How Does Seasonality Affect Vacation Rental Bookings?

The Evolve TeamLeave a Comment

Did you know that 80% or more of your annual rental income can come in within a few short months if you’re in a highly seasonal market? But in other markets, seasonality has little or no effect.

As of January 2019, Evolve is officially in all 50 states with more than 10,000 vacation rental properties under management.

That gives us a great inventory for travelers, but also means we now have a wealth of data about every market across the United States. It’s just one reason we can offer top-of-the-line marketing strategies, rate plans, and service to our homeowners.

We wanted to share some of the important data we’ve gathered from our coast-to-coast properties to help you understand how seasonality might affect your market at large and your vacation rental specifically.

Beach Areas

Beach markets are incredibly hard to generalize for seasonality. Some beach areas, like Hawaii, can expect year-round bookings, whereas Nantucket is incredibly seasonal.

Although beach areas differ when it comes to booking and stay windows, every beach rental is more more successful with the right amenities. Pools, hot tubs, and outdoor space are big reasons that properties get bookings.

Here are some trends you might see when running a vacation rental in a beach area:

  • Clearwater / St. Pete, Florida
    • Peak Season: March (winter) and Jun-Jul (summer)
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 65
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 204 days

  • Oregon Coast Area
    • Peak month: August
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 90
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 91 days

  • Cape Cod, Massachusetts
    • Peak month: July and August
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 95
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 120 days

Mountain Areas

Vacation rentals near resorts have traditionally been top tourist destinations for travelers who want to hit the slopes or spend time in the mountains. Winter is peak season for vacation rentals in the mountains, but summer provides a strong second wave of occupancy,

Location is important for short-term rentals in the mountains. The closer you are to the ski lifts and outdoor activities, the more bookings you’ll get. Resort amenities can also influence your ability to attract guests, with saunas and hot tubs at the top of the list.

Here are some trends you might see when running a vacation rental in a mountain area.

  • Breckenridge, Colorado
    • Peak month: March
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 52
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 154 days

  • Poconos Mountains, Pennsylvania
    • Peak month: February
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 35
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 128 days

  • Park City, Utah
    • Peak month: February
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 62
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 117 days

All-Season Mountain Areas

All-season mountain areas in North Carolina and Arizona are also magnets for people who like to explore the great outdoors and visit local attractions. Unlike traditional resort areas, they don’t rely on the winter and summer seasons for bookings. The shoulder seasons also provide a healthy number of bookings, in the fall for foliage and in the spring for recreation.

Close proximity to activities and local attractions is an easy way to get ahead of competitors, but having great views is a close second when it comes to attracting guests.

Here are some trends you might see when running a vacation rental in an all-season mountain area:

  • Gatlinburg, Tennessee
    • Peak month: July
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 52
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 197 days

  • Sedona, Arizona
    • Peak month: March
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 66
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 252

  • Yosemite, California
    • Peak month: June/July
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 55
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 84

Lake Areas

Known for being top vacation spots for families, lake area vacation rentals do best in the summer when the kids are on summer break and families are looking to go on a quick trip.

The properties that are the most successful in lake areas are, unsurprisingly, the ones closest to the water. On the lake? You’ll get bookings. Have a dock? You’ll get even more.

Rentals that are further away from the water can still find success by providing amenities such as hot tubs and pools or a game room.

Here are some examples of trends you might see when running a vacation rental in a lake area.

  • Michigan Lakes Area
    • Peak month: August
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 62
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 69 days

  • Branson, Missouri
    • Peak month: July
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 47.5
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 183 days

  • Texas Lakes Area
    • Peak month: July
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 55
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 73 days

Desert Areas

Desert areas are the perfect destination for guests looking to escape a harsh winter or hoping to enjoy outdoor activities in perfect weather. So properties do best during the winter months when it’s cold elsewhere – but not too hot in the desert.

Pools are the absolute top amenity, but a hot tub can also drive bookings and profit. Proximity to outdoor activities, such as golf and hiking, can also make a desert rental more attractive to travelers.  

Here are some trends you might see when running a vacation rental in a desert area.

  • Phoenix, Arizona
    • Peak month: March
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 79
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 147 days

  • Palm Springs, California
    • Peak month: March
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 100
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 125

  • Moab, Utah
    • Peak month: May
    • Average number of days booked in advance: 71
    • Annual nights booked for average property: 172

Understanding Seasonality’s Impact On Your Market

Seasonality is an important consideration when you’re a vacation rental owner. If you buy a home in Cape Cod at the end of summer and get listed by November, it’s going to seem like a long winter as you wait for bookings.

But if you buy the same property in late winter and list it by early spring, your calendar might immediately fill with summer bookings at peak season rates. Your experience would be completely different.

This isn’t meant to discourage. In the world of vacation rental, knowledge is power. And the more context you have about what to expect with your property in your location, the better a position you’re in to build a performance plan that’s designed to succeed.

At Evolve, we’re committed to our homeowners’ success, and we’re constantly learning from our 10,000 properties to provide the best service possible.

If you’d like to learn more about how Evolve can help you navigate the challenges of seasonality, request a free consultation from one of our Vacation Rental Advisors today.