Vacation Rental News

Summer is Half Over – Where Do You Stand?

Written by Joan Talmadge
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Recent media reports, both newspapers and TV, have focused on the state of vacation rentals on the Cape and Islands, pointing out that there are a lot of empty vacation homes this summer.  

While we acknowledge that demand for summer of 2023 has been down compared to the pandemic years, we don’t share the same dire outlook.  While bookings are down about 7% compared to 2022, they are still up 9% over pre-pandemic. This graph shows the availability of Cape and Islands homes for the month of August.  Noteworthy is that the last week of the month still has 39% availability (compared to 36% last year). This week is traditionally the hardest week of the summer to book due to schools resuming. That’s why we advise owners to set a lower price for that week from the outset.     

If you still have open weeks, now is the time to act 

Here are a few tips for filling those last few remaining weeks this summer. 

  • Consider a price reduction and feature the reduced price in a free Owner Special. Vacationers love a bargain!  
  • Give your listing extra visibility by purchasing a Last-Minute Availability Alert. Your listing will go onto our Special Deals and Last-minute Availability page, which receives a ton of vacationer traffic. 
  • Want to attract even more attention to your listing? Consider one of our Exposure Packages to promote your home on our popular Facebook and Instagram channels, both of which have more than 20k followers. 
  • Make sure your calendar is up to date! Especially at this time of year, vacationers might choose to sort their search results by “Calendar Last Updated,” assuming that recently updated calendars are the ones most likely to have accurate availability. You don’t want your listing to fall to the bottom of the list. 
  • Respond immediately to your inquiries, and, if the vacationer provides a phone number, consider calling them.  Remember that those vacationers who are searching at the last minute may well be inquiring about several homes and are anxious to make a quick decision. 
  • Ask your June and July guests to write a review. This will increase the odds that a vacationer who has a lot of choices will select yours to inquire about! 

Looking ahead to summer of 2024 

We have added the summer of 2024 to the search, and vacationers are already booking! Take advantage of the fact that not all homeowners have added pricing for next summer, thus anyone searching now will not come up with as many choices as they will in a few months. So, get yours on there so you can catch these early birds! 

Keep in mind that in recent years more than a quarter of all bookings for the following summer occur by the end of the previous year.

more than a quarter of all bookings for the following summer occur by the end of the previous year.


Advice on Pricing

We often hear homeowners say, “I don’t know what I’m charging next summer, so I can’t enter my pricing.” Our advice is to add pricing now anyway. If you think you might be going up in your rates, feel free to enter the increased rates. There will be plenty of time to reconsider and adjust them later.  

Saving Weeks for Repeat Guests

Another reason some owners are reluctant to open their calendars is that they want to see if this year’s guests want to return.  If you have some regular repeat guests, keep those weeks blocked for now.  But you could open those weeks that were booked by brand new folks this summer and let them know that you’ve done so. There could be a myriad of reasons why they would choose not to return next summer, even if they had a terrific time at your home.   

It’s become clear that we have reached a new normal in the vacation rental industry, with more vacationer traffic and bookings than pre-pandemic, but down from the frenetic pace of the pandemic years. We have to adjust our expectations accordingly and perhaps work a little harder to achieve the kind of rental success we’ve become accustomed to.  

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created in 1997, shortly after buying our Cape home. My background includes teaching fifth grade for 8 years and writing and editing educational publications for 15. I get great joy from helping fellow homeowners successfully rent their homes. Jeff and I are proud to have two of our three grown children working for, truly a family-run business. For me, the Cape and Islands are magical all times of the year -- whether it's walking on Nauset Beach, playing golf, or enjoying family and friends. Email Joan