“Vacation rental owners whose properties aren’t in popular winter destinations often face challenges in renting their homes during the traditional off-season,” says Christine Karpinski, author of How to Rent Vacation Properties by Owner and Profit from your Vacation Home Dream.
“Vacation rental home Web sites give owners the opportunity to quickly and inexpensively respond to seasonality and market trends by offering nightly rates and special offers.”
For second home owners she offers these tips to attract “winter renters” and boost off-season bookings:
Advertise on the Internet. Even during the off-season, vacation homeowners should continue to advertise on vacation rental Web sites. The majority of travelers use the Internet for vacation planning, so keep your home listed on sites with detailed property descriptions, photos and search options that make it easy for travelers. Keep your contact information and availability calendar current.
Get the most for your money and time. On average, vacation rental Web Sites charge approximately $150 to list one property. However, with the HomeAway Network, owners get quite a bargain by paying $299 to advertise on all four of HomeAway’s sites including CyberRentals.com, GreatRentals.com, A1Vacations.com and its US flagship site, HomeAway.com. Another perk: owners only have to update their property listing once and the changes appear across each of the sites in the network.
Offer nightly rates. During peak season, many homeowners require a minimum week-long stay. However, during the off-season, offer nightly rates to encourage extended weekend rentals.
Advertise “special offers.” Off-season specials, such as “rent three nights-get one free” and senior citizens and military discounts often attract vacationers who have flexibility to travel year-round. E-mail past guests with a special VIP package that includes reduced rates and a bottle of wine or dinner gift certificate.
Welcome children. According to the National Association for Year-Round Education, more than two million children are enrolled in year-round schools, which means their families can take advantage of lower-priced vacations during off-peak periods. Make sure you emphasize family attractions and activities.
“Winterize.” Play up local winter fun in your property descriptions. Feature and use photographs of fireplaces, winter activities, mountain hiking and snow. If your home lacks winter appeal, consider adding a hot tub — it quickly pays for itself.
Accept pets. During the last three years, more than 29 million Americans brought their pets on trips further than 50 miles away, according to the Travel Industry Association of America. Who travels during the off-season? Travelers whose travel dates are not constrained by their childrens’ school schedules. Or people with their “other children” — their beloved pets.
For more tips and advice about managing your vacation rental home, visit http://ownercommunity.homeaway.com/
For more information about the benefits of advertising your vacation rental online, please see http://www.homeaway.com/index.cfm/tgt/network_info