Marketing Your Vacation Rental

Don’t Miss Out on Early Bookings!

Written by Elizabeth Weedon
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In recent years, we’ve noticed an increasingly common phenomenon – vacationers are booking their homes earlier and earlier.  Last year, early bookings increased as much as 37% over the preceding year, and this year the trend appears to be continuing, already up an additional 11.6% over last year.    

Financial advantage to homeowners

While larger homes tend to book more quickly than smaller ones, even some of the smaller ones are booking more quickly.  And, of course, vacationers who book early are much more likely to pay the full asking price.  The closer we get to the season, the more likely it is that vacationers will ask for – and even expect – a discount.   

Don’t wait for past guest commitments

Some homeowners tell us that they like to wait until they hear from last summer’s renters before opening up their calendar for next summer.  Our advice to them?  Don’t wait!  We recommend that you open up your calendar and add pricing as soon as the preceding summer instead of waiting until January or some other arbitrary date.  You can extend the right of first refusal to any past renters who express interest in returning. Explain that you will contact them when you receive an inquiry for the same week and ask that they commit to the week with a signed lease and deposit. Read more about tentative bookings.

Generally, we see three categories of vacationers: 

The Early Birds

They know what they want, they’re organized, and they just want to get it done. Maybe they missed out on the home of their choice the previous year and want to be ahead of the game this year.  Some are organizing on behalf of family or a large group and know that larger homes book early.  

The Post-Holiday Group

They discussed their summer plans with family during the Holidays and want to get a jump on it.  This continues into early spring,  

The Procrastinators

They are unsure of their summer plans, kids’ summer activities, etc., and finally decide to take action and book a home late in the booking season. Some book as late as just a week or two prior to their vacation.   Naturally, due to logistics, most last-minute bookings tend to be for smaller homes. Last-minute vacationers can be desperate to find a good rental, of course, but they are also more apt to request a discount.

Remember to keep your calendar up to date so that you don’t miss out on any of these vacationers.  And, by all means, if your listing is currently inactive, renew your subscription!

About the author

Elizabeth Weedon

Elizabeth Weedon - Although I’ve worked for since 2008, I’ve been a loyal homeowner on the site since early 1998, just a few months after the website was launched by the Talmadges. I grew up summering on the Vineyard and managed my family's rental home there since the mid-1980’s. I’m passionately devoted to the Vineyard – and to WeNeedaVacation, which I credit with enabling me to hold onto the special property that has been in our family for nearly a century. An enthusiastic member of the WNAV Homeowner Support Team, I endeavor to keep my finger on the pulse of the Cape and Islands vacation rental industry so that I can provide homeowners advice about how to ensure their booking success with us. With owner Joan Talmadge, I am also responsible for editing and writing much of the text on our website, our monthly newsletters, and Homeowner Blog posts.