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5 Tips to Increase Your Off-Season Short-Term Rental Bookings

By Nathan Guss|6 min|April 2024

Does your property’s occupancy rate dip in the off-season? Read on for five tips to help you increase bookings during slower periods.

Mud season, shoulder season, low season, slow season, off-season—it goes by many names, but it means the same thing: fewer visitors and empty short-term rentals. Mountain towns have their shoulder seasons between skiing and summer sports. Coastal areas in the Northeast become virtual ghost towns in the winter. Conversely, many southern tourist destinations become less desirable in the summer heat. Whenever the slower periods occur where you live, it can help to come up with a plan to keep your short-term rental business profitable. Here are five tips to boost your off-season occupancy rate.

1. Reassess the off-season.

Before adopting any strategies for the shoulder season, be sure you know when it really starts. Recent shifts in travel patterns have brought more visitors during traditionally slow periods. This may mean you need to rethink the timeframe of your peak and off-seasons. Destinations that were once quiet during certain times of the year are now seeing increased visitor numbers and more consistent pricing.

Many travelers are now seeking to avoid the drawbacks associated with peak-season travel, such as extreme heat, overcrowded destinations, and inflated prices. Furthermore, the rise of remote work and more flexible working arrangements has allowed people to travel outside the traditional vacation periods, also leading to an increase in off-peak travel. And parents are increasingly willing to let their children miss school for the sake of travel. While school schedules still dictate vacations for many families, the desire to avoid peak season disadvantages is leading some to explore alternatives, such as extending trips into the shoulder seasons or taking advantage of long weekends.

So if “September is the new August,” as a travel expert noted in a recent New York Times article, perhaps you don’t need to waste time and money needlessly adopting strategies to handle an off-season that may no longer exist or last as long where you live.

2. Enhance your property’s indoor appeal.

To make your rental home cozier and more appealing during the off-season, create a warm, comfortable environment with plenty of things to do indoors. Doing so can turn your property into a go-to shoulder season destination. Here are some ideas:

  • Warm blankets for curling up on chilly days
  • Streaming services for endless entertainment
  • A selection of hot beverages, from soothing teas to rich hot chocolate
  • A diverse library of books and magazines
  • Lush indoor plants for a touch of nature
  • Art and craft supplies for creative family fun
  • An electric fondue set for a slow, engaging dining experience
  • A variety of board games for entertainment and family-friendly competition

3. Update your listings to appeal to off-season visitors.

Once you have done some work to improve your property’s slow season appeal, update your listing to highlight the new features. Ensure the photos reflect your rental’s cozy ambiance and seasonal charm. The description should list any amenities that enhance time spent indoors (such as those listed above). By clearly presenting the off-season experience your property offers, you’ll draw guests looking for a unique getaway.

4. Adjust your rates.

One way to keep up your occupancy levels is to change your rate based on the lower demand. A competitive pricing strategy can make your property more attractive and increase bookings when tourist numbers drop. Consider using tools such as Airbnb’s Smart Pricing, which automatically adjusts your nightly rates based on real-time demand, local search activity, and bookings in your area. This tool takes into account various factors, including your property’s details, amenities, and reviews, ensuring your pricing remains optimized without the need for guessing and constant manual adjustments. By setting minimum and maximum price thresholds, you maintain control over your rates while benefiting from dynamic pricing adjustments. If you’re using other platforms, you can purchase or subscribe to apps that perform a similar function (this article covers six of them). Such tools can simplify managing your off-season rates, making your property competitively priced and more appealing to potential guests.

5. Tap into a different clientele.

To secure consistent bookings outside the typical tourist seasons, consider diversifying and targeting a clientele beyond vacationers. Why not house policyholders who need medium- and short-term housing after home damages? Sinistar is a specialized home-sharing platform that allows you to do just that. It connects displaced individuals with welcoming accommodations and property owners with insurance companies seeking to house their customers. By listing your property with Sinistar, you can tap into a new clientele unaffected by seasonal fluctuations. This both broadens your customer base and helps people in your community who need a temporary home.

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