December has officially begun, which means we are well into the winter holiday season.
For most people, this time of year is synonymous with giving and spending time with loved ones.
As a vacation rental homeowner, the holiday season means all that and a little bit more.
Holidays bring big bookings for vacation rentals, so things tend to operate a little differently during this time: Travelers may have more demands, new competitors come out of the wood-work, and you need to give your property a little more attention.
We want you to know you’re not alone in this season of holiday frenzy, so we’re sharing some challenges and helpful suggestions on how to handle it all – and leave the holiday season with happy guests and 5-star reviews.
The situation: Your guests email you at the last minute to change their booking. They’re actually bringing 10 guests – not 8 – and you have to rush to get your property ready to house two more before the holidays. Your property CAN accommodate 10, but do you have enough fresh linens and blankets? Will everyone have enough towels? Should you rush to buy more supplies before they check in?
Holiday bookings tend to bring in bigger groups – and bigger surprises.
If you don’t have enough room to accommodate the change, then unfortunately, your guests may be out of luck. But if you can make room for the last-minute change, you’ll need to make sure to stock extras of everything. Extra paper towels could save a kitchen slip-up, while the absence of a first-aid kit could ruin a guest’s day.
To avoid having to run out at the last minute to stock up on supplies, prepare ahead of time by purchasing some extras. Some backup items that could come in handy for your guests are:
- Linens and blankets
- First-aid kit
- Bathroom supplies
- Cleaning products
Never-ending Guest Questions
The situation: Your inbox is suddenly filled with guest inquiries and your phone is ringing off the hook. Both prospective travelers and booked guests want to know: How old is the oven? How many people does the dining room accommodate? How many people can sleep on the pull-out couch? Who can I call if the hot tub breaks?
Guests tend to have more questions leading up to their holiday stay than at any other time. And who could blame them?
We’re all used to season’s greetings and the stress that comes this time of year. To make things run smoothly during a trip, make yourself available to answer all questions. A mishap during a trip doesn’t just have the potential to ruin a vacation, but an entire holiday.
Your clear communication is key to their experience – guests will be appreciative at the very least, and will be likely to leave a rave review if you take the time to answer their questions.
Optimizing Your Pricing
The situation: Throughout the year, your prices may stay around the same range. They need to remain competitive enough to get your rental booked, but high enough to still turn a profit; that’s not the case with holiday bookings. When the season gets festive and there’s a high demand for rental properties, all bets are off.
That’s when you reach a cost-crossroads: do you price your rental generously to ensure it gets booked? Or do you price it for what it’s worth and more, so that you can try to get the absolute most from your bookings?
That all depends – holiday pricing relies heavily on where your property is located and what you have to offer.
In general, you can (and should) increase your prices for the holidays. But in the off chance that the holidays are creeping up and you have not gotten a booking, it’s a smart idea to consider lowering your price to be more competitive. You may have to book your property for less than you think it’s worth, but at least it won’t sit empty!
To learn more about how to handle this delicate balance, check out our comprehensive guide on how to price during the holiday season in this blog post.
The situation: You may not love the idea of changing your minimum stay requirement from 7 days to 3, but you know that it may be the only way to score a holiday booking. There are a few times of year when you have to break your own rules to generate extra income for your vacation rental business. Big booking weekends like New Year’s Eve, Fourth of July and President’s Day mean business for your rental.
When travelers are in search of vacation rental accommodations for their holiday vacations, they will shy away from any properties that require a longer minimum nightly stay than they are looking for.
You don’t want to disqualify yourself from potential bookings by requiring one week, or even 5-day stays, if travelers are only booking short weekend trips.
It’s a good idea to be flexible with the minimum amount of nights required – especially when you’re trying to fill your calendar for the holiday season.
Setting Guest Expectations
The situation: The holiday season requires homeowners to be extra vigilant. You know that this time of year brings reason for celebration – and you’re just fine with that. In fact, your job as a host is to ensure the best experience for your guests! With that being said, your desire to be a little more strict with house rules is not unwarranted.
Being nervous about your rental during the holidays is completely normal, but it shouldn’t keep you from booking guests. The best way to get a better handle of the holiday goings-on in your rental is by stressing the house rules and vetting guests a little more than usual.
If there is a time to be as clear and concise as possible about what’s expected of your guests, it’s the holidays. Providing them with helpful resources like checklists, outlines and directions will put both you and your guests at ease.
Some things you may want to be detailed about are:
- Required quiet hours
- Check-in and check-out times
- What to clean before check-out
- Directions on how to use utilities (thermostat, oven, washing machine etc.)
- Instructions for how to use additional amenities (hot tub, grill, fire pit etc.)
Whether you’re new to being a homeowner during the holidays, or a veteran of the season, renting out your property can bring both stress and success. Luckily, you’re not alone in feeling a little overwhelmed – that just comes with the joy of the holidays.
Supply your guests with a memorable stay and you’ll be rewarded with stellar reviews, a happy heart, and loyal guests that will make your home a part of their traditions for years to come.
Have a funny story or stressful experience that you want to share? Tell us all about it in the comments!
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