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Vacation Rental – Turning Low Season Into High Season

Vacation rental marketing is like most things in life, the more effort that you put into it the more you get out of it.

This article looks at making a little effort, putting in a little time and increasing your chances of turning a little bit of low season into a little bit of high season.

Ok, firstly, let’s talk seasons – A very quick overview.

High season.

Now, let’s be frank, any fool should be able to sell weeks in high season, there is after all higher demand, higher temperatures or higher chances of snow (if you own a ski lodge), that’s why it’s called high season. The schools are on holiday so this is the only time that families can go on vacation together.
High demand – High prices – High season

Mid season.

With good marketing, pricing, etc, you can fill up all or part of your calendar for mid season too.
Groups of adults without children are able to take advantage of lower than high season pricing and still expect good weather. For example, the weather may well be too hot to spend hours on the golf course in high season but is perfect for playing golf in mid season.
Mid demand – Mid prices – Mid season

Low season.

First of all there is a lot of it.
Up to 26 weeks of it in fact (depending where your holiday property is located), and it’s much harder to rent.
Not as many people fancy a holiday due to colder, maybe wetter, weather. People just prefer to holiday around the warmer times of year.
Low demand – Low prices – Low season

Many owners just resign themselves to receiving few, if any, bookings within the low season.
Most don’t even make an effort.

Now here’s my take on low season, I would spend well over half of my time trying to sell these weeks.
I see it as a challenge.
I see sold weeks in low season as a bonus. The income from these weeks can easily add up (sell all 26 weeks and it REALLY ADDS UP) and that income can cover the year round costs of the pool cleaner, the gardener and / or the general maintenance of the property.
So I would strongly advise that you spend as much time as possible turning as many low season weeks into high season weeks as you can.
There are a surprising number of ways in which to do this, and I will be covering more of them in future articles, but here I will be looking at christmas and new year.
In fact this article is looking at christmas and new year 2012 and beyond.
I know, at the time of publication, we haven’t even got christmas 2011 out of the way – but bear with me.

Now you could say that christmas and new year are high season already, and to some degree you would be right, the schools have broken up, nearly all adults are off work and it’s more of a family time than any other time of year.
But, christmas and new year are only high season weeks if you actually get bookings for those weeks – So here is a little trick that you can employ to increase your chances of filling those weeks in future.

This really leads on from the recent article SELLING DREAMS AND DREAM SELLING and an article by Heather at cottageblogger.com TAPPING INTO ANTICIPATION HAPPINESS but I thought I would add a little detail.

Here’s the plan

The idea is to produce one or two “christmas” photos of your property and at some time around the middle of October (each year) you need to swap your usual lead photo in the vacation rental listings websites, that you advertise on, with your new “christmas” image.
Simple. A little bit of effort equals a far higher chance of a booking.

Here’s why.

When “Mr and Mrs Lookingforachristmasholiday” come to a listings page and scan the photos looking for a property to spend christmas in, they will be drawn to your “christmas” photo over and above those showing summertime swimming pools.

Here’s how to achieve the plan

The indoor option.

Vacation rental

At some stage between now and the new year, or just after, take the christmas tree from your own house, complete with lights, tinsel and other decorations and set it up next to the fireplace in your vacation rental living room. Wrap some empty cardboard boxes with christmas paper and place under the tree, just as you would real presents. Light a real fire in the fireplace (presuming that you have one).
Pull the drapes, switch on all internal lights, including those on the tree.
Get down low and take quite a few photos. Aim to produce something like the christmas card image above (more on that later).
For some extra inspiration go to http://images.google.com and search “open fire and christmas tree” or similar.

If you use this indoor option with a tree, lights, etc, you should put a tree, lights, etc, up before the guests arrive. Just use an artificial tree. If anything, over deliver and maybe the guests will return year on year.

The outdoor option.

Vacation rental

Here’s another option which may work in your favour, especially if you get any snow in your area.
Wait until there is snow on the ground, maybe add a christmas wreath to the front door, maybe add some fir tree branches over the door or on either side and add some foreground item (maybe build a snowman and place a santa hat on his head).
Have some fun.
Then shoot away. Take lots of pictures, then select your favourite.
Once again go to http://images.google.com and search “christmas scene” or something similar for lots more ideas.

The high season christmas option

Vacation rental

Now some of you, in the tropics and further south, are advertising christmas weeks in the high season anyway but you can still trigger extra christmas feelings by adding a santa hat or the odd xmas stocking in order to produce a christmas image.
Have some fun, that’s the main thing. The resulting image will stand out from the crowd and that’s what sells.

The (christmas) takeaway

Vacation rental

All of us, both as children and later as adults, have been indoctrinated with images of christmas.
From christmas card images (which is almost what you want to be creating here, that’s why I used them in the example) to christmas films, from christmas adverts to christmas shop window dressing (sic) we are all susceptible to these images, which is exactly why they help with conversions.

The reasoning behind making and taking these images between now and the new year is because the props (trees, lights, snow, christmas stockings, etc) are at hand so it’s easier than dragging the tree out of the attic in September.

So spend a little time between now and the new year producing a christmas image or two and who knows maybe you will turn a little bit of low season into high season in 2012 and beyond.

Whatever you do remember to change your leading image back to the summertime image before the the new year (at the latest) or as soon as you have sold the christmas / new year weeks.

I have written a number of guides for vacation rental owners.
They show, in an easy to follow way, how to produce top quality, high conversion, images for marketing your own vacation rental

I hope that you found this article useful.
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