Labor day weekend has always been synonymous with “the party’s over” for summer lovers. The nights cool down, the school busses re-appear, and white pants are no longer fashionably acceptable. With all of that remaining the same, save the white pants myth for you fashionable readers out there, the meaning of Labor Day remains the same, summer is over. For most vacation rental companies, this means fewer bookings, less revenue and the ever dreaded off-season. So how do you battle this as a vacation rental company, ending your season earlier than you wish is never desired.
The answer is a simple two words that will change your business, shoulder season! What is the shoulder season you ask? The shoulder season is that awkward limbo period where you are not quite in the off season but you are out of your peak season. Most companies look at these as just residual income, not an opportunity to grow your business. Follow these 4 simple steps to grow your vacation rental shoulder season.
1) Know your guests- Using a good vacation rental software, this should be relatively easy. Keep tabs on the tourist opportunities in your area that occur during this shoulder season. For example, if you’re a summer destination with a college football team nearby, learn which of your guests are fans. If you are a winter destination, then know what markets tend to go south for the winter, and communicate with them.
2) Create a marketing package- When a guest stays with you, inform them of all the great things to do while there. However, how many times does your local car dealer send you a flyer for a sale happening today? Market for the future, and who better to market to than those who are already visiting. Create a care package to give upon departures that will entice returns. Plan in the summer, or early fall for your winter guests. Offer incentives for the shoulder season. Get your guests to see that your destination is exciting more than just a short time during the year.
3) Email your guests- Using your vacation rental software; nurture your guests into repeat customers with email campaigns and reminders. Yearly notifications are great reminders, if a guest has not rebooked; hit them with an ad to come back at a different time. Let them know throughout the year of exciting events happening in your area.
4) Deliver- The shoulder season is not one to take lightly, and it may require a very different focus on your client’s needs, but, if done properly, the shoulder season can set your company up very nicely for next year. Make every visit from every guest "special". Make them want to come back over and over again.
Your competition is WISHING they could stretch their main season just a bit longer. Be a DOER!! Embrace the shoulder season as a separate animal. Market specifically to those that will visit you a bit later, or even a bit earlier than you normally see. Your competition doesn't see the opportunities for business. It is either on, or off in most people’s eyes. This may be due to their vacation rental software, or their business mentality, either way, it is unacceptable. Your company can be different. Look at the shoulder season as revenue there for the taking. Embrace the shoulder season, and watch your business become the leader.