We own a townhouse in Park City, UT and have been self managing it for the last 3 years. It rents out during the winter months fairly easily but has very little traffic during the spring, summer and fall. What sites do people list their properties on? Does anyone have any useful tricks to getting more bookings during the off season in ski towns? We list on airbnb and vrbo.
There is a ton of hiking, biking and concerts during the summer months but we have not had a lot of interest in bookings during this time, except for long term renters who want it at a low monthly or discounted rate. Our rates are comparable to other 3bedrooms in the area so lowering the rates might work but I want to also think outside the box.
Has anyone used Evolve or other vacation management companies and are they really able to increase your bookings enough to cover their costs + some?
Any advice on other ways to list the home or ways to increase bookings during the off season that other airbnb owners have used would be great.
Try Homeaway VRBO and Craigslist.
Thanks John Underwood - we also use VRBO (forgot to mention that) but will think about craigslist.
Hi @Monte Blunk . I have used Evolve for almost 3 years now and while they certainly provide value for the 10% they charge (actually 12.5% with payment fees), you can certainly self promote for much less OR like in my case, in addition to what they offer.
Our place is in Tahoe and I cannot imagine the summer is much different up there which is an equal balance of share with winter. There may not be as big of a lake draw, but I'm sure there is still hiking, biking and some type of water area to enjoy.
Best of luck and feel free to reach out with any questions
@Jon Crosby Thanks so much! I'll let you know how it goes!
I use Craigslist for my 22 furnished STRs. Day 1, I put up an ad with pictures. Day 2, I put up another slightly different ad with slightly different pictures. Day 3, I repeat Day 2.
Day 4, I go to my email from Craigslist from Day 1, and bump up the ad. Same thing on Days 7, 10, 13, 16, 19, 22, 25, 28.
Day 5, I go to my email from CL from Day 2, and bump up the ad. Same thing day 8, 11, 14, 17...
Day 6, I go to my email from CL from Day 3, and bump up the ad. Same thing day 9, 12, 15...
Day 31 I go back to Day 1 and repeat the above process.
My ad shows up on every days CL.
You could also try renting to medium-term renters like corporate housing and traveling nurses. That's how we've handled some of the down seasons in past years.
@Erin Spradlin hit the nail on the head. Whenever you have tough down seasons turn it into a corporate rental. You can also use beyond pricing on your Airbnb listing to fluctuate the prices and appear higher in searches. I've never used a property management company with my STR's because I'm almost certain anything they can do you can do with little work. I rent out a couple of condo's in Garden City, UT right on Bear Lake and I definitely see the slow down.
I use VRBO, AirBnB, HomeAway, TripAdvisor, Flipkey, and Craigslist. One thing I did was create a Facebook page strictly for my vacation rentals. When I first created it, I offered a couple of free drawings where the winner got a free 3-night stay in my rental. In order to be part of the drawing, a person needed to share, comment, or like my ad. I gained a decent following and was able to secure several bookings from paid guests, and I only expect it to continue.
I offer a referral fee, too. If one of my FB friends shares my ad on his or her own FB page, and someone ends up booking a stay from that share, I will give that friend a 10% bonus for sharing it.
Another big thing is that I keep an Excel file with email addresses of all former guests. In my area, our off-season is January 2 - March 14, so I appeal to former guests with a significant discount, and I have compiled a list of activities that are still open during that time, for example, cave tours, zip lining, hiking, and indoor rock climbing wall, to name a few. I have about 20 activities on my list, and while they're not as exciting as the activities during the peak season, it's still a good list for my guests because they might not have thought about some of the other activities if I hadn't listed them in detail. I also highlight the fact that because it is the off-season, they will completely avoid the tourist-y, crowded days.
Those are just some ideas . . . . :)
Wow, definitely some great ideas!
@Jen Faulkner you definitely have it down and I am really impressed with your different ways to bring in bookings.
@Paul Sandhu it looks like a great way to keep the ad running at the top of the list.
@Monte Blunk You can use Craigslist, Airbnb, Corporate Housing By Owner, or join a traveling nurse board. I use the Gypsy Nurse board on Facebook where you can post your property and traveling nurses post their next destination. It's thousands of users in there so you will reach a broad range of people. Most of my clients have came from CHBO and Airbnb. You can even cut Airbnb out of the equation. Have the client meet you at the property and have them sign a lease.
@Myka Artis- thanks!
Thanks @Monte Blunk ! The Bear Bungalow has truly been my platform for growth and knowledge with regards to real estate investing, VR's and marketing! :)
@Monte Blink, another thing I've done is join trout fishing groups on FB, especially in the areas near my rentals. I don't know a lot about trout fishing, but it's a huge thing in the area, so I reach out to trout fishermen. Is there a really popular activity in your area with a certain audience that you might find in a FB group?
@Monte Blunk I have a 3 bedroom airbnb in Salt Lake and I have no off season that I have noticed. I only promote it on Airbnb and I allow them to adjust the price as much as they want so it stays booked. Since doing the smart pricing I make much more money. I have listed a few times on VRBO but dont want to maintain two sites for the listing.
Do you allow Airbnb to adjust your price that much? During the summer I get a lot of traffic to my unit from Asian tourists on their way to Yellowstone. You could try and find a good way to market it to that group during the summer also.
Where is your unit located in Park City? I live in PC and have been curious how some of the VRs do there.
@Eric Gardiner - I don't allow airbnb to adjust it because the rates they quote are so low compared to what we actually get during the winter. I may allow it in the other months but don't want to do it during the winter. But that is a good thought for the rest of
Our condo is in the Park Meadows area of Park city. It is one of the racquet club condos. We live in SLC so we thought we would just rent it out during the winter and use it in the summer when it wasn't rented. However that happens to be a lot during the off season because we have not been smart about how we advertise it. So our goal this year is to work on getting it rented as much as possible so it can actually make money,instead of just being happy with renters paying for the mortgage.
Do you really get bookings from craigslist? If the VR is in San Diego, you just post it on the SD Craigslist site? What kind of response do you get?
I don't get "bookings" from CL, but I get phone calls and text messages from people who read the ad. I'm pretty sure they have already called the local motels and know the weekly rates. When they call me, I set up a day to show them the available houses when they come to town. My 3 main selling points are that they cost less than a motel, they can do laundry, they can cook food. Having their own bedroom, cable/wifi, extra living space, front porch, and working man related décor is a bonus.
I think any platform helps, even if it only gets you a few bookings, and as long as you have the time to maintain them. The initial setup of each one is a little tedious and time consuming, but maintaining them is easy.
I do use CL, but be leery of spammers. I do get spam text messages, but that happens on VRBO and AirBnB, too. Whenever someone contacts me through CL, I do steer them over to VRBO and tell them that I'd rather them contact me through that platform so that we can both benefit from a more secure transaction. If they're spammers, I generally don't hear from them again. If they're legit, I usually get a message back pretty quickly. Also, my original CL ads already have the VRBO link within the description of my rental, so sometimes the guest will just go straight to VRBO without contacting me through CL.
@Eric Gardiner , I have considered Smart Pricing because "low money" is better than "no money," however, are you able to pick and choose what months to allow it? I have certain months where I am booked completely solid for several months straight through VRBO, and I'd rather keep it that way and just have AirBnb's Smart Pricing come along and fill in the blanks during the lower seasons, rather than "steal" some of those higher paying peak days.
@Jen Faulkner I think you can set Smart Pricing for certain periods, but I'm not 100% sure. However, you can set a floor and ceiling on the prices so they won't book a rate below what you think you should get.
you could also make note of where most of the tourists come from and use pointed facebook ads with your airbnb listing.