When your Airbnb business has been booming all high season, off-season emptiness can feel like a pretty hard blow.
But just because it's the low season in vacation rental bookings, it doesn't mean everything is out of your control.
Seasonality is only one factor in your Airbnb business's success, and luckily there are tricks you can implement it to handle these drops in business. Today I'm going to show you 11 actionable ways to handle Airbnb off season.
Specifically, these are tips I have used not only to boost low season occupancy rates, but also find other creative things to do with my vacation rental in the off season. This is how I not only stayed afloat but managed to grow and scale my Airbnb business.
So, let's get to it and see 11 actionable ways to handle Airbnb off season.
1. Handle Airbnb Off Season With an Airbnb Pricing Tool
Pricing is one of the biggest influencers on whether your listing will survive the Airbnb off season. This is probably the main strategy that turned my business around in the low season. The tool that I used was Beyond Pricing. This application calculates the optimal price for each day in your calendar, based on the following criteria:
• Historic performance of your listing
• Performance of nearby listings
• Daily demand (based on hotel prices, flight data, and conferences)
The best thing is, the app connects to your calendar and updates the prices automatically! It's the best Airbnb pricing tool available to Airbnb hosts.
I've talked to the developers of the app and they gave me insight into the algorithm that calculates the prices. I've used it for a few months now and I'm very happy with the results, so I can confidently recommend this to you. Without this, it's hard to stay afloat during the Airbnb off season.
Beyond Pricing connects to your Airbnb, it automatically updates prices every day. However, you always keep full control over your calendar. You can override prices if you like.
The pricing strategy that Beyond Pricing uses is to predict the demand for your listing based on visitor stats, occupancy levels of other Airbnb listings, hotel data and even flight data. They then use a sophisticated pricing model to adjust the prices according to other factors such as timing and gaps in your calendar.
This will help you make sure that you drop your prices enough to attract the bookings, but not so low that you'll be shooting yourself in the foot. It accounts for events, seasonality and days of the week.
Read my detailed Beyond Pricing review
2. Turn on Instant Book
Instant Book is going to be your best friend during Airbnb off season.
When you turn it on, you remove one more barrier between you and your FPG (future potential guest).
This not only improves the guest experience, but also boosts your ranking on the search results. Instant Book is exactly what it sounds like: guests can book immediately without needing approval from the host.
Airbnb states on its website that hosts who use instant book can get up to double the number of bookings. Plus, you could cancel the booking later if you feel the guest looks sketchy, without any penalty from Airbnb. This should be one of your leading tactics in your off season strategy
3. Relax the house rules during vacation rental slow season
Maybe it's time you let your guests bring Fido the dog, even if you always had a strict no-animal policy. People want to use your listing to throw a family reunion, even though you always said no parties? Why not let them, and just use noise monitoring tools like NoiseAware to make sure they aren't getting too crazy.
Some Airbnb hosts make guests agree to strictly follow all rules before they can book the unit. If that sounds like you, try removing that requirement to see if it helps you boost your low season occupancy rates. This could help you get higher occupancy during the short-term rental low season.
4. Work on your Airbnb SEO
There are over 100 Airbnb ranking factors, some of which you can control. If you haven't working on optimizing your listing yet, off season would be the best time to do it. The first place you can instantly make changes to is the writing of your copy. Make sure you have the catchiest Airbnb title written, that your Airbnb description is as emotionally enticing as possible, and that your Airbnb profile makes you look like a great host to stay with.
When you do get bookings, make sure to provide the best hospitality experience so that you get more positive reviews, which is one of the biggest ranking factors on Airbnb. If you take your Airbnb listing really serious, you can get a tool like RankBreeze, which is like steroids for your Airbnb optimization and tracks your ranking at all times.
5. Add the word “discount” to your title
Even if your Airbnb pricing tool sets the perfect prices for your listing, there's no harm in letting your prospects know that the prices are lower than usual. The word ‘discount' is a power word that always draws eyes and creates an emotional response in your prospects, leading to more clicks of your listing and more bookings. This is a quick and easy trick I've used with success.
6. Use your space for events during Airbnb off season
When it's vacation rental low season, one creative way to use your space is to move away from the vacation rental model temporarily.
Successful entrepreneurs find creative solutions for downtime. Here's one.
Let locals use your space for events. The type of event will depend on the type of space you have. If you're in an urban area, businesses or startups may want to use your space as a place for networking events, where they can give presentations and then have food and drinks.
Or people might want to throw small parties there or screen movies. Or maybe there are a lot of artists in your area who would be interested in renting your space out as a studio. Be creative and resourceful to find this down-time alternative use! You can use websites like Peerspace and Splacer to find people who want to use your space.
7. Discount for referrals during Airbnb off season
For the guests you do get during Airbnb off season, let them know they, their friends and family (or acquaintances, it doesn't really matter) can get a discount for the reason of the slow season if they mention the guest's name or a code you give them. This can work really well in certain places.
You can even use automated messaging software like Hospitable to make sure all your guests get this message a few days after they've checked out of your unit.
Related Post:Hospitable vs iGMS | Which tool is really better?
8. Let them bring their friends for free
If you remove the extra person charges, you're removing one more obstacle from their booking with you. You may be thinking — “if I drop the prices and remove extra charges, I'll be losing a ton of potential money!”
Well, if you aren't getting any bookings, you aren't making any money either.
And if you live in a highly seasonal area, it's important you remove as many blocks as possible from getting people to stay with you. One extra person staying in the apartment doesn't really add much extra work on your side. Sure, you maybe have to provide one extra towel. Is that really worth scaring off your guest with an extra charge?
Show you're accommodating to them and that you want them to enjoy your place, even with an extra friend.
9. Give bigger percentage discounts
When you create your listing, you have an option to give people discounts for staying longer periods of time, like a week or a month. One easy trick is simply to increase these discounts to encourage people to book, especially those looking to stay longer. Most of your Airbnb off season strategies are going to revolve around finding monetary ways to give your guests more value.
You don't always want to compete on price and I certainly encourage using higher quality and value to beat out your competition. But if times are rough for you during the low season, one surefire way to boost occupancy during off season is to compete on price. Find out what percentage discounts your competitors have during this tough time and drop yours even more.
10. One night is A-okay
Some people are put off by guests who want to stay only one night. Allow people to book for one night only. There's not as much risk in it as people make it out to be. If this season is really hard on your business, you should try every tactic possible to boost occupancy rates during the vacation rental low season. A handful of one-nighters could make a big difference at this time!
11. Use the flexible cancellation policy
Again, during this time you want to relax all rules and restrictions as much as possible. You want to give your potential guests every possibility to book with you. One thing that can easily put a guest off is a strict or event moderate cancellation policy. If you go all the way to flexible, on top of adding Instant Book and removing your house rules, you will have addressed almost all of your potential guest's objections.
12. Use gated WiFi during on-season to market during off season
All Airbnb hosts provide WiFi to their guests.
Maybe it used to be a unique selling point, but now it's just expected. Maslow may as well throw it onto the hierarchy of needs along with shelter and food — and you can use that to your advantage.
Since 99% of your guests are going to log onto the WiFi, why not gate the connection? Meaning instead of just giving them a password, use a tool like Flamingo Wifi to have them give you their email or like your page on Facebook in order to connect. That means you'll have the email of every single guest to have ever stayed at your unit on a list.
When the slow season hits, you can email them and promote past guest discounts, friends and family discounts, and encourage them to come back to your listing.
This WORKS and is an amazing way to keep in touch with your guests.
What are your favorite ways to stay afloat during low season?