • Example 1: Decorating your property with local artwork infuses a sense of place and pride while supporting area artisans.
  • Example: Offering a guest guide filled with off-peak season tips encourages travelers to explore area attractions, eateries, must-see spots, and hidden gems—boosting business revenues throughout the community.
  • Example: Leaning into local music, art, and tasting events creates new and memorable experience opportunities for your guests that they’ll share with family and friends.

Why It Matters: Integrating local culture adds uniqueness to your vacation rental’s marketing portfolio. Inviting guests to participate in local life fosters an appreciation for the community at large, supports your area’s economy, and enhances a guest’s connection to your property. 

wine, cheese, cracker, and coffee welcome basket

2. Thoughtful Welcome Baskets:

  • Example: A basket featuring local delicacies and artisanal products delivers a delightful, personalized start to a guest’s stay.
  • Example: Including local craft beers or wines in the welcome basket introduces guests to regional flavors and supports area businesses.
  • Example: Offering essentials like locally roasted coffee in your welcome basket adds both convenience and a community connection.

Why It Matters: Maximizing rental income includes creating occupancy strategies for every season. By cultivating memorable welcome baskets with a few seasonal flares, you make guests feel valued while also promoting local products and businesses. 

3. Personalized Services:

  • Example: Providing tailored itinerary planning services based on guest preferences enhances their overall experience and satisfaction.
  • Example: Offering access to babysitting or pet-sitting services caters to families and pet owners, making your property more accommodating to a variety of guest personas.
  • Example: Organizing personalized local workshops or experiences, such as pottery classes or fishing trips, adds a unique touch to your guest’s stay.

Why It Matters: Offering personalized services helps you meet diverse needs and contributes to overall guest satisfaction, leading to positive reviews and repeat bookings.

Hosts have endless opportunities to use their business savvy, ingenuity, and local knowledge to develop effective occupancy strategies that maximize rental income any time of the year. Creativity is key! Crafting a distinct getaway that embraces each season and connects with guests is not just about filling your calendar with more low season bookings—it’s about creating lasting memories and building a hosting brand that stands the test of time.

The Turno Team Avatar
The Turno Team , The Turno Team researches and publishes articles designed to provide short-term rental Hosts, Property Managers, and Airbnb Cleaners with insightful, useful resources. Articles written by the Turno Team cover a wide range of STR interests, from the latest industry data and best practices to real-world, practical advice on running efficient, revenue-generating vacation rental businesses in an ever-changing market. Here at Turno, we’re always looking for original ideas and hot new topics. Have something you’re curious to learn more about? Interested in authoring a guest blog? Drop us a line at [email protected].