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Vacation Rentals – Turning Low Season Into High Season – Part Two

Walking away with extra low season bookings.

This week we look at activities. Out of season activities of course.

For those of you that don’t know, when I started in this business I had a listings company, marketing villas, cottages, farm houses, etc, in Algarve, southern Portugal. I was sole agent on the properties so the owners were relying on me to provide them with bookings. All were keen for me to rent as many weeks as possible.
Now, as I’ve said before, that’s no problem in high season (see Turning low season into high season – Part one.
It’s pretty easy in mid season too if you know what you’re doing. 

But, you need to think a little more outside the box when it comes to low season.

The temperatures in southern Portugal are somewhere between pretty hot and very hot from April – May right through to September – October, in fact you are advised to stay out of the sun between 11.00 am and 3.00 pm.
So I was not in a position to be offering special outdoor activities throughout those months, but one “mans” low season is another “mans” high season. 
And I had some ideas for selling more weeks during October to April.

walking away with low season bookings
Walking away with extra bookings.

I started to research walking activities within the region, I bought books detailing trails, visited local tourism offices to get more information, searched online to find additional information and started a blog (attached to my listing website).
I went on walks, I took photographs while on these trails, I downloaded Google maps and overlaid each walking route on a map and I wrote about these walks (showing the maps and photos) and explained what I had seen on them (Castles, windmills, small interesting villages, a local pottery, etc.)
I scoured the local press for information on walking groups, times, dates, meeting points, etc and put the all the details I could find on the blog.
I added maps and other walking information at each of the properties that I was renting out.
In effect, in no time, I was selling walking holidays, off season.
I entitled the articles on the blog with headlines like: “walking holidays in southern Portugal” and “an interesting walk in Algarve” and started to make inroads with these particular long tail keyword phrases, and others like them, in Google.
After some months I started getting bookings. Low season bookings and they were enquiring about walking opportunities.
Walkers are fairly easy to please, give them a map with a marked trail on it and they are happy.

Twitchers not Twitters
Twitchers not Tweeters

From Wikipedia
Twitchers are committed bird-watchers who travel long distances to see a new species just to add a species to their “life list”, “year list” or other lists. 

I did the same with bird watching (there are a surprising number of bird watchers out there).
I browsed the net, sought out information on what types of birds could be found in the region, when to find them, where to look. 
I found and joined birdwatching groups, found and posted photos, copied articles, etc. I bought some reference books and talked owners into buying copies for guests to read whilst staying at their holiday homes.
I put as much information as I could on my blog.
In effect, I was selling bird watching holidays, off season.
I entitled the articles on the blog with headlines like: “bird watching holidays in southern Portugal” and also started to make inroads with this particular long tail keyword phrase, and other phrases like it in the search engines.
Bird watchers were never any trouble.

Here’s why this works

There are nearly 5000 vacation rental properties in southern Portugal, advertising on ownersdirect.co.uk alone.
Yet there were, and probably still are, only a relative handful of websites offering walking holidays and even less offering bird watching holidays in the region.
That’s a huge difference in numbers. 
So I cut the odds of being found from something like 5000 to 1 to something like 50 to 1. 
You too could be 100 times more likely to get some low season bookings.
Not bad eh?

the vacation rental takeaway

Here’s this weeks vacation rental takeaway

One “mans” low season is another “mans” high season opportunity.
Think outside the box, think what can your region offer guests in low season.
Walking, bird watching, fishing, horse riding, art classes, yoga sessions – The list goes on.
Research one or more of these activities (bear in mind that it’s a lot easier to write about and promote activities that you yourself are interested in) then blog about it, twitter about it and add the information to your Facebook page.
Remember all low season bookings are a bonus.
So, if you put in a little extra effort you can stand out from the crowd and who knows maybe you can be walking away with extra low season bookings.

I hope that you found this vacation rentals article useful. 
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