Many vacation rental managers are looking for ways to fill gaps in their occupancy calendars, while maximizing their rates and maintaining rate integrity.
One method of filling gaps in calendars is simply to lower the rates for those days, but that creates a two-fold problem.
First, by lowering your rate, you’re decreasing the profit you’ll take for each night. And, while that might be okay when done every now and then, filling your occupancy calendars with low-rate stays for an extended period is certainly not the most profitable way to run your business.
Second, lowering your rates sets the wrong expectations for guests and erodes your price integrity. If guests stay at house for $200 a night (when the actual rate is $250), then what will they expect the next time they come back to rent?
Some Solutions to Consider
While discounting can be a great tool for filling your calendars, you want to use it in moderation…and use it the right way. More importantly, you should always be looking for ways to maximize your rates and your occupancy levels during high-demand periods.
Below are a few tricks to help you fill your calendars while making more money.
Think Weeks, Not Nights During High Season
It might not be enough to just raise your rates during your high-demand seasons; you also may want to push guests to stay longer. Because your properties are in high-demand, there will be more competition for your homes and thus guests will likely be more flexible in their itinerary. While you can just raise your minimum stay, making guests book in week-long periods makes it really easy to piece together reservations. This may also eliminate short windows of availability that leave you with a few weekday nights that always seem harder to fill. NOTE: LiveRez gives you the ability to set up date ranges that only allow stays in week-long blocks, if you choose.
Drive Revenue on the Weekend
Even during the off season, the weekend nights are often in the highest demand and can be the easiest to fill. Therefore, it makes sense to get more money out of them. Conversely, the weekday nights are in the least demand and are the hardest to fill. Lowering the price on these nights (or building specials around them) can help you fill them more easily. NOTE: LiveRez gives you the ability to set a different rate for each day of the week, if you choose.
Run Specials and Promotions
Running specials and promotions can help you get more bookings without destroying your price integrity. While many specials feature discounts of some kind, sometimes just offering your guests a certain perk is enough to entice them book. If you do offer them a discount, though, guests will be less likely to expect that same rate again, because it was clear that they were getting a special discount.
The appearance of a higher regular rate will also have a psychological effect. Guests will be more likely to book a rental with a special because of the perceived value they are getting over the regular rate. Simply lowering your price does not tap into that effect.
Let’s take a look at two types of specials that you can use to fill the gaps on your occupancy calendars.
Connect the Dots Special
Ever try to run a “Connect the Dots Special?” If you have odd gaps in your occupancy calendars that are hard to fill, perhaps try running a special that rewards your guests for vacationing in these gaps.
The premise is that you’ll offer guests a special offer if their reservation starts on a day another guest is checking out and ends on a day another guest is checking in. They’ll be able to easily spot this on your occupancy calendars. LiveRez even has an enhanced calendar search that will let a guest choose a flexible arrival date and then show property calendars next to each search result (see below).
Running this type of special makes your guest start thinking like a reservationist. In return for their flexibility and creativity in finding their dates, they’ll get a much-appreciated discount or an additional perk when they book.
Advertise Last-Minute Specials
Offer people a good deal, and they tend to be more spontaneous. That’s the premise behind offering last-minute deals. Have a certain property with a few days open? Advertise it at a discounted rate to the first person that calls your staff or books online with a special coupon code.
With this type of deal you have two psychological components working for you. First, because of the special, guests feel they are getting a higher perceived value. Second, because the special is available for a single home for a set date range, it will create a sense of urgency for them to rent it immediately (they don’t want another guest to beat them to booking it).
Additionally, advertising last-minute specials is great content for your social media channels, your blog and your newsletter. Not only does it showcase one of your homes, but your guests will see you as offering them value (and like you even more, for it).
And here’s an added bonus: Because you’re advertising one house for a limited period, you’ll likely generate more than enough interest to fill it. After the house is booked, you can use the additional inquiries to potentially fill dates in your other units.
Learn More About LiveRez
LiveRez is the fastest growing vacation rental software provider for professional vacation rental managers. The company’s cloud-based, end-to-end platform offers fully integrated solutions for reservation management, trust accounting and online marketing, with high-ranking, high-conversion dynamic websites and an extensive affiliate marketing program. The company is a proud Gold Sponsor of the Vacation Rental Manager’s Association (VRMA).
Visit LiveRez.com to learn more:
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