I’m often asked how to market properties better to increase bookings during low season. Rather than seeing slower booking periods as a burden, you should be looking at them as an opportunity to diversify your marketing efforts. Here are some great ways to transform your sales over the slow season.
Your first idea should be to connect with events and tour operators in the area local to your vacation rental. Thibault from RentalPreneurs suggests getting in touch with local events in the area to build a relationship with them. If you are listing these events in the property guide anyway, it is a great idea to let the organisers know and develop a partnership with them. You can offer a discount to their attendees in return for a feature in their marketing publications. This way you go on building your hotel’s own tribe.
If you are listed on Airbnb, another great idea is to attend Airbnb Experience meetups. This is a great tool used by many tour guides and experts on local culture. Tonnes of experience hosts want your recommendations! Often the hosts will also have their own websites too, and can list you as recommended accommodation in return for you recommending their experience. You will get more off-peak bookings too when events are held in the local area.
Develop remarketing on social media
Recurring customers are just as important as new customers. You should be putting the work in to make sure they book with you again. This is a fantastic way to get direct bookings. It also helps you develop a relationship with your customers and ensures they won’t go to another vacation rental when they return.
“I’ve had success with both Facebook and Instagram. My strategy is to refer newly booked guests to my Kauai vacation rental’s social accounts so they can see more pictures of the area, my local recommendations, and lots more” says Alanna from the Distinguished Guest. Use your guests’ excitement for their upcoming holiday convert them into recurring customers before they even set foot in the door. After they’ve had a great vacation at your property, social media updates may tempt them into booking again.
You can also work on a newsletter to send to previous guests. This should be valuable to them in some way so it does not seem spammy and irritating. Another option is to offer a set discount for returning guests who follow you on Instagram.
Get creative with this – but you need to make sure your marketing efforts are still appealing to former guests. If your content is tempting enough, they may be your newest off-season guests.
Upgrade your content
A lack of off-season bookings can be disheartening, but you should look at it as an opportunity to get better photos of your vacation rental whilst there are no guests. In their blog, Hostfully recently quoted a study that shows guests are around 20% more likely to book your properties with great images. I often see property owners rush their photos during peak season as they just want to get the listing up. A lack of low season bookings is the perfect opportunity for you to get into the property and snap some better images.
You should aim for around 15 to 25 good photos. Listing websites can sometimes restrict how many you can post, but your website should have as many as possible. There should be a good variety of photos. One of each room, a few of the local area and some more detailed shots to define the mood.
Regularly updating your hotel’s photos will not only help you get more low season bookings, but it will also do you a world of good during the high season!
Build a website
Again, taking advantage of the lack of bookings in low season is the best way to overcome it. If you haven’t got a website yet – get one! They are reasonably inexpensive to set up these days, and with some good SEO work and digital marketing, it will encourage more direct bookings.
In their podcast, Cottage Blogger recommends going with a WordPress website. You can get an independent URL for a small annual fee directly from WordPress. Alternatively, you can use their software for free and download it onto a self-hosted website. It is one of the easiest content management systems to use and is used widely – even the BBC favoured it at one point! There are heaps of fantastic tools to help you track your engagement and further market the website. It’s also easy to upload photos to, so a great place to showcase your new content.
Market to a niche for more low season bookings
You will be more likely to get low season bookings if you’re on niche websites. Smaller OTAs, like ClanVenture, will help drive more potential guests to your property from people who are looking for a particular kind of vacation.
Stock up on some training material to know how OTAs can further your cause.
ClanVenture target mainly towards families and listing on their site will help you stand out during the peak season. You can also attract more low season guests by considering other niche websites. Pet-friendly, LGBT friendly, and city or rural getaway websites are worth looking into. These can go hand-in-hand with the events in your local area to help boost potential guests. Have a think about the kind of guests you usually attract and work on targeting them more directly.