Marketing Your Vacation Rental

Strong vacationer demand expected into the fall

Written by Joan Talmadge
Strong vacationer demand expected into the fall
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Although the pandemic got us off to a very slow start this spring, summer bookings so far have seen a 24.4% increase over last summer’s bookings. And we’re noticing that the trend is continuing into the fall, with a 25% increase in fall bookings thus far (as of Aug. 1).

This is a year like none other, and, although fall is usually a popular time for weddings, fall festivals, etc., that won’t be the case this year. But if schools are delayed in opening or school sessions are initially held virtually, interest in extended fall stays on the Cape and Islands could escalate sharply. In addition, many people are continuing to work remotely, so they can work from any home with reliable Internet and cell service.

In the past, we’ve always seen a dip in late August bookings, but this year may be an exception. So, if you have late August/early September availability, you might want to reassess your pricing. Be careful not to be too aggressive, however, as these weeks will naturally not see the same level of interest as the peak summer weeks.

Some suggestions to attract fall bookings

Keep in mind that you will probably not book your fall weeks solidly, and, in this environment, it might not be a bad idea to space your bookings a bit anyway. If your minimum stay requirement is currently 7 nights, consider shortening it to 2 or 3 nights – but charge enough on a nightly basis to make the shorter stay worthwhile to you.

As is usually the case, small homes rent more easily during the off season than large ones, so if you have a large home, shut off some of the bedrooms, or simply advertise it as a smaller home.

Highlight your available dates

  •  Set up a free Owner Special promoting either a specific price reduction or another incentive of some kind (like a gift certificate or an extra night free).
  • As soon as the available weeks are within the next month, boost your free Owner Special with a Last-minute Availability Alert. (Note: Alerts are eligible for full-week rentals only.)

Long-term bookings

Just as we did in June, July, and August, we’re seeing a spike in interest in long-term rentals (see our earlier post Increase in Demand for Long-term Rentals in 2020. Keep in mind, however, that longer-term renters tend to hunker down at a home and might be a little harder on a home, resulting in more wear and tear. (See our post on The good, the bad, and the ugly of long-term winter rentals.)

We’ve also noticed an increase in the number of college students looking to rent a home while they are taking classes remotely. If you do accept a booking with them, you may want to have a parent sign the lease agreement.

If you are considering renting long term off season, here are some tips:

  • Set up a free Owner Special  to promote the fact that you’re open to longer stays, offering a discount, that there’s no tax for 32+ days, etc.
  • Enter monthly pricing on your Calendar.
  • Add your listing to our Long-term Directory (for free) using the field near the bottom of your “Description, amenities” page. There is no guarantee that you’ll get a long-term renter, so continue to offer weekly and/or daily pricing if you’re willing to rent for shorter stays as well in the off season.
  • Increase the amount of your security deposit to protect against the added wear and tear on a home from longer-length stays, as mentioned above.
  • Consider using a long-term rental lease rather than a short-term one.

Also, see our previous post, Attracting Shoulder Season Rentals.

About the author

Joan Talmadge

Joan Talmadge - My husband Jeff and I created WeNeedaVacation.com 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 WeNeedaVacation.com, 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

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