I know that most Vacation Rental and Property Management Companies are just starting to get into their summer (and possibly busiest) season. Working long hours, trying to keep customers happy, getting the most out of employees, and overall just trying to keep your head above water. So why should you start thinking about the shoulder season? Because the people that are renting out your properties now and visiting your website are the ones that are going to come back in the off season.
Here are some ideas of how you can start planning to get more customers to come back when the crowds are gone:
- Grow that database and contact list - Make that part of your best practices with your staff is to collect as much contact information as possible with anyone they speak to. Make sure you have Calls to Action on your website (e.g., subscribe to your blog or newsletter, vacation give away contest, etc.). The more you can do now collecting this information will set you up better in attracting the offseason guests.
- Get those Customer Reviews – Vacations are all about nostalgia and emotion. Make sure you are doing everything you can to get your guests to review their stay either during or right after their stay…when it is freshest in their mind. We all know how powerful it is to read other people’s experiences before we make that decision one way or the other.
- Create Great Content During the Off-Season – You want to produce great content all of the time, but don’t take the foot off the gas pedal just because it is the offseason. Make the content about the off-season. What seasonally is happening that would be appealing? Are there any local festivals that might be appealing to a certain niche in your database. The idea is to keep your business top of mind with people that want a reason to come back.
- Utilize Social Media – You can leverage Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc. to offer discounts, gather and publish reviews, share the new content that you just created, contests and polls, and get people fired up for the next season.
- Don’t Forget About Email – Make sure you are sending relevant and compelling emails to your subscribers. This is still one of the best ways to get in front of your customers. Be sure not to abuse it though. Personally I know that if I start getting too many emails from a particular company I will most likely unsubscribe.
- Use the Off Season to Generate Hype – I am sure this is rudimentary, but utilize the off-season to build demand for the upcoming season. If you are a summer destination think of timing your message to a certain demographic that is experiencing a 3 day arctic blast.
- Niche Marketing – Take the time to understand your clientele. Pretty soon you will see niches inside of niches. Maybe you have groups of guests that love to ski. Could that correlate to other outdoor adventure type of opportunities that come about in your area during the off-season? For skiers think of white water rafting in the spring to early summer (mud season for the mountains) when the rivers are pumping because of the snow melt.
- Reach Out to Locals and Folks that are within a 3 hour Drive – When the tourists leave you still have people close to you that decided to live in a resort area. A lot of times people live where they live so that they can enjoy the beauty and lifestyle of your destination. Market to them, offer them specials, and see what happens.
Your approaching shoulder season does not necessarily mean you have to give up all hope of generating revenue during that time. Being proactive now gathering contact information as well as being creative with who and how you market your brand will go a long way in attracting business during the challenging shoulder season.