How to Get Last-Minute Vacation Rental Bookings

The Evolve Team
The Evolve Team
December 8, 2017

You’re in the middle of high season for your vacation rental, but your calendar still isn’t fully booked. Things started out strong, with lots of bookings rolling in at the beginning of the season, but they’ve since tapered off.

There are a few open nights left that you know you could fill if only you had the right strategy, know-how, and resources.

To help you get those last-minute bookings, we’ve put together a list of quick and easy ways to get more guests in the door.

Get More Competitive with Your Rates

If you’re not getting those last few bookings you want, could your pricing be the problem?

Your rates may have been just fine for early-in-the-season bookers who were more than happy to pay a premium to stay in their preferred accommodation, but they may not be competitive enough for last-minute travelers who are on the hunt for a deal.

To find out if your rental is priced just right – or too high – check out a listing site to see how your property compares to others in the area of the same size, with similar amenities.

If your nightly rates are higher than theirs, you might want to drop your prices to be competitive.

Most of the time, knocking your prices down by $10 or $20 will be all it takes to get another reservation on the books. But if you want to make sure you really stand out as the most affordable option in the area, you could go as far as undercutting your competitors’ rates by 10-15%.

If your nightly rates are already on par with the competition, then you might want to try a different approach to getting last-minute bookings, such as offering unique amenities or changing your minimum night stay requirements.

Reduce Minimum Nightly Stay Requirements

If you’d rather not tamper with your rates to get last-minute bookings, you could always tweak something else, like your minimum nightly stay requirements.

More and more, we’re seeing that people are planning shorter trips rather than week-long vacations. If your property has a 5-night minimum, you might be missing out on an entire swath of travelers. Your listing isn’t going to show up for people looking for a 3-night vacation.

If they don’t know it exists, they can’t book it.

Dropping to a 3-night minimum will ensure your listing is shown to the people looking for short stays AND the ones looking for longer ones.

Invite Back Previous Guests

Do you still have a few weeks of lead time to fill those vacant nights on your calendar? Reach out to guests who have stayed in your property in the past.

Send them an email or give them a call to let them know that you have an open weekend coming up. Tell them that you’d love to host them again if they can make it on short notice.

It could be a group that loved staying in your place and left a rave review – or even a guest that had a lackluster experience the first time around.

To sweeten the deal, you could generously offer them an incentive, such as a 10% discount or a free night to get them in the door. The money you make from filling up the vacant nights on your calendar will more than make up the difference in prices.

Not only will you be filling in the gaps on your calendar, but your thoughtful invite and special discount could help you make up for a guest experience gone wrong, while also building loyalty.

Respond Immediately If You Get an Inquiry

If you DO get a bite, don’t lose it by waiting too long to respond. Travelers looking for last-minute accommodations are likely eager to get it on the books, so they can stop worrying about finding a place to stay on their upcoming trip.

We’ve found that guests are twice as likely to make a booking if you respond to them within 15 minutes than if you wait for up to 24 hours.

If you don’t allow instant online bookings, consider changing your policy for the high season. Or, have someone at the helm at all times to answer any guest inquiries as soon as they come through.

Offer a Special Incentive

What’s more inviting than a welcome gift? The smallest detail might mean the difference between a traveler choosing your home or staying somewhere else.

In your listing, mention that you provide:

  • A continental breakfast
  • A bottle of local wine
  • Freshly baked bread from a bakery down the street

It’s a small investment on your part that could pay off handsomely by getting you the bookings you need to reach your yearly goals.

Leave No Stone Unturned

To secure those last-minute bookings that will maximize your property’s earning potential, you really have to chase down every opportunity. It may take some extra effort to closely manage your listing, but we promise: the outcome is well worth it.

You’ll get additional bookings to help you meet and exceed your rental income goals.

Even with these suggestions, maintaining a painstakingly optimized vacation rental listing is no small task. You have to update your rates to reflect high or low demand for accommodations in your area, adjust your listing to maximize appeal, and maintain open lines of communication with previous, current, and future guests. It’s pretty much a full-time job.

If you’d like to get every last booking opportunity without doing all the behind-the-scenes work, you might be one of the owners who could benefit from a vacation rental management service.

Evolve has teams that will optimize every aspect of your listing to make sure you earn the best income year-round.

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